Over the past few days, the tech news sites and blogs have carried a story centered on a quote from a NetBook (tiny laptop) manufacturer stating that the company receives 4X the returns of Linux based systems versus Windows systems. The more often I saw this headline and read the articles, the more irritated I became.
Computers are still in their infancy compared to much of the technology we use today. Americans have had indoor plumbing for 75 years, electricity for almost 100 years, telephones for almost 100 years, televisions for 50+ years, and radios for 70 years. Computers, however, have been around just over 15 years en masse, and even today they only exist in about 70% of American households.
My point is that computer technology has not matured enough to rely on one company or one way of doing things. Yet, that’s exactly what our society of lemmings has done. If it doesn’t say Microsoft on it, it is deemed to be unworthy of use. Microsoft had their chance, in my opinion, but they dropped the ball by losing to the degenerates among us who create malware that cripple a too often unprotected Windows based computer. For years, I have stood on my soapbox and defended Microsoft, and insisted that computer users take the time to learn how to properly secure and use their computers. The reality, however, is they don’t. Too many computer users are too lazy to learn or apply what they learned until something happens to their computer, then they scratch their heads and wonder why it happened to them.
Enter Linux based computers. Linux turned 17 this year and many different distributions (operating systems based on Linux) developed over that same period. Ubuntu being the most successful of these distributions. When NetBooks were introduced to the market just one year ago, some form of Linux was the preferred operating system because they were free, require little maintenance, require less computer power than Windows, and were safer for Internet use. Now this quote from a MSI executive states that the laptops with Linux are returned 4X more frequently than the same computers with Windows.
Is it because they break down? No. Is it because they are more expensive? No. What is the reason? It appears that the users who return them find that either they are unable to make the adjustment from Windows.
I did not go to college with a laptop, and didn’t own a computer until I was 24 in 1990. I learned from the ground up and am the first to admit that I have a slight aptitude for these things, but I learn something new about them every single day. I’ve also learned that if a computer user isn’t flexible, willing to learn new techniques, willing to research solutions, willing to go through trial and error periods, and willing to trust that sometimes change is good, that computer user will remain a lazy computer user and be destined to a life with a buggy, expensive, and frustrating computer(s).