ISS it time to ditch Microsoft Windows?

By: John McGarvey

Date: 9 May 2013

Windows blue screenWe tend to focus on Microsoft Windows here on Tech Donut. Although there are many alternative operating systems that are reliable capable and even free (like Linux), we've taken the view that it's easiest for small firms to stick with the status quo.

Quite simply, Microsoft Windows is one of the few pieces of software that's used almost universally by companies across the UK. Sit a new member of staff in front of a computer running Windows and there's a good chance they'll know how to use it.

Windows gets the job done

That's not to say for a moment that Windows doesn't have its problems. From the famed blue screen of death (see image) to the ridiculous Windows Update system that seems designed to kill productivity dead, Windows can be frustrating at times.

But by and large it gets the job done. And although it's arguable that the dominance of Windows has stifled innovation, if you're just trying to get stuff done then there's a lot to be said for having what pretty much amounts to a standard operating system.

Is change in the air?

However, having said all that, we're starting to wonder if change might be in the air. The ties that bind that businesses to Microsoft Windows may be loosening. Here's why:

  • Although Windows dominates laptop and desktop computers, the picture's less rosy in smart phones and tablets. Apple and Google command the lion's share of these emerging markets. This means that as more businesses use tablets and smart phones in place of traditional computers, Windows may become less crucial for business.
  • Windows 8 - the latest version of Windows - has an entirely new interface, which means bits of it are like learning to use a new operating system. Many companies seem reluctant to upgrade. Is it too much of a leap to imagine them considering entirely new operating systems?
  • The cloud is making Windows less important. You can use online cloud services to replace much of your traditional software. These work on any computer, regardless of the operating system. They just run inside a web browser. Google's Chromebook works on this principle. Could it be the future of business IT?

But one story emerged this week that'll bring cheer to opponents of Windows, particularly those who prefer to use Linux. As it turns out, the International Space Station (ISS) is moving from Windows to Linux in order to improve reliability.

And let's be honest. If it's good enough to run the ISS, it's probably good enough for your average business.

Image: namho on Flickr.

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