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Novell: Vista will drive users to Linux

Jack Messman claims that the cost of moving to Windows Vista will prompt users to consider moving to desktop Linux.

The cost of migrating from Windows XP to Windows Vista will encourage more companies to seriously consider moving to desktop Linux, the chief executive of open-source and networking company Novell said on Monday.

Speaking at Brainshare, the company's annual European user conference in Barcelona, Novell CEO Jack Messman claimed that the cost of moving desktops to the next version of Windows will be significantly higher than migrating to desktop Linux.

"The cost of migrating to Windows XP to Vista will be higher than the cost of migrating to Linux and that will push migrations to Linux," Messman said.

Novell says it is making real gains on the desktop in Europe currently and that many organizations are choosing its Linux Desktop product especially in vertical industries that require locked-down clients with limited functionality.

"Instead of a 'one-size-fits-all' approach, Novell Desktop can be customized to provide the right fit across different workstations in the enterprise," said David Patrick, general manager of open-source platforms for Novell. "So businesses finally have a secure and cost-effective alternative to Windows that serves the customer's return on investment rather than a vendor's proprietary licensing program."

Messman added that moving to desktop Linux has functionality benefits as well as cost benefits. He claimed that the fact that Novell's desktop Linux offering has less functionality than Microsoft Office is actually a positive rather than a negative thing.

Messman claimed that certain features of Office allowed employees to waste time at work by making it easy for them to browse non-work-related sites. "Do you really want to pay for all the excess functionality in Windows that distracts your employees and reduces their productivity?"

The City of Munich announced last week that it has delayed its migration to Linux on the desktop until 2006, a year later than planned and three years after it decided to migrate to Linux. Commenting on this news, Novell European general manager Volker Smid said he believed the setback would not be permanent. "I am more than convinced that these guys will achieve their aim no matter what, and proud that they have decided to go with Novell for the server element of the migration," said Smid.

Recent migrations to Novell's desktop Linux package include SEB Eesti UHispank, the largest bank in Estonia, which is using Novell's SuSE Linux for bank teller workstations.

The municipality of Baerum in Norway is migrating 40 schools from Windows to Linux too. According to IT manager Siri Opheim, a pilot scheme yielded good results and full migration is expected to begin at the end of 2005. "While we don't expect to move every user in our enterprise to Linux desktops, we believe we can achieve real savings by starting to move users in education," he said.

Schools can save a considerable amount of money by switching from proprietary software to open-source software, according to a report released in May by the British Educational Communications and Technology Association. The report found that primary schools could cut computer costs by nearly half if they stopped buying, operating and supporting products from proprietary software vendors such as Microsoft.

According to a recent report from Windows IT Pro, Windows Vista is due to ship on Dec. 7, 2006. However Microsoft has refused to confirm or deny the reports and continues to claim simply that Windows Vista will ship in the second half of next year.

Andrew Donoghue of ZDNet UK reported from London.