read your self proclaimed rant on porting amarok to windows. it was very clearly written =) i feel there are few important points to be recognized while making the arguments you do:
- the "first we take the apps, then we take the operating system" effect you describe has not been happening with firefox, open office or any other free software on windows. i know reality is a bitch, but someone is going to have to explain why those use cases are different to make your line of reasoning cogent. personally, i think it's because of all the other apps available on the win32 platform (we're catching up, and in some areas, surpassing them there); the support for various bits of consumer desktop hardware including the utility software that comes with them (we're catching up there); and a simple matter of inertia/familiarity.
- you describing the economics of it in terms of "lowering the barrier until it is easy enough". i'm of the opinion that "easy enough" is not the missing incentive at all. it seems that people don't switch because it is easy enough, which implies there is some sort of latent desire that i've really yet to see on a wide scale that is being held back. it seems they switch when there is a positive, motivating reason to switch. it's a matter of inertia and we all know that inertia must be overcome with positive input rather than simply undermined by reinforcing the status quo, which is precisely what delivering apps to win32 does.
- the "relearning apps" thing has been debunked some time ago as a difficulty. there is certainly a fear of the unknown, but if you consider that in the context of windows being that which they know it isn't helping much of anything to make the known more useful, now is it?
i have came to grips with the fact that there are people with various motivations who will port whatever software they can to predatory, proprietary operating systems regardless of implications. i understand the desire for people to be able to give corporate clients software today without them changing their platform, and i'm actually fully supportive of the idea of providing apps that bridge interoperability gaps (kontact, koffice). i boggle at those who enjoy working with the win32 APIs, but hey, it takes all sorts. fact is, the motivation is there and you are right that we can't stop people from doing things. it is freedom software after all.
but what use is there in dreaming up rationals that neither line up with recent history or with the incentives that move users? it may make us feel better now about things, but if it is simply turning a blind eye to the real consequences then we'll get blindsided.
i think we need to just get very comfortable with the fact that on its own the porting, if done well (and i am certainly working with the assumption that within a few releases the kde apps on windows and mac will indeed be good representatives of the kde project), will likely:
- increase our user base
- probably increase our contributor base
- make it more difficult to make Free operating systems attractive
i think we can mitigate the latter by doing a better job of integrating applications and taking full advantage of platform features on Free operating systems so the experience is better when using those apps on a Free o/s. couple that with a concerted communications effort to every user of kde software on windows and macOs and we might have a game plan.
i also think that putting even more emphasis on business, educational and government users will also help as they tend to view things a bit more strategically. this sort of sucks for amarok in the short term since amarok is a consumer software product, but whatever =)
and perhaps that is what bothers me the most and why i keep poking at the issue: i believe that the onus for coming up with that plan does lie with those who are opening this particular flood gate (it is, in a phrase, "taking responsibility"), but i have yet to hear a game plan that meets up with our stated goals which revolve around the concept of free software from the kde/win movement that doesn't seem remarkably flimsy.
well, that's not entirely true. when i first went nuclear about the topic two important points surfaced:
- opening new avenues to contributors
- bridging important interoperability gaps
i am today a proponent of both those goals and reasons for doing kde/win and kde/mac. but they stop a bit short of answering the full question; most i've talked with either shrugging their shoulders or taking the same approach of rationalization you are.
addressing the issue is, imho, much more useful than pasting blinders on and saying "there is no problem! in fact, it's only beneficial to everyone!".
i guess what i'm asking for in my usual long winded way is that instead of arguing with people who say "but it is going to hurt adoption of free operating systems" with the reply of "no it won't!" provide some sort of game plan for how it won't. hoping and wishing works in fairy tales, pop music and movies, but we need strategy.
(p.s.: i am assuming there is agreement that free software operating systems are important and valuable things that we need to ensure not only exist but thrive; i'm also going to assume that me playing devil's advocate and pushing for the harder but more interesting answer is not overly unexpected. oh, and it's been 'fun' getting to represent the project on this issue publicly; i've had to do a good amount of thought and open-minded listening to others to find the points i could in all honesty be publicly supportive of.)