Kommandeering Developers Everywhere

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ok ok ok, I'll switch, so now what?

Unfortunately, few users are introduced to KDE through hardware preinstallation. And while that percentage grows over time, let's think about [cue ominous music]: The Switcher (tm).

Now, we are already thinking about "Who" the Switcher is (user profile / demographic / market segmentation) or "Why" the Switcher switches (motivation). But do we consider "How" the Switches switches enough?

Desktop settings, playlists, account names, home directories, browser bookmarks, files littered about "My Documents", the C drive and under application folders. What do these users hold on their PC, and what's the easiest transition? Checking out KDE with a VNC server, FreeNX account or a LiveCD is so simple and devoid of risk. But the next step. When few people change passwords or defrag their disks, are we surprised that people can be KDE commitment-phobic? (Cue the chorus of: But does OSS want those users anyway? Short answer: Yes).

Researching KDE, housecleaning their Windows filesystem, and learning about application replacements. Where does "user education and intiative" end and "barrier to entry" begin?

The good news, is that people are thinking about such questions and giving initial options. Minimize fear of the unknown, minimize pain, minimize risk.

With information overload and the need for desktop searches due to the inability to sort and file GBs of data, can we expect people to have a handle on which files will be fine with KDE-centric distros and which file type are lost?

Is your application sufficiently clear on supported file types and feature sets? On making "the Jump (tm)?" Can KDE do better to help the Switcher than to send a bottle of tequila and an email template that starts out, "Hey everyone, I'm going to try out linux finally. I might lose my address book and my emails, so IM me in a week or two when I get my pc back up and running" ?


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