The most obvious news from the Linux Foundation's study last week was that Linux is blowing Windows away on servers, and will continue to do so in the coming years. Servers and embedded uses, indeed, are where Linux currently does best, so that wasn't entirely surprising.
What received much less fanfare--and yet in many ways was much more notable--was the proportion of large businesses that are using it on the desktop. The figure cited, to be specific, is 36% of large enterprises currently using Linux on the desktop, while another 12% are evaluating or planning deployments over the next year.
To me, that just doesn't sound like the business world's response to something that is dead.
It's also important to realize that Net Applications' measly .85% figure is by no means the only one out there--it's just the best publicized.
W3Counter, for one, gives a 1.5% share for Linux in September--a marginal improvement over the figure from Net Applications, but still a little better. Wikimedia's Visitor Log Analysis Report for this summer, meanwhile, puts Linux at 1.9%, while an O'Reilly Media estimate puts it as high as 10%.
Again, though, the bottom line is that there currently isn't any way to know exactly how many desktop users Linux has. Drawing conclusions from these figures is like conducting a census by counting only the people who happen to be out on the street at any given time.
3. The Ubuntu Factor
Then, of course, there's Ubuntu, which has long been the most popular and consumer-friendly Linux distribution out there. I have to say that the excitement over the recently released version 10.10--Maverick Meerkat--surpassed anything I have seen before.