OS X more appealing than desktop Linux: Gartner

OS X is more appealing to enterprises as a desktop operating system than ever before and although it is unlikely to take market share away from Windows, the Mac could reduce the number of Linux-based desktops, according to research group Gartner.

OS X is more appealing to enterprises as a desktop operating system than ever before and although it is unlikely to take market share away from Windows, the Mac could reduce the number of Linux-based desktops, according to research group Gartner.

In a report published by Gartner this week titled Enterprise Mac Clients Remain Limited, but Apple's Appeal is Growing, analysts Michael Silver, Neil MacDonald, Ray Wagner and Brian Prentice, said that administrators will most likely have to prepare for more Mac systems in their environment even though OS X is "not a suitable enterprise wide platform".

Gartner said that as the penetration of OS X increases, it is unlikely to mean less Windows PCs: "In many instances, Macs are replacing Unix and Linux workstations, rather than Windows PCs". OS X is a Unix-based system.

The report predicts that Windows will be unrivalled on the desktop for the near future because currently, 70 percent of enterprise applications require Microsoft's OS.

"We don't expect the typical organisation to even reach the point where half of its applications are OS-agnostic until 2011,' the report said.

Gartner went on to say that in some departments, such as graphics and media production, the loyalty of Mac users to their chosen platform is so strong that a corporate migration to Windows could lead employees to seek work elsewhere.

Apple is making a number of mistakes when it comes to attracting large scale enterprise deployments, according to the report.

Firstly, Apple does not licence its operating system to third party manufacturers, which is a disadvantage because large companies do not like depending on a single hardware supplier: "Many companies dislike procuring PC hardware when there is only a single provider. At this point, Apple does not intend to allow other vendors to build Mac OS-compatible PCs".

Secondly, Apple is not clear enough in its roadmaps for supporting current versions of OS X: "Microsoft supports versions of Windows for a minimum of 10 years, while Red Hat and Novell commit to seven years of support for enterprise desktop Linux versions. Apple needs to make similarly explicit minimum commitments".

Finally, because Apple has a consumer focus, it provides OS X with various applications that could raise legal issues and reduce worker productivity.

"Most companies try to minimise the amount of consumer software they load on their users' PCs to reduce legal and licensing exposure, limit the time users spend on non-work-related tasks and minimise support costs.

"Therefore, Apple's preload and its significant strength in the seamless integration of its software load is, at best, unneeded and, at worst, diametrically opposed to the practices of most businesses and government organisations," the report said.