Is Now the Time to Replace Windows on the Desktop?


Linux has been a popular server OS for many years. Expensive end-user

client licenses are causing more and more organizations to displace

Windows servers for things like file, print, email, and Web services.

Now, a combination of tough economic times and a greater awareness of

Linux are resulting in a number of high-profile organizations turning

to Linux on the desktop as well.

Linux on the desktop has always lagged. The first and foremost problem

lies in the lack of Microsoft Office for Linux. While StarOffice

(, the open-source OpenOffice

(, and KOffice ( come

closer and closer to matching Microsoft Office's functionality with

each release, they still are not Microsoft Office. That's a big issue

for many firms.

All of these packages are improving their ability to support Office

file formats, a crucial capability. And, as the compatibility for

Office file formats improves, Linux is considered good enough by more

and more organizations.

The second main issue lies in lack of desktop applications. That, too,

is changing, as you can find more and more financial and other

applications for Linux. Finally, the perception that Linux on the

desktop is difficult to use remains firmly embedded in the minds of

many users. All of these concerns are valid, but organizations are

finding ways around the problems.

The City of Largo, Florida, for example, adopted the KDE desktop to

replace Windows computers. More recently, Rob Valliere reported

( that a client examined

the question of using Linux to replace Windows 2000, and eventually

saved $10,000 US for a small site with 25 computers. This article

provides a good list of Linux alternatives for common Windows


Other organizations have tried the fresh approach -- installing Linux

on the computers for all new workers, while leaving existing Windows

users alone. This reduces a lot of the resistance to change, but also

shows the IT department how much less effort is required to manage and

maintain Linux systems than Windows. Even CIO magazine presents a

humorous 12-step program for eliminating Microsoft from your network at

Of course, the recent conversions is just a drop in the bucket compared

to the number of sites running Windows on the desktop. The important

thing is that organizations concerned with cost have determined that

Linux is not only workable on the desktop, but it is also less

expensive than Windows.

Isn't it time to examine whether a switch would help your organization?

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