update Opening a new chapter in its 10-year history and a new front in its war against Microsoft, leading Linux seller Red Hat on Tuesday announced its first version of the open-source operating system for desktop computers.
Red Hat’s primary target has been Unix, the operating system on which Linux is based, running on higher-powered networked computers called servers. But with its Red Hat Desktop product, the Raleigh, N.C.-based company directly aims for Microsoft and its Windows stronghold.
Red Hat initially won’t tackle the entire desktop software market, aiming instead for corporations whose employees need only basic computing features such as word processing and Web access. But the company does have bigger aspirations.
“The ambitions are grand, but the expectations are going to be moderate at the outset,” Chief Executive Matthew Szulik said in an interview. “What we’re focused on for the next 12 to 18 months is doing a great job in the enterprise, the government and academic marketplaces.”
As with its existing server products, Red Hat will sell the desktop version as an annual subscription that includes support and software updates through the Red Hat Network. But it won’t sell them individually, instead offering 50-computer subscriptions for $3,500 annually–about $70 per PC per year.