Analysts were divided this week at the Open Source Forum in Austin, Texas, as to whether Linux posed a real threat to Microsoft's Windows NT and whether users were replacing the one operating system (OS) with the other.
Jim Johnson, president of the Standish Group, was adamant that: "The replacement and non proliferation of NT is the most prevelant influence of Linux and Microsoft has been hit the hardest by it. While nothing will slow the Microsoft juggernaut but Microsoft, people will find that Windows 2000 is worse than NT 4.0 and will flood to other OSs."
Stacey Quandt, an analyst with Giga Information Group, agreed. "Most people are evaluating Linux as a replacement to NT rather than Unix. Some 60 per cent of our clients are disatisfied with Microsoft, which is a company in transition. We'll see a different landscape by 2002."
But William Peterson, research manager at IDC, retorted: "Linux is not necessarily replacing anything. It's becoming another OS to support and the enterprise is evaluating it for file and print, but there's no NT flying out of the door. Microsoft has nothing to fear from Linux and it's almost impossible for Linux to hit NT, but it will cannibalise Unix and maybe have a unifying effect."
Nick Gall, vice president and director of open computing at the Meta Group, attested, however, that IT managers were afraid of Linux because they believed it could be modified and customised without restraint, and were frightened of adding another Unix to their organisation that might splinter internally. But the Standish Group's Johnson, warned: "Microsoft says that NT is enterprise ready and scaleable and frankly, it's not. It would do better to position it as departmental, Web or personal server. But the danger is that Linux will fall into the same trap. It's OK in the enterprise, but not as an enterprise server, and it would be better for it to grow up slowly than heat up too quickly and burn out."
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