Will 2008 Be The Year Of The Linux Desktop?

from the probably-not dept

People have been declaring the Year of Desktop Linux for years. Linus Torvalds himself declared the Year of the Linux Desktop way back in 2004, a prediction that now appears to have been a bit optimistic. Now, Forrester is predicting that 2008 will be the year that Linux becomes a "credible threat" to Windows. Color me skeptical. The suite of Linux desktop software—especially the excellent Open Office—has definitely improved over the years, with Ubuntu getting a lot of buzz over the last couple of years for putting out a polished and user-friendly product. But desktop users, and corporate desktop users in particular, tend to be very conservative. They want software they trust, and that they know will be compatible with other peoples' software. Unless Linux-based products offer compelling features that the Windows alternatives don't, it's just not going to be worth the risk of abandoning trusted software. Moreover, a lot of companies have a suite of specialized business software that was built around Windows that would be very costly to convert to another platform. Eventually, the cost savings may be compelling enough to get a significant number of companies to switch. Windows and Office are expensive, but switching your whole company to software that has unanticipated flaws is a lot more expensive. So the process of evaluating, testing, and transitioning to a new operating system is likely to take a decade, not a year. So I doubt that a significant number of companies will be providing Linux desktops to their (non-geek) employees by the end of 2008.

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Nov 2007 @ 8:11pm

    People tend to prefer the devil they know (in this case XP) to the devil they don't. That will work against a switch.

    XP volume license agreements will probably also slow the switch. My company doesn't plan on shifting to Vista in the foreseeable future, but they won't have to switch to Linux because they plan to keep installing XP on all of the new machines. I don't know if all license agreements are like that, but if they are I suspect most companies are going to just ride with XP as long as it is supported. Now if Microsoft does something incredibly stupid like not renewing XP agreements or jacking up to Vista pricing then the switch to Linux would be a lot more attractive.

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