Strengths and Weaknesses

Yesterday, I fired up the search engines and noted a lot of stories in the media about Windows users freaking out about the planned June 30 end-of-life for Windows XP. They popped up in my net because quite a few of the stories had a passing comparison of the Windows users to the Linux and Mac communities.

From a Linux advocacy standpoint, it’s a strong sense of Schadenfreude that prevails as I watch a usually nascent Windows community struggle to awaken itself fast enough to try to get something they want from Redmond. Good luck with that, guys.

Quite a few commentators have made great hay how this is the best time for desktop Linux, as disenfranchised XP users refuse to migrate to Vista and are looking for a new home. That’s certainly an appealing notion, and I won’t argue against it. I would also expect Apple to ramp up their marketing campaign soon to try to catch some XP refugees, too.

I had a chance yesterday to chat with Mark Shuttleworth, founder and CEO of Canonical, Ltd. It was one of those interviews that covered a broad range of topics, which I’ll write up in a few days. But one part of the conversation that had a more immediate impact was Shuttleworth’s impression of the XP exodus.

I asked Shuttleworth if Canonical has any plans to capitalize on the June EOL for XP, particularly since Ubuntu 8.04 LTS is set to be released sometime this month. To me, it seems a perfect opportunity to strike while the iron is hot.

Shuttleworth, however, prefers to focus his company’s energies on the strengths of Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular.

“I don’t want to articulate our strategy in taking advantages of the weaknesses of Windows versus the highlighting the strengths of Linux,” he told me.

This gets into the negative identity treatise my colleague Bruce Byfield wrote up earlier this month. Byfield and I don’t always agree, since I think a more aggressive approach is sometimes needed in pushing back against bullies. Bullying is a practice I abhor, and I tend to lead a little bit with my aggressive side when confronted with it. But I think Byfield, and now Shuttleworth, make some good points, too.

A little less focusing on others and a little more focusing on us certainly seems to have merit. After all, look how far we’ve gotten already.