Linux aims to grow on back of Windows XP

Linux vendors are confident that the cost and inconvenience of upgrading to Microsoft's Windows XP could give open source...

Linux vendors are confident that the cost and inconvenience of upgrading to Microsoft's Windows XP could give open source products a boost.

While XP grabbed the headlines last week, three Linux incarnations were also released. Their creators, SuSE, Red Hat and MandrakeSoft, are hoping that the controversy surrounding Microsoft's latest operating system will put business their way.

SuSE strategic alliance manager, Malcolm Yates, said that his company was beginning to see a demand from disillusioned Microsoft users. "I think there is a certain disappointment with Microsoft," he said. "XP and Microsoft take people into a single supplier [IT model] and make it difficult for them to leave."

The anger surrounding the licensing of XP could also deter potential users. "SuSE 7.3 has an initial purchase price of £60 and, of course, the licensing doesn't restrict you to one installation. In theory, you can buy one copy and deploy it many times," Yates said.

Tony Lock, a senior analyst at Bloor Research, agreed that Microsoft's latest licensing model could prompt users to look elsewhere.

"Microsoft's new approach to licensing, in as much as they almost want to turn XP into a rental model, and getting all their customers on to a single model, is going to be difficult to say the least," Lock said.

However, while he pointed out that Linux is initially tempting because of its lower cost and less intrusive licensing model, the "life" cost of Linux - which includes training, education and support - would increase.

"What is likely to happen is it won't be a case of XP or Linux. Instead, users will be seeing how long they can make do with what they already have. And if that takes three or four years, it could be that thin clients [which bypass Microsoft's operating system] become attractive," he said.

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