The company's chief information officer, Hossein Eslambolchi, has set up a team in AT&T's research labs to assess the appropriateness of desktop operating systems for the company, AT&T spokesman Michael Dickman said Thursday. The company currently uses Windows on its desktop PCs, which number in the tens of thousands.
The engineers are testing and measuring how Windows, Linux and Mac OS X stack up on security, reliability and total cost of ownership, Dickman said. The CIO is also the company's chief technology officer and is responsible for AT&T's research and development.
AT&T expects to make a decision on the merits of the desktop operating systems by the end of next year or early 2006.
Most likely, AT&T will stick with Windows, because Microsoft is addressing many of problems associated with its desktop software, including security flaws that leave it particularly vulnerable to viruses, Dickman said. But increasingly, corporate customers have more choices for desktop software, he noted.
"There's competition; there's choice now," Dickman said. "Any CIO would not be doing due diligence if they are not looking at their options now."
AT&T is not actively seeking to replace Windows, Dickman said. But the company's decision to thoroughly evaluate Mac OS X and Linux, along with Windows, for widespread corporate use underscores the improvements in Windows alternatives.
Use of Linux on desktops is minimal in business right now, according to analysts, but there is growing interest in it. IBM earlier this year launched its own internal project. Also, a number of governmental organizations are to Microsoft dominance in desktop software.
Researchers at The Yankee Group last month published a report predicting thatadoption of Linux on desktops. In a survey, they found that 4 percent to 10 percent of small companies expect to have Linux PCs one year from now.