Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Linux vs. Windows; How do you innovate?

After reading colleague Alexander Wolfe's piece about a Linux distro called "Vixta" that apes the look and feel of Windows Vista, I confess to having mixed feelings about the whole thing. Mostly negative ones.

Here's the big reason I feel as uneasy as I do: it's tantamount to an admission of defeat. The only way Linux can "succeed" is if it looks like Windows. And frankly, isn't there something hypocritical about railing against Microsoft for not innovating and then turning around and mimicking them, right down to the chrome on the user interface?

This comes back to a question many people have asked before. Does Linux have to look like Windows to work? Not "beat Windows at its own game", which if you ask me is a red herring, but work. Granted, the Windows UI is familiar territory for most people with at least some degree of computer use, but that doesn't mean it has to be the be-all and end-all of UI design.

Read the full article by Serdar Yegulalp here.

When the dominant design is Windows, Linux (or any other OS) would need to at least pay some homage to it by being similar enough so that users (who in general do not like change) will feel comfortable enough with the interface/UI to try it. If Linux or any other OS does not provide some step of familiarity, they will not be able to make the next step into the change or unknown.

The author would benefit from reading The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun.