Linux on the desktop: latest study susses it out

Quocirca, a European research and analysis company, released a free (after easy registration) twenty-page report that purportedly puts emotion and religion to one side and looks at practical considerations for where Desktop Linux is headed. While offering no surprise conclusions (Linux on the desktop still has a long way to go…), the report is a worthwhile read.

Quocirca, a European research and analysis company, released a free (after easy registration) twenty-page report that purportedly puts emotion and religion to one side and looks at practical considerations for where Desktop Linux is headed. While offering no surprise conclusions (Linux on the desktop still has a long way to go…), the report is a worthwhile read. A survey of 1700 respondents identified the top five motivations for considering a Windows alternative:

  • Concerns about Windows security vulnerabilities
  • The high cost burden of keeping windows secure
  • A perception that Windows squanders the power of modern hardware
  • Ongoing frustration with Windows stability and reliability
  • Confusion and dissatisfaction with cost and complexity of Windows licensing

As well as the top five barriers to migrating to Linux:

  • Software availability and compatibility issues
  • Usability, End User acceptance and resistance to change
  • The cost and challenge of End User training and support
  • The cost and challenge of porting bespoke Windows applications
  • A frequently encountered dependency on Microsoft Active Directory

Quocirca included respondents’ free text comments throughout the report that help bring the issues to life. Some examples: 

"I'm only using XP because I'm paid to use it. We're seeing several patches a week, company-wide, and it must be costing the budget of an entire small country just to do the patch testing and deployment."

"We'd love to throw Windows out, but we need the mature programming and automation facilities that Microsoft Office has. OpenOffice is OK but it's not there yet."

'Most of our PCs could easily be replaced with Linux boxes running OpenOffice, with critical Windows applications such as Lotus Notes running seamlessly as published applications via Citrix. But our management is scared of Unix/Linux; they don't understand it. The biggest obstacle is therefore not technical, it is management awareness. There is nobody out there marketing Linux to management the way Microsoft markets Windows."

The report also has some tips and tricks for overcoming the impact of common challenges with a migration to Desktop Linux, such as realizing that it doesn't have to be an "all or nothing" approach. And it ends with a useful five-step outline that can serve as a guide for how to approach answering the question "Is Desktop Linux right for us?"

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