Eric Raymond Goes Off the Deep End

Slashdot today was talking about this interview with Linux evangelist Eric Raymond. In the interview, Raymond’s comments come across as almost being a parody of Linux true believers. Raymond is apparently seriuos about the following claims,

I think Linux will become dominant before it is really ready technically for the end users. And the reason I believe that is because I now think that Microsoft monopoly is going to collapse for other reasons in the near future.

One of the reasons is that prices for hardware is steadily dropping. This is a problem for Microsoft because their business model depends on charging a fixed price for pre-installed Windows on a machine. As hardware prices drop, that fixed price represents a larger portion of the margins of the desktop OEMs. The desktop OEMs are going to reach the point when prices drop to a certain level where they simply can’t make any money paying the Microsoft tax.

And it is at that point, that the Microsoft monopoly will collapse, because they will then unbundle Windows from their machines, and offer something that’s inexpensive (like, say, Linux), in an effort to get some of their margin. I believe that will happen probably within five to six month from now, and that’s probably before Linux will become polished and be ready for the end user.

Ummm, no. Hardware companies selling Intel and AMD boxes won’t discard Windows or replace it with Linux for one simple reason — nobody would buy them. Okay, the Linux enthusiasts might, but general users wouldn’t touch the things with a ten foot pole.

What Windows, Mac, and Linux advocates forget is that most end users could care less what OS they’re using. What the average end user is concerned about is application support on the OS. When my wife looks at a new computer she doesn’t care about the technical aspects of the OS, she just wants to make sure she can write her thesis on it, and occasionally take a break and play “The Sims.”

Linux is a long way from having the ease of use and application support to see it migrate to desktop computers except as a niche market. The manufacturer who tried this would almost certainly end up regretting it.

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