IBM offers a 'Microsoft-free' desktop

Big Blue is reportedly launching a Linux-based collection of virtual desktop applications that run on a server without desktop hardware--or Microsoft software.

IBM wants corporate customers to cut the cord with Microsoft.

The tech pioneer is launching a Linux-based collection of virtual-desktop applications that run on a server without the need for desktop hardware--or Microsoft software, according to a report on Wednesday evening by The Wall Street Journal. The Linux-based software package, which is available now, runs on a back-office server and is accessible to customers on thin clients, the paper reported.

The Virtual Linux Desktop ranges in price from $59 to $289 per user, depending on level of software and service desired, according to the report. IBM estimates that the software package could save corporate customers up to $800 per user, when compared with the cost of maintaining Microsoft's Vista operating system, Office suite, and collaboration tools, the newspaper said.

IBM is counting on the prevalent economic pressures to help make its "Microsoft-free" suite more appealing.

"Deploying your technology this way is going to save you something more than 50 percent of your total costs," Jeff Smith, IBM's vice president for open source and Linux, told the Journal. "As customers face an increasingly challenging economic situation, they're looking at everything they're spending money on."

Cost aside, however, corporate customers may not be ready to embrace an environment where their data is stored centrally instead of locally.

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