Google offers employees true choice on the desktop

Sure, the fact that “when you start work at Google, you get to choose whether you want a Mac, Windows, or Linux computer” shows how fundamentally Google gets some things. That’s not why I find this article interesting though. There are two very good snippets in the article:

“It strikes me that the fact that this level of choice is so unusual is a fundamental reason why Linux is struggling to make an impact on the desktop.”

There are other factors of course (such as application availability) but the fact is that for many businesses, Windows continues to be the desktop operating system of choice simply because it is currently the desktop operating system of choice.

I don’t think this factor is taken into account often enough. Companies are averse to change, even if that change is good for them. The “no one ever got fired for purchasing $COMPANY” mentality is pervasive in upper level technical management at many companies. We don’t just need to create a better product – we need to overcome hurdles like the one above.

“For many uses Windows may well be the best solution, but its difficult to think of another business asset for which managers would not even consider an alternative when it comes to renewal time.
In this regard businesses are doing themselves a disservice. I am not suggesting that Linux is a better option, but I am once again arguing that businesses owe it to themselves to consider the desktop requirements of their users before making a sweeping decision about desktop requirements.”

This drives home a point that I have thought about before but failed to put so succinctly. Why is it that for most assets, there is a considerable evaluation process and procurement procedure, but when it comes to choosing a platform that will run a considerable part of your operational infrastructure you don’t even think twice about deployment options. A disservice indeed. The question becomes, how do you overcome these obstacles. In many areas, we already are. Desktop Linux is not one of them. Yet.

–jeremy

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