The free computer operating system, while a great thing for many of us old enough to remember the dial-up modem days of Internet access, has made a significant contribution to the death spiral of the personal computer and the business behind it.
Apple was the first of the big three to offer its OS free of charge. I always thought you (mostly) get what you pay for. The quality of Apple’s OS seemed to slip in some ways, but it always has retained its ease of use. “It just works” was touted by Apple fans the world ’round. Not having to bother with an anti-virus or malware protection like Windows users did was also one of the benefits, at least in the early days, when security was not as much of a concern as it is now.
Microsoft was always rushing to patch Windows and it really has done the best job it could over the years, all considered. With Windows 10, it finally has its own version of, “It just works,” and it does so for free (at least to consumers with computers previously on Windows 7 and 8). Windows 10 is slick interface-wise just like Apple and in fact, the two former competitors’ operating systems share more in common now than ever before (with respect to ease of use of their operating systems).
Linux was always free, but until recently, it needed too much tweaking once installed before users could just get work done. Its customization may have been enjoyed by computer hobbyist enthusiasts everywhere, but for the average user, the command line was a place no one really wanted to go for any length of time. This complexity contributed to its being an outlier in terms of market share.
Ironically enough, Linux and Apple enjoyed single-digit market share behind PC’s running Windows. Apple became a gadget, phone and tablet company predominantly, forsaking the enterprise for the consumer segment. Windows is waist-deep in the business world, and with the successful launch of Windows 10, shows no signs of letting either Apple or Linux wrest control from it. Truth be told, Microsoft totally needed a hit with Windows 10. They had everything riding on this system in order to maintain dominance in the enterprise. Windows 7, while the best system outside of XP that Redmond ever produced, was getting long in the tooth and needed a successor.
Today, I am glad things have evolved as they have in the computer world. What’s sad is how computers are taking a back seat to mobile devices. I think it’s funny (and not surprising) how phone screens are getting bigger and bigger too. Guess that is only natural considering we are using our smart phones more than we are our computers.
Reports of the demise of the personal computer may be exaggerated for now. However, it is sad the death of newspapers and print media may only exceed personal computers’ mortality by a brief expanse of time.
I’m always going to need a large screen and keyboard for writing. The newest smart phones already have more processing capability than the computer I am writing this on. I suppose I will one day have monitors and keyboards that work remotely with my phone.
But I like the hum of the old tower that sits next to me. I like the clacking and clicking the mouse and keyboard make as I finesse this article to its conclusion. I also like the large monitor. And I still like newspapers, too, but I read most of my news on my phone these days. The writing really is on the wall that is the smart phone‘s screen.
Technology, by virtue of its making our lives easier was supposed to lead to greater happiness, or at least contentment, for all of its users. We have to keep up with the latest technology, too, for fear of being left behind. Perhaps it is this fear of being discarded, this feeling that we’ll be left alone if our heads are not buried up our large asses, I mean, screens, that has made us less happy and prone to bouts of melancholy.
So, I use Linux Mint to do the majority of my work now. Apple and Microsoft have slick, free operating systems available but I find no joy using them. Linux was always so complex by comparison to these two until recently. By always being free and by finally evolving into true ease of use, Linux is the ugly duckling that’s proven it’s better to blossom (and love) later in life, than not to have blossomed (and loved) at all. And for this I am happy. I can enjoy my personal computer until the keyboard clacking one day halts for good.