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Sun, 19 Oct 2008

How to get more developers.

Christian worries about how to grow the desktop share in the free desktop.

Some recent events (Chromium, Geode) have led me to believe that … We've won … already.

For example let's look at the reactions to Chromium (which I believe was released way too early):

I've just picked three links but the trend is clear. The digirati want to use Linux and Mac OS X to evaluate new technologies NOT Windows. Sure, some of them still have those boxes around for “client work”. But that is not what they use day-to-day.

Now let's take a look at Mozillas' Geode. Here is the Introduction to Geode. Look at the comments:

In fact the outcry was enough for lack of Linux support that is merited a follow-up Common Geode Q&As:

Geode is meant as a temporary solution to allow websites to experiment with geolocation today. … Skyhook is built in. A side effect is that Linux isn't supported for the simple reason that Skyhook hasn't implemented Linux drivers. Although not ideal. …

A year ago this would not have happened. This amount of push-back from the digirati that the new technology they are supposed to look at and evaluate is not available on their platform would have been accepted as a matter of course.

Now, though, they all expect it on their platform of choice. We've won, already.

Whilst the largest user-base remains the Windows market, if you want the digirati to look at and evaluate what you have to offer it needs to work on Linux & Mac OS X. Another example, while I remember, is Adobe releasing Flash 10 for Linux on the same day as other platforms.

Unheard of.

So what does mean for Christian's question?

  1. Within 12 months it will be inconcievable for software to NOT be released on Windows + Linux (and maybe Mac OS X)
  2. Within 24 months we will have power users asking for Free Software (probably not Linux but more likely OpenOffice 3.x & Firefox) routinely
  3. Within 36 months Linux will be 10% of the desktop market. Bigger than Mac OS X. That is a lot of people you can not afford to ignore if you are a company, it will mean that ‘web-based’ will be more and more common — integration between desktop and the web will be key.

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