The good news for Linux as an operating system for the desktop — as opposed to the server — is that it is set to become No. 2 after Windows in the next year or so. The bad news is that its growth does not look to be as explosive as some advocates might have hoped.
One factor holding Linux back on the desktop is the lack of well-established applications, according to Dan Kusnetzky, IDC’s vice president of system software. “Consumers and organisations select applications first and let that choice direct the choice of the operating environment,” he said. “If, for example, a needed application is only available on Windows, the consumer or organisation will select Windows.”
In the past year or so, some progress has been made towards providing Linux equivalents to common Windows applications: Ximian’s Evolution mimics Outlook’s look and feel, and is compatible with Exchange servers, for example, and Sun Microsystems’ StarOffice can read and write Microsoft Office files. CodeWeavers’ Crossover Office software even allows some Windows applications to be installed on a Linux machine.
But these solutions don’t necessarily add up to desktop success, in Kusnetzky’s view. “Organisations are still likely to select the most popular applications even though applications having similar capabilities exists,” he argued.
I think the way for Linux on the desktop is two-fold – (a) focus on new markets and new customers (b) make Linux the desktop for a server-centric computing solution which cuts cost of computing significantly. This is exactly what we are doing in Emergic Freedom.