A Philippines-based software developer this week released software that enables Windows-based programs to run on computers using archrival Linux.
In a statement, Peter Valdes, CTO of SpecOps Labs, said the software ultimately will help users migrate from Windows machines to the open-source Linux platform.
Once the software is installed, “it is as if you have a Windows OS on your desktop,” he said. In theory, he added, this should help users overcome a major obstacle to adopting Linux.
Windows OS Substitute
Earlier projects attempting to run Microsoft word processors, spreadsheets and other applications on Linux computers have mostly failed to gain critical attention among Windows users. Microsoft is not commenting on the new software yet, but it will be available commercially later this year, SpecOps said.
The company said the 80-MB program has been successfully tested with several Windows applications, but buying in to the concept could be risky for some corporate users, as the company developing the software is still quite new.
Founded in July 2002 with an initial capital investment of US$200,000, SpecOps merged in March with a Canadian firm owned by engineers previously in the construction business.
SpecOps hopes to sell more than 30,000 copies of the software and generate about $1 million in gross revenues a year after its commercial release, boosting the penetration of Linux. The company has projected a minimum revenue rate of $90 million annually by the end of its first three years — something sure to catch the eye of venture capitalists if its story can be proven.
Linux was created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds of Finland, but it has increased in popularity in recent years as IT personnel have sought alternatives to Microsoft.
No one can agree, however, how widespread Linux use is today. Analysts have said it has between 0.5 percent and 2 percent of the total desktop market. If that is so, the open-source operating system is but a slowly rising third to Windows and Mac OS.
Optimists reckon Linux will go mainstream within five years, hitting 10 percent of the market.
The thrilling new software from Manila is not the only approach that may help take Linux to mass-market status. An Austin, Texas-based software developer is making it easier with products that allow Linux-based PCs to run Windows and Windows-based applications in a safe virtual sandbox.
The firm, NeTraverse, said the Win4Lin products are intended to serve as a bridge for companies making the switch from Windows to Linux.
Win4Lin furnishes a fix by allowing Windows to run as a window on the Linux desktop. Unlike more common “emulator” programs, such as the VMWare products recently acquired by storage giant EMC, Win4Lin runs Windows as a Linux application.
Other Companies Push Linux
Other companies, such as Lindows.com, are helping to push Linux into the mainstream by partnering with major retailers. Sun Microsystems, for example, is pushing into the consumer market with its offerings. The company has begun offering the Java Desktop System on Microtel computers via Walmart.com. The Java Desktop System is based on Linux.
Microtel desktop PCs use many of the same components as other major PC brands, but they are sold through U.S. discount retailers. According to Jonathan Schwartz, president and COO of Sun, “By collaborating with a premier PC manufacturer and distributor … we are able to deliver on the demand for alternative desktops to new and diverse markets.”