Property asset management company Capital & Regional is evaluating Linux desktops and Apple Macs as a way to reduce its dependency on Microsoft.
The company has around 700 PC users and currently runs Windows XP Pro and Office XP Pro but its chief information officer, Richard Snooks, has hit out at Microsoft's licensing policies.
Snooks said: "We are feeling the pinch of the aggressive revenue targets of Microsoft. We are asking ourselves, 'are they [Microsoft] fit for our business?'."
In particular, Snooks isn't convinced by the arguments for upgrading to Microsoft's latest Windows operating system, Vista, and is actively looking at alternatives, including a small trial of a Suse Linux desktop inside the IT department.
"I feel we are being railroaded and the market generally forced into a corner or even a cul-de-sac," Snooks said. "In a free market we have made Microsoft dominant and now we have the collective responsibility to reverse this situation to re-establish balance and competition. If I am being driven down the Vista route then an Apple Mac is smarter money and cheaper."
Snooks said the browser-based cash tills at Capital & Regional's leisure outlets — which include the Milton Keynes Sno!Zone and The Mall shopping centres — could potentially run on Suse Linux with a Firefox browser, while Apple Macs may be a better alternative to Windows PCs.
A Microsoft spokeswoman said the company offers a range of licensing agreements for different business needs and cited security and energy-efficiency as benefits of moving to Vista.
The spokeswoman said: "Vista is the most secure, reliable and flexible OS available from Microsoft and is easy and cost-effective to deploy and maintain. The reduced complexity facilitates maintenance and support, which allows IT management time to be deployed more effectively elsewhere and the in-depth security ensures protection of sensitive data at all times."