On the eve of Microsoft's launch of Windows 7, the gloves are off in the fight for business customers. IBM today unveiled an all-out campaign to persuade U.S. companies, governments and organizations to finally break their Windows habit and make the switch to Linux
The move comes as Chadwick Martin Bailey, a Boston research firm, released results of a survey
of 145 IT professionals indicating 51% of large organizations plan to standardize on Windows 7 for laptops and desktops, while 38% plan to do so with netbooks over the next two years.
“Our data shows a remarkably high number of organizations planning to standardize on the new Windows 7 operating system in the near-term," says Chris Neal, a vice president at Chadwick Martin Bailey. “Those who are holding back for the time being are more commonly staying with XP, rather than Vista.”
That could play right into IBM's wheel house. Big Blue has marshaled a platoon of partners to evangelize a simple message to thousands of organizations that shunned Windows Vista
and stuck with its predecessor, Windows XP. In order to make the jump from XP to Windows 2007, firms that skipped Vista will have to buy new hardware. It would be smarter, IBM argues, to dump Windows.
"This is the chance so many companies have been waiting for to break the proprietary lock Microsoft has on the desktop." said Bob Picciano, general manager of IBM Lotus software. "They can permanently free themselves and their IT budgets with open source computing."
IBM has been making this argument for years. In the spring of 2003, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer cut short a skiing trip to race to Germany
to try prevent the city of Munich from excising Windows and Office from 14,000 desktop PCs. Ballmer failed. IBM and German Linux distributor SuSE worked furiously behind the scenes to persuade Munich to make the switch to a Linux system.
Since then, Linux has steadily gained market share on desktops and servers throughout Europe and Asia, and on the servers powering many data centers of North American companies. Amazon's retail operations, for instance, use Linux servers. But most U.S. companies have stayed loyal to Windows and Office as the operating system and productivity suite of choice for desktops and laptops used by employees.
So IBM and Linux distributor Canonical today rolled out a Linux-based system aimed squarely at the U.S. companies Microsoft is trying to sign up for Windows 7. The IBM-Canonical offering is designed for use on a company's existing fleet of PCs and on low-cost netbooks.
IBM has also equipped a platoon of value added resellers - the tech sales companies that woo IT buyers - with an arsenal of polished pitches, including these:
- Opting out of Windows 7 can save the typical American business with 20 or fewer employees up to $40,000.
- Government agencies crunched by budget shortfalls can save big by avoiding the switch to Windows 7; with 14.7 million state and local government employees and 2.5 million federal workers, saving up to $2,000 per employee would be a huge relief to government spending.
“If a company is a ‘Windows shop,’ at some point it will need to evaluate the significant costs of migrating its base to Microsoft’s next desktop and bolstering its defenses against virus and other attacks,” says Picciano. “Our goal is to help organizations free up desktop expenses to use in more strategic projects.”