One reason why alternatives to Microsoft’s products are catching on at the moment is the company’s new pricing policy. Instead of paying once for new products or upgrades, Microsoft is now charging many corporate customers and government offices a form of subscription. Many complain that this has increased the cost of their software. So far, computers with Linux-based operating systems are most popular with retailers and companies that run call centres dealing directly with customers. But businesses offering financial services have also begun switching to Linux.
Yet companies offering Linux still have a long way to go before they begin to reel in Microsoft. Even with its current, more-humble posturethe company expects soon to wrap up its long-running, antitrust dispute with the US governmentMicrosoft remains a formidable foe. International Data Corporation, a market-research firm, reckons that Linux has just 2.7% of the market for desktop operating systems. So even if its sales grow like topsy, it could still be years before Linux makes an impression on Microsofts 94% share.
The interesting thing to look at would be (a) new users (b) emerging markets. These are the markets that Linux should be focusing on, and this is where it can make headway (especially, new users in emerging markets). There is increasing momentum for Linux on the desktop with initiatives from Sun, Red Hat and Lindows. They may not make much of a dent in the existing Windows user base, but the next set of users may not see the same levels of penetration for Microsoft as in the past.