Will Linux Soon Win the Desktop Battle?

Some Linux versions are looking more and more like Windows these days. See my last Netcast for some examples, but THAT is nor what I mean when I say that Linux may yet win the desktop.

Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957,) often referred to as “ESR,” is an American software developer, Open Source software advocate, and author of the controversial 1997 essay and 1999 book “The Cathedral and the Bazaar.” Interestingly, he is also a member of the Libertarian Party and is a gun rights advocate. In a September 25th Blog post he says:

“The two most intriguing developments in the recent evolution of the Microsoft Windows operating system are Windows System for Linux (WSL) and the porting of their Microsoft Edge browser to Ubuntu.

ESR at Linucon 2004

For those of you not keeping up, WSL allows unmodified Linux binaries to run under Windows 10. No emulation, no shim layer, they just load and go.

Microsoft developers are now landing features in the Linux kernel to improve WSL. And that points in a fascinating technical direction. To understand why, we need to notice how Microsoft’s revenue stream has changed since the launch of its cloud service in 2010.

Ten years later, Azure makes Microsoft most of its money. The Windows monopoly has become a sideshow, with sales of conventional desktop PCs (the only market it dominates) declining. Accordingly, the return on investment of spending on Windows development is falling. As PC volume sales continue to fall off , it’s inevitably going to stop being a profit center and turn into a drag on the business.

Looked at from the point of view of cold-blooded profit maximization, this means continuing Windows development is a thing Microsoft would prefer not to be doing. Instead, they’d do better putting more capital investment into Azure – which is widely rumored to be running more Linux instances than Windows these days.”

He speculates that one day, maybe even soon, Microsoft will give in to full Open Source support, then make our desktop Windows essentially a specialized distribution of Linux! It would have a “WINE-like” compatibility layer for older Windows programs, but would essentially be Linux under the hood!

A provocative idea, but with their biggest money maker, Azure, already running on Linux, way not? They need their Azure systems to stay up at 99.99999% and serve out systems securely, which is why Microsoft, old time Linux haters, now, for the most part, run Azure on Linux in their data centers! It is simply in their best interest! Will they now port everything in that direction? Maybe so, we’ll see!

If so, we will have finally won the Linux vs. Windows battle, without a shot being fired!

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