Mac desktops are 'smarter money,' says CIO

U.K. company examining alternatives to Microsoft because of what it sees as software giant's "aggressive" licensing policies.

Property asset management company Capital & Regional is evaluating Linux desktops and Apple Macs as a way to reduce its dependency on Microsoft.

While the U.K. company has about 700 PC users and currently runs Windows XP Pro and Office XP Pro, Chief Information Officer Richard Snooks has criticized Microsoft's aggressive licensing policies.

"We are feeling the pinch of the aggressive revenue targets of Microsoft," Snooks said. "We are asking ourselves, 'Are they (Microsoft) fit for our business?'"

In particular, Snooks isn't convinced by the arguments for upgrading to Microsoft's latest Windows operating system, Vista, and is actively looking at alternatives, including a small trial of a Suse Linux desktop inside the IT department.

"I feel we are being railroaded, and the market generally forced (us) into a corner or even a cul-de-sac. In a free market, we have made Microsoft dominant, and now we have the collective responsibility to reverse this situation to re-establish balance and competition. If I am being driven down the Vista route, then an Apple Mac is smarter money and cheaper."

Snooks said the browser-based ATMs at Capital & Regional's shopping outlets could potentially run on Suse Linux with a Firefox browser, while Apple Macs may be a better alternative to Windows PCs.

A Microsoft representative said the company offers a range of licensing agreements for different business needs and cited security and energy efficiency as benefits of moving to Vista.

"Vista is the most secure, reliable and flexible OS available from Microsoft, and is easy and cost-effective to deploy and maintain," she said. "The reduced complexity facilitates maintenance and support, which allows IT management time to be deployed more effectively elsewhere, and the in-depth security ensures protection of sensitive data at all times."

Andy McCue of reported from London.

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