This eWEEK

Remember 'Chicago'?

Remember Chicago? Once the code name for Windows 95, it generated several years worth of buildup that was the stuff of legend. At the stroke of midnight, Aug. 25, 1995, camera crews filmed buyers as they charged into computer stores to be the first to buy a copy.

Now, a decade later, welcome to the wait for "Longhorn." The ship date for the next big client release of Windows is officially unknown, as Peter Galli reports, but theres one thing we can say with certainty: It will not ship in the next two years. If it doesnt ship in three, users who signed up early for Software Assurance will have to sign up again to get the upgrade. Whether 24 months of speculation will play as well as it did 10 years ago is another question. At that time, all Microsoft had to do was keep interest diverted from a limping OS/2. Now, Microsoft has a competitor in desktop Linux thats even feebler—or is it?

Jason Brooks examines the state of Linux in the enterprise and finds that, while still facing massive challenges on the desktop, there is a chance that the pieces—particularly desktop application and collaboration software—could come together in a satisfactory manner. We dont know when that will happen, but we dont know when Longhorn will be arriving, either. In his examination, Jason also checks out the Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3.0 Beta 1 and finds a number of client-oriented improvements.

Anne Chen, meanwhile, revisits two case-study subjects from last year: Jefferson County, Colo., and the city of Steamboat Springs, Colo. Despite some reverses, IT pros at both locations are happy and will continue their deployments. Jefferson County will continue to move desktop users to Linux gradually.

In any discussion of Linux, its invaluable to hear from its creator, Linus Torvalds, and Peter Gallis interview with the charismatic developer is revealing. Torvalds is well-versed in the details of SCOs intellectual property challenge and offers a convincing rebuttal in the interview. Although he thinks SCO is "smoking crack," he vows to remove any code that SCO can prove is infringing—but hasnt seen any yet.

Finally, Jim Rapoza in his Tech Directions column says Red Hat is spoiling the joy of Linux for some customers, who are suffering sticker shock from Red Hats fees. The Linux you use in production will not be free of service and support costs, but how much you pay for these is subject to ongoing debate—and market forces, including, Jim says, the leverage you exert as a customer.

Till next eWEEK, send your comments to me at stan_gibson@ziffdavis.com.