There is no such thing as “the average user”. It’s statistics. The average user is the user if replicated to replace every user would give the same result.“If there’s one thing I wish more than anything for the Linux platform, it’s for developers of the desktop environments to stop preaching only to their respective choirs. It’s time for the designers, developers, thinkers, plotters, and planners to understand one thing — the average user should be their one and only target for 2015.” He/she is a virtual user, a concept, not reality. Still, in my experience with family/friends/students/teachers/coworkers, that average user is not someone who installs an OS, tweaks an OS or even installs a ton of applications. Many times I’ve had folks I consider close to the average user ask me for help installing a printer-driver or anti-virus application. They just want to turn on the machine and get IT.
M$ has not been serving those folks well what with EULAs, the necessity of anti-malware software, keeping track of stickers/genuine anything from M$, the vagaries of hunting for drivers, designed-in incompatibilities intended to force upgrades (and new hidden licensing fees) and re-re-reboots, lots of them… The average user wants none of those. GNU/Linux on the other hand, has most drivers built in to the kernel or typical desktop sub-systems like CUPS or SANE. There’s no EULA to read and “agree to”. There’s no licensing fee, hidden or otherwise. You get the software installed on your PC and it’s as good as yours as far as copyright and usage is concerned. You can even share it. The average user likes to share. He/she shares use of their PC with family, friends and visitors, simple actions which may or may not be compatible with a variety of EULAs which restrict rights to just the owner of the PC (“Typically, this means you can install one copy of the software on a personal computer and then you can use the software on that computer.
this license does not give you any right to, and you may not: use or virtualize features of the software separately; publish, copy (other than the permitted backup copy), rent, lease, or lend the software
The software is licensed to run on up to two processors on the licensed computer.
Device connections. You may allow up to 20 other devices to access the software installed on the licensed computer for the purpose of using file services, print services, Internet information services, and Internet connection sharing and telephony services on the licensed computer.”).
Users of GNU/Linux don’t even need to read the GPL to be legal and can probably forget about malware and possibly even firewalls in their homes. They can leave that to the router if at all. The average user doesn’t have to install much software at all as most desktop distros include a web browser that people want to use, multimedia software and an office productivity suite like LibreOffice.
No, GNU/Linux is the desktop operating system for the average user, not that other OS. Then, why do most OEMs and retailers ship that other OS? It’s a bad habit. It’s an identifiable cash-flow. It’s a trap set by M$ when IBM granted them a monopoly on desktops OS for the IBM PC back in the day. M$ extended that to the GUI by making it difficult for developers to sell software licences for anything but that other OS so retailers had to sell it or nothing at all. Volume was key in the early days. It’s still important today, but in 2015 consumers will finally have choice almost everywhere on Earth: Android/Linux, GNU/Linux, Chrome OS, and FireFox OS and Tizen and… anything but that other OS, which is rapidly becoming irrelevant. Millions of desktop PCs running */Linux were sold in 2014. 2015 will be even better. Everyone sees that now and OEMs and retailers have awakened from their poison-induced sleep of decades. Check out your local retailers. How many units with an alternative OS do you see? Where I live, that other OS is hanging onto the last retail shelves by its fingertips. In fact, M$ is paying OEMs to install that other OS. There’s desperation for you. Is that a long term plan of business? Nope. It’s a delaying tactic by the salesmen. The longer that other OS can keep mindshare, the longer the cash cow works for them. In 2015 that all ends. M$ will have to work for a living instead of just printing licences.