“Everyone should switch to Windows Vista, but wait until SP1.”
“This year, Linux will reach the mainstream desktop.”
“The number of Macs at major universities is almost at 50%.”
It doesn’t matter whether your favorite operating system is Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux or you want a computer that just works—technology pundits are always writing about the “next big shift.” Every year, the predictions are the same: Windows users are frustrated, Linux/MacOS will take over. During the final months of 2008, we thought it would be interesting to take a closer look at the state of personal computing and consider the future of each platform.
Indeed, 2008 is already shaping up to be a year of milestones. Microsoft Windows Vista reached SP1 status, making it the choice of new PCs across the board; AMD’s Radeon line once again became competitive against Nvidia’s recent GPU dominance; and the launch of Intel Core i7 marks the chip giant’s first major design change since the original Core Duo launch.
This has also been a year of transition and change for Apple Mac OS X and Linux. The release of Apple’s new unibody MacBook and MacBook Pro has created new interest in potential “switchers,” while Linux has seen its most mainstream success to date with the growing popularity of netbooks.
The question is: what will 2009 look like? Will Microsoft’s market share continue to erode after the lackluster release of Windows Vista and rising threats of malware? Will Mac OS X users still be willing to pay an “Apple Tax” and benefit from the relative lack of malware? Will Linux’ success with netbooks open the way for The Year of Desktop Linux?
For the record, I’m a user of all three operating systems. By this, I don’t mean “I’ve installed this OS or that one before.” I was predominantly a Windows Vista user, although I’ve switched to OS X 10.5 Leopard for my notebook and primary PC, leaving Vista on a HTPC only. My research workstation ran IRIX 6.5 from 2001 to 2004, and since 2005, I’ve done my work on Linux, beginning with Vector Linux, then SuSE, and now Fedora Linux.