In recent days there have been numerous reports on why folks are ditching Microsoft. I think these all are symptomatic of a larger movement that points to a singular undeniable fact. Microsoft is on the way out. Windows Vista has been a disappointment for Microsoft and the industry as a whole. However, this is not the whole story. As a consequence of Windows Vista not meeting expectations we are seeing for the first time many companies (even including the US Government) actively seeking alternatives to Microsoft Windows. This is not happening with just a few select companies or government offices, this is happening on a wide scale, involving numerous large corporations and even entire nations. So why now? What has changed? Was Vista THAT bad? Even if you factor in the lukewarm reception for Vista there still remains little doubt that there has to be something more on the table for these companies to seriously consider dumping a product they have used for almost a decade. The reason is not that Windows is so bad, but that Linux/OSX/etc is now so much better. So here are five simple reasons why dumping Microsoft won’t be all that bad.

1. No matter which OS you turn to as a replacement, security will be better.
No if-ands-or-buts about it, Windows security, even with Vista is seriously lacking. Its not just about patches, or even spyware. Its about how the fundamental way Windows works. Even with Windows Vista you still need administrator access for just about any change, even small changes to how your desktop looks or simply installing new software. The age where this was acceptable has passed and the enhanced user controls that Mac OSX and Linux offer will provide a safer and more stable user experience right out of the box compared to the nightmares that plague current versions of Windows.

2. A simpler OS will improve productivity.
It’s really hard to see how something like Linux or OSX might improve your productivity with less features but in the long run that’s exactly what happens. I have noticed that under OSX I spend far less time tweaking or fixing OS related problems in comparison to Windows. Of course if you actually like to spend your time tweaking the guts of an OS then maybe Windows is better but for most folks something like Ubuntu Linux or Macintosh OSX is a far more productive proposition.

3. Shorter (and more predictable) product cycles mean users get fixes faster and with greater consistency.
Users of Mac OSX are very familiar with this concept. Apple has been cranking out annual OS revisions for several years now which for Mac users is like getting a new car once a year. This is a great feeling, and it is good to see Linux also aiming for this type of production schedule. This keeps the OS fresh and in touch with today’s demands not in a constant cycle of patching. A process that ultimately makes users and administrators happy thanks to the reduced number of interim OS patches and the warm fuzzy feeling everyone gets with a full product release.

4. The total cost of ownership will be lower.
I know there has been numerous studies by both sides of the this argument, each claim that they offer the lower cost of ownership. Microsoft claims that Linux costs more to maintain and Mac and Linux groups claim that Microsoft costs more to purchase AND to maintain. The harsh reality for Microsoft is that over the last few years the maintenance costs associated with a Linux deployment have plummeted. More administrators have had experience dealing with Mac or Linux than ever before and both offer significantly lower purchase costs. With Linux distributions that feature an easy to use GUI and most basic productivity applications such as OpenOffice included right out of the box there is really no substance behind the classic “Linux costs more to maintain/purchase” argument. Case in point, you can install Linux as many times as you want on the same machine (or several) configured to receive updates automatically (just like Windows Update) and it won’t cost you a dime.

5. Yesterday’s legacy software applications won’t run under Mac OSX (natively) or Linux right now but over the next few years nobody is going to care anyway.
This might be the most controversial part of this post but it really is Microsoft’s own “Inconvenient Truth” since they have enjoyed such as dominant position in the software application market for so long now. As good as Microsoft Office 2007 is, simple facts of life tell us that most don’t use even half the features in these programs. Google has jumped all over this with new types of “thin” applications which have on those features people actively ask for and use daily. This keeps development costs down, and customer satisfaction up since they won’t need to learn a complex application just to complete a simple task. Legacy applications are prime candidates for being rewritten using this premise. There are hundreds of software packages for Windows which have all become post-children for code bloat thanks to the last 10 years of feature-creep. Over the next few years the Google/Apple effect is going change the software industry into thinking small for a change, something that has been asked for by users since day one (go figure).

ANY 1 Against all of this ??????????????????????????