by Eric Grevstad
I'm not a fan of Emeril Lagasse, the TV chef who runs around yelling "Bam!", but I like his constant exhortation to "kick it up a notch." So this week, I've decided to expand on the technology predictions I tossed off at the end of last week's column, when I bet you'd be running Microsoft Windows XP and Corel WordPerfect Office 2002 by the end of this year. Those statements generated a little heat in the destinationSOHO.com discussion forums, but like Emeril at the gas stove, I'm going to turn up the flame.
So here goes: simple yes-or-no answers (or, to be even more of a cocky pundit, yep-or-nope answers) to the perennial question, "Do these much-hyped technologies have a place in your small business IT plan?"
Windows desktops/clients: Yep. Like all Microsoft's upgrades, Windows XP looks flashy from a distance and underwhelming up close. If it was just a matter of adding a compatibility layer for Win 95 games, I'd tell you to stick with Win 2000 Professional, but I'm swayed by XP's prettier interface and reduced layers of bloat (server and C2 security overhead).
Mac desktops/clients: Nope, except for the diehards in the desktop publishing department. Steve Jobs seems to be betting the company on the premise that editing home videos will be a killer app (gee, let's make the Mac target audience even smaller!). And when he talks about the Mac as the hub of a digital home, he sounds just like Bill Gates denying that we're heading into a "post-PC era."
Linux desktops/clients: Nope, not yet. There are users who'll happily tinker with their PCs for hours, tweaking and personalizing everything from icons to file systems, and I'm one of them. But, there are far fewer users willing to tinker for hours simply to make their PCs work, or to get their sound card or cable modem running (as I've spent the last week doing with Linux at home). Plus, Linux's free (or at most far cheaper than Windows) retail price hasn't trickled down to Linux-configured PCs from vendors like Dell yet.
Linux servers: Yep, especially the turnkey "server appliance" bundles offered by firms like Eilink (www.eilink.com) and E-Smith (www.esmith.com). They make Windows 2000 Server look bulky and nasty, and if big enterprise companies are balking at Microsoft's Active Directory, you certainly should. Pause to shed a tear for the excellent Novell Directory Services (NDS), victim of the worst, self-imploding marketing since OS/2 (and the latter was handicapped by IBM's then-ongoing antitrust suit).
Kensington cable locks: Yep, because you'll be buying new employees notebooks instead of desktops by midyear.
Bluetooth: Nope. It hasn't even shipped yet and I'm tired of it already.
OK, real-world small business managers, Mac and Linux fans, and Microsoft employees, take your best shots. You'll find the cocky pundit in the Small Business Memo thread in the discussion area.
Eric Grevstad is Editor at Large for Home Office Computing and Small Business Computing Magazine.