Organizations Find Switch from Windows Better than Expected

May 26, 2009

British market researchers took some lessons from a survey of 1,275 Linux migrators in organizations worldwide.

The respondents considered the fear of "painful and distracting" change as the largest obstacle to migrating from Windows to Linux. Device driver issues, fragmented distributions and lack of support were not among the high potential hurdles, according to the study.

Results gathered by the market researchers showed that some end-user groups considered a Linux rollout easier than expected. These included "transaction workers and general professional users with lighter and more predictable requirements." Although the perception may be among the cross-section of users that Linux is the "techie" solution, it is just this targeted group that is more likely to migrate to Linux in contrast to office-based power users, highly mobile professionals and creative staff. The researchers found usability and business context to be the most sought after factors for a successful migration, more so than purely technical considerations.

The study with the title "Linux on the Desktop: Lessons from mainstream business adoption" was financed by IBM and executed by the British market research firm Freeform Dynamics. The researchers' objective was "to deliver insight rather than recommendations" and, therefore, is not so much representative or generalizable, but rather more of a case study character.

The survey involved 1,275 IT professionals. A third of the sample was organizations with 10 to 250 employees, and about a quarter each of organizations with 10 or fewer and 250 to 5,000 heads. A good half of the respondents were "hands on" users, a quarter were managers and 15% were consultants. Most (40%) came from the U.K., 23% from the U.S., 19% from other parts of Europe and 18% from the rest of the world. Freeform Dynamics and IBM provide the business community research report as a PDF for free distribution.

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  • True. True.

    "... but once invested, it's hard to pull out. Instead, you spend your time trying to find a star use-case to justify the investment..."

    That depicts history of about 90% of Windows corporate deployments.

    The other problem I have also seen is that IT loves MS products. We have 5 admins for ~200 Unix/Linux servers. And 12 for ~25 Windows servers. MS products are great in job creation. And IT management loves it: imagine how easily it inflates budgets and stuff, increasing managerial responsibilities.
  • From the bottom up

    This is the strategy that I've been pushing where I work. As a Linux user for the past 6 years or so, I've been slowly migrating my friends and co-workers to using Linux at home. We have now reached the point where some of my converts are guiding others into adopting the OS as well. The point of this is that when our company finally decides to seriously consider Linux as an alternative to what they've been using, and the old "We'll have to pay for training!" FUD rears it's ugly head, we can say that there's enough of us who already have the experience to do most of the training "In House" with our own private Linux User Groups which will go a long way to reducing the training costs.
    As fanatical as I can be about Linux, my primary motivation for doing this is because I want my company to benefit from Open Source as much as I (we) have.
  • Important Studies..

    I do think we need more qualitative research to find factors that inhibit and encourage successful adoption of Linux on the desktop. I think much of this will be political and/or psychological. I've been using Linux as my primary desktop since 1998 with few problems initially and virtually none today.

    I've seen that Microsoft's "Evangelists" target key decision-makers and offer things like: hints of possible grants that never materialize, customizations for your needs in the near future that never happens, speaking engagements at prestigious conferences and trade shows so you can tell of how Microsoft products are used at your organization (basically evangelizing for them in return for making you feel important), and some free software.. This leads us (in the organizations I've worked for) to investing in software deployments such as Microsoft Sharepoint that is almost universally hated by users... but once invested, it's hard to pull out. Instead, you spend your time trying to find a star use-case to justify the investment...

    A relationship with Microsoft is like a drug addiction.. It promises a lot of good but delivers a lot of pain, yet doing so in a manner that obligates you to continue and possibly deepen the relationship.

    Considering this environment--how can Linux on the desktop come in and save the day? Linux generally comes from the bottom up, with administrators and users bringing it in either for low importance uses or under the table entirely.

    Can Linux on the desktop provide prestigious speaking engagements to enhance the stature of key decision-makers? Can it hint of possible grant money? Offer to make future versions tailor more to the interests of the decision-maker?

    Sure it could. But it doesn't. Speaking engagements at various conferences and trade shows are available for open source interests. While no pool of money exists to offer grants, a penny saved is a penny earned. How about a non-profit organization that does studies on how organizations can use open source to save money? As for customizations well.. It's called a feature request and anyone can do it. Enthusiasm exists even more so, generally, when it's from a commercial entity wanting to make more use of Linux.
  • downloads

    While the Mag offers nice info, I can downlaod many distros for the price of one DVD+mag.
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