Red Hat News for Linux Consumer Desktops

Did you ever get the nagging feeling you’ve missed something important as you go through your daily routine?

I’m having that feeling right now, and it may not bode well for Linux.

What brought this up was a revisit to my last blog entry that pondered the reasons why Red Hat and Novell were so adamant about declaring the Linux consumer desktop market a business dead end.

One of Novell’s PR folk politely e-mailed me last week to remind me that Novell never made a formal announcement about their desktop strategy:

“[CEO] Ron [Hovsepian] was asked about the subject in an

interview, and he talked about Novell’s enterprise focus for SUSE Linux

Enterprise Desktop … it’s not focused on the consumer, it’s aimed at

business users. We’ve been saying that since we launched this

enterprise desktop several years ago. But the timing with Red Hat’s

announcement was coincidental, and some folks jumped on Ron’s comments

as being ‘news.'”

He is absolutely right, and I stand corrected, with apologies for the error.

That said, something else has started bugging me about Red Hat’s formal declarations and Hovsepian’s comments. While I can still make the argument that it was indeed a strategy to trip up Canonical’s momentum with their desktop, some people have wondered aloud to me if there’s not another, more practical and less sinister reason for this renewed (or ongoing) interest in the business desktop market.

Today’s news about Microsoft introducing systems management tools will not be entirely welcome from some quarters in the Linux community. The old “what’s in it for them?” mentality seems to be the predominant reaction I have heard thus far. But to me, it could be a sign of potential trouble ahead.

With all of this talk about interoperability in systems management and search capabilities, added to the February launch of Windows Server 2008, I think we could be seeing Microsoft shifting its marketing strategy to try to directly curtail the migrations from Windows to Linux.

Actually, that’s a no-brainer; what’s new is the timing. I am expecting much more aggressive behavior from Redmond soon, and I suspect our friends at Red Hat, Novell, and Canonical know it too.

So, even though we may not like a lack of impetus to get the Linux desktop into the consumer market, this could be a circling of the wagons. Or a raising of the shields, to stay with the metaphor.

But while no one can fault companies for having a good defense, it’s increasingly frustrating to me that the Linux vendors always seem to be in defensive mode.