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Windows 8 and the Linux Desktop Windfall

Linux Tux

From the 'Year of the Linux Desktop' files:

Microsoft's Window 8 is nearing completion and with it comes the new Metro interface. It's an interface that could translate into a big win for the Linux desktop. Windows 8 is a dramatic shift from the previous generation of Windows and that will no doubt upset and confuse lots of users.

With Windows 8 reaching general availability status soon, it will also mean that Windows XP is finally on its last legs.

So let's recap, new interface that many people won't like. Old operating that needs to be replaced.

When there is such a dilemma, it's an opportunity for other vendors as users have to make a choice. The easy choice is to stay with the tried and true but since Metro is new, that's not the easy choice is it? The aging Windows XP hardware users also won't want to move.

Linux can be an excellent choice for both sets of users.

Linux can and does run well on lots of old hardware, including boxes that won't support Windows 8. Linux can give those users a path forward without the need to buy expensive (and perhaps un-needed), new hardware. Even though Microsoft may not want to support users running older hardware, there are plenty of Linux distributions that will.

For newer hardware, there are multiple types of Linux desktops out there provide a very attractive non-Metro approach. Sure the Ubuntu Unity interface is also a distraction for lots of people, but GNOME 3.4 (out today) is pure awesome and Cinnamon provides a more traditional desktop interface that many people (myself included) find very practical.

The problem with this whole situation is right now, no Linux vendor is really pushing hard to be the Windows 8 migration choice on the desktop. What I suspect will drive the bulk of migrations are regular people like you and me. We have a friend/relative/etc stuck on old hardware or that doesn't want Metro and we know a better (free) alternative.

Windows 8 is great opportunity for Linux lovers everywhere to let their neighbors know there is another desktop choice (and it's not Apple).

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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