With the alarming number of attacks on windows-based software in the last few years and the general disdain for cumbersome Windows features such as Windows Product Activation, the need for an alternative to Windows is at an all-time high.
However, although the quality of alternatives to Windows-based desktops has improved astronomically in the last few years, much work remains to be done before another desktop operating system will have a significant impact on the enterprise market.
In the five years I have been here in the Labs, Linux has been touted as a potential Windows killer. Although Linuxs ease of installation, hardware compatibility and ease of use (thanks to the KDE and GNOME desktops) have improved dramatically in that time, application support remains Linuxs Achilles heel.
The upcoming LindowsOS from Lindows.com, which said the software can run Linux and Windows applications, has captured the attention of worldwide media outlets, but I wouldnt plan on any massive Windows-to-LindowsOS migrations just yet.
After all, if it were easy to bridge the application compatibility gap between Linux and Windows, dont you think the open-source WINE project that has been running for years would have become a more significant part of the market already?
If I had to bet on a legitimate competitor to Windows, I would place my money on Apples Mac OS X. The number of OS X-compatible applications is growing by the day (Microsofts own Office v.X for Mac is the latest milestone). Couple those expanding application options with OS Xs Unix capabilities, and it looks a lot like the contender with the best chance of eating into Windows market share.
For this to happen on a large scale, Apple would have to make a serious port of OS X to Intel-based platforms or open up more of its OS code to the Darwin open-source developer groups. I have nothing against Apples hardware, but there are tons of PCs out there that wont be leaving the enterprise soon and that could benefit from an OS X upgrade.
Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.