I’ve always said that if OS X implemented a walled garden, that would be my last day as a Mac user. Long ago, I kicked iOS to the curb, only keeping enough devices to do software development and consulting for the platform.
Now that Windows 8 RTM has implemented a walled garden on Windows
Metro Modern applications… it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.
Imagine if in 1998 someone said that by the year 2015 or 2018 that both Apple and Microsoft would have veto power, and the ability to outright block what software you could run on your futuristic computer, nobody would believe the prophecy. We just saw the Department of Justice use the full power of the United States government to force Microsoft to not ever engage in such business practices.
And yet, here we are, no less than six months after the DoJ/Microsoft settlement expired, and Microsoft is going to restrict Modern Windows applications from running outside their walled garden. All applications on Windows RT PCs and Tablets will fall under this regime. It’s something I’ve written up one side, and down the other on, over at PhoneNews.com.
Sticking with Windows 7 is an option I neither find palatable or morally acceptable. Microsoft is betting that Windows 7 will become their new XP, and ensure that anyone who has a problem with the onerous, antitrust-grade restrictions in Windows 8, will simply stick with Windows 7. This gives Microsoft the power to play its own antitrust settlement negotiator; if the marketplace rejects Windows 8 as a steaming pile of antitrust, they can just wait for Windows 8.5, and move everyone from Windows 7 over to that “improved” rendition.
If the marketplace doesn’t reject Windows 8, those Windows 7 people will then have a XP-style decision: hold out or be stuck in the past. I’d rather move forward… now, and thankfully, Linux lets me do that.
Sure, I’ll be keeping a few skeleton set of Windows devices, for the same testing, analysis, and development needs. You can’t push back against walled gardens by ignoring them; you have to understand what they’re doing right, so that you can help bring change to the open computing world.
Thus far, it has been a pretty easy transition. Granted, I am primarily a Mac user, so moving from Windows to Ubuntu isn’t as app-dependent. There are only one or two Windows applications that I depend on, and they run fine inside WINE on Ubuntu.
And, I’m not your average Joe either. I’ve been working on Linux (and Android) powered code for years, but mostly on the architecture and management side. There are still a few things about Linux that bug me, and really kept me in the Windows world.
The first has to be a lack of a user-oriented approach to backing up. Ubuntu One is nice, and rsync is great for coders, but there’s nothing really as simple and powerful as either Time Machine or Windows Backup. CloneZilla is the closest option, and lacks a lot of the incremental tools of either Apple or Microsoft counterparts.
The other is a lack of emphasis by GPU manufacturers to embrace Linux. It’s a painful chicken-and-egg situation. But while OS X now supports PC/BIOS GPUs, and Android now has amazing GPU support… Linux has been left in the dust a bit. I presume with Valve’s Steam, and a few other things I’m privy too, that will change down the line.
I’ve already gotten heat (from more than one or two people) for choosing Ubuntu. I remain bullish on the platform, however. I think it stands a better chance than Tizen at getting a fourth place seat at the table for smartphone adoption. Ubuntu ARM can be scaled, and customized by individual manufacturers to provide a unique experience, while benefiting from a common userland. If this sounds like what MeeGo tried to do, you’ve got it with Ubuntu ARM.
In all, I don’t really miss Windows. I just hope Apple doesn’t make me do the same, as that would be a painful migration… OS X is still the world’s best operating system… but it’s really easy to box in a great OS with walls. Ask Windows 8/RT.
Clarification: Microsoft has said that Windows 8 Pro and Windows RT will allow sideloading on non-Enterprise editions, if a user activates a “special feature/product key”. Microsoft has yet to outline how an end-user can obtain such a key. Even so, Windows 8 (non-Pro) desktop will not allow Modern app sideloading under any circumstance according to Microsoft, thus fracturing the marketplace for any developer that can’t get a permission slip from Microsoft, to vend their app on the Windows Store.
If Microsoft does “flip the switch” post-RTM rectifying this, and makes it easy for consumers to sideload apps (for all Windows 8 editions), then I may change my opinion of Windows 8/RT. Until then, I suggest folks run as far away as possible.