IBM, Canonical Attack MicrosoftYes, The VAR Guy knows Bill Gates has left Microsoft. But now that Billionaire Bill is gone, IBM and Canonical are trying to destroy the very software empire he built. Specifically, IBM, Canonical and Virtual Bridges have launched a low-cost, virtualized Ubuntu Linux build for big -- really big -- corporate customers. No, this won't kill Microsoft. But the IBM move is a big-time attack on Windows and Office. Here's the scoop, along with the implications for Microsoft, Novell and Red Hat.

The virtualized Ubuntu release -- complete with applications -- initially targets IBM's financial services and government customers. And it costs a scant $49.00 (US) per user for 1,000-user deployments. Prices fall further if customers buy in greater bulk.

Moves like this have got to drive the folks in Redmond crazy. The old per-seat PC Windows tax is on its death bed, folks.
  • In the consumer market, low-cost Ubuntu Netbooks (from Dell and others) are putting the squeeze on Microsoft Windows margins.
  • In the corporate market, thin clients from folks like Wyse and Novell are selling fast, and Novell' year-over-year Linux sales are up more than 30 percent.
  • And now again in the corporate market, IBM is changing the rules of the game by placing all the horsepower on servers that deliver virtualized Ubuntu to corporate deskops.
And it's not just an attack on Windows. Remember, the $49.00 price point also includes Lotus Symphony productivity applications that compete with Microsoft Office.

Will all businesses switch to virtual and physical Linux desktops? Certainly not. But some will certainly give IBM's pitch a try. Windows' desktop market share recently fell below the 90% mark. This IBM move, with an assist from Canonical and Virtual Bridges, could inspire more vendors and customers to breakaway from Microsoft.

Are we looking at 85% market share for Microsoft Windows within three years? The VAR Guy sure thinks so. And even Red Hat, our resident blogger believes, must be starting to wonder if they should have found more aggressive ways to promote Linux desktops.

One caveat: The VAR Guy would love to know if IBM, Canonical and Virtual Bridges will allow solutions providers to offer this new, virtualized Ubuntu suite through the channel.

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