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Red Hat is launching a version of its software for ordinary business users. Red Hat Desktop includes the Mozilla browser, OpenOffice and an Evolution email client.

It will be available for download in mid-May and ais imed at academic, enterprise and government clients. Customers pay $2,500 per year for ten Red Hat desktops, ten desktop management modules, one Red Hat proxy server and some support. It joins Novell/SUSE in backing Linux for the desktop.

Speaking in London, Red Hat CEO Matthew Szulik said: "Security, manageability and cost are the main concerns of enterprise customers we speak to...the time is ripe for an alternative, especially in Europe and Asia." Szulik believes we will see Linux have a similar impact on desktops as it has already had in the server market.

Szulik, like Novell, claims lots of pilot projects and interest from "blue chip clients".

The company sees a large worldwide refreshment of existing desktops which will help drive growth. It believes organisations are looking to cut costs and to segment users who are only using parts of expensive desktop application packages. It also sees increasing frustration with Microsoft security which makes applying patches a full-time job.

James Governor, analyst at RedMonk, said: "Enterprise wants a decent Linux desktop. They've been frustrated by the slow pace - there's real demand, if the product is ready." Microsoft is suffering poor migration, even from customers paying subscription licenses, he added.

Red Hat will continue to sell Work Station, its high-end desktop product, aimed at developers and designers. Red Hat is still in discussion with hardware vendors about selling machines with the software pre-installed. ®

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Business needs guidance on desktop Linux
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