Embrace, Extend, Extinguish

Can a leopard change its spots?

Emotions vary with respect to the Microsoft folks joining the Linux Foundation. While I prefer to keep conspiracy theories at arm’s length, perhaps there is merit to the Embrace, Extend, Extinguish theory for joining.

Joining the Linux Foundation seems to qualify as the first phase of embracing Linux. The reason is straightforward — to invest in open source technologies that improve the Microsoft bottom line.

Recent announcements could qualify as the Extend phase. Make Windows more appealing to Linux users.

All that would remain is the Extinguish phase.

The Microsoft folks might not need do anything to win that phase. Free/libre software developers might do that for them.

Much noise has been made about the Year of the Linux Desktop. The Year never arrives. One reason is geeks designing for geeks rather than designing for non technical users.

The Microsoft folks spend a lot of time and money targeting usability. While they do not always hit the mark, they do a better job than geeks designing for geeks.

Should the Microsoft folks eventually provide and support many of the tools that makes Linux based systems attractive, users then will ask why use Linux?

Ignore the privacy challenges presented by using Windows. Ignore that source code is locked. Ignore ideology. Most users care only about usability — using a computer as a means to an end. To make life more enjoyable.

The Embrace, Extend, Extinguish theory could be the motivation for joining the Linux Foundation. The geeks could easily help them win.

Unless they start designing desktops for non technical users.

Suppose the conspiracy theorists are correct. The Microsoft folks are practicing the old adage that if you can’t beat them, join them. The old adage and Embrace, Extend, Extinguish go hand in hand.

Free/libre software developers could do likewise. They could get over their crutch dependency with the terminal and design good GUI tools.

Fix paper cut issues.

They could abandon Not Invented Here. The Microsoft folks got a lot of things right with their desktop design — adopt what they got right. Stop reinventing the wheel.

In the end perhaps none of this makes any difference. Everybody uses computers as a tool. The best designed tool does not always become the market favorite, but usually does. One thing is for certain, people do not use broken tools or tools that are inefficient, or tools that need to be used contrary to expectations.

Posted: Category: Commentary, Usability Tagged: General, Windows

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