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Linux to boom following Microsoft licence changes

Linux vendors believe they will be the beneficiaries as enterprise users digest the implications of Microsoft's move to a subscription-based licensing model.

Analysts and vendors expect a large number of Microsoft customers to move away from Windows and towards Linux, as they look for a more cost effective alternative.

Microsoft announced earlier this month that it was introducing an optional subscription-based licensing model for its enterprise customers. While the initial deals appear enticing, Microsoft has admitted that customers will end up paying more for their software in the long run.

Part of the new scheme involves enterprises installing every upgrade that Microsoft introduces.

"It is almost tyranny - forcing you to buy something you don't want," said Ransom Love, chief executive officer of Linux and Unix vendor Caldera. "The sad thing about it [the new licensing model] is, Microsoft is giving subscriptions a bad name. People don't necessarily want to upgrade to the next release because they don't need the additional functionality."

Love believes that subscription models can provide value to users, if they are applied properly. Talking toCW360.com, Love cited examples of automatic - and free - patches and fixes to software as a positive example of subscription based deals.

"Subscription models are around in various forms and guises," added Jasmin Ul-Haque, commercial director at SuSe Linux. "What this Microsoft deal does is inhibit the choice of the customer. It's one thing to implement a subscription model, but another to say they [customers] cannot use that software after three years, or so."

Simon Moores, chairman of the Windows NT Forum believes Linux will boom as a result of Microsoft's actions. "I think Linux may well find itself there as a protest vote. In the long term this could be a real threat to Microsoft," he said.

Linux vendors say the cost argument for switching from Windows is convincing. Rudiger Berlich, UK managing director for SuSE Linux points out that a company with ten desktop systems and servers, that wants to install Windows on all its systems, would have to pay for each copy installed on each machine. With Linux, however, you pay once, and can install the software on as many machines as you wish.

However, some analysts argue that smaller companies, which will be most affected by the new licensing models, will not have the skills to implement the open source operating system.

"The companies that are going to be most affected by this are smaller companies that don't upgrade their software that often," said Jessica Figueras, e-business analyst at Ovum. "By definition, these companies have less technology skills, don't see the value of having the latest software. These are the companies that aren't going to be interested in Linux. The skills required, they just don't have,"

But SuSe's Berlich disagreed. "There are various products out there to facilitate areas where customers would need different kinds of experience," he said.

SuSe claims it has seen a steady flow of customers moving from Windows to its comparative Linux offering since the last Microsoft upgrade.

"Microsoft is doing a very good job for us already, in terms of encouraging their customers to seek alternatives," said Ul-Haque.

Emma Nash

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