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Windows as a service? Now, there’s an argument for Linux

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols | April 13, 2017
Microsoft wants to control your Windows 10 desktop. Now are you ready to try a Linux desktop?

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Expert Windows writer Ed Bott recently pointed out that the “Windows as a Service” tagline for Windows 10 isn’t just a marketing line. He’s right.

Now, Microsoft is not ready to offer a true Windows-as-a-service offering where you’d be running your desktop from the cloud. Not yet, anyway. But if Microsoft were to buy Citrix, that would be another story.

Yes, you’ve heard that Citrix rumor forever and a day, but it looks as if Microsoft may finally do it. The combination always made sense, but with former Microsoft executive Kirill Tatarinov now in charge of Citrix as president and CEO, Microsoft has its man on the inside.

Additionally, Citrix has just started offering Xen Desktop Essentials. This latest Xen program enables you to manage Windows 10 remote desktops from Azure for $12 per user per month. Earlier, in 2016, Microsoft enabled some of its partners to offer enterprise editions of Windows 10 — Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5 — from the cloud.

I should also mention there’s a new version of Windows 10, dubbed “Cloud,” coming. Don’t be misled by the name. This appears to be a re-baked version of the failed Windows RT. It looks like it has the same goal: grabbing back market share from Chromebooks. Good luck with that, Microsoft.

In the meantime, even as true cloud-based Windows 10 desktops start rolling out, Bott pointed out that users already have far less control over “their” Windows 10 desktops. For example, if you’re running Windows 7 SP1, you haven’t had any major changes in six years. Now, that’s stability. Windows 10? The upgrade cycle is now about 18 months. More annoying still, while you can defer the upgrades, you can’t refuse them.

As for patches, you can’t refuse them either. It’s all or nothing. God help you if you have mission-critical applications or hardware that’s broken by a new patch collection. You can’t roll back the one bad patch to fix compatibility problems anymore.

If you’re a sysadmin, you’re already seeing this happening. It’s only going to get worse as Microsoft takes charge of “your” desktops.

What can you do? Well, you can keep your Windows 7 machines staggering on, but Microsoft has changed 7‘s patching to a roll-up model as well if you use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Or you could switch to Macs. <Crickets> OK, so much for that idea. Besides, the notion of moving from Microsoft to Apple if in search of more control of your system is a bad joke.

So, if you really, really want to control your desktop moving forward, there’s only one choice: Linux.

 

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