Microsoft's Windows 8 dominated countless headlines in the weeks leading up to its launch late last month, but October saw the debut of another major operating system as well.
Canonical's Ubuntu 12.10 "Quantal Quetzal" arrived a week ahead of its competitor, in fact, accompanied by a challenge: "Avoid the pain of Windows 8." That slogan appeared on the Ubuntu home page for the first few hours after the OS's official launch, and attracted considerable attention.
[ Check out InfoWorld's Windows 8 review: Yes, it's that bad. | Windows 8 is here, and InfoWorld covers Microsoft's new direction, the touch interface for tablet and desktop apps, the transition from Windows 7, and more in the Windows 8 Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay atop key Microsoft technologies in our Technology: Microsoft newsletter. | And prove your expertise with the free OS in InfoWorld's Linux admin IQ test round 1 and round 2. | Track the latest trends in open source with InfoWorld's Open Sources blog and Technology: Open Source newsletter. ]
Apparently Canonical decided to tone down its message later in the daythe slogan now reads "Your wish is our command"but it seems fair to say that the underlying challenge remains.
Window of opportunity
Ubuntu is a widely popular open-source Linux distribution with eight years of maturity under its belt, and more than 20 million users. Of the roughly 5 percent of desktop OSs accounted for by Linux, at least one survey suggests that about half are Ubuntu. (Windows, meanwhile, accounts for about 84 percent.)
The timing of this latest Ubuntu release couldn't be better for Windows users faced with the paradigm-busting Windows 8 and the big decision of whether to take the plunge.
Initial uptake of Windows 8 has been unenthusiastic, according to reports, and a full 80 percent of businesses will never adopt it, Gartner predicts. As a result, Microsoft's big gamble may be desktop Linux's big opportunity.
So, now that Canonical has thrown down the gauntlet, let's take a closer look at Ubuntu 12.10 to see how it compares with Windows 8 from a business user's perspective.