Red Hat president and chief executive officer Matthew Szulik has unveiled a strategy to supply Red Hat Linux as a desktop service to enterprises.
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Szulik said that Red Hat Desktop will consist of Enterprise Linux plus a bundle including OpenOffice and the Mozilla browser.
"Our customers are asking for thin client capability," he said. The Red Hat Desktop is web-based and would cost their employers from $5 a month.
Users will benefit from security and manageability, said Szulik, adding that Linux was more secure than Windows because of the sheer number of extra eyeballs scrutinising the code, the documented speed with which Red Hat has managed to distribute patches and security fixes, and because its vulnerability is much less than the Microsoft product.
The product will be available electronically and through major hardware suppliers such as IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Dell. Szulik said he expected the product to be available for download by 15 May, with the hardware suppliers making it available within the next 12-18 months.
"It's time for a change. Microsoft's competitors have tried to win by adding functionality - for example, Borland, Lotus and Corel. They're all gone. Now, with a major hardware refresh cycle under way, this is a great opportunity," Szulik said.
"People want to move on - the fact that they've paid for Microsoft upgrades but aren't using them shows a lack of confidence in Microsoft. But where's the OEM? [Red Hat's move] will become real when Dell says they're ready to pre-load because it's easy for them to do," said RedMonk's principal analyst James Governor.
Red Hat also announced a partnership with embedded OS suppliers Wind River "to jointly pursue the device market with a standard open-source platform".
Manek Dubash writes for Techworld.com