Windows 7, you might have noticed, is now officially “out” and there’s already been a good deal of tire-kicking of the new OS. Fortunately, for Microsoft, the reviews are pretty good; in any case, it’s not the groaning and gnashing of teeth that accompanied the underwhelming release of Vista.

Amidst all the coming out hoopla, Canonical and IBM have partnered up to announce their own Windows 7 alternative — IBM’s Client for Smart Work running on Ubuntu Linux. The idea is that they are offering a technically sound and cheaper alternative to Microsoft’s OS and Office Suites for the enterprise.

The Smart Work solution includes:

  • Lotus Symphony (IBM’s version of OpenOffice productivity software, including word processing, spreadsheets, presentations — Microsoft compatible)
  • LotusLive software for mail, calendars, collaboration, etc.
  • Cloud-based, social networking and collaboration tools from, ranging from $10 per user, per month

The big selling point of IBM has been its claim that costs could be cut as much as 50 percent for organizations that migrate to the Smart Work solution compared to Windows 7, which requires all those licensing fees and fancy-schmancy hardware upgrades to run the stuff. However, as points out, that might be laying it on a bit thick, depending on how one views the accuracy of IBM’s “independent marketing estimate” which says that Windows 7 upgrade costs could be as much as $2000 per computer. Further, ArsTechnica also doubts the claims about what hardware can adequately run IBM’s own software:

Suggesting that programs built on top of these extremely resource-intensive applications…are going to be great on netbooks and legacy hardware falls somewhere between laughable and criminally insane on the dubious marketing meter.

All hyperbole aside, this still constitutes a viable alternative for some organizations to seriously consider, and it could be especially attractive to educational institutions as ZDNet’s Christopher Dawson discusses.

Frankly, all of those organizations that have been holding on to Windows XP will most likely start planning their Windows 7 upgrades, but Linux advocates need not be too discouraged. It seems to me that Linux has made some great strides over the last few years, and it wouldn’t be fair to view it as having once again been foiled by a resurgent Microsoft. The improvements in user-friendliness and the growing popularity of Ubuntu are proof of that. (See “5 years later, 5 ways that Ubuntu has made Linux more human” at ArsTechnica.)

The other salient point that Chris Dawson’s post brought up is that during this rambunctious time of changing products and emerging technologies, we also have Google apps and cloud services on the menu for consideration. In short, it’s not a bad time to be an enterprise consumer with all the choices that are newly available, and healthy competition is good for everyone.

What have you just been burning to say about the Windows 7 launch this week?