Upgrade? Is she worth it?

Upgrade? Is she worth it?


People are real creatures of habit, aren’t they? It’s true, change is a stressful thing. There are all those statistics that say events like divorce and moving house are as stressful as a death in the family. However, none of those stress therapists ever predicted the suffering that it seems thousands of people are slogging through at this very minute, mouths forced open in silent screams of distress... the stress of switching from trusty, faithful first wife XP to that slinky young blonde upstart Vista. Who knew something so desirable could be so high maintenance?

And Dell are there, listening, offering distraught individuals the opportunity to revamp the exterior but to keep ole faithful on the inside (that’s right ladies, with plastic surgery, anything’s possible). After a quantity of complaints on Dell’s Ideastorm website, where Dell customers go and let them know what they should be doing, Dell decided that XP was still the go. Turns out that when Dell stopped offering XP on most of their models after January (and heaps of other retailers did the same), visitors to Ideastorm voted not to get rid of XP just yet to the tune of 10,700 votes... and Dell listened.

And Dell are good listeners, really. They’re also, due to customer demand, about to start offering the pre-installed GNU/Linux on some machines (who I guess, following my above analogy, would be the girl next door who you never really paid any attention to because you were momentarily blindsided by the high-maintenance good looks and flashy extravagance of XP? Anyway...). Good for them! My favourite bit of the article that I’m quoting was the bit where Gartner and Microsoft came out in response to this information that all the moms and dads want to keep their XP—these weirdos are a “small minority”, and “most consumers want the latest and greatest”. (She’s high maintenance. But isn’t that part of the appeal? Apparently not.)

Okay. So it turns out that we are creatures of habit, more than creatures who want to take on hot new second wives (comforting, hey ladies?). Michael Gartenberg from JupiterResearch gave the reasons for XP keeping its popularity was because it’s still good enough, it’s familiar, and it works with their existing hardware (the mind boggles, really, but the fact that Vista doesn’t work with everything is a separate side issue in stupidity). He also believes that OSes are “inherently by nature kind of boring” and Microsoft need to crank up the marketing pressure so that even though Dell are offering the safe and comfortable alternative of XP on the couch with popcorn and trackie pants, everyone will be salivating over Vista’s hot little black cocktail dress.

But what does that mean for the much maligned, plain-faced and unfairly passed over GNU/Linux next door? Honey, maybe it’s a case of if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Instead of trying to be cutely independent, quirky, and goodie two shoes, be more like the Sandy in Grease! Pick up a bad habit or two, slap on some window dressing (pardon the pun) to look more like the popular girls and get out there and get yourself noticed!

What we really need is someone to do a GNU/Linux distro that is virtually indistinguishable from Windows XP (I guess we can leave out the viruses, spyware, BSODs, instability, lack of security thing though, really). This way, all those people who don’t want to upgrade to Vista can still get what they’re used to (without the bad stuff). Can you imagine the relief on their faces when they hear: “Here, this is IDENTICAL to XP in every way, except it isn’t crap and it’s free. Give it a go!”. And that, ladies and gentlemen, might be how we can get GNU/Linux on more desktops. And, don’t worry Microsoft, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery!

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Comments

Mitch Meyran's picture

...there are things that can't be done, for various reasons:

  • copying the XP look can be considered copyright infringement. However some themes (see LookXP for example, or XPde) already allow a very close copy of the everyday interface you get with Windows XP.
  • Linux can't run Windows drivers, and its drivers don't work the same anyway; as such, hardware compatibility goes out the window (pun half-intended).
  • Linux can't run Windows software (you need a wrapper: see Wine, Cedega, Crossover) as-is.

An opportunity to do what you ask for is not to use Linux and Linux-based systems, but to use Free reimplementations of win32 and the NT kernel: check out ReactOS for an idea of how difficult this is.

Linux is Linux; turning it into a Windows XP clone is like putting Angelina Jolie in size 50 greasy coveralls with tool belts and pouches: it might fit, but the result is awkward, unflattering, not working and frustrating for all involved.
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A computer is like air conditioning: it becomes useless when you open windows.

K. Meyer's picture
Submitted by K. Meyer (not verified) on

The only time I've had a BSOD in Windows XP was due to buggy video drivers. Can the Linux crowd please stop already about BSOD? I haven't experienced it.

Author information

Bridget Kulakauskas's picture

Biography

Bridget has a degree in Sociology and English and a keen interest in the social implications of technology. She has two websites: Illiterarty and The Top 10 Everything. She also handles accounts and administration for Free Software Magazine.