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IBM and Canonical team up against Windows 7

The companies are bringing their low-cost cloud and Linux desktop platform to the U.S. Even if customers don't bite immediately, Microsoft needs to be concerned.


IBM and Canonical, the commercial entity behind Ubuntu Linux, on Tuesday are launching a combined cloud and Linux desktop package designed for Netbooks and low-end PCs.

For those of us still waiting for Linux to hit the desktop, this type of packaging may be exactly how the move from Windows starts to pick up steam.

The IBM Client for Smart Work was first launched in South Africa in September and was initially geared toward emerging markets. IBM found that there was strong interest in the U.S. and other markets that had aging PC infrastructure and little desire for continued Windows upgrades.

The U.S. version of the package contains a number of IBM products including word processing and spreadsheets via Lotus Symphony, e-mail via Lotus Notes or LotusLive iNotes, and collaboration tools from As with the previously launched initiative, the package runs on Ubuntu Linux.

Bob Sutor, IBM's vice president of Linux and open source, told me that the target is not a drop-in replacement scenario, but rather something for IT shops that don't want to be stuck in an endless cycle of upgrading desktop operating systems and applications.

This is an interesting development for multiple reasons:

  • IBM and Canonical are teaming up to bring Linux to the desktop, offering what could be considered a next-generation thin-client that relies on cloud services but remains based on an actual operating system rather than just running in a Web browser.
  • IBM is targeting Windows installations in the co-opetition model the company excels in--effectively insulating itself regardless of who wins the desktop.
  • Canonical is building a channel to deliver solutions rather than depend on individuals and organizations to roll their own.
IBM has been making some interesting moves of late, launching a cloud-based e-mail and collaboration suite to rival Google Apps and now a direct attack on Microsoft's operating system footprint.