Researcher Gartner based this bleak conclusion on a survey of attendees at its Symposium conferences staged around the world, including the US and France.
Gartner claimed that just over one per cent of enterprise users are running Linux desktops. In a separate forecast, the analyst estimated that only 3.2 per cent of non-consumer users will run Linux by 2008.
“For most companies, the cost of migrating away from Microsoft Windows is simply too high. It outweighs the benefits companies expect they will receive,” said Michael Silver, research vice-president of Gartner’s client platforms group.
“Most large companies have hundreds, if not thousands, of applications, and the cost of migrating them to run on, or be accessible from, Linux clients is huge.”
Gartner said the public sector is more likely to be interested in Linux and Open Source office products, but even there the success has been “measured”, rather than runaway.
The firm said that the bigger uptake in the public sector is down to the different way in which these customers calculate return on investment. Technology that can advance political agendas or enhance the economy are also factors in purchasing decisions, Gartner claimed.
Terry Fisher, business development manager for the high-performance computing division at Compusys, said: “Linux on business desktops is really only attractive on workstations. The biggest problem for businesses is that most of their servers are being run on Microsoft software. Although implementing Linux on the desktop is possible, it is still a bit of a black art.
“The situation is different in academia. About 10 per cent of university and college PCs now run Linux. Many of those places started out with Unix and have plenty of skills in-house, so the prospect of Linux does not scare them.”
In developing markets, migration costs are a stumbling block and even though there are significant cost savings to be made with Linux, the availability of pirated Microsoft products have been hurting its take-up on the PC, according to Gartner.
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