Free is too expensive (Economist)
Posted Apr 6, 2012 8:06 UTC (Fri) by khim
In reply to: Free is too expensive (Economist)
Parent article: Free is too expensive (Economist)
But if that's why Linux has less usage share, then backwards/forwards compatibility doesn't matter — it's because of lock-in, not lack of backwards/forward compatibility.
More like lock-out. If you keep the existing application and convince people to create new ones then number of available applications grows and then you can try to attract new users which will make platform more attractive to developers which will give you new apps, etc.
Take a look on NextSTEP/MacOS plight. NEXTStep was extremely cool computer (it had rave reviews, etc), yet even Steve Jobs was unable to sell it.
Does it mean that he was incompetent back then and only become ruthless, successful businessman after it's return to Apple? No: he led the Pixar at the same which revolutionized the animation and went on to the very successful IPO. Later it was sold to Disney and Disney's stow formed the majority of Steve Job's wealth in 2011.
But when Jobs returned to Apple NEXTStep underwent a lot of cosmetic changes which resulted in contemporary 6-7% market for MacOS X. MacOS was at about 4.5% in 1996 when Steve returned. It does not look like much but keep in mind that 4.5% is about the same market share as MacOS X was couple of years ago. Steve's first priority was to keep existing users happy. That's why MacOS X development took years (it was released five years after NeXT was bought and for one more year it was not a default OS for newly sold computers). Later, when Apple got other strongholds (iPod, iPhone, iPad) it become more demanding to their developers - and still when developers threaten stampede Apple retreats (take a look on push against sandbox, for example).
Linux desktop, on the other hand, imposes more restrictions, breaks applications all the time and yes, has smaller (and shrinking!) market share. Yet it's developers claim everything is peachy and they are on the road to success.
Is it honest delusion or inability to face reality?
But users like those are unlikely to contribute to the development of the programs they use, and the entire purpose of FLOSS is to make it possible for every user to become a developer.
Users are unlikely to contribute. But this is not why they are important. The apps for said users don't grow on trees. Someone develops them. But if most users are not on Linux then most developers are not on Linux either. If they don't care or, even worse, don't know about Linux then they will not become Linux developers in any case.
That's why the user/developer community isn't willing to have a situation where "you must support old technology (often decade old technology) thus development is nightmare" just for the sake of attracting the kind of user who's not willing to get their hands dirty.
No? Then why all these pointless shiny changes features and breakage to the workflow of the existing users? Why the push for social? This behavior just does not adds up. Either you want to attract “dumb users” or you don't want to do that. If the first case you need to guarantee they'll see not just shiny new desktop, but lots of shiny new applications (and games), too, in the second case you should keep the existing users happy.
Today Linux desktop combines worst qualities of both approaches.
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