Lokman Tsui on Wed, 4 Jul 2001 17:07:21 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-nl] linux takes on microsoft in china


The Linux operating system will erode the dominant market share Microsoft's
Windows platform enjoys in Greater China in the next three years, with Hong
Kong leading the way, according to a study by Strategic Research.
The firm predicted a combination of economics and negative feelings towards
Microsoft would help Linux carve out a niche with 9.4 per cent of corporate
users. Greater China is the only area in the region where Strategic expects
Linux to make significant gains.

"We found very little interest in the uptake of Linux for mission-critical
applications except in China, where there are strong expectations. It's the
only place in the region where Linux seems to be pushing Microsoft back,"
said principal analyst Rob O'Neill.

The report said less than 1 per cent of the 289 chief information officers
surveyed in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the mainland now used Linux, and the gains
would come mainly at the expense of Microsoft's Windows NT.

Strategic predicted Microsoft's market share with the various forms of
Windows would drop from 64 per cent to 56 per cent of companies using more
than 500 PCs.

It is a relatively small inroad against Microsoft's empire, but it may give
open-source Linux the critical mass it needs to expand further.

Alan Knowles, chief technical officer for the Linux Centre, said the
software, like the Internet, would grow slowly at first and gained momentum
with time.

He said Strategic's figures were conservative. "I would think that we will
see 10 per cent in two years and higher than that in three."

Much has been made of Beijing's official support for Linux and there have
been reports of official hostility towards Microsoft. But Strategic's
research shows the impact may be less than expected. With a projected Linux
adoption rate for businesses of just under 3 per cent, the mainland lagged
behind Taiwan's 6.4 per cent and Hong Kong's 7.4 per cent.

Mr O'Neill said the fact that Linux was available for free or at a
relatively low cost was a major factor for executives to abandon Windows.

"Many organisations in the region work on the slimmest of profit margins and
Linux represents an opportunity to cut back on IT infrastructure costs," he

Microsoft was not available for comment.

In another boost for Linux proponents, the Strategic survey found that the
largest companies were expected to be the most avid users of the platform in
the future. Most of the companies now using Linux are smaller firms, where
there is less resistance to change.

Strategic said that among companies with more than 500 PCs, 9.4 per cent
planned to use Linux in three years. Of companies with fewer than 100 PCs,
the adoption rate was only 4 per cent.

The projected migration away from Microsoft by large companies was backed by
an article this week from e-business portal Silicon.com, which reported that
car-maker Ford's European arm might dump Windows in favour of an open-source
model such as Linux.

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