Excerpts from an interview with depth interview with Xandros’ Chairman Frederick Berenstein and VP of software development, Ming Poon:
We reviewed studies of why firms were not adopting the Linux desktop. We found three barriers to entry: difficult installation; no bridge to the current Microsoft environment; and a lack of familiar, well functioning applications to perform basic office tasks. We didn’t release the Xandros Desktop until all of these issues were resolved.
The typical enterprise user needs a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a way to view and edit other people’s files, an e-mail program and a web browser. A few users need other special programs for, say, graphics, but the majority does not. The Xandros Desktop offers solid solutions for those needs. There is the OpenOffice.org productivity suite which has matured into a full-featured set of applications. We also offer the open source Mozilla web browser.
The home market is secondary to us for the time being but we are not ignoring it. It is mostly based on OEM sales bundled with new PCs. The major pivot point for the massive migration of home users is when they can buy and play the latest games on their PC — not games that are a couple of years old. We see corporate desktops as the first phase of the Desktop Linux migration.
With the number of countries that are standardizing on Linux, there will soon be hundreds of millions of students who will be used to using a Linux based PC, and they will feel most comfortable with that when they get a computer to use at home. Their parents, who will be using Linux based PCs at work will also want them at home. This was one major reason that Windows trickled into home PCs, and I feel certain that the same will be true for the Xandros Desktop.
The real opportunity for Linux on the desktop lies in (a) emerging markets and new users (b) running it off the server on low-cost client desktops, costing USD 100-200.