Red Hat throws itself into desktop arena

Red Hat has reached the desktop, with the Linux vendor today announcing plans to release a client version of its operating system.

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By  Peter Branton Published  May 4, 2004

Red Hat has reached the desktop, with the Linux vendor today announcing plans to release a client version of its operating system. “Open source is now causing the enterprise to question traditional models of software and software availability,” said Matthew Szulik, Red Hat chairman and CEO. “This is an architectural alternative that extends from devices, through the network, and into the datacenter, deployable and flexible without concern of lock-in.” The Red Hat Desktop includes the Mozilla browser, the OpenOffice.org 1.1 office productivity suite and the Evolution e-mail client, which provides a look and feel similar to Outlook. OpenOffice, Red Hat points out, provides “exceptional” compatibility with Microsoft Office, leaving little doubt as to which company Red Hat is targeting with this announcement: Microsoft itself. Red Hat is hardly the first Linux vendor to challenge Microsoft’s desktop position of course. Desktop machines from HP will be available this autumn in the Middle East loaded with Novell’s SuSe Linux variant. The desktop is still Microsoft’s stronghold: IDC’s most recent figures show that the vendor owned 93% of the desktop OS market in 2002. Linux then had 2.6%. Red Hat believes the market is likely to be more open in the future, especially with the uncertainty generated by the long delay for the next release of Windows. Longhorn is almost certainly not going to ship until 2006 at the earliest. “Several industry trends are coming together which are likely to change how organisations deploy information technology on the desktop,” said Dan Kusnetsky, IDC’s vice president of system software research, in a statement on the Red Hat press release. “Strategies to lower costs while still providing a well managed, secure platform are increasingly important. This announcement makes it clear that Red Hat understands these emerging requirements and has a strategy to provide the needed products and services.” Initially the company is looking at customers in the government, academic and enterprise IT organisations. The company is working with a number of partners, including Citrix and Vmware, to help make it easier to run Windows applications on the Red Hat Desktop.

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