Macs crowd out Linux on corporate desktops but no threat to Windows

Macintosh desktop clients in enterprises will be more of a hindrance to Linux desktop growth than Windows

The growth of Macintosh desktop clients in enterprises will be more of a hindrance to Linux desktop growth than Windows, one analyst firm says in a recent report.

Gartner says the increasing popularity of Apple's desktop operating system in some enterprises could come at the expense of Linux desktops. Popular marketing and advertising campaigns for Macs has the machines on the minds of some corporate computer users, while Linux desktops are still somewhat obscure.

Several factors still hold Apple back on enterprise desktops. It does not license its OS X operating system to other hardware vendors. The consumer-oriented focus of the interface and applications is a turnoff for IT administrators, as well as the lack of IT management tools. But Gartner says these machines will find their way into enterprises through the "back door," in some cases where end-users seek to replace older proprietary workstations, such as Unix machines.

The Gartner report faults a shortcoming in support for both Mac and Linux desktops as one reason these platforms continue to lag in enterprise deployments. While Apple, Red Hat and Novell offer seven years of support for their respective enterprise desktop operating systems, Windows draws more enterprise desktop loyalty, in part, because of its 10-year-minimum support practices for its desktop product.

One trend that could level the desktop operating system playing field is the move towards Web-based applications, which only require standards-based HTML browsers and plug-ins, and can run on almost any desktop. However, Gartner says it does not expect even half of a typical organization's apps to be OS-independent in the next five years.

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