October 18, 2012, 8:41 PM — There's never any shortage of excitement and anticipation surrounding the major updates to Ubuntu Linux that arrive twice each year, and Thursday's brand-new release is no exception.
This time, however, the timing is particularly fortuitous.
As the PC-using world braces itself not just for the release of Windows 8 next week but also the end of life of Windows XP in 2014, the new Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal" offers a raft of widely anticipated new features and a fresh alternative to what Canonical calls "the pain of Windows 8."
I spoke on Wednesday with Steve George, Canonical's vice president of communications and products, about this latest desktop release and the OS landscape facing users today. Here's a rundown of what he told me.
In a nutshell, the desktop version of Ubuntu 12.10 focuses on two key areas, both driven by users' increasing tendency to spend their days in a mix of local and online apps, George said.
"Ultimately, Ubuntu needs to respond to this by drawing the online and offline worlds together," he explained.
Accordingly, the first area of focus in this new release is the Unity Dash, which has essentially been extended to incorporate the online world.
"The important thing about the Dash is that it's a search method rather than just about files and folders," George told me. "For this release, not only will it search for documents on your local hard drive, but also in Google Docs, for example, for files that are online.
"When I look for content, what I want to find is all of my content, whether online or off," he added.