Longhorns delay may be Linuxs gain, according to Linux vendors and analysts.
With Longhorn shorn of most of its most important features, such as WinFS (Windows File System), Linux supporters are hopeful that the Linux desktop can finally make inroads into the hearts and minds of corporate desktop users.
Dr. Frederick Berenstein, chairman and CTO of Xandros Inc., thinks Linux can do more than just catch up with Windows. He thinks Linux can do better.
“It is understandable, given the complexity of Microsofts vision of the new [WinFS] system that they chose to remove it from Longhorn until it is fully functional. The Linux community is aware of the direction Microsoft is taking and is planning to bring comparable pervasive search capabilities to the Linux desktop,” said Berenstein.
Specifically, Berenstein noted, “It was just announced at the KDE [K Desktop Environment] Community World Summit that the next release of KDE upon which the Xandros GUI is based, may incorporate a Google-type facility on the control panel to search local content. Considering the Longhorn delays, theres a good chance that Xandros will beat Microsoft to the punch.”
Michael Robertson, CEO of Linspire Inc., thinks Microsoft is running on empty.
“If my children ever run Linspire, they might have to worry about competing against Longhorn, but I wont,” said Robertson.
“Monopolies invariably become complacent and lethargic as the lack of competition dulls the organization, which is what youre witnessing with Microsoft. Its taken three years for an update to XP, and its just security features like a firewall, which we were bundling with our very first version more than two years ago.”
Thus, “given Microsofts stream of postponements and feature-shaving, they have zero credibility to deliver on any major new product releases in a timely fashion, which opens the doors for desktop Linux to catch and surpass XPs feature set,” Robertson said.
Leigh Day, a spokeswoman for Red Hat Inc., isnt as boisterous as the other Linux leaders, but she does believe ” the Red Hat model is unique and beneficial to customers in that the latest mature version features are made available as part of an ongoing subscription. The open-source model centers on rapid innovation, not holding important technology for large releases,” she said.
“Customers have taken notice of the Red Hat Desktop as an alternative” to Windows, Day added.
But are the Linux vendors just whistling in the dark? Can Linux on the desktop catch up with Windows?
Michael Dortch, the Robert Frances Groups principal business analyst, believes that Linux is going to get its shot.
“Anything that further delays or hobbles Longhorn, or further confuses users and IT executives about the future of Windows, creates more opportunities for effective, economical alternatives that appear more stable and less confusing,” said Dortch.
“Such delays and challenges also give Linux desktop solution developers more time and incentive to strengthen their offerings, especially their interoperability with incumbent environments and resources,” he said. “Growing numbers of enterprise users are already exploring or running Linux and open-source client software alternatives to Windows effectively in Windows-centric environments, and are experiencing fewer and fewer compatibility challenges.”
In addition, Dortch commented, “the power and flexibility of Linux-based client systems are increasing, as most recently demonstrated by offerings such as the Cluster Workstations announced this week by Orion Multisystems Inc. The longer Longhorn languishes, the greater the abilities of Linux and open-source solutions to offer alternatives that deliver on and exceed the promises of Longhorn.”
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