Every few minutes it seems (ok, I read one of these about 2-3 times a year, linked from either Slashdot or Digg), some clueless journalist spouts about how Linux has "lost the battle" or (my favorite) -- the Linux Desktop, R.I.P.
And every year, Linux penetration gets a bit deeper -- sure some serious penetration on the server side, but honestly, the "desktop" hasn't been "won" or "lost" and saying something stupid like this begs the question:
Is the Windows desktop even relevant anymore?
I think the answer can be had all around us. In hand held devices (not just embedded Linux ones -- Blackberry, heck even Windows CE devices count here) that are not standard Windows desktops. Macs. Embedded web browsers found in devices that aren't running Intel chip-sets. The ASUS Eee PC, which has been selling (with embedded Linux) like hotcakes -- oh, wait, it's not a "desktop" either. It's a long list.
Yeah, Vista. Vista is a smoldering failure and an example of Microsoft group think. Heck, they think it was a failure of marketing even. It's not a failure of marketing -- it's being branded by faithful Windows supporters as "Millennium Edition II" -- in other words, lots of people are rolling back to XP in droves.
The failure of the Windows desktop is always eminent -- just ask Bill Gates who will tell you in previous interviews that they're always worried about this. When they lose this battle (it's not an "if", in other words) it will be because of a failure inside of Microsoft to recognize the severity of the situation.
For what it's worth, I don't quite think that Microsoft desktop management people are all that stupid. I do think they're going to have to do something about Vista.
And I hardly think the "battle" for the desktop is far, far from over.