Every year for the past seven years — since 1999, if you’re counting — someone has come forward and made a bold claim that Linux desktops are ready to have a breakout year. This year’s candidate is Novell President Ron Hovsepian, who is now predicting that market conditions are ripe for Linux desktops to make major gains in the next 12-18 months.
Forgive me if I’m not the first person to go out and buy a Suse-powered laptop. My problem is that I’ve heard this claim so many times that I have a hard time getting worked up about it. So many Linux distributions and tools have been hailed as THE ONE to break the Windows-Office stranglehold over desktops that I have a hard remembering all of the names. Here’s few of them … Mandrake, Linspire, Codeweavers, Corel Linux, Eazel, StarOffice, OpenOffice, Ubuntu, and on and on and on. Many of them have long since faded into obscurity while the others still have plenty to prove to a mass audience.
Ron Hovsepian now comes forward and says that Novell’s Suse Linux Desktop 10 is prepared to make a major move in three markets:
- Large corporations
- Small businesses
- The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China)
And Novell is supposedly the company to execute and deliver Linux to these markets? Novell’s underwhelming marketing power aside, I just don’t see any of those three market segments being ready to jump into the arms of Linux desktops any time soon. I bet they will continue to utilize and grow Linux servers in their NOCs, but most end users have a hard enough time with Windows desktops right now, and in terms of usability, Linux is still years behind Windows (and Mac). Plus, because so many line-of-business apps are optimized or customized for Windows clients, Linux is automatically eliminated from consideration in a large number of those businesses.
So, Linux on the desktop will get big in the next 12-18 months? I’ll believe it when I see it.