So this was a pretty fun thing to watch. Why Linux Sucks as a free desktop, by a Linux aficionado. Funny is that he uses a sentence that I love to use too. "Developers need to eat", so true. Software is not free. Open Source maybe, but who cares? Free? Perhaps after twenty paid years!
To me this video hits the spot on the reason why free software doesn't cut it in the desktop market. Take the mess that Doug has been discussing the past two blog posts on formulas and change tracking in ODF implementations. Why is it that version 3 of Open Office still doesn't allow a change to a table to be tracked like you would expect? Easy. No Customers! There is no one getting paid to make that specific feature, or even better, there is no one getting not paid for failing to add it because an important client demanded it. There are no clients, there is no real incentive anywhere. You can't make a developer implement a feature because he isn't getting any money. This is probably why for all major Open Source applications there is a large vendor pushing it (it is Sun Open Office isn't it?). How Open Source is that? Do Sun developers eat for free?
Here's one side-effect of what becomes of software without some user-land guidance. Take Open Office 3. Start it up for the first time, it asks for my name and stuff:
I don't want to be bothered, so I click Cancel.
Boom, empty desktop. Nothing, no message, and certainly no Open Office Writer. Since when does a glorified textbox need my name in order for me to enter text into it? And this was just me trying to find such a developer oriented feature, and I didn't even need to look further that the Welcome screen! Wow!
This is the Open Source developer at its best. Somewhere someone figured to better get my name to display in some silly info box reachable from the About menu that I will probably never find. At the same time forgetting that I already entered this information into my operating system, and also forgetting that I don't care. The real issue here is that 20 seconds of non-developer usability testing would show this, but the software is free and people to test usability issues with are generally not. Take the Ribbon in the 2007 Office System, tons of usability testing and the end result is a uniquely usable feature that sells products. Awesome! You should read Jensen Harris' blog to get a grip on what was involved to get it done.
Microsoft has paying customers who demanded that things be done right in one go. Hence Open XML, one complete package, totally supported. Please don't take this the wrong way. I am not anti-ODF or pro-Open XML, I am pro-get the work done. Currently in the document world, Open XML is the language that gets the work done.
Ps. I don't actually believe that Linux sucks. I wouldn't know because I don't use any of the 3533258289843 distributions available.