Jack Messman, chief executive of networking software vendor Novell says that 2006 will see widespread adoption of Linux on the corporate desktop. According to Messman the catalyst will be the release of Microsoft Windows Vista and the high costs associated with upgrading.
Speaking at the company's BrainShare conference and expo in Barcelona on 12 September, Messman said, "the window of opportunity for migrating will be when Vista comes onto the market."
"The cost of migrating from Windows XP to Vista will be higher than the cost of migrating to Linux and that will push migrations to Linux," he said.
Novell claims that adoption of Linux as a desktop computing platform is growing in Europe. Recent customers include Estonian bank SEB Esti Uhispant, ARS Altman of Germany, an automotive logistics solutions provider and the Allied Irish Bank Group.
Messman argued that Linux, having somewhat less desktop functionality, is a bonus for businesses as it discourages staff from wasting time engaging non-productive activities, such as web browsing.
"There is some functionality difference between a Microsoft thick client and a Linux desktop and many employers believe there are productivity gains to be had," said Messman.
Novell is heavily promoting Linux for "limited use" desktops such as in call centres and banking.
"Depending on the industry you're in 10 percent to 80 percent of employees can migrate to a Linux desktop now," said David Patrick, vice president and general manager for Linux, open source platforms and services.
Novell is a relatively recent convert to the open source world, entering after acquiring the German Linux developer Suse in November 2003.
Since then Novell have been promoting Linux largely as a server solution, introducing Open Enterprise Server, a blend of Linux and Novell's own NetWare in March 2005.
One high profile company at the event which is deploying Novell software on the desktop is the AIB Group, which uses the company's software for its New Banking Platform.
Andrew Johnston, senior technology architect at AIB, said: "Commercial support is essential for AIB in choosing a platform.
"AIB will not take sides in the open source versus proprietary software argument," he said, adding that the group is "a firm believer in open standards and open architectures."
Novell currently offers multiple Linux products including Open Enterprise Server, Novell Linux Desktop and Suse Linux Professional 9.3.
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