Lodahl's blog: If you try to keep up with average, you will never get ahead

07 August 2008

If you try to keep up with average, you will never get ahead

Bob Sutor spoke on LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco yesterday.You can find the presentation on Bobs blog here: http://www.sutor.com/newsite/blog-open/?p=2446 .

One of the issues Bob spoke about, was the problem that open source development has been trying to 'keep up' with Microsoft for about a decade. 'The open source community cannot continue to copy a ten year old operating system' he said.

Of cause this is true and many people has joined the discussion and most agree with Bob on this issue (See discussion below this article: http://translate.google.com/translate?u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.version2.dk%2Fartikel%2F8082&hl=da&ie=UTF8&sl=da&tl=en ). As long as we try to keep up with someone else, we will never get ahead.

But I also must add that this is not the whole truth. If it was that easy it would be a matter of months before we could beat Microsoft and kick Windows out.

Why ?

People in open source communities are not average people. Most people in these communities are working in IT related positions and so we have technical skills and we are willing to do experiments. How dangerous can it be ? We are able to fix any problems our selves.

Because Mr. and Mrs. Average don't like changes.

One of the most difficult issues when a company changes to OpenOffice.org is the people and feelings. When average people see a new computersystem they will feel unsecure and threatened.

Therefore we need to get ahead without scaring the users.

How can we do that ?

We must admit that Micrososft did something well. They must have done. Microsoft created a computersystem that Mr. and Mrs Average actually learned how to use. We must identify what is good about Windows and MS Office.

Linux also has many advantages. On specific details Microsoft is actually years behind. Just think about perfomance, security and so on and so forth.

My issue is: Nothing is black and white. Nor is this discussion. We must find a balance between the known and the future. And we must do better than Microsoft. We have one very big advantage: The communities are the customers. Microsoft obviously has some problems knowing what their customers are asking for. Just think about the fact that Microsoft for several years claimed that customers didn't ask for ODF-support and how Microsoft has to push and push to get Vista over the counter.

1 comment:

Bob said...


Thanks for mentioning my talk. I think it makes perfect sense to keep with the familiar for a while so that you can gain acceptance for your work, but there comes a time where you either diverge in a creatively new way or remain more clone-like. Certainly Linux is filled with great innovations. My point yesterday is that it is now time for Linux to really take off to create a state-of-the-art user interface and to have extraordinary usability. In that regard, I urged people to stop trying to emulate the look-and-feel of a 7 year old Windows and instead look at what Apple has done with the Mac. Indeed, given the power of the free and open source communities, I think they can do even better for Linux.

Bob Sutor