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Quora Answer : If Linux is such a good operating system, then why isn't it more common than Windows or Mac?

Jul 16, 2020

Because of applications and hardware support

There is no inherent reason for Linux to be a less popular OS than Windows. It's got nothing to do with usability or ease of use etc. By the late 90s Linux was sufficiently stable and its GUI sufficiently similar to Windows or Mac that this was hardly a differentiator. And frankly Windows was then, and still is, quite geeky to actually manage.

BUT ...

by the time Linux became a sufficiently good desktop OS in the late 90s, Microsoft Office's lock-in of the office productivity market was total. They owned the dominant format for text documents, spreadsheets etc. which every business needed to use heavily in its day to day work.

And Office didn't run on Linux. Nor did most of the other standard applications of the 90s;

What did run on Linux were the server-side databases and web-servers etc. that had started out on Unix (such Sun or Silicon Graphics) but were then ported across. And Linux quickly grew against Windows as server technology.

But on desktop, applications kept people on Windows;

Apple while not having the same degree of lock-in did at least have a passionate community of fans, and support from the graphics, graphic design, desktop publishing community.

Then as the web grew in importance through the late 90s and 2000s, the design community evolved into the web-design community, into the web-developer community and many of them stayed loyal to Apple.

The other issue for Linux was of support from hardware makers. You usually couldn't buy a machine with Linux pre-installed whereas Windows was the default.

And even as Linux installation and dual boot software improved, Microsoft threw spanners in the works with things like "secure boot" etc. which added extra complexity for Linux. Similarly, even when you installed Linux, you couldn't be sure there was a driver for your nice new graphics card or the sound card etc.

Apple made their own hardware. Microsoft was predicated on being the software company big and powerful enough to get hardware manufacturers to do its bidding. Linux had neither and so, unto this day, hardware support for Linux remains a bit hit and miss.

There is nothing inferior about the Linux desktop operating system. But the desktop "experience" can be worse for people, because of the lack of support from hardware and third party application developers.