Well, I am trying to be a mystic here but it seems like there is something really changing for the good right now. First I read about Red Hat dropping the desktop and then see The BBC talking about Ubuntu in a very positive way.
This may not be a surprise but, for me, I "feel" the subtext here. Maybe it is personal bias or, well, personal experience. Here is my read.
Once Red Hat became "legitimate" (meaning went public and got a lot of money) it seems they were on the "let's be like Microsoft" road. They made a lot of decisions (such as avoiding LSB compliance) to make their systems work just a bit different from everyone else. That could have paid off. That is, people could have picked Red Hat (many did) and more or less locked themselves into that direction.
Them dropping the desktop pretty much means that didn't happen. And what Ubuntu/Kubuntu is certainly contributed to their inability to cause people to pick the Red Hat path. Thus, a real free desktop happened. People can now even pick between Ubuntu and Kubuntu to get their favorite look and feel without having to go back to square one.
Now, to Microsoft's credit, they have helped out as well. Their help has included:
- License enforcement in countries such as Costa Rica to help people realize they could only afford Linux prices.
- Some really bad political moves (such as the recent open document format fiasco) that make them look like scum.
- Releasing a new version of their OS that won't run on most of the computers in the world.
So, what's next? I think the answer is the server market. Once again, Red Hat is selling their "Linux but different" answer. With only bad offerings from Microsoft and the totally unsupported land of Debian (in the eyes of the suits) as the alternatives, things have been pretty easy for them. But, with Shuttleworth on a roll, my look into the crystal ball suggests that Ubuntu servers are the future of Linux as well. But, as I never had any Red Hat stock anyway, I am not going to get worried.