Microsoft Corp is using scare tactics to exert pressure on PC vendors not to explore the potential of desktop Linux, according to Novell Inc president and COO, Ron Hovsepian.
The Waltham, Massachusetts-based company has recently completed some key desktop innovations for desktop Linux, including support for Visual Basic macros and usability enhancements, and will release the results as SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 in the summer.
Whether potential users will get a chance to see the fruits of Novell’s labor is open to question, however, as Hovsepian told Computer Business Review, Microsoft was doing its best to put potential PC OEMs off the scent.
There’s an increasing market pressure that they [Microsoft] are inflicting on our partners’ marketing dollars that are perceived to be at risk if they begin to work with other vendors, said Hovsepian, who maintained that the company was nonetheless having positive conversations with hardware vendors, especially in Europe.
The lack of pre-bundled Linux PCs has been a long-term frustration for desktop Linux supporters, but Hovsepian maintained that the company had not set its sights on OEM deals before for all the right reasons.
We didn’t want to go to the PC vendors with our prior version, this one has all the accoutrements to have that discussion with them, he said. We are only going to get one shot at this.
Alongside desktop Linux functionality enhancements, the delivery of Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system at the end of the year could provide Linux vendors with the opportunity to make this shot count, as many businesses will be seriously examining their desktop acquisition and management costs.
While they are doing so, IT departments and CIOs owe it to themselves to test drive Linux on the desktop, according to Novell chief technology officer, Jeff Jaffe, who has predicted mass implementation of desktop Linux in 2007 if IT departments do so.
One of the mantras of corporate IT departments for decades has been ‘no vendor lock-in’, Jaffe told Computer Business Review.I think if IT is true to itself before they make their next decision on desktop upgrades it needs to seriously take a look at the alternatives.
While looking at the alternatives in the past meant deciding whether to stay on an old version of Windows, or which Microsoft licensing model to be on, businesses now have a true alternative for many of their desktop users, Jaffe said, and they should be considering Linux alongside any potential Windows upgrade.
We need to let them see how it solves the problem at a fraction of the cost, he added. As IT recognizes that advantage in 2006 that will cause the groundswell for broad adoption in 2007. I think 2007 will be the year of mass implementation.