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
(http://www.sun.com/staroffice), the open-source OpenOffice
(http://www.openoffice.org), and KOffice (http://www.koffice.org) 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
(http://www.robval.com/linux/desktop/index.html) 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?