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Ubuntu's Shuttleworth: Microsoft no longer dominates PC biz

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Ubuntu headman and part-time astronaut Mark Shuttleworth has declared victory over Microsoft's domination of the PC industry, noting that the competitive landscape today is far different from what it was when Ubuntu launched in 2004.

During the project's early days, Shuttleworth filed Bug #1 in the Ubuntu bugbase with a description that began, "Microsoft has a majority market share in the new desktop PC marketplace. This is a bug which Ubuntu and other projects are meant to fix."

Since that bug was filed in August 2004, it has garnered more than 1,800 comments from project participants. But in a new comment posted on Thursday, Shuttleworth said Microsoft's dominance was no longer an issue.

"Personal computing today is a broader proposition than it was in 2004: phones, tablets, wearables and other devices are all part of the mix for our digital lives," he wrote. "From a competitive perspective, that broader market has healthy competition, with iOS and Android representing a meaningful share."

Shuttleworth intends for Ubuntu to join that competition. He and the other Ubuntu maintainers are currently in the process of transforming it from a desktop Linux distro to a versatile OS platform that can run on devices ranging from PCs and laptops to tablets, phones, and smart TVs.

Whether they can succeed is debatable, but if they don't, it won't be because Microsoft shut them out of the market. Despite CEO Steve Ballmer claiming Redmond is "all in" for touch-enabled computing, the software giant still enjoys only negligible market share on phones and tablets, areas where Google's Linux-based Android OS dominates alongside Apple's iOS.

"Android may not be my or your first choice of Linux," Shuttleworth wrote, "but it is without doubt an open source platform that offers both practical and economic benefits to users and industry. So we have both competition, and good representation for open source, in personal computing."

What's more, he said, he no longer feels that a bug report criticizing Microsoft and Windows sets the right tone for the Ubuntu development community.

"It served for many as a sort of declaration of intent. But it's better for us to focus our intent on excellence in our own right, rather than our impact on someone else's product," Shuttleworth wrote.

The Canonical founder made his remarks in Comment #1834 to the original bug, and then updated the bug's status to "Fix Released," adding that "from Ubuntu's perspective, this bug is now closed." ®

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