Today The Register, a major tech website, published news that China has discontinued its efforts to develop a Red Chinese rival to Microsoft Windows, Red Flag Linux. China loves Microsoft Windows XP so much, even Chinese government departments refused to give up their Microsoft Desktops, despite widely publicised suspicions that the USA uses hidden back doors in Microsoft Windows to spy on rivals.
The Chinese alternative to Microsoft was to be based on Linux. Linux is a terrific operating system. Linux is the dominant operating system in much of the server market. I use Linux extensively – when I am creating web technology server components for iPhone Apps and Android Apps.
However Linux never really made it as a desktop operating system. Outside of a few geeks, most people use Microsoft Windows or Mac computers. Linux never attracted a critical mass of desktop applications.
Or did it? There is a branch of Linux which did make it to the mass market – Android OS. All Android phones run Linux under the hood.
But Android is a phone operating system – what has this got to do with desktop computers?
It turns out that efforts are already underway to create a desktop version of Android. Android apps are very adaptable – they are designed to work on a wide variety of devices, with a huge variation in screen size. So making an app work on a desktop is not a big stretch – a small desktop monitor has a similar screen size to the largest Android pad devices.
Whether Android makes it on the desktop is still an open question – but unlike all previous attempts to displace Microsoft Windows, Android already has a very large, loyal following. Many people use Microsoft on their desktop, but have an Android phone, and love their Android Apps. The battle between Android and Microsoft for ownership of the desktop promises to be a popcorn event, rather than yet another Microsoft slam dunk.
So my advice to China – if you want independence from Windows, and the confidence of being able to examine and inspect every line of the code you are using, the solution may be right under your nose. Take a look at Android.