Linux on End-User Desktops?

Editors share perspectives from vendors about products, services, technologies, and industry directions.

Reflectent Software ( is the maker of EdgeSight 3.0, a performance monitoring and availability management solution for applications operating on enterprise end-user systems. CEO N. Louis Shipley recently gave me his perspective on desktop Linux.

"Linux's clear penetration in the server market, primarily at Sun Microsystems' expense, has started many people thinking that a similar trend will finally put a major dent in Microsoft's stranglehold on the desktop," Louis said. "But the desktop scenario is completely different. Here you have an incumbent with a consumer pricing model and 95-plus percent market share. Microsoft has the resources to defend its position—and will. In addition, it's clear that Linux isn't 'free.' The primary Linux vendors now charge for their products and services, and maintenance prices run about 18 percent of contract value."

In Louis's opinion, these arguments are overshadowed by a more obvious reason why it's unlikely that desktop Linux will garner more market share than Apple Computer: "Purchasing simple tools that ensure your current investment in Microsoft is far more economical than purchasing an entirely new platform," Louis said. "We've heard from major banks and other customers that they have cancelled or delayed Linux desktop rollouts and are instead looking at how they can drive down costs of managing existing Microsoft platforms by complementary using tools such as EdgeSight."

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