Often as I read my Internet news I note that the perennial question of "Is Linux ready for the desktop?" and I started thinking about it. I've also recently been playing with Windows 8 and I said to my co-worker "Is Windows 8 ready for the desktop?" We both laughed. As an outgrowth of this I started to really look at what it would take for me as a consultant with a range of small and medium business clients to move them to Linux.
Obviously there are a range of applications that are not cross platform - usually either financial (MYOB etc) or industry specific stuff.Wine could potentially take care of this, or even running Windows in a virtual machine - which is common with people needing Windows XP to run specific software and being unable to run it on Windows 7 (and also 8). As for the common applications like word processing, spreadsheets and presentations there are a range of Open Source versions like NeoOffice, or even Google Apps or Office 365.
If you consider application support beyond the specific software noted above, there are plenty of applications available in your Linux of choice for all the stuff you want to do - video / audio / image editing, video / audio play etc. The options are numerous.
Taking into account Linux's robust architecture and resilience against viruses, trojans and malware, then the operating system starts to really look good. It's not uncommon for me to have a Linux desktop with 30 plus days of up time. Updates are easy and encompass the OS as well as apps, all in one reasonably easy to use package (I like Linux Mint personally and it's great for all these things).
Take Android for example. Prior to it gaining popularity I bet there were a lot of people asking if Android was ready for the mobile market place. Time has certainly shown that it is. The difference between the mobile phone marketplace and the desktop is simply that the competition is so much more fierce. Microsoft's stranglehold over the desktop, strengthened by their bundled browser Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player and buy in from all the big software firms.
Chromebooks - Linux on the desktop! Obviously it's ready - it needs the brilliant packaging and design of MacOS X. And probably someone big to push it. Dell have been offering it for some time now and the excellent Ubuntu Windows installer (also available on Mint) gives the new user a chance to play with it.
Give Linux a try - if only in a virtual machine and make up your own mind:
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