I recently took Novell to task over CEO Jack Messman's remarks
at BrainShare Europe about the coming release of Windows Vista
being the "window of opportunity" for Windows XP desktops to be
migrated to Novell Linux Desktop . I still think
Messman talks first and thinks later, but other reports I've
gotten (from a number of you, gentle readers) help give a better
picture of Novell's strategy.
A number of you have said that the message you got from front-line Novell people was that you shouldn't rush to move to NLD, it's not ready for everybody's desktop just yet. The general thinking is that late next year, when another revision of the package is available with more "Windows-like" features, better ease-of-use and more well-rounded functionality, will be the time to start rolling it out to the masses. Serendipitously, this is also the time frame when Windows Vista will ship. Predictably, the Microsoft marketing machine will go into high gear at that time promoting upgrades from Windows XP (and earlier) to Windows Vista.
Well-respected analysts, though, are cautioning that the move to Vista should be slow and deliberate - if you move at all. See this week's Windows Networking newsletters for more on what the Gartner Group and the Burton Group have to say about Vista (you'll be able to read those newsletters online later this week , if you don't already subscribe to it).
The issue of training has also been raised as a discouragement from moving to Linux on the desktop with NLD. Specifically, some feel, users would prefer the familiarity of Windows to the unknown depths of Linux. This would also require more expense in training users on the less familiar system. But, as some have pointed out to me, if you consider the differences in the user interface between the last two Microsoft desktop releases (Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP) and extrapolate that to the new UI coming with Vista, then even diehard Windows fans will have a tough learning curve coming to grips with the new system.
I would certainly encourage you to get at least one copy of Novell Linux Desktop just so you can put it through its paces in your test lab. You might decide it's right for your organization now or, you might prefer to wait for the next release or reject it and stick with Windows for your users. There is no "right" answer, but your answer should be well-informed.
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To contact Dave Kearns:
Dave Kearns is a writer and consultant in Silicon Valley. He's written a number of books including the (sadly) now out of print "Peter Norton's Complete Guide to Networks." His musings can be found here.