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Microsoft is losing another customer to an alternative desktop operating system, with Allied Irish Bank, one of Ireland’s largest banking and financial services groups, set to transition its branch-dependent applications and migrate about 7,500 desktop users off Windows and onto the Sun Java Desktop System over the next year or so.

Sun Microsystems Inc., of Santa Clara, Calif., will announce the Allied Irish Banks Plc. win Tuesday at the second day of its annual JavaOne Conference in San Francisco.

This latest customer win, which was negotiated in partnership with Sun’s Irish partner Horizon Open Systems, represents “the largest financial services enterprise deal for the Java Desktop System” since it became available last December, said Curtis Sasaki, vice president of desktop solutions at Sun.

Click here for more news from the JavaOne conference.

AIB branch staff in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom will transition to the new desktop system during 2005 as part of the rollout of AIB’s new branch banking platform .

“We are very pleased to have AIB as a client and see growing demand in the financial, education and government markets,” Sasaki said. “This deal follows recent government agreements with China and the United Kingdom.

Microsoft Corp. has lost other business from European customer recently. Earlier this month, the Norwegian city of Bergen said it plans to move 100 schools and 32,000 users away from its proprietary Unix and Microsoft Windows applications platform to Linux by the end of this year.

The German city of Munich also this month voted resoundingly in favor of its plan to switch to Linux from Microsoft Windows following a closed-door City Council meeting.

The city, which last May decided to develop a detailed conceptual implementation and migration plan for the move, has now started the process of putting the matter out for bids and receiving tenders, a source close to the decision told eWEEK recently.

Next Page: Linux is gaining footholds in U.S. organizations.

Linux continues to gain footholds in U.S. governmental organizations. eWEEK recently reported that the latest stateside governmental win for Linux is the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, in Washington, which provides administrative support, program management and policy development services to the federal courts.

But Microsoft has been fighting back and has been actively lobbying governments around the world to shun open-source applications and Linux.

To that end, Microsoft last January announced a new global initiative to provide governmental agencies with access to Windows source code under its Government Security Program, designed to “address the unique security requirements of governments and international organizations throughout the world.”

In addition, this January, Microsoft also launched a new advertising campaign, referred to as “Get the Facts,” that aims to give customers information about the advantages of using its Windows operating system versus Linux, its open-source competitor.

Adding to the competitive desktop pressure is the fact that Sun’s JDS is also available on Microtel PCs from Wal-Mart. It includes Sun’s StarOffice productivity suite and is currently available on Linux. It also will soon be available on the Solaris operating system and on thin-client solutions from Sun.

The second version of the JDS shipped last month and is designed to lower computing costs and reduce desktop management complexities while providing a familiar and secure environment, Sun’s Sasaki said.

More than 1,500 developers are currently signed up to certify their applications on JDS, and those communications, collaboration, entertainment and productivity solutions will further the market reach and opportunity worldwide, he said.

Sun’s StarOffice productivity suite, a key component of the Java Desktop System, is also gaining momentum in global retail, with 2 million copies sold by its German partner, Markement GmbH, and a multimillion-dollar deal with Japanese computer products distributor Sourcenext Corp., to provide the Japanese version of StarOffice software, StarSuite 7, to 25,000 retail locations in Japan and via Internet downloads.

Sun also recently reached an agreement with the Indian state government of Haryana and secured a 10,000-seat win with the United India Insurance Company.

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