Microsoft ventures into Linuxworld

Lenovo announces notebook range with Novell’s SUSE OS

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By  Published  September 1, 2006

Microsoft’s grip on the desktop software market began to loosen ever so slightly at this year’s Linuxworld Conference and Expo with the news that Lenovo will begin selling and supporting a high-end model of its ThinkPad notebook with Novell’s SUSE Linux operating system (OS) preinstalled.

The Chinese PC vendor’s announcement at last month’s San Francisco event was just one of many by the industry’s major players as they try to position themselves so as not to be left behind in the fast-growing enterprise open source market.

Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10, launched in July, was named ‘Best of Show’ at LinuxWorld, and IBM also announced its instant messaging client software Lotus Sametime will support it and other open source platforms on the desktop and server when the latest

version is released this summer — further cementing the operating system’s viability as a genuine competitor to Windows.

Another example of how Linux is becoming more mainstream on the desktop came with the release at the event of US open source vendor Linspire’s Freespire 1.0.

The operating system combines open-source software with legally licensed proprietary drivers, codecs, and applications that allow users to run applications without additional software — making Linux much more compatible and easier to use.

In fact Microsoft is concerned enough about the increasing popularity of Linux-based desktop operating systems that it actually attended the conference.

In the past Linux has been described as “a cancer” by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, but at this year’s expo open source’s nemesis was “forming an ongoing dialogue”.

There was even a suggestion by Stuart Cohen, CEO of the Open Source Development Lab (OSDL) that the software giant would release a version of Office to run on Linux within the “next couple of years”.

Unlike on the desktop, the open source platform has long been the OS of choice on the server side — 75% of the world’s top 500 supercomputers run Linux — and HP took another step in that direction at Linuxworld by unveiling plans to begin supporting the worldwide distribution of the Debian OS on its Proliant and Bladesystem servers.

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