Meta Predicts Microsoft Move to Linux in 2004

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.