The latest version of SuSE Linux will include a series of graphic features built into the client version which have only been seen in high-end workstations.
Users can now adapt their graphical user interface to display multiple windows within a virtual cube onscreen.
This is not just for static pages, as moving images can be displayed either full screen or wrapped around the edge of the viewing cube (click here for an illustration).
In addition the Alt-Tab function on Windows machines has been improved with the creation of a thumbnail preview function, which allows users to cycle between applications and see a real-time snapshot of each page.
"The new features take advantage of the 3D graphics capabilities of modern computers," said Nat Freidman, vice president of Linux desktops at Novell.
"Things like thumbnail images make the user work better and make it easier to see what's going on in the system. The whole thing is based on user feedback."
One example of this is the way that an open window is minimised. Rather than having it disappear, the window visibly minimises down to the desktop toolbar. Feedback suggested that this makes it easier for people to find information they have been working on.
The new desktop also has a system search function which can find recent documents, data, web pages and even relevant IM conversations. Sensitive information can be blocked.
The server version has a number of innovations that Novell feels will make it highly attractive, including virtualisation. The company said that its operating system will be the first open source code to support both Intel and AMD virtualisation te chnology.
Application security will also be built in as standard, using the AppArmor application, which Novell claims is a first for any operating system.
The new operating system will be released in the summer and, although pricing has yet to be announced, it is likely to undercut Microsoft significantly.
Novell is betting that companies faced with switching from Windows XP to Vista will be tempted to try an open source alternative.
"We know what our competitor is like; Microsoft builds code for the computer of tomorrow," said Greg Mancusi-Ungaro, marketing director for Linux at Novell.
"We say you can have the same features, even better ones, and run it on the systems you bought this year, last year and the year before."
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