Dell: Linux growing despite Microsoft patent threats

The PC manufacturer says that Microsoft's patent-infringement claims have not affected sales of its Linux servers.

The PC manufacturer says that Microsoft's patent-infringement claims have not affected sales of its Linux servers.

Claims made by Microsoft that Linux violates its software patents have not affected sales of Linux-based hardware, according to Michael Dell.

Speaking to ZDNet Australia sister site ZDNet UK at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Dell's chief executive officer said his company has seen Linux uptake for servers increase faster than Windows server products, despite Microsoft's claims.

"On the server side Linux continues to grow nicely, a bit faster than Windows," said Dell. "We're seeing a move to Linux in critical applications, and Linux migration has not slowed down."

However, for those customers who might be concerned about whether Microsoft's claims of patent violation could result in legal action, the Dell chief added that there were "certainly mechanisms if customers are concerned about patents".

In May Microsoft claimed that free and open-source software violated more than 230 of its patents, but hasn't provided any further detailed information following the statement.

Dell's CMO, Mark Jarvis, claimed that although the two vendors have had a close relationship in the past, Microsoft has not given Dell any more information about the issue of patent infringement, despite Dell's support for Linux on its server range and, more recently, on its desktops and notebooks.

"When we announced the Linux notebook we didn't get a call from Microsoft -- whatever rumblings have been heard, they haven't been heard in Austin, Texas [where Dell is based]," Jarvis said.

On 24 May, Dell launched its first PCs based on Linux in the US: a basic model, Inspiron E1505n, for US$539; a more powerful Dimension E520n, for US$599; and a top-of-the-range XPS 410n for US$849.

Jarvis added that Dell did not expect its Linux PCs to sell in large amounts, reiterating that Linux growth remains with servers.

"Are they [Linux PCs] going to sell a lot? Absolutely not. But on the server side we've seen continued growth," said Jarvis.

ZDNet UK's Tom Espiner reported from Orlando.