I've been thinking about desktop operating systems and why one operating system may win out over others, first, you need to identify the users of the PC, for the most part PC's are used in the home or in the office, perhaps both, the user of the PC is probably familiar with the User Interface and way in which the operating system works on their 'main' PC, whether this be at home or in the office, so it makes sense for that person to also use the same (familiar) operating system on their other PC's, right?
Isn't this similar to the car? - it doesn't matter which make of vehicle you get into, the controls are standardised, (A,B,C, Accelerator, Brake, Clucth), the gear shift (for the most part) operates in the same way across all vehicles, controls for lights, indicators, and so on... a user of one vehicle is able to switch to other vehicles because there is a standard for the 'user interface' of the vehicle, and the list of features between vehicles is also similar (OK, one car might have a radio, and another might have a full BOSE stereo system with six CD stack, but the systems are still familiar to a user).
Is this also the case for home/office PC's ? - Windows and MAC UI are somewhat similar, but what about Windows and Linux? - is there a standard UI and feature set for Linux that is consistent across all distributions ? - ok, back to the car analogy, how many of us spend time working on the engine of our vehicles, changing oil, spark plugs, performing regular maintenance per the owners manual? - I would think the number is actually fairly small, most of us probably leave maintenance to our local dealer or garage, and this is probably also true of the operating systems we run on our computers - I would expect the 'average' user to not spend any time fiddling under the hood of the operating system... Windows is getting smarter at configuring itself for the user, Windows Update goes a long way towards making sure the user has the latest drivers, the latest security fixes, and other updates from Microsoft, Windows XP SP2 will take this further by locking down certain features of the operating system... but what about Linux, for an average user are there mechanisms to make configuration and maintenance easier ? - Do drivers and system updates come from a single source?
OK, so what about the core operating system, users expect that the features they have on one PC will also be available on other PC's, an Internet Browser, Media Player, connectivity options etc... IMHO the operating system that's going to win out is the one that provides consistent features across all PC's, and is able to update itself with new drivers and security features so that users don't need to spend time working "under the hood". But hey, that's just my opinion.