Thus far, the common consensus is that Windows 8 has fleas and bays at the moon thus setting the folks in Redmond, WA up for another epic failure a’ la Vista. Only this time around, the failure is going to be more like a 747 making a belly landing as opposed to the belly flop that preceded Windows 7. Users are going to have to learn a whole new way to do things. That in and of itself is enough to make the average consumer run in the opposite direction. Übergeeks may take the attitude that it’s just something else to learn but it’s a whole different thing to consumers who want their operating system to look and work like it pretty much has for the past 17 years.

Sure, there are add-ons – free and otherwise – that can make Windows 8 look and act more like what folks are used to but one should not have to do such things in order to have a good and familiar user experience. I have discussed such tools earlier on this blog and Id like to direct readers to the archives and related posts rather than repeat myself here.

While Windows 8 has yet to be released to manufacturing, Microsoft has been detailing its upgrade plans for moving from Windows XP, Vista & 7 to Windows 8.  While we have yet to see what the final release looks like – that will come in October of this year, an article on ZDNet’s Linux and Open Source blog wonders if Microsoft has unintentionally opened the door to the Linux desktop. Back in early May, this same blog released a post exploring five points of comparison between Windows 8 and Ubuntu Linux 12.04. I’ll let you read the article yourself but I can say that the latter easily comes out on top while the former is sporting a toe-tag and covered with a white sheet.

I can say from personal experience that Linux is easier to configure and modify than Windows 8. For example, Linux comes configured to display the three minimise, maximise and close buttons in the top left-hand corner of the window rather than the top right-hand corner as Windows has done since the beginning. Now this arrangement is great for left-handed folks as well as Mac-users but I’m right-handed and have used Windows since . . . well . . . forever. The novelty of the left-corner arrangement wore off very quickly and became a minor irritation until this morning when I’d finally had enough. A quick Google brought up the directions and I was ready to go. I could have done it completely by hand but I decided to speed things along by downloading a configuration manager (Free) before starting. The whole process took about 45 seconds and that was because it was my first time and I was taking things slow. All I had to do was type three words, a bit of punctuation and those three buttons suddenly shifted to the right-hand side just as nature had intended. There are tweak utilities that will probably do this for you and an example of one (again, Free) can be found here. I plan to give it a thorough test in the PDS lab as soon as possible.

With scads of free software, a more familiar interface and good performance on older hardware, the time for Linux to shine draws nigh. Canonical, the distributor of the Ubuntu version of Linux has discovered that in India and China, consumers really will buy PCs without the Windows operating system. Not only that, Canonical expects that 20,000,000 PCs will ship this year with Ubuntu as the factory installed operating system. It could well be that consumers who are reticent to embrace Windows 8 might give Linux a try. If you own Microsoft stock, this may be a good time to sell.

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