davemc wrote:5. Linux still has a long long looooooooooong ways to go to get to the point where it can truthfully claim that everything "just works". To say otherwise right now is a bold faced lie and should never be stated until, in fact, EVERYTHING "just works" with no tweaking required by the user.
XP has all of the above plus more. This is due mostly to unfair business practices by M$ (IMO), yet it is true for the average user. I have never...ever..experienced a BSOD in any windows ive had running, and ive ran them all. I have never ~not~ been able to get any application working in windows with more than a simple click of a button, nor have I ever met anyone who could ~honestly~ claim that they couldnt.
That's simply not true. Not because you're being dishonest, but because the end-user rarely sees what happens behind the scenes. Anyone who's ever done a straight reinstall on a Windows machine will know what I mean when I say that I'd prefer dependency hell any day over searching for Windows drivers by hand. When you do a straight Windows install, there're all kinds of crap you'll have to download from various vendors' websites to get things working. This is not (nearly as) true of Linux.
The problem is that Joe user never realizes this, because hardware vendors, trying to support the "standard," install these drivers onto one of their machines, get everything working, take an image of it and spit it out on all of the rest, so that as far as you know, it does "just work."
One opportunity, I think, for the Joe user to realize this is with the release of Vista: many people, especially on 64-bit systems will have problems with driver availability that they won't with Linux. Since Vista is so new at this point, anyone buying a copy of it to upgrade will realize this.
On the subject of usability, Linux and Windows are pretty much equal. The average Linux application, in my opinion, is often easier to configure and more organized than that of a comparable application in Windows. Configuring the system itself, however, tends to seem more abrasive to a new user. In Windows, it's often worse, but the user never has to deal with it. For example, in Linux, a new user may have to do some messing around with configuration files and iptables to open up a port on a software firewall, where in Windows, where the firewall doesn't actually stop anything from connecting, they don't have to deal with it.