Page Two

By Steven Vaughan-Nichols  |  Posted 2003-12-30 Print this article Print

Despite such fusses, the Linux desktop is getting closer—thanks to two developments. The first is that Microsoft is making upgrading Windows and Office an ever more expensive proposition. It was one thing when you could sit pat as a business user when, flaws and all, Windows 98 was what you already had and Microsoft still supported you. Those days are almost gone.

Its very simple. You can upgrade a machine that runs Windows 98 to run Linux cheaply. But to run XP Pro or W2K Pro, you must not only upgrade your software, you must buy a new PC to run it on. Throw in the costs of switching to Licensing 6, and even the most ardent of Microsoft shops now have good reason to at least consider a Linux alternative.

This isnt just me mouthing off. On Dec. 30, Israel stopped buying Microsoft office programs in favor of open-source alternatives. The Israeli government did this because Microsofts programs were too expensive. I expect youre going to see a lot more stories like this one in the coming months.

The other reason is that Linux desktops are maturing. Suns Java Desktop System is a good complete operating system/office suite package. I think Perens is on the right trail with UserLinux. I have no doubt that Novell/SuSE/Ximian will have something tasty cooking up for corporate users by 2004s third quarter. And Im happy to see Linux desktop operations like Xandros not only building a good desktop, but including administrator tools so that technicians can remotely set up new Xandros desktops.

Ive said it before, and I still believe it: 2004 wont be the year of the Linux desktop. But I do think the foundations are being dug for 2005 to be that year.

Discuss This in the eWEEK Forum Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols is editor at large for Ziff Davis Enterprise. Prior to becoming a technology journalist, Vaughan-Nichols worked at NASA and the Department of Defense on numerous major technological projects. Since then, he's focused on covering the technology and business issues that make a real difference to the people in the industry.

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