was in talks with Microsoft over a single contract to supply its Office and Windows software to the country's 497,600 public servants." That makes UK government one of the biggest users of Microsoft worldwide - indeed it would be nice to be able to give you a link to the site on which I once read that HMG is the world's biggest single user of Microsoft software outside of the US. Without getting into the politics of the fact that public agencies really shouldn't be using proprietary, closed formats from a single vendor, the foregoing facts make it clear that:

The Two Greatest Barriers to Linux Adoption are the US and the UK.

In fact, try doing a search on "n-series" on Dell's US and UK websites: The n-series is a series of desktop workstations which are sold with "no OS" (actually with a clone of DOS called FreeDOS), which is currently the closest mainstream vendors will get to selling you an OS with Linux (or any flavour of BSD) on it. They are available in the US, but not in the UK. So the UK actually gets first place in the list of "barriers to Linux adoption".

This is brought into even sharper relief when you realise that China is about to ship thousands of PC's, of its own design, with a Chinese-designed processor, running Linux - presumably the Chinese government's own distribution, Red Flag Linux - to customers around the country.

Whilst China is hardly the kind of place I would usually be praising (check out for instance the Guardian's recent piece on why the current cosying up to China by Western businesses is a misinformed sham for business reasons, never mind ethical ones) anyone who knows anything about China will realise that it probably has more of a chance to promote and encourage the use of Linux than any other single country in the world. Add to that the One Laptop per Child initiative, which aims to distribute milllions of low-cost PC's running to children around the world, and you realise that without significant uptake in Linux in the next few decades, the US and UK are in serious danger of becoming the closest thing to the world's only Microsoft-only Gulags.

More on this subject, the reasons why, and the reasons why this is bad, in my next entry.