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wine and the dominance of windows

March 11, 2010 1 comment

After Apple moved to the intel platform it wasn’t long before they rolled out Boot Camp, so mac heads could run Windows on Macs, and then there’s wine, while it may not be an emulator per se, its purposes, to enable linux to run windows applications, speaks volumes about the current situation in the operating systems market. Windows still rules supreme, MS can even afford to have a flop or two. The first version of Vista, prior to being patched by service packs, was essentially a disaster, it was slow, it ate up resources, it irritated the users with endless warnings about each action they were about to take and yet, back then the majority of users frustrated with Vista weren’t switching to Mac OS or Linux, in spite of Apple’s aggressive I’m a mac I’m a pc TV ad campaign, no they were ‘downgrading’ to the good ole Windows XP. And now that Windows 7 is out and it’s a fairly decent OS, those folk who resented Vista are upgrading directly to Windows 7 so MS is still going from strength to strength.
And the existence of frameworks like wine is just another confirmation of the obvious dominance of Windows on our computers. Most decent Linux distros come with hosts of applications that can be downloaded and installed totally free of charge from online repositories and yet there’s still plenty of people out there who essentially want to re-create Windows in Linux. Well, I guess when it comes to winning over the market the trick is in getting as many people as possible to use your product and then inertia will kick in and people will be reluctant to ever try something different. Chances are that these days when the average user hears about Linux, the question they will ask, either out loud or subconsciously is how much is it like Windows and will I be able to run the same apps in it and that’s where wine comes in, yeah you can run the same apps but it still ain’t windows so the comparisons will never be in favor of Linux. There’s no doubt that not other OS can be as good at running Windows apps as Windows is. After all they’re called Windows apps for a reason.
So is wine really such a great thing? Doesn’t it, at the end of the day, sort of defeat the purpose? What’s the point to switching to Linux if all you ever plan to use it for is running the same ole Windows apps you’re so used to you can’t let go of. Plus aren’t the majority of Windows apps sold for money?
With that said, it has to be noted however, that in some situations wine does make a lot of sense. For example in Russia, the most popular accounting system is, for historical reasons, Windows only (they’re working on Linux based solutions now but it’s taking them time), and in recent years the authorities have begun clamping down on illegal software so businesses are being made to ‘legalise’ their software by purchasing licenses, if you have a couple hundred computers and several servers, the cost of going legal can run into millions of roubles, and the worst bit is that you can’t just go and rewrite your whole ERM system from scratch in just a month or so. Then going with Wine on Linux can make a lot of sense and save a million or two. but it’s still a niche market.

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