I just got done reading an article from The Inquirer entitled, “Ubuntu spurns Microsoft’s advances“. Admittedly, the title seems is a bit cryptic once you have read the article, but at the very least it is compelling. When I saw the title I expected to read an article about how Microsoft had tried to lure Mark Shuttlework and Ubuntu to the the dark side. But as you read it you realize he is talking about his experience with installing Linux alongside Windows.
Now, I have read articles like this a thousand times. Admittedly, in about 50% of the cases it doesn’t go well. As a long time Linux user, and in particular working with a Linux desktop product, I crindge as I read these articles because I’m just waiting for the point where it goes south. I can hear the collective cries of the Linux faithful saying, “…But it’s so easy!!!” Then the barrage of advice to go to this web site or that user forum, or to just compile this one piece and put the result in a particular directory. Maybe just the old standby: RTFM.
Now, as I said, in at least half the cases the install goes swimmingly and the writer ponders, “…so why do I need Microsoft?” Those are always great to read, but I can’t help but think, “Please write a follow-up with your experiences over time.” I’m not rooting for them to fail, I’m looking for areas where we need to improve. In all the cases where I read an article where a non-Linux user installs and reviews Linux, though it is painful to read, I take the failures as just more areas where we as a comunity can strive to improve.
That is not to say that a user’s experience on Windows should be the gold standard, and contrary to what many Microsoft shills will say Linux does and always has branched out and strived to be better. Mac devotees will tell you, “Use a Mac!! It’s so easy and intuitive!” From first hand experience observing several Windows users of varying expereince levels switch to a Mac, and from my own experince with UI testing and design, I can tell you that Mac OS X is not the gold standard either.
We need to continue to work on cool new projects, but we can’t forget the simpler parts of the user experience. In this case, the guy just wanted to be able to get a file from one computer to the other. Yes, I know that Samba and Microsoft networking is complex and riddled with pitfalls. Instead of making excuses, let’s take this as a challenge and strive for the ever-elusive “just works”.
As I noted in my last (and first) entry here, I have switched locations for my blog in an effort to actually use my domain for something other than e-mail. It also makes it easier for others to find my blog. If you would like to see my previous blog entries please go to http://xrepete.blogspot.com/.