Canonical has released it’s beta version of it’s first cloud-based operating system synchronization software, Ubuntu One. For anyone who knows me, I love Ubuntu and Dropbox. Although this is making big news, I am not very excited.
Cloud-based operating system synchronization software is a great idea; however, it will inevitably fail as the de facto standard. With the Ubuntu One service plan, you get 2 gig of storage for free and for $10 you get 10 gig of space. Smells like they are taking a bite out of the Dropbox success, right? Wrong. As much as this sounds like a match made in heaven to have a Dropbox like application built into the operating system, it is not. Instead, Canonical is going to add a service that is already provided but, with far less benefits.
Ubuntu is a great operating system and there are many reasons while I will continue to use it; however, the Ubuntu operating system is flawed. There are many problems with this operating system, see Bryan Lunduke’s presentation to get a view of the problems Linux faces on the desktop platform. Basically, Canonical is adding a redundant piece of software that they have to update and maintain; yet, they still haven’t addressed many of the problems that Ubuntu faces on a regular basis. Ubuntu 9.04 is the best version yet. Many improvements make it very stable, fast, and functional but, I still can’t use Photoshop, play mainstream games, and use other proprietary and superior, software that I can on windows. Perhaps Canonical should really be concentrating it’s resources on this aspect instead.
Since, I still have to switch to windows to use most of the industry standard software, Ubuntu One will not cut it. Dropbox will continue to serve my needs because I can install it on my work provided windows laptop, on both Ubuntu and Windows boots on my desktop and even if I had a Mac, I could install it there too.
In conclusion, software which caters to one operating system or oneweb browser will die a slow painful death. Every operating system has their benefits and draw backs. None of them are perfect. Take Internet Explorer for example. Microsoft keeps rolling out new versions of the web browser yet, they won’t create versions for different operating systems. Yes, you can install Internet Explorer on Macs but, there hasn’t been a new version since IE5. Also, there is IEs4Linux which hasn’t been updated since about 2006 with IE6 the highest version you can go and it is really buggy. Look at what we see happening, slowly but surely, alternative browsers like Firefox are taking market share. Even Apple understands this concept, you think the iPod would have had this much success if you couldn’t use it with windows? The era of operating system specific software is dead and gone. The companies that realize this will prevail, the others will fade away.