24 Aug 2003
(updated 24 Aug 2003 at 17:45 UTC) »
: a bit of work
might be a bit of an understatement
. What the free operating systems are missing in comparison to Mac OS X or, say, Windows XP, is fit and finish, lots of it, and getting there is much harder you'd think. These commercial products get to their polished state because putting out a polished product is a key priority
at Apple and Microsoft. In pure volunteer efforts, the priorities are often somewhere else.
It's important to note that this is not just an issue of manpower and resources. Be, for example, managed to develop an absolutely fabulous desktop OS that was usable, consistent and beatiful, and they did it with a tiny team. They invested time in polish rather than, say, unix-standard multiuser features, because you need polish to actually sell things.
Companies like Sun, Red Hat and Ximian also want to sell things, which is why it's logical to look to their desktop development efforts for the state of the art on the platform. It's not very encouraging. One only has to take a glimpse at the Mad Hatter screenshots to realize the half-bakedness that abounds; in this case, putting in a branded Mozilla throbber was a priority, everything else could be left to suck as badly as it always has.