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Windows 7, Meet Fedora 10; Play Nice

I'm tempted to name my notebook Panmunjeom. In real life, that's the name of the DMZ where North and South Korea meet and conduct what diplomacy they can. As far as my notebook goes, it's where I have the public beta of Windows 7 and various Linux installs (currently Fedora 10) running dual-boot.

I'm tempted to name my notebook Panmunjeom. In real life, that's the name of the DMZ where North and South Korea meet and conduct what diplomacy they can. As far as my notebook goes, it's where I have the public beta of Windows 7 and various Linux installs (currently Fedora 10) running dual-boot.

It's a curious experience, switching between the the two and seeing how each chooses to do things differently. I have to say that what I've seen of Windows 7 so far, I like a great deal -- it's been stable; it runs extremely well on what today amounts to modest hardware; it worked fine with all the hardware drivers that I used for Vista on the notebook, including what I feared was tricky stuff like the display controls; it was a snap to install. And the way the system in general's been cleaned up and made less persnickety (read: UAC) ought to make plenty of people happy.

I keep Fedora on the second partition, both for the sake of comparing how well it runs on the same machine and as a way to force myself to get continual exposure to desktop / hands-on Linux in some form. It's been pretty positive going for the most part -- the only things I can't really do in Fedora are run applications that I don't have on that machine anyway (e.g., Photoshop). But blogging, field work, organizing photos, checking e-mail -- all easy enough.

The question I get asked about 7 -- and one that I've asked myself -- is, "So will this win people back into the Windows fold?"

That depends on why they left in the first place. If they decamped for the Mac, they've already made an investment in an entirely different ecosystem that's in itself pretty difficult to switch away from. That and there's the fact that the Mac tends to be hugely satisfying to those who choose it; I think I could count the total number of people I know who switched back from the Mac on one hand with fingers left over.

It they left Windows for Linux, I suspect no amount of coaxing will work, because they left (shilling for "defected") for reasons that cannot be addressed by newer revisions of Windows. They left because of the price tag, real or hidden; because of the platform lock-in; because of the proprietary nature of the whole thing. They've left Windows, period -- and Microsoft.

I don't think Microsoft should try to win people like that back, since it would require more effort that it's humanly worth on their part. I also don't think Linux developers should worry about how many people they can win over from the MS camp; that's a bonus. The two OSes are not going to address the same markets no matter what, by their very natures. I'd rather see that accepted honestly than either of them trying to be something they're clearly not. The business of making quality software for the masses is hard enough.

Editor's Choice
Mary E. Shacklett, President of Transworld Data
James M. Connolly, Contributing Editor and Writer