opinion It has become a running gag. “20xx will be the year of the Linux desktop.” The punchline, of course, is that it will never happen. But the real joke is that there will soon be a year of the Linux desktop. It just won’t turn out the way Linux fanboys thought it would.
The Linux desktop dream was for businesses and people to realize that the Linux desktop is simply better than Windows. Part of the hope is true. The Linux desktop is better than Windows.
For real. First of all, the Linux desktop is far more secure than Windows. I mean sure Linux has security issues. What not? But Microsoft has a monthly security mea culpa day: Patch Tuesday.
Linux is also easy to use. Even now, people claim Linux is difficult to use. That just goes to show that they haven’t used Linux in decades. In the past, you had to know shell programs to install programs and get work done. That was not the case in this century. Just like anything else today, get Linux software with one click and install the front end. Those who use Windows and Office programs are familiar with Linux interfaces such as KDE, GNOME and Cinnamon as well as programs such as LibreOffice. It’s not difficult at all.
The real problem remains that Microsoft maintained its advantage as a first-mover desktop operating system by forcing PC companies to only offer Windows to its customers in the 1990s. Combine that with the simple fact that people don’t like change, and you have the real reason why neither Linux nor macOS have progressed beyond niche desktop roles.
But this will change. It won’t be because people wake up tomorrow and realize how much better Linux is technically better than Windows. nope That does not happen.
Instead, it will happen because Microsoft is ditching the traditional PC-centric operating system for a cloud-based one. Why? Because that’s where the money is.
Thanks to the near ubiquitous availability of high-speed Internet, Microsoft has discovered that it can make more money leasing you a subscription to an online service than selling you a product. Don’t you think so? Watch the recording.
Back in 2019, shortly after Microsoft released Office 2019, Microsoft celebrated this important announcement by…encouraging people not to buy it. Jared Spataro, then Microsoft’s corporate vice president for the Office and Windows group, explained that Office 2019’s applications were “frozen in time.” They’re never updated with new features,” while “Office 365 comes with Office apps fully installed… and those apps just keep getting better over time, with new features being rolled out every month.”
Office 365 has changed its name. It’s Microsoft 365 now, but the plan remains the same.
Microsoft has exactly the same plan for Windows. Instead of “selling” you Windows 12, they really want people to rent a cloud-based desktop-as-a-service (DaaS). Specifically, they want you to use Windows 365 Cloud PC, Windows 365 Enterprise Cloud PC, or Azure Virtual Desktop. What is that? Have you never heard of this? You will.
In spring 2022, Microsoft’s virtual meeting “Windows Powers the Future of Hybrid Work” presented its vision for the Windows desktop of tomorrow. There, Microsoft’s Windows and Surface boss Panos Panay explained that this was “just the beginning of our Windows and Microsoft cloud integration”.
With new programs like Windows 365 Boot you can boot directly into the Windows 365 Cloud PC. This Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) offering lets you run “Windows” from your PC, Mac, Chromebook, or, hey, a Linux PC. Hell, you can even run it from an Android device or iPhone.
These are all business needs of Windows. Windows 365 Boot is specifically designed for businesses that allow you to bring your own device (BYOD) to work, or for shared laptops. It’s also useful from a corporate security standpoint if you’re working from home, as it keeps your work separate from your kid’s Minecraft account.
But this, too, was on its way to home PCs. February 2022 Windows 11 update. Under the “Windows 11 Settings” > “Accounts” menu you will find a new section “Your Microsoft Account”. There you can find your Microsoft 365 subscription status, how full your OneDrive cloud storage is, and other details. More recently, Windows 11 Insider Preview Build 22567 now integrates your credit card information into Windows.
It’s almost like they’re getting ready to launch Windows 365 Home Cloud PC. I assume it will be released early next year.
On the day Microsoft ditches the traditional PC desktop it started with, Linux and macOS will win by default. They will be the last PC-centric desktops. Everything else will have been replaced by cloud-based operating systems.
Thanks to Google, Linux will also play a role there. Both ChromeOS, which pioneered cloud-based DaaS for the mass market, and ChromeOS Flex, which lets you switch older Windows PCs and Macs to Chrome OS, use Linux at their core.
But for anyone who doesn’t want their desktop based on someone else’s servers, the old-school Linux desktop is the future. So, yes, in the end, the Linux desktop wins. Unfortunately, cloud-based DaaS is what most people will be using.
If that makes you feel any better, thanks to Android, the most popular end-user operating system will still be Linux. Again, it just won’t be the Linux “desktop” you were hoping for. ®
https://www.theregister.com/2022/10/14/linux_desktop_/ Ah yes, the year of the Linux desktop is coming • The Register