I will be the first to admit it: I hate Windows. I hate Windows more than, well, let's just say nothing else comes close in my hatred for Windows. It's not just that it's a product of a company that has used rather ruthless and questionable tactics to achieve its position or the ubiquitousness of Windows. It simply comes down to a matter of quality, not quantity.
Granted, Windows does a good job at various things, but there are flaws, glaring flaws, that have tarnished Microsoft's flagship product. Viruses, worms, spyware, buffer overflows, hackers. All these security holes make Windows look more like a block of Swiss cheese than an operating system. Granted, a lot of problems can be solved by having users not use administrator by default. And running an anti-virus program will help snuff out viruses and worms. And a good firewall will keep hackers at bay. But therein lies the problem: all these third party software programs to secure an operating system that has a history of being insecure. Add to this mix the fact that Microsoft is now only releasing updates once a month, and even then, some patches are months behind the first known exploit. This is not what I look for in a product.
Even so, Microsoft holds domination over the operating system market. The fact is, most users have only used Windows and do not know the options available to them. Much like Ford and the Model T.
The Model T has been credited with putting a car in the garages of average working Americans. They were inexpensive and everywhere. That's not to say they were the best available, just the most popular. Today, we use the Model T as a reference to something that is slow and/or outdated. That's not to say that the Model T was a mistake, but rather it outlived its usefulness.
Likewise, I feel that Windows, as it currently stands, has outlived its usefulness. Sure, it got computers into the hands of the average person (for better or worse), but, like the Model T, it has failed to change with the times. Case in point, viruses used to spread primarily through shared floppy disks. Now, just plugging a Windows computer into the Internet exposes to it to viruses that don't require the user to do anything. Worst of all, there are now viruses that will turn a PC into a spam zombie. Now getting a virus is bad enough, and spam is a nightmare that would scare even Freddy Kruger, but to combine the two causes not only problems for the users and unsuspecting spam victims, it also impacts everyone else by chewing up bandwidth on the Internet. The more I think about it, the Model T analogy should be replaced with the Edsel.
Don't get me wrong, I still use Windows, but only because I am forced to in my work environment. However, a revolution is coming. With Linux becoming more popular, including the soon to be released Debian Sarge, and Apple's new Mini Mac, users now have more choices. All they lack is the opportunity and the leadership.
Opportunity in the sense that not only are these choices are easily and readily available, they are also affordable. But that is not enough to draw the masses away from Windows and into a more secure environment. There must be leadership. Not just one person standing up and saying "Take up arms and defend yourself from the evils that plague you", but rather a grassroot effort, one person at a time. It may not sound like much, but you take a penny and double it; then double that; and double that; and so on and so on. Before long, you have a million dollars.
And that is how Windows will be defeated by Linux and OS X. It will take the combined effort of Linux and OS X users to stop fighting amongst themselves and with each other and instead focus on educating the populace about the alternatives they have. Many Windows users say that the games they want to play are simply not available for Linux or OS X. But if the number of Linux and OS X users grow large enough, publishers will not only take notice, but program for those platforms. In fact, it is already starting to happen.
The battlelines are drawn and powerful forces are rallying. What is truly amazing is not just the numbers of companies, but who the players are: IBM, HP, Novell, Oracle, Intel, AMD, NVIDIA, ATI, Id software, and more. These are not mere privates, these are generals. But it will be the privates, corporals, and sergeants who will take the fight to the field. If history has taught us anything, it's that all empires eventually fall.