Microsoft recently conceded the Vista struggle and is now refocusing it's market on the yet-to-materialize Windows 7. Sure, Vista is slow and piggish and has some rather cute ideas of what "bling" means. Sure, it found new ways to annoy users and drag usability down. But in past years, they could have pushed that down the throat of the market. We know they could have because they did: each version of Windows that came out required more hardware and had its own "fun" quirks. One might point to the increased stability of XP as a difference, but then Vista has its improvements in that area as well.
In past rev cycles, people would have just beefed up their computers and learned to deal with the new funk. If we look at all the consumer level computers out right now, they are currently capable of running Vista and the hardware companies love the idea of selling bigger systems and seeing hardware churn due to increasing software requirements. But right now that's pretty much all that is propping Vista up: pre-installs on those new beefier-than-2-years-ago machines.
This is not 1998 or 2001 anymore; this time Microsoft failed to push their product out against the desire of the market. What's changed? The market has choice, and it knows it.
People now see both Linux and Mac as viable options and no longer feel beholden to trudge along besides Microsoft and their pace. These platforms are now viable because of their improved user interfaces and friendliness, and even the Mac would not be where it is right now without Free software for them to build on (and occasionally mistreat in the process, unfortunately).
We should see the failure of Vista as a success for us that we helped create. Of course, KDE is not yet the dominant user platform so we shouldn't smile and be happy with it. Microsoft won't stop, Apple won't stop, neither should we.
I see three new battle lines for us over the next five years: making Windows 7 look as bad or worse than Vista does in comparison to our offerings (while continuing to land beachheads with our applications on that operating system); taking Windows Mobile off the table as a choice; besting the iP-devices (iPhone, iPod) on the consumer market. We have all the tools available to us, we just need to execute over the next 2-3 years.
I write this because I continue to see "why Vista sucks" articles being written and can't help but think that that battle is done, so we need to move our sights on to new fields. I write this because I see more and more Linux based mobile coming out, but most of it is really sub-par and that concerns me.
We know that our strengths are community and ubiquity. Those are awesome strengths because they play directly into the trends that are likely to play out over the next 10 years in the industry, namely increasing socialization of technology and the spread of these technologies to cover the desktop, the portable, the phone and the web with such vigor that we won't even recognize the landscape in 10 years time. Let's continue to underscore those strengths, make the world aware of them and continue to make the best damn software money can't buy. =)