IBM, HP release Microsoft-free desktops

In a historic move, HP is releasing a mainstream business desktop that runs on Linux rather than Microsoft Windows.

While Linux-only PCs are nothing new, they’ve previously been confined to high or low-end niches, with the OS judged too tricky for everyday users. But recent Linux updates have made the open-source software much more Windows-like and accessible.

HP's new low-cost PC is aimed at small-to-medium businesses and schools – and one of the main ways the company has made the desktop so cheap is by ditching Microsoft Windows.

Instead, the $US519 HP Compaq dc5850 (below) will run on Novell Suse Linux, with the freebie OpenOffice (latest version previewed here) taking the place of the pricey Microsoft Office.

However, HP has no immediate plans for a local launch.

“Until the US has determined if the demand is actually there we don’t want to add inventory burden to our channel,” says HP New Zealand product marketing manager Blair McKenzie.

Regardless, Linux desktops hitting the business maistream could be one of the big trends of 2009. While HP - the world's largest PC maker - still sells the vast majority of its computers bundled with Microsoft products, recessionary price pressure could see this trend grow. Already, Lenovo and other competitors have plans to follow suit.

IBM Virtual Linux Desktop
Meanwhile, IBM has gone one better and released the Virtual Linux Desktop, which not only dispenses with Microsoft and Windows, but any PC at all.

Rather, the Virtual Linux Desktop runs on a single back-room server, which feeds “thin client” computers that consist of little more than a keyboard and screen.

IBM says Virtual Linux Desktop will cost between about $120 and $570 per user, depending on options. The package combines virtualisation technology from IBM with Ubuntu Linux and other open source software designed to cover every function offered by Microsoft Windows an Office.

Virtual Linux Desktop will save companies around $1500 a year in Microsoft license fees, IBM says, while using thin clients instead of full-blooded desktop PCs will save around $500 in annual hardware expenditure per employee, and around $500 per desktop on electricity and airconditioning.

IBM New Zealand confirms Virtual Linux Desktop will be released here in the New Year.

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1 Comment & Question

Commenter icon key: Subscriber Verified

Microsoft will not be exactly shaking in their boots. Linux has been around for a long time now. Companies would do well to investigate Linux however as there are real savings to be made. I've tried Ubuntu recently as it's a big improvement over early Linux desk top OS's

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