Sunday, December 2, 2007

Wal-Mart is unwittingly undermining Microsoft's quest for domination.

Silverlight, Moonlight, and Linux on economic computers are the battles to watch in 2008.

The Average Computer User Gets More Open Source
Sitting on my ex-girlfriend's bed, let's call her Betty, I install the codecs needed to run DVD's on what was once the computer we shared. Her computer was my first guinea pig for dual booting Linux software. My Linux crusade began with her machine and I have learned much about the computer needs for the average user.

Betty switched to Linux after her windows system went belly-up. She didn't have the original Ethernet-driver-CD Roll Eyes , but Ubuntu got her Internet up and running without hassle.

With the $200 Wal-Mart Linux PC,the Everex’s TC2502 gPC, users will have an alternative to Microsoft Vista. Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes in

By installing Linux and OpenOffice, the total cost of the PC is kept as low as possible. While the price of hardware has fallen dramatically, the price of Windows hasn’t. This could be Microsoft’s Achilles’ Heel. This low price point will appeal to many.

The typical user only needs access to the internet and email, says Maddman for

Why would Joe Sixpack, the everpresent nontechnical computer user buy one of these Linux computers? Quite simply, because its half the price of a Windows computer. Joe wants this computer for a few things. He wants to get on the web, but not for anything intense. Read some news pages, get his email, maybe look at a couple of dirty pictures when Mrs. Sixpack isn't looking. He isn't worried about gaming, because he
doesn't play them. Or if he does, its far more likely to be on a Playstation or other console. He might want to listen to some music from a CD collection. If he's a paticularly adept Joe, he might even have an MP3 collection. He might also like to write a letter
occasionally, but other than that to Joe Sixpack a computer is just an internet and music machine. Mostly internet.

With this mind, is likely that the Linux alternative is starting inroads into the main stream by providing what the average user wants from their computer. They want their computers to be cost effective for their lives, not priests of sacrifice to an ever hungry Vista demigod.

Betty is using Ubuntu exclusively to plan her entrepreneurial business, run her social networking accounts, sync her iPod, watch movies from her bedroom, and listen to her collection of MP3s.

Wal-Mart is bringing thousands of unwitting people into the Linux experience. The Open source community should embrace these people the way I welcomed was when I explored Ubuntu.

With Linux growing in users, the OS can further conquer other environments. Schools can legitimize Linux in the class room, Linux cell phones are making landmark achievements, governments are uniting over Linux. Nobody has to purchase Microsoft licenses, or any software for that matter. The success of the $200 PC is a huge victory to Linux.

Silverlight and The Future of the Internet
By using the fast Enlightenment desktop manager, Wal-Mart makes their PC more responsive, making up for the $200 PC's lack of horsepower. The OS design promotes Google's online applications, says Everex spokesman David Liu in a Wired news blog:

"It's almost like a Google PC," Liu says, pointing to the desktop's rack of pre-configured links to all of Google's online applications. It is, he says, the mass-market Linux PC we've all been waiting for. "That's our dream. ... we go the final step to make it work out the box, to go the whole nine yards."

Microsoft Internet Explorer/ Outlook express/ Messenger won't be bundled on this Operating System; Google wins out by being the default application on all these PCs. As an unintended result, Wal-Mart is creating users who won't use Microsoft or their affiliates' (Norton AV, Yahoo) products. Instead, they'll be using free products in the open source market.

Betty wants to watch Netflix (aligned with Wal-Mart) movies on the web. Silverlight is the browser plug-in required to run the Netflix instant watch feature. However, Silverlight is a Microsoft web application that competes with Adobe Flash and only available for Internet Explorer. IE doesn't easily run on Linux.

After much digging, it would appear that the open source -ha!- alternative for silverlight is Moonlight, which is still, "under heavy development." Netflix/Wal-Mart again sides with Linux by making it harder for $200 PC users to access instant watch capabilities.

It would appear that Wal-Mart is willing to sell out their partners in the name of profit. The company teams up with Microsoft via Netflix and Silverlight, then undermine the software giant with the sale of Linux machines. Meanwhile Linux and open source are given a new audience in which to prove that Linux is not for geeks and Google is strengthened by the default applications the $200 PC points to.

This says volumes about Wal-Mart's intentions. The fact that they can snub their Microsoft partner says that their not drinking the proprietary Kool-aid and that Linux is making great strides in the modern marketplace. I guess nobody is expecting the worlds largest company to worry about anyone except their shareholders.


1 comment:

MattBD said...

Great article. I agree that Linux adoption is making great strides forward - the gPC, the Asus Eee PC, Tesco in the UK selling a basic computer similar to the gPC with Ubuntu Dapper preinstalled for £160 (check out this link - ) and Dell selling preinstalled Ubuntu.
I've actually had a go with gOS, and it's very good indeed - as you say, it's ideal for Joe Sixpack. I even wrote a review, check it out at