Despite the hype surrounding the recent Windows XP launch, sales of Microsoft's latest operating system (OS) have been somewhat erratic, according to several resellers.
This may come as no surprise to many channel players, particularly those that believe the combination of reduced IT budgets and the need to upgrade many corporate desktops will hinder early migration to the OS.
However, a misconception for a number of end-users is that there is no real alternative to Microsoft products on the desktop.
Even Microsoft has a tendency to compare its new products with earlier or existing ones when announcing new features to its software. "Yes folks, XP is much more reliable, faster and stable than Windows 9x," the mantra usually goes.
But as the economy looks set to remain flat into next year, and smaller technology budgets look unlikely to match the costs associated with Microsoft upgrades and licensing, more and more small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will look to resellers to come up with cheaper alternatives.
While Linux has gained some ground in the server space it has not yet loosened Microsoft's grip on the desktop. Although this is due partly to a lack, or perceived lack, of alternative applications, they are on the way.
Throw in the added weight of companies such as Sun Microsystems and IBM that have given the open source software a great deal of credibility, and the almost unthinkable scenario of the Window-less office could become a reality in the SME space.
vnunet.com's sister publication Computer Reseller News US has explored this scenario by designing two SME networks: one running on a Linux-based solution and the other on Windows. The former boasted a 93 per cent saving of set-up costs compared with Microsoft's offering.
This is a proposition that could be viewed as a real value-add and the difference between closing and losing a deal.
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