I come across a lot of electronics, network, computer and accessory products while researching to write articles for this blog. Some of these products can be managed using a web-browser and hence the management utility is operating system independent. But the management interface for some products is provided in the form of a software that can be downloaded from the vendor site or from a CD/DVD supplied along with it.
One major issue I find with such companies/vendors is, they provide their management software only for Windows or for Windows and Mac. But not Linux. Rarely, I do come across some vendors who support Linux as well.
I agree that Windows has the maximum market share among Operating Systems used in Computers. But Mac & Linux OS also have a considerable amount of market share. Besides, within Windows, Windows XP still has a gigantic amount of market share.
So, releasing management interface for electronic, computer networking, computer accessory products only for Windows 7 & 8 leaves out a considerable amount of population. Mac and Linux users are premium customers and early bird customers, respectively. Ignore either of them at your peril, hardware vendors!
I can speak more authoritatively for myself and hence I wish to state that I have been using Linux Mint for more than 3 years, now. There has been absolutely no stability/usage issues and most of the applications have a Linux/Open Source variant, that is not only free but also very useful. You may not believe, but there are a lot of options for doing almost anything, with open-source software (even for Windows).
The only problem that I have faced is, non-availability of device drivers for Linux. This happens because the vendors do not provide it. In spite of this restriction, open source enthusiasts have written device driver software for most common devices that connect to the computer, and most of it is included as a part of the Operating System.
One of my wireless dongles (to connect to Internet) does not need any software to work in Linux (In Windows, it is required). The device driver is already built-in and hence the OS recognizes the hardware and starts working with it instantly. For a 3G dongle that I bought more recently, the OS did not recognize it (as it is not a commonly used model) but I found an alternate method to connect it from my Linux laptop.
The real issue is with specialized equipment like NAS storage systems, IP cameras, etc. They will work with Linux, but the management interface may not work in Linux. There maybe alternate methods to manage it, but the question is: Why don’t manufacturers provide native device drivers and management interface for Linux, in addition to Windows and Mac?
Frankly, my purchase decisions are influenced by the availability of support for Linux. If a particular vendor supports their hardware in Linux, I will buy their product irrespective of whether it is the best product in the market, or not.
By supporting only Windows, manufacturers are alienating many early adopters and premium segment users. By doing it, your products will lose their appeal for this critical segment of buyers. Hence, I request vendors to please start supporting their hardware for Linux also, in the future. How much more is it going to cost you to do it? I am sure it is not much.
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