SuSE's 64-bit Linux seeks unhappy Windows users

SuSE has launched version 9.0 of its Linux operating system, which adds support for the Athlon 64 and is designed to ease migration from Windows

SuSE is targeting disgruntled Windows users with the latest update of its Linux operating system, which includes support for AMD's 64-bit Athlon processor.

Established more than ten years ago, SuSE is one of the oldest commercial Linux vendors and has embarrassed Microsoft on a number of occasions in the past year by winning high profile contracts. In May, Munich's local government decided to move 14,000 computers from Windows to Linux, despite Microsoft's chief executive, Steve Ballmer, making a personal visit to the Mayor in an attempt to win the contract. Less than a month later, Newham and Nottingham councils announced they were migrating more than 10,000 desktops to the open-source operating system.

Version 9.0 of SuSE Linux is designed to make migrating to Linux as easy as possible. There have been enhancements to its connectivity to the Windows NTFS file system and improved local network support, which Chris Schlaeger, director of distribution development at SuSE, said now resembles Windows' Network Neighbourhood. "It integrates all the networking protocols that Linux supports into one GUI," he told ZDNet UK. Additionally, the OS is compatible with both 32-bit and 64-bit environments, and fully supports AMD's Athlon 64 processor.

Schlaeger said he is hoping the recent avalanche of security alerts combined with a general lack of trust will persuade more organisations -- particularly smaller businesses and home users -- to take the plunge and move away from Windows.

"Microsoft's is fairly expensive, especially in the server market, so people copy it illegally. Because of this, Microsoft has come up with all kinds of mechanisms to get their money. Although this is an honourable thing, they are forcing individuals to give up their privacy -- so nobody trusts Microsoft any more," said Schlaeger. He used Windows Media Player as an example: "Their media player assembles playlists, but does Bill Gates really need to know which songs we listen to? Windows customers are saying enough is enough, and considering alternatives," he said.

But Schlaeger believes the strongest argument for migrating is security: "There are hundreds of Windows viruses out there, while we do not have any open security issues at the moment. Under SuSE, you can safely click on a Windows virus," he said.

Schlaeger said a full migration can involve a certain amount of pain, but expects Windows users to be willing to go through the process because "Microsoft has also inflicted a lot of pain," he said.

SuSE Linux 9.0 will be available from 24 October and will cost between £35 and £85, depending on support options.