Has Microsoft really changed its attitude toward open source?

In today's open source roundup: Microsoft may or may not have a new attitude toward open source. Plus: Android versus Windows, and Cinnamon versus Unity in Ubuntu 14.04

Microsoft became infamous for its very negative early remarks about open source software. But restructuring at the company may be giving it a more positive attitude toward open source. CNet reports on changes in Microsoft's perceptions and behavior when it comes to open source software.

According to CNet:

But Microsoft's feud with open source has been sputtering for quite some time, and the senior managers who led the anti-open source charge are gone from the scene -- or at least no longer in positions of authority. Open source is now routinely used by corporations around the world, and the company's sniffy put-downs only fed into the perception of Microsoft as out of touch.

Some of that new thinking reflects the change at the top of the corporate pyramid, with Satya Nadella replacing Ballmer as CEO in early February. Since taking over, Nadella has talked up his vision of a Microsoft whose future isn't shackled to its Windows past.

More at CNet
Microsoft and Communist Open Source
Image credit: Curako's Blog

Okay, I hate to be a Negative Ned here, but I'm firmly in the "trust but verify" camp when it comes to Microsoft and open source. Yes, a new CEO and other changes may be helping Microsoft to adjust to living in an open source world. But change never comes easy or fast in such a large organization, so I think the jury is still out on whether or not Microsoft has really changed for the better when it comes to open source software.

Also, I've never forgotten the company's "embrace, extend, extinguish" strategy that they used in the past to destroy competitive software products. That alone is reason enough to keep a wary eye on Microsoft's involvement with any open source project. Perhaps the company really has changed, but maybe it hasn't. I think it bears watching for at least another few years to see if enduring change has really set in or not.

Android versus Windows

ZDNet has an article that covers the top end-user Linux distributions. It notes that Windows still rules the desktop for now, but Android may eventually be the big kahuna among end-user operating systems by the end of this year.

According to ZDNet:

If smartphones and tablet sales continue to grow as expected, Android tablet vendors continue to erode Apple's market share, and PCs continue their decline, Android may end up being the top end-user operating system by the end of 2014—regardless of what happens with the proposed Android PCs.

Taken as a whole, Android clearly rules the Linux end-user space. No, you may not think of it as a desktop yet —although AMD and Intel would both like you to change your mind about that — but Android is on its way to being the top end-user operating system of all.

More at ZDNet
Android Versus Windows
Image credit: ZDNet

The numbers mentioned in the article aren't really a surprise, given the mobile revolution that's happened over the last ten years. The desktop just isn't as important as it used to be, and Microsoft just never really mattered in mobile devices. Even now, as they struggle desperately for traction in tablets and phones, Microsoft is still mostly irrelevant in the mobile devices market.

Google has wreaked absolute havoc on Microsoft's efforts in mobile and is now beginning to be a threat to Microsoft in the desktop market. Between Chrome OS and Android, Google has been battering Microsoft on a number of fronts. If you look at Amazon's list of top selling desktops and top selling laptops, you see plenty of Chrome OS computers and even some Android PCs. So people are actually buying alternatives to Windows computers and aren't bothered in the least by it.

Cinnamon versus Unity in Ubuntu 14.04

Tech Republic takes a look at whether or not Cinnamon is a viable replacement for Unity in Ubuntu 14.04. The article includes instructions on how to install Cinnamon in Ubuntu 14.04.

According to Tech Republic:

If you want a performance-centric desktop that doesn't toss aside feature and customization, Cinnamon is for you. Cinnamon is a straight-forward desktop interface that pretty much anyone can use -- from your IT staff to your grandmother. It really is that easy to use. Cinnamon doesn't surprise you, it doesn't trick you, but it also (in my opinion) doesn't wow you. But that's not what Cinnamon is about. This take on the desktop is all about functionality -- on a standard level. It doesn't break rules, push envelopes, or have new tricks up its sleeve.

Cinnamon is a fairly pedestrian desktop that takes the bits and pieces of what's worked well over the years and cobbles them together into one, well-designed piece. So, if you're okay with using a desktop that looks and feels a bit long in the tooth (but one that functions very, very well), Cinnamon is for you. If you lean towards the bleeding edge of design and prefer a more modern look and feel, Cinnamon will most likely disappoint.

More at Tech Republic
Cinnamon or Unity in Ubuntu 14.04
Image credit: Tech Republic

I'll have to weigh in on the side of Cinnamon here. While Unity has its pluses, I have never really been able to warm up to it. Cinnamon is closer to a more traditional desktop interface and that seems to work the best for me.

But as always, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The great thing about Linux is that it offers so many different choices. So you really can't go wrong with Unity or Cinnamon, just use whichever one you like best.

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the views of ITworld.

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