Novell, IBM and Sun Target Microsoft's Desktop

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print


Desktop-as-a-Service Designed for Any Cloud ? Nutanix Frame

The battle for the desktop heats up as Novell, IBM and Sun ramp up wares to take on Windows.

The battle for the desktop is not over. At least according to Novell Inc., IBM, Sun Microsystems Inc. and Red Hat Inc., each of which is working on, or has recently shipped, new products that take aim at Microsoft Corp.'s Windows and Office.

Novell is concentrating on the enterprise with an offering that will combine the best features of Ximian Desktop and SuSE Linux Desktop, both of which shipped separately last year, in a single Novell desktop due by year's end.

Click here to read eWEEK Labs' review of the latest version of SuSE Linux.

Aspects of the Mono Project, the open-source version of Microsoft's .Net Framework, will be added to the desktop, said Novell officials. Novell will also create new applications built on Mono, they said.

"We are also going to be providing Mono as a supported ISV platform for people who want to build applications for Linux," said Nat Friedman, vice president of Linux desktop engineering, in Waltham, Mass. "This allows us to leverage all those Microsoft developers who have been trained on .Net to now develop applications for Linux, which is enormous and gives us a better interoperability story with Microsoft."

Novell is also implementing the Open Desktop Initiative, under which it is migrating all internal Novell clients, some 6,000, to the new Novell Linux Desktop in development. Novell's staff is also acting as the first enterprise beta testers for the product. Novell will target large-scale organizations, including government agencies, with its unified desktop product, Friedman said.

This week, IBM announced Lotus Workplace Client Technology, Micro Edition, which will be distributed through a Web server and accessible from systems running Windows, Linux, Unix, Mac OS and handheld devices.

For its part, Sun is taking aim at academic institutions, government agencies and transaction workers with its Java Desktop System, which runs on Linux but will also be available on Solaris later this year.

For more on Sun's Java Desktop System, click here.

Some developers said they believe IBM, Red Hat, Sun and Novell have an uphill battle in challenging Microsoft's desktop dominance. "Microsoft is ubiquitous," said Robert Proffitt, an open-source developer in Cambridge, Mass., "and with the continued coalescence of IT into smaller space, many companies can't entertain a user base on disparate operating systems."

Matthew Rice, a partner at Starnix Inc., of Thornhill, Ontario, disagreed, saying many vendors have a shot at overcoming Microsoft on the desktop. "With the great strides that have happened in the last couple of years on desktop applications, the playing field has been leveled," Rice said.

While IBM officials downplay the competitive angle with Microsoft, saying it had less to do with beating competitors and more to do with saving customers money, Red Hat is not as coy. It is positioning Red Hat Desktop, due next week, to be attractive to Microsoft customers, particularly those running Windows 98, NT and 2000 and who are looking at the end of support for their platforms.

Check out eWEEK's Desktop & Notebook Center at http://desktop.eweek.com for the latest news in desktop and notebook computing.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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