Stories by Preston Gralla

Product review: Norton Mobile Utilities for Android beta

The Norton Mobile Utilities beta for Android is a useful but somewhat buggy suite of free tools that any self-respecting Android geek will want to download and test. To a certain extent, it's a proof of concept, because Symantec has not yet decided whether the app will ever become a full-blown product and, if it does, whether it will be free or for pay. Still, it's well worth the download.

Opinion: Is Google suffering from Microsoft syndrome?

'Why was Eric Schmidt suddenly demoted as Google's CEO?' There are as many opinions as there are analysts, but I think the reason is clear: Google is worried that it's suffering from Microsoft syndrome, and thinks having Schmidt step aside may be the cure.

Microsoft needs to meet mobile, net challenges

By some important measures, Microsoft's best days are behind it. Once the dominant technology company in the world, it has fallen behind in the market's biggest growth areas: the internet and mobile devices. True, it remains dominant on the desktop and in office suites, but that's not where the growth is these days.

6 useful Wi-Fi tools for Windows

We live in a mobile world; if you have a laptop (and who doesn't?), that means constantly connecting to the Internet via Wi-Fi. You most likely use Wi-Fi not just when you're on the road at cafés, airports or hotels, but to connect to your home network too. You might even connect to a wireless network at the office.

Is in-house enterprise IT on death row?

The latest news from HP should be chilling to IT employees: The company is eliminating 9000 IT positions. Forrester Research analyst James Staten told Computerworld US it is probable IT operations jobs such as systems administrators will bear the brunt of the layoffs.

Social networking to dispace email? Not likely

Given the growth of social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter, and the increasing use of collaboration tools such as Microsoft SharePoint, you may begin to wonder whether email's day in the sun is coming to an end.

Google's Chrome OS is a work in progress

Google released its Chrome operating system last week to a great deal of hoopla and debate — depending on your point of view, it was either the Next Big Thing or Much Ado About Nothing.

Why IBM is still a vital part of the IT landscape

To read the headlines in the business and technical press during the past several years, you would think the once world-beating IBM had fallen off the face of the earth. Google, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft — those seem to be the names that garner all the publicity. IBM comes off at best as an afterthought, and at worst as a company slipping into dotage, about to fade into oblivion along with other brands that were once well known, such as PanAm airlines and Woolworth's department stores.

How Microsoft got its mojo back

Believe the pundits, and you'd think that Microsoft was one step from the grave, a company teetering on the edge of financial ruin, and no longer technologically relevant. After all, the company's most recent financial results show that it has had the worst year in its history. For the first time, revenue from Windows dropped from the previous year — US$3.1 billion for the quarter that ended on June 30, compared to US$4.36 billion for the same quarter a year ago.

Why Google's Chrome OS will lose its shine

The conventional wisdom has it that Microsoft should be afraid – very afraid – of Google's Chrome OS. After all, how can the high-priced Windows compete against a free operating system released by what has arguably become the most successful technology company on the planet?

Client-device Linux use reaches 1%, world yawns

Many people have made much of the fact that for the first time, Linux use as measured by tracking firm Net Applications has crossed the 1% market-share barrier. As significant milestones go, this is about as meaningless as it gets. Linux will never be a big player in the desktop market, nor should it be.
Net Applications tracks operating system usage on the internet. In its latest results, it reports:
"Linux usage share on client devices has surpassed 1% for the first time in our tracking. Linux has been successful primarily as a server operating system, but client usage share has not kept pace with server share. Linux has reached this important milestone on the client as Linux-based systems have become more functional, easier to use, and pre-installed on computers from vendors like Dell."
Linux guru and my compatriot in blogging, Steven Vaughn-Nichols, believes that Linux may eventually reach 10% to 20% of market share.
I think that Steven's estimate is far off the mark. I'd be shocked if Linux ever came close to approaching even 5% of market share, and I believe even 2% will be a stretch.
To understand why, let's look at how Linux reached 1% market share. Linux was first created in 1991 — that's 18 years ago. To reach 1% market share in 18 years is not a particularly difficult task, especially considering the operating system is available for free.
For most of Linux's history, it wasn't even a blip on the radar of any market share figures, apart from server market share. There it's a strong presence and deservedly so. It's a flat-out great operating system for servers.
The desktop is where it has floundered and for good reason. There are too many variants of Linux, and while it has gotten much easier to use, when you need to install software on Linux or update the OS, it's far too complicated.
As I wrote about in "Living free with Linux: 2 weeks without Windows", I've become a fan of Linux. It can use less-powerful hardware than Windows and is surprisingly simple to use — with the exception of updating and installing software, that is. I now use Ubuntu regularly.
Why has Linux finally broken the 1% barrier? Because of netbooks. Initially, Linux had a big netbook market share of 30% or so. So the 1% breakthrough is due entirely to netbook use, not Linux use on desktops, where it still flounders. Sure, you can buy Linux on a Dell, if you try hard enough. But otherwise, good luck. And that's the way it will stay.
Linux will never become a mainstream operating system on desktops, and so for client machines, it will remain largely confined to netbooks. Market surveys have shown that Linux sales on netbooks have plunged to only 10% of netbooks.
Given that, how will Linux ever reach 10% to 20% of the market? The answer: it never will. Linux will remain a niche operating system, and a very good one at that.

Netbooks - a growing threat to Microsoft

When Microsoft laid off 5,000 people in January, analysts and pundits pointed to plenty of reasons for the first major layoffs in the company's history. The obvious culprits included the overall economic meltdown, Apple's continued success and Wall Street's desire to see a leaner Microsoft.

Review: Windows 7 beta shows off task bar, UI goodies

The just-released Beta 1 version of Windows 7 is a solid, fast-performing, stable operating system that appears to be just about fully baked and ready for prime time. It is much further along than Windows Vista was during its initial beta phase, and it appears to be feature-complete. Based on the stability and speed of this beta, don't be surprised if Microsoft releases Windows 7 before 2010 rolls around.