Penguin power fails to storm desktop market

The open-source Linux operating system might have generated serious industry buzz in recent times, but buyers of Linux products for desktop PC use have been slow to materialise, according to research firm Gartner.

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By  Matthew Wade Published  August 14, 2005

The open-source Linux operating system might have generated serious industry buzz in recent times, but buyers of Linux products for desktop PC use have been slow to materialise, according to research firm Gartner. During the fourth quarter of last year, Gartner surveyed attendees at its Gartner Symposium conferences in Lake Buena Vista, Florida and Cannes, France, about their use of client operating systems. It found that just over 1% of enterprise users (large accounts) were running Linux desktops. This figure compares to an even lower proportion of US professional users in general - 0.3% - and just 0.2% of consumers that Gartner believes were running the OS at the end of 2004. In a separate report, Gartner estimates that only 3.2% of non-consumer users will run Linux by 2008, compared to even less, 1.4%, of consumer users. According to the research vice president of Gartner’s Client Platforms Group, Michael Silver, the reason more companies haven’t adopted the OS at the desktop level is simple: cost. “Most large companies have hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, and the cost to migrate them to run on, or be accessible from, Linux clients is huge,” Silver explained. This sluggish take-up is, according to Gartner, also the case in emerging markets such as the Middle East and Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The growth of Linux and open-source software in the desktop space has been, in part, negatively affected by pirated Microsoft software, claims Gartner. This is particularly true in emerging and developing markets such as this region and Asia, where Windows has in effect become a low-cost competitor OS to Linux. Gartner does however suggest that open-source software is gaining ground in the public sector. According to Gartner’s research vice president Andrew DiMaio, this is because, “the government calculates return on investment differently from the private sector, so the benefits that advance political agendas or ehnace the economy can also be considered.”

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