Ubuntu may do it better, but Canonical head sees merits of Windows 8 efforts

Ubuntu on desktop
A truly seamless switch?

Canonical is heading into the weekend with about $6.6 million (about £4.29m, AU$7.14m) raised for the Ubuntu Edge, not a shabby number for the superphone's five-day old Indiegogo campaign.

We chatted with Mark Shuttleworth, the software company's founder, on the day Edge was announced, discussing this "concept car" device and the potential of crowdfunding as a mechanism for spurring innovation. We also dived into converging computing, which the Edge aims to accomplish by having serving as the "brain" of a PC.

The Edge dual-boots Android and Ubuntu for smartphones, but when users plug into a monitor, Ubuntu for desktop kicks in. This will be possible after an OTA update available shortly after launch, the company told us.

The Edge's proposed specs - 4GB of RAM, a multi-core processor and 128GB of storage - are built to take on the task of transforming into a PC manageable and seamless.

Having a shared thread among various devices draws comparisons to Microsoft's Windows 8, but Shuttleworth said there are some important distinctions.

"I think our story scales a bit more smoothly from phone to tablet to PC," he said, drawing up Ubuntu's strengths over the Softies' offering.

"I think we have an advantage in that our core OS is much lighter in a way. Because it works on phones it makes it to the PC faster - we're stripping out all the fat on the phone."


Canonical is clearly trying to draw its own path with Ubuntu and the Edge, but Shuttleworth wasn't without a degree of deference for Microsoft's efforts.

"Microsoft has clearly articulated a design vision that's designed to expand across platforms," he said. "As much criticism as the [Windows 8] has taken, I have to agree with them. It recognizes it needs to make a bold foundation. It's very difficult to make bold transitions like that without tickling somebody's nose hairs."

Ubuntu is in its early mobile device days - the Edge won't even be out until May 2014 - but we could be in for an interesting OS war that's for once not Android and iOS.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.