The real Windows 7 threat to Linux (desktop)

There's been a recent spate of predictions that Windows 7 will kill off the Linux desktop, especially on netbooks. My favorite title so far is Windows kicks Linux to the curb, which provides a nice visual. Well, I'm not actually going to disagree, at least as far as traditional desktop Linux and netbooks go.

But first, a question to drive a point home. Have you ever used a version of OpenOffice Cloud? Neither have I, because it doesn't exist. The closest you can come is to use Ulteo, a virtualized Linux provider service, started by a previous Mandriva founder -- then everything is running on a VM in the cloud including OpenOffice. If you want to go cloud, you have to use something like Google Docs. And isn't a netbook about the cloud?

Microsoft hasn't been sleeping while the cloud trend has been developing. A few months ago they announced they're extending Office to the browser, with lightweight versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. And they also announced Azure, their vision of an OS for the cloud. Now, a Linux vendor could pray that a move from XP to Windows 7 on netbooks would mean a return to the days of high priced BOM-based sales (and thus an opportunity for Linux to compete more favorably again). But the reality is, Microsoft will charge whatever the market will bare for netbook platforms, and move the rest of the business to chase the after-market revenues that cloud computing offers. That's something very hard to compete with, for desktop Linux distros which often struggle to stay afloat. This was why I wrote the article about how to make the Linux desktop profitable. The reality is that, IMHO, the Linux distros will never compete well with Windows on BOM-based sales.

So who is the one company who really gets cloud computing, has the infrastructure for it, and an interest in Linux? Google. My take is Windows 7 is a threat to the classic Linux desktop distros. And that Google is the future of the Linux desktop, with Android pushing up the food-chain, and many of Google's infrastructure bits pervading the desktop. Note to distros, belly up to Google...

Disclosure: no positions