A quest to improve how we provide information about what hardware works well with Ubuntu took me to research how Microsoft does it. It seems that for Server hardware compatibility the solution is fairly standard for everyone – you create a compatibility table. Hey, we have our own one!
However, for consumer hardware I have been struggling to find something that works. Clearly, Microsoft problem is a bit different, but there are some commonalities. For example:
- How do you know what component works with the latest release
- How do you know if your PC works with the latest release
What Component works?
We recently launched the Ubuntu Component Catalog as a tool that allows you to browse what components have been tested with Ubuntu for different releases. It is a validation of this use case that Microsoft has very similar site for Windows components.
When displaying compatibility information, it is important to allow the user to have their say. Microsoft has an “Is this accurate” question, while we have a ” Give feedback” button. Although it is a step in the right direction, at the moment it means that you need to have a launchpad account to provided feedback on the page. Maybe a simpler approach, like Microsoft’s, will be better?
At the Ubuntu Certification team, we are currently discussing how to deal with the different variants (SKUs) and changes to hardware after production that manufacturers release under the same model name. The problem is how to display all this information in a meaningful and useful way. Most of the solutions that we have looked at tent to burden the user with unwanted information.
I suppose that Microsoft faces a similar problem when trying to tell their users if their system will work or not with the newest version of Windows. It seems that Microsoft have gone for a more dynamic solution. Their website recommends you to: “Download and run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to see if your PC is ready for Windows 7. It scans your hardware, devices, and installed programs for known compatibility issues, gives you guidance on how to resolve potential issues found, and recommends what to do before you upgrade.”
Maybe a “Check My Ubuntu Compatibility” programme, linked to the Ubuntu Component Catalog, is the way forward?