Ubuntu adopts Windows XP users
With Microsoft readying Windows 8 for release later this year, companies are expected to evaluate whether it is worth renewing existing Microsoft licenses or splashing out on the latest Microsoft revision of its desktop PC operating system. However, according to Canonical CEO Jane Silber, it isn’t undercutting Windows 8 that holds the key for take-up of Ubuntu Linux but Microsoft’s termination of Windows XP support that will drive Ubuntu growth.
Talking with The INQUIRER, Silber said, “We certainly track it and keep an eye on competition. [...] The larger impact in terms of Microsoft in our customer base isn’t the emergence of Windows 8 but the upcoming, long awaited end-of-life of [Windows] XP.”
Silber’s point rests on the well known fact that many users, especially large businesses, are still running Windows XP. Microsoft has supported the operating system for over a decade, but the Redmond, Washington software house has said that it will end support for Windows XP on 8 April 2014.
Silber said, “What we are seeing there, particularly with enterprise customers with large desktop deployments in the tens of thousands, [is that they are] taking the opportunity to move to Ubuntu at that point, and they are, in some cases, not even evaluating future Windows desktop operating systems.
“It’s not that they are turning down Windows 8, [it's that] with the end of life of [Windows] XP there’s a disruption and a good point for them to re-evaluate their options.”
While Microsoft’s Windows XP April 2014 end of life date is still two years away, organisations that run thousands of Windows XP machines will have already started planning. Working out whether to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 or move to Linux could take the best part of a year to evaluate and test, and deployment might take another year, so the battle for those customers is well underway.
Silber believes punters are not necessarily looking for bells and whistles when evaluating an operating system. She said, “It’s more likely people are evaluating their desktop experience in terms of what they really need, this is one of the reasons why we’ve seen a lot of interest from enterprises for Ubuntu for Android. People are looking at what does it mean to have a desktop in five years from now. There’s more interest in client solutions, converged device scenarios, so it’s really an opportunity for us.”
Although some will question Silber’s belief that Windows XP, not the cost of upgrading to Windows 8, holds the key to Canonical’s push into the enterprise, the fact is that Canonical and other Linux vendors have two strong opportunities to go up against Microsoft as it tries to push customers into its next churn of its PC operating system cash machine.