Technology analysts at Meta Group Inc have predicted that by 2004 Microsoft will start to phase in software based on the Linux Open Source operating system and will move to re-price the Windows server operating system kernel and its associated “add-on” components to better compete against cheaper Linux options.
We believe that, beginning in late 2004, Microsoft will begin moving some of its proprietary application enablers (eg. .NET components) to the Linux environment; this will gradually include the major Microsoft back-office products, such as SQL Server, IIS and Exchange, said Meta.
In 2003, Linux early adopters will be joined by some fast followers, said the Stamford, Connecticut-based analyst group, citing this as helping substantiate its estimates that by 2006/07 some 45% of all new servers will host the Linux operating system, up from the levels of 15% to 20% of current server shipments.
Penetration of Linux into the enterprise data center is still slight, but Meta said it expects adoption levels to reach 11% by 2007 from its current position of 3%. Systems management is not a barrier to Linux adoption. Currently, Linux is a manageable, but still maturing, platform, Meta said. However, it said that easier installs and better user interfaces are needed, and there is a lack of consistency across all Linux distributions.
Even though Linux has made considerable inroads on servers in recent years, Microsoft has enjoyed some breathing space on the desktop. This has been largely thanks to a lack of suitable Linux operating systems or applications in areas such as personal productivity. But that situation could change next year, as Linux vendors line up increasingly viable alternatives. Nuremberg, Germany-based SuSE AG plans a Linux desktop in the first quarter of 2003 that will feature the CrossOver Office tool. CrossOver enables applications like Microsoft’s Word and Excel to run on Linux without modification.
On the Windows versus Linux cost of ownership debate, Meta said that the most significant cost differences are between RISC and Intel server hardware and between database management systems, notably Oracle on Linux against SQL Server on Windows. IDC this month released a Microsoft-sponsored study that concluded that Windows 2000 Server proved cheaper than Linux over a simulated five-year period mainly because Windows administrators are cheaper to hire than their Linux counterparts, and that the server management tools for Linux are less mature.