But Redmond says it has absolutely no intention of porting its software to the Linux environment.
Research and consulting firm Meta Group Inc. is predicting that Microsoft Corp. will begin moving some of its current proprietary application enablers, such as the components of its software-as-a-service .Net strategy, to the Linux environment in late 2004.
In this weeks Client Advisory, which gives Metas current analysis and five-year forecast for Linux and its impact on the IT landscape, the firm said its research indicated that Linux currently commanded between 15 percent and 20 percent of new server operating system shipments, but that by 2006 or 2007, Linux on Intel, or Lintel, would be on 45 percent of new servers.
Meta said it expects Microsofts move to the Linux environment to include major Microsoft back-office products, such as the SQL Server database software, Internet Information Server, and Exchange e-mail and calendar software.
"We also believe Microsoft will re-price and/or separate the Windows server operating system into kernel and add-on components, so it can be favorably compared against free Linux. As a result of Linuxs growing market share, and the support of IBM, Oracle, HP, Dell, et al., we believe systems management, networking, application development, and applications in general will increasingly be available on Linux platforms during the next 12 to 18 months," the advisory says.
But Peter Houston, senior director of Windows Server Strategies at Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., rejected these assertions out of hand. In an interview with eWEEK on Tuesday, he said the software maker had absolutely no intention of porting its software to the Linux environment.
"I want to be really clear about this: we continue to believe we are delivering greater business value and lower long-term cost for customers by focusing on the Windows platform. We have no plans to deliver our products on Linux," he said.
While Microsoft does see Linux as a threat, Houston said, the company feels there is just too much hype in the market today around Linuxs growth potential. "One of the classic challenges has always been projecting early market growth rates into the future, and many, many mistakes have been made in this regard in the past," he said.
Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.
He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.
He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.
He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.
He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.
He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.
His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.
For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.