I think you are missing my point entirely.
If linux was not initially set at $0 We are talking going back to 1991. 26 years.
It wouldn’t have been made available for free at that time, it would have been sunk into a company that would have got investments and built an OS back when OS/2 was still a viable operating system.
Your question attempts to discuss an ecosystem that would not have evolved as it has.
It could have died, or it could have usurped Microsoft before Windows95 became a thing.
Mac OSX may not have been created when it was and the entire landscape of personal computing would be different.
People wouldn’t have to switch.
It doesn’t. These are not the people who spend their time boasting about how great it is.
I really do believe you are making comparisons to an ecosystem that doesn’t exist.
Things that have evolved to date that wouldn’t have in the same manner if Linux and it’s various distributions were not FOSS:
When I visited CERN a few years back, most every system that did anything of significance was running a specialized distribution that was built by CERN for CERN, but is also freely available for anyone. This is what makes Linux great.
Does it make it better than Windows or MacOSX. I haven’t seen an instance where that’s possible for Mac or Windows.
They had a few machines running Windows, some were even running XP because the PLC they were driving doesn’t have drivers for anything other than XP. But that’s a decision by the manufacturer of the device. If they wanted to run anything but XP they would need to buy an entirely new PLC. That’s a restriction put in place by the manufacturer. They could reverse engineer the PLC and build drivers for it. But that would cost as much if not more than a new PLC.
Linux Terminal Server Project
I know there is a school district in Washington State, that converted the entire district to Terminal Services running both Linux Desktops and servers for students and faculty alike. It spawned further development in the LTSP.
I’m trying to establish your purpose in asking a question that deals with an entirely different development timeline from the one we have evolved with over the last 26 years.
As Bryan Lunduke has repeatedly said, the things that make Linux great are also the things that make it suck.
I’m not disputing it’s merits or it’s drawbacks. I’ve never said it’s better. Because I believe you can’t judge a fish by it’s ability to climb a tree.
What I am saying, is that your question warrants further stipulations.
If They take the ecosystem that exists today and start charging for it would you pay money to acquire it?
Most people would say no.
If you further stipulated: If CompanyX built a viable desktop operating system that was fully comparable in functionality to both Microsoft Windows and Apple MacOSX, would people buy it. I think yes.
Any “games” argument that spawns from this just needs to be directed at the fact that MacOSX hasn’t been a viable gaming platform for most of its life. It’s a well sought after computer and operating system.
I hope this helps you understand my approach to your questions.