[CS-FSLUG] User Comfort & Change

K Montgomery keltik at nycap.rr.com
Mon Feb 14 13:32:27 CST 2005

Quoting Don Parris <gnumathetes at gmail.com>:

> Just how important is user comfort when it comes to making decisions
> about changing software?  Some people make it out to be all-important.
>  I do agree that there is something to be said for user comfort and
> proficiency with current software, but do not other factors, such as
> maintenance, cost, stability, security, etc. play a role in the
> decision-making process?

If the person who is "comfortable" is the one making the decision, then their
comfort is, to them, of the utmost importance.

I think that for the end user to switch, the advantages in the other 
areas must
clearly outweigh the disadvantage of relearning.  When I bring up Linux to
Windows-based users, often their perception is that it's beyond their
intellectual reach -- simply because it's not Windows, which they already know
(and God knows they already have enough trouble with).  Believe it or 
not, I've
seen the same reaction to Mac OS X (which almost looks like it was 
designed for
a preschooler).

Remember that cost is not a factor if the user's existing software is already
paid for, with no additional purchases required.  I just introduced 
Linux to an
organization that needed a computer for guests in their building.  The 
was available, but they didn't have a valid Windows license.  Therefore, Linux
was a natural choice once I explained it to them a little.  (Unfortunately, I
can't tell you how they've taken to it because it's still quite early.)

Any learning, however minimal, is really perceived as a "cost" to the person
making the choice.  So is any lost software compatibility (i.e., a Windows
program for which there is no readily acceptable equivalent).

Inevitably some people will refuse to switch because of laziness.  But even
those who are willing to learn need hard proof that Linux (or any Free
Software) is better than the status quo.  Personally, I think Linux has 
a great
chance of getting end-user converts in the "kiosk" realm, where users 
need only
a handful of applications, they don't need to customize their desktop, and
security is a must.

- Kathy

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