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March 10, 2008

IBM collaborates on open-source desktops for Europe


by Janet Harris
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IBM has joined with system integrators, VDEL of Vienna, Austria, and LX Polska of Poland, to supply Linux-based systems in Europe. The move will challenge Microsoft in the desktop market.

The companies are developing systems based on “Open Referent” - Red Hat Enterprise Linux Desktop, Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime and Lotus Symphony.

IBM no longer owns a PC business, after selling its PC division to Lenovo in 2005, and has confirmed that the move isn’t part of a re-entry into the PC sector.

Open Referent will cater for growing demand, particularly from business and government agencies in Eastern Europe, for ‘Microsoft-free’, low-cost, desktop systems. Open Referent could help reduce the costs of these organisations by half.

The integrators are expected to use white-box PCs, and manufacturers will vary from country to country.

According to research by open formats advocacy group, OpenForum Europe, large UK organisations lag behind their peers in other Western European countries, in adopting open source on the desktop.

OpenForum attributes this to a number of factors, including the fact that companies feel uncomfortable with the available technical support options.

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