Red Hat is accelerating development of Linux for the desktop and handheld clients, but admitted it would take a lot more work before it can compete with Microsoft.
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"Microsoft has been delivering a desktop product now for almost 14 or 15 years, ever since it introduced Windows, and that is the expectation that most customers in the marketplace have about ease of use, about function," said Matthew Szulik, Red Hat's chairman and chief executive officer.
"So for Red Hat to move into the consumer marketplace means that we have to exceed that expectation, and that will take time."
The company believed it could compete with Microsoft on price. However, Red Hat wants to guarantee their software works before entering the consumer market.
"We don't want the user getting frustrated in understanding why the search does not work, or can't find files, or finding that the joystick for their games does not work correctly, all of which ultimately will turn that desktop user back to the competitive alternative," Szulik added.
Red Hat does not have a time frame on the availability of its consumer Linux desktop, but it already offers its Enterprise Linux workstation product for desktop deployments.
"The Linux client marketplace is very important to our business and we have been accelerating our rate of investment in development activities around the Linux client," said Szulik.
"When you look at the government or the banking market, integration is critically important to that market, testing is very important, standard interfaces and standard protocols are very important, and security is critically important," he said.
"If you get into the consumer [desktop] marketplace, things like reliability to make sure that all of your device drivers and adapters work simply and easily is very important."
John Riberio writes for IDG News Service