Ximian Targets Windows Users

Y2Pay Linux bundle aimed at capitalizing on Microsoft's controversial license plan.

With the deadline for a controversial new Microsoft Corp. licensing plan looming, Ximian Inc. is hoping to woo undecided Windows customers with a deal for its Linux offerings.

Ximian this week is unveiling a pricing program called Y2Pay, which offers Windows shops a chance to switch to the Linux environment at a 25 percent discount.

The bundle includes Ximian Desktop Professional Edition for Linux, a GNU Network Object Model Environment desktop, Sun Microsystems Inc.s StarOffice 6.0, and the Ximian Evolution e-mail and personal information management software. The deal will run through Aug. 15, officials said.

Ximian Desktop Professional Edition and Ximian Connector for Microsoft Exchange will let companies deploy Linux workstations that can fit into Microsoft server environments.

The Boston company is trying to capitalize on a plan by Microsoft to nudge its customers to a new Software Assurance program that asks customers to sign multiyear licensing agreements or lose discounts they now enjoy. The deadline for signing up for the new plan is July 31.

Adam Doxtater, a computer engineer for MGM Mirage Information Systems Division, in Las Vegas, said he is evaluating Linux.

"I am not necessarily looking into a Windows replacement but more along the lines of an alternative," Doxtater said. "My goal is to build a solution that will allow us to interoperate with standard Microsoft Office applications, e-mail and mainframe access."

Referring to Microsofts new plan, Doxtater said, "Their solution only leaves the door open for the competition. Ximian, for example, offers a complete Office drop-in replacement that can be purchased for around $60, whereas Microsofts comparable solution is over $500."

Microsoft spokesman Dan Leach said the financial impact of the new licensing deal will vary depending on what technology the customer has, although customers with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements will see costs go down.

Leach said that most ardent Linux supporters "tend to be early adopters who frequently overlook the higher costs of services to deploy and operate and maintain Linux systems."

But Tig Kerkman, system administrator for the city of Kenosha, Wis., said Ximian is attractive to enterprises with limited staffs and budgets. "Any company looking for an alternative desktop system that will allow for a full range of functionality in a cost-effective manner should definitely consider Ximian," said Kerkman.

Y2Pay promotion customers may buy Ximian Desktop Professional Edition for $49.95, a discount of $59.95. Companies seeking to start Linux desktop trials receive greater savings with the Ximian Desktop Professional Edition 10 User Starter Pack, priced at $449, 25 percent less per user, officials said.