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It's all about cost
I probably do not need to even mention the current state of the economy. But in case you haven't had your head out of the sand in the last year, the world's economy is not doing so well. This long-term down-turn of the economy has certainly trickled down into IT departments and homes around the world. Much of that trickle-down precludes the purchasing of new computers and certainly new upgrades to operating systems and software.
If you're thinking about deploying Microsoft Exchange, you can forget about it with the new licensing costs. (You have to pay a licensing fee for every user that logs into the Exchange server now!). To this end, Linux and open source software will become the savior of the PC in 2009 and forward. Why? Costs. Linux is free. You want the latest, greatest? Expect to pay nothing. You read it right - zilch, zero, zip, NADA! The Linux operating system is released under the GPL which means it is free of cost and open source. You can download it, alter it, redistribute, whatever.
And this cost doesn't end with Linux. There are tons of software applications available for free. The cream of the crop?
OpenOffice: Office suite to rival MS Office
The GIMP: Graphics tools akin to Photoshop
Scribus: Desktop publishing on par with Quark and Pagemaker
And many others. Each of these tools will save you from having to pay for costly software licenses.
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The failure that is Vista
Sure Microsoft has proclaimed that Windows 7 will undo everything Vista has done. But they have said the same thing of nearly every operating system they have released. And who knows when Windows 7 will be released. In the mean time, anyone wanting a new operating system will have to look at Vista - unless they are willing to try something new. Linux, on nearly every level, is superior to Windows Vista. And while Microsoft was failing with Vista, nearly every Linux distribution moved forward with vast improvements in their versions of the Linux operating system. The kernel improved, the desktops improved, everything evolved in a positive way while Windows Vista was nothing more than a downgrade from XP.
It is rumored that Microsoft will NOT release Windows 7 in 2009. What does that mean? Vista for another year. So instead of continuing to struggle with the UAC and Aero, it is time to migrate to Linux to find out what a real operating system can do for you.
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Growing and growing
Like the little train that could, Linux keeps chugging along gaining more and more momentum as it goes. As Linux continues to grow, more and more of the hurdles have dropped away. No more can naysayers proclaim the Linux operating system isn't for new users. The Linux desktop has become the easiest user interface on the market. Peripherals? No problem. Even the graphics issue (one that has plagued Linux for a long time) has finally reached a point where it is now easier to work with than Windows.
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A security blanket
Viruses. Malware. Rootkits. Windows takes layers of third party applications in order to be protected from these nasty pieces of the computer puzzle. Linux, on the other hand, doesn't. With the Linux operating system you will not have to install a Norton's or any such security software. You won't have to worry about scanning for Malware or see your desktop compromised by trojans or worms.
That is not to say Linux is 100% immune. It's not. No operating system, when plugged into a network, is immune. But Linux has far fewer security issues than Windows. This is a big issue as virus and spyware writers become better at obscuring their code (and the code becomes more and more malicious).
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Introducing the netbook
The invasion of the netbook computer is the perfect platform for Linux. When you are taking a tiny mobile computer and latching on to any available network, you need an operating system on your netbook that is secure. In addition, the Linux operating system keeps the cost of the netbook down because there are no licensing costs to cover. With the advent of the Linux netbook, the Linux operating system is becoming more and more widespread - and most often without the user's knowledge that they are using a "different" operating system. Linux works so seamlessly on netbooks you would never know you were using something many would have considered too difficult for average use.
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2009 will be the first year Linux finds serious traction in the operating system market. And most likely Linux will begin to grow into as much a household name as Windows. Make it your goal to give Linux a chance this year. You won't regret it.