Recently I read an article about how the newest update of Windows has copied a bunch of user interface ideas from Ubuntu. Now, the article was written with tongue mildly-in-cheek (and all the better for it) but I was struck by one of the comments. (I don’t propose to link to it, because the point here is not to call out that specific poster, nor to quote exactly for the same reason.)
The comment said, in essence: well, if Windows is copying Ubuntu, how come Microsoft are able to make it stable at the same time? Why don’t Ubuntu do that?
There was a certain amount of (rather ill-natured, anti-Microsoft) mockery saying that Windows isn’t stable, but that’s also not the point.
The point is: because you got it early. Go speak to one of your friends who work at Microsoft and ask them what the early internal betas of Windows 8.1 were like. The difference here is exactly that you don’t know that because they were internal. Ubuntu…you get to run the early versions. Stabilisation happens along with evolution: in plain sight. You can play with new ideas in Ubuntu much, much earlier in their evolution than you can with alternatives.
I think most people reading already know this. But it shows that we, the Ubuntu community, should maybe be explaining a little more that this is the case. I’d like to try to do a little more on this front: help people understand that you can have the all-new more-stable experience by running the Ubuntu LTS, have earlier access by running the interim releases, get things as soon as they land by running development. Help people understand where they fall, where they should fall, and where they want to fall on that continuum.