Friday, October 23, 2009

Software milestones

Yesterday, not only did the St David Centre open, but the Wales stage of the GB rally began down in Cardiff Bay, attracting another large contingent of people to spend a few days in any around the city. Also yesterday was the launch of Microsoft's new operating system Windows 7 - widely thought to be a significant improvement on the ill starred Vista. However, an upgrade costs a hundred quid, and to be fair, the way it runs on my new desktop machine leaves me will little to complain about. The version on my laptop is now 18 months old, and although it has been improved piecemeal with updates it hampers anotherwise excellent machine which shines using Linux. In a quick walk around of the Centre, I noticed all the phone shops were promoting '7' as part of their netbook/3G dongle deals and likewise Currys Digital, but without much excitement or enthusiasm. It must be hard to get enthusiastic about a product which now works properly replacing an over hyped product which often worked badly.

Next week the latest version of Ubuntu Linux will be released, and already a nearly complete version is available to download for trying out. No marketing hype, no promises, but lots of useful software freely available, and I have confidence that will be every bit as good as the latest offering from one of the world's largest digital corporations, representing as it does a global collaborative network of dedicated programmers eager to share their creative efforts at no cost, aware that doing so in no way impedes the possibility of generating income from the product by other means. It's one of the paradoxes of the Open Source software movement's philosophy. Any single use may learn for themselves how to operate an Open Source product, but scaling that up for a company with paid for training of hundreds of people with no interest in technicalities, or troubleshooting, makes for good business. It's a social and technical development of the bridge decades of the 21st century with enormous significance for the future.

Tonight I shall leave my machine on and download the preview version of the new Ubuntu to try out tomorrow, when out half term break begins.

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