Will Linux and Mac Desktop Adoption Ever Reach the 20 of the 80/20 Rule?

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I've been sitting on this post, because I was hoping to put a more positive spin on the fact that even companies that adopt Linux for desktop computer users rarely if ever provide it to more than 20 percent of their users. In other words, even companies who say they “Love Linux” only put it on one of five desktops. Since I can't figure out a happy way to spin this, I'll put the blame where it belongs: on the Linux community that believes technical advantage will sway users and therefore ignores marketing. They lose, every single time, to Microsoft, because executives in Redmond know that marketing, along with massive developer support, always wins.

Let's be blunt: Apple and Linux fans squandered an enormous opportunity when Vista laid a resounding egg, both with the public and with developers. In sports, sometimes it's enough to let your opponents beat themselves. Evidently the same holds true in computer operating systems, because otherwise Linux and Apple would have grabbed 20 percent each of the new installs market during the early dog days of Vista. Neither did, and Microsoft won't lay another egg like Vista for at least eight more years. That noise you hear is the window of opportunity for Linux and Apple slamming shut.

The spark for this post was the report in ComputerWorld titled Survey: Even Linux-Loving Firms Only Deploy It To One-Fifth of Employees. Linux's overall share of desktops remains at about 1 percent, according to the article. I've seen much larger percentages in small and medium sized companies, but that's not the issue here. The 1275 IT professionals surveyed in April this year reported that half of the businesses that have deployed Linux on the desktop rolled it out to less than 20 percent of their workers.

I believe, as do the Linux and Apple fans, that more competition on the desktop would make for a better range of solutions because of more innovation and new approaches to old problems. Macs are making inroads into larger companies, but not nearly as much as they should based on the problems Microsoft has had keeping customers happy during Vista's early days. Linux offers huge cost savings, especially in smaller companies unable to wring big discounts out of Microsoft based on volume purchasing.

Alas, the world does not often turn in ways designed to make me happy. And the world of desktop computing is not turning in ways to increase desktop percentages of Linux and Apple systems.

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