With the rise of Linux, Microsoft’s days are numbered

Just a few years ago, Microsoft was the unquestioned leader of the personal computer industry. However, by resting on its laurels at a time when digital artists, the Internet, and the number of tech-savvy users have grown exponentially, Microsoft missed a huge business opportunity. As people became frustrated with Windows, they began to turn to new alternatives. Currently, the biggest threat to Microsoft is Apple and its Mac OS X operating system.

With a more aesthetically pleasing and simple user interface, a resistance to most viruses and other security threats, and the kind of power to run high-performance applications such as Photoshop or AutoCAD with more fluidity than most Windows machines, Mac OS X has taken a big share of the market away from Microsoft.

Apple computers are a huge hit with younger users, specifically college students, often because of how much less maintenance they require. On the St. John’s campus, MacBooks are becoming an increasingly common sight. As students tire of the standard-issue IBM ThinkPad and the problems that Windows users face, they often turn to Macs.

Part of this is strictly because of how trendy Apple products have become, and part of it is because of the great performance and reliability that their computers deliver. Either way, Macs are quickly becoming the notebook of choice on college campuses.

Despite its simplicity and security, the cost of owning a Mac still pushes many people away from them. This cost-barrier has protected Microsoft for years, but the end of it may be near. The real threat to Microsoft is Linux, an open-source, freely distributed operating system.

Until the last five years, Linux was considered almost unusable for the general public. It was complicated, confusing, and incorporated a substantial amount of text-based commands. It seemed that the only real benefit was that it was free.

Now, however, the game has changed. Linux has many variations, and a large number of them have become extremely user-friendly. The most popular distribution at this point is Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu can be installed in a relatively small amount of space and uses a low amount of system resources. Because of this, the operating system runs very quickly. Ubuntu has fixed almost all of the complaints that people have about the Linux operating system.

Linux, as an open-source software, has both positives and negatives. One of the biggest positives is that finding and installing software such as word processors, media players, and games is as easy as going to a menu and selecting what new software you would like added to the computer. All of the options are free, but many are still amazing.

Of course, the negative side to this is that since Linux embraces open software so strongly, few commercial software publishers develop for the platform. While the Openoffice.org suite, Songbird, a lot of other software are great alternatives, sometimes Microsoft Office, iTunes, and standard products are necessary. Free software is still advancing, but it has yet to reach the point where it can completely replace proprietary software.

Linux is already beginning to take over businesses and homes as a cost-efficient alternative to Windows, and its growth is only limited by developers’ imaginations. Windows is struggling, and while they will remain number one for now, it seems impossible for the company to hold their position in the long run.

The competition has risen up and challenged Microsoft, and it seems impossible for the once-unrivaled giant to stay on top. Macs are a growing trend, and are certainly cutting into the market. However, Linux is constantly evolving, advancing, and reaching new users. With the advent of a more user-friendly interface and the unlimited potential of open-source software, it would seem that Linux is on the path to becoming the new standard.