Novell today unveiled Linux Desktop 9, claiming that the platform is robust and complete enough to offer a viable alternative to Microsoft Windows on corporate desktops.
Backed by Novell's support, training and consulting services, the company stated that its desktop operating system boasts the same levels of security and reliability as the SuSE Linux Enterprise Server from which it was developed.
Jack Messman, Novell chairman and chief executive, said: "Novell is focusing its enterprise desktop efforts on Linux deployments where users can gain the most benefit.
"Novell Linux Desktop is not about the wholesale replacement of your Windows systems, but about identifying where and when an open source desktop can be a sensible, cost-effective alternative.
"In our pragmatic view, the time is now for specific desktop users to reap the benefits of open source."
According to Novell, Linux Desktop 9 is particularly suited to the needs of transaction workers in call centre environments or other "special purpose" roles such as information kiosks and stations for intermittent PC users.
It added that the platform has also attracted significant interest as a replacement for traditionally high-cost Unix-based technical workstations.
Novell Linux Desktop 9 ships with an end-user operating system, office applications and productivity tools.
This provides additional savings as customers do not need to purchase an operating system licence and then pay for expensive office applications on top, as they would with Windows, the firm claimed.
The Novell Linux Desktop includes the company's own edition of the Microsoft Office-compatible OpenOffice with a word processor, spreadsheet and presentation suite. It also features the Mozilla Firefox browser, and the Novell Evolution collaboration client for Linux.
According to Novell, it "does not rule out general replacement of Windows and other proprietary operating systems" with Novell Linux Desktop.
The company expects government and education customers to be early adopters because many of these organisations are seeking to avoid single vendor lock-in of their desktop systems.
Novell Linux Desktop 9 will be available from 12 November through Novell channel partners for a suggested price of $50 per system, which includes upgrades and updates for one year.
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