IBM Drops Two Bombs on Microsoft

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Includes: IBM, MSFT, NOVL, RHT
by: Joe Panettieri

More than a decade after IBM’s (NYSE:IBM) OS/2 lost the corporate desktop wars to Windows, Big Blue is back. And this time, IBM is aiming to knock Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows AND Microsoft Office off of corporate desktops.

The strategy involves a partnership with Canonical (maker of Ubuntu Linux) and Virtual Bridges (a virtualization software company). The trio has developed a "virtualized" Linux release -- complete with productivity applications. The software system costs a scant $49.00 (US) per user for 1,000-user deployments. Prices fall further if customers buy in greater bulk.

Moves like this have got to drive the folks in Microsoft crazy. The old per-seat PC Windows tax is on its death bed, folks.

  • In the consumer market, low-cost Ubuntu Netbooks (from Dell and others) are putting the squeeze on Microsoft Windows margins.
  • In the corporate market, thin clients from folks like Wyse and Novell (NASDAQ:NOVL) are selling fast, and Novell’s year-over-year Linux sales are up more than 30 percent.
  • And now again in the corporate market, IBM is changing the rules of the game by placing all the horsepower on servers that deliver virtualized Ubuntu to corporate deskops.

And it’s not just an attack on Windows. Remember, the $49.00 price point also includes Lotus Symphony productivity applications that compete with Microsoft Office.

Will all businesses switch to virtual and physical Linux desktops? Certainly not. But some will certainly give IBM’s pitch a try.

Microsoft Windows' market share recently fell below the 90% mark, according to The Raw Feed, a gadget blog I follow closely. (Full disclosure: I used to work with The Raw Feed's editor, Mike Elgan.)

Are we looking at 85% market share for Microsoft Windows within three years? I sure think so. And even Red Hat (NYSE:RHT), our resident blogger believes, must be starting to wonder if they should have found more aggressive or progressive ways to promote Linux desktops.

Disclosure: no positions