It seems everyday there's a new article about Linux and it's readiness to replace Windows. The fact is, it already does. It's an operating system. By default it can replace Windows. The question is: are users ready to switch?
When I switched to using OS X on a Mac, I wasn't looking for the start menu or trying to find the control panel. I was learning how to do things the "Mac" way. Sure, it took a few days to get the hang of but what could I expect, it's a different OS made by different people with different goals. However, I don't see countless articles about OS X's "readiness" to replace Windows.
Linux is ready to be used by anyone willing to learn a different way of doing things. I will admit that it's not as intuitive (initially) as either Windows or OS X but that does not negate it's usefulness. It took me much longer to get used to using Linux than any other system but I wanted to learn to harness the power it has to offer.
The command line is scary at first, I admit. Though once I got used to it, It became quite a productivity tool for me (it also makes me feel like a hacker of some sort). Installing programs was confusing at first but now I browse through thousands of software titles and install with a simple mouse click. You can even install multiple programs at once. If I know the name of the program I want to install, I type a short command in the terminal and off it goes finding the program, resolving dependencies and installing the program for me. Once installed, it's automatically categorized in my application menu, ready to use. To top it off, the system automatically keeps EVERY single program on my computer up to date. It seems to have paid off to have spent a little time getting to know the system. I argue that this is the easiest and most dynamic way of dealing with the installation of programs there is. It just requires me to learn a new method.
Most people don't understand the concept of a desktop environment because they're not given a choice so it's not worth mentioning. In OS X, the desktop environment is called Aqua, I believe Windows XP's is called Redmond and I'm not exactly sure what Vista uses (is it Aero, or is that just the name for the fancy effects, not sure but it's a moot point). Linux offers a choice of several different desktops. Gnome and KDE being the most popular. The specifics of the desktop environment is beyond the scope of this article but basically, a desktop environment can be described as the OS's GUI. This new choice being offered is hard to understand at first but once you do, it gives you freedom to choose.
Windows has always tried to be an operating system for the non-techie (one might argue that the skills required just to keep the thing running without viruses or spyware defeats this goal). Linux is for people who want something more powerful, customizeable and just plain different. I'm not going to tell you that system A is better than system B. I have my opinion and I'm sure you have yours. Please stop arguing about Linux's readiness to be used by the general public.
If you don't want to learn how to use Linux, you're not ready to use that particular IT, not the other way around.
You already know the downsides of using Windows. Are they enough to cause you to switch, or is the fear of change too great to overcome? Either way, Linux is ready and has been. Are you?
Other articles of interest on this subject: