One of life's little lessons was visited on me (yet again) when I decided to boot europa, my desktop machine, into Ubuntu 7.10 Alpha 5. I fired up Firefox and went out looking at some sites to check various installed features. As I went rambling about the web I came across OSNews and checked out an article on the release of Fedora 8 Test 2.
Right there in the middle of the article was the Microsoft ad you see below. Now, I normally block ads on my other Firefox installs, but this time I was running with 'naked' Firefox, and because nothing was blocked I got a surprising eyeful. A big fat anti-Linux Microsoft ad placed right in the middle of an article about Fedora 8. Wow. Incredible placement.
And of course, the icing on the cake, an ad for Adobe's Photoshop, for which there is no native Linux version. Which leads me to Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols' article "Why the Linux Desktop will succeed despite itself." SJVN was himself responding to Kim Brebach's 13 reasons why a Linux desktop was unlikely to make it any time soon. SJVN didn't answer point-for-point ("If you expect me to argue with the 13 reasons Kim Brebach gives for why the Linux desktop is unlikely to make it to a desktop near you any time soon, prepare to be disappointed. He's right."). He did agree with Kim on a (to me) key point, and that's the lack of marketing.
You can rant all you want about how bad Microsoft in general and Vista in particular are. I know I do. Ranting on obscure blogs and in obscure forums isn't enough. You have to market, and it has to be done professionally. And you have to be aware of how Microsoft is marketing and where. Microsoft, the ultimate competitor, is marketing in the heart of the Linux market (OSNews, slashdot, and so many others) with ads like the one above. Marketing really does work, and in this case, web page ads are dirt cheap compared to print ads. And web page ads come with cash that pays the bills. And if the only advertiser is Microsoft (or like Microsoft) and your monthly site fees are due, guess what you're going to do if you want to keep the place open?
I continue to be amazed at the naivety of the Linux population. Super bright technically, clueless when it comes to business life, many constantly rail against the unfairness of a market that won't give them a chance and wonder why they haven't taken over more desktops. I firmly believe a lack of coherent and clear marketing is a big part of that problem.