IBM pushes virtual desktops without Microsoft

IBM is looking to convince companies to run "Microsoft-free" virtual desktops.

Big Blue is partnering with Ubuntu distributor, Canonical, and virtual desktop firm Virtual Bridges to deliver an all-in-one package for companies.

The trio hope to persuade recession-stricken companies of the cost benefits of moving to the "Microsoft-free" virtual environment.

The offering sees employees run an Ubuntu Linux virtual desktop that comes pre-installed with IBM's Symphony office suite, and Lotus Notes and Sametime for email, calendaring and business communications.

The virtual desktops are supported by a Linux-based server, with costs starting from $49 (33) per seat in a 1,000-seat deployment.

Users could access their virtual desktop on dedicated thin clients, or any conventional PC or laptop with a network connection.

Virtual Bridges, which is providing its VERDE virtual desktop software, claimed companies will make huge savings on desktop management and provisioning. "By consolidating these desktop sessions on to centrally-managed servers, users no longer have to self-maintain their desktops or put unnecessary burdens on the help desk," it claimed in a statement.

"This is literally putting your desktops in the data center and allowing access to them securely over the network."

However, it's by no means the first time that Microsoft has faced the threat of virtual desktops. Competitors including Sun and IBM itself have been pushing the thin-client philosophy for more than a decade, without ever seriously denting Microsoft's core operating-system business.

Barry Collins

Barry Collins is an experienced IT journalist who specialises in Windows, Mac, broadband and more. He's a former editor of PC Pro magazine, and has contributed to many national newspapers, magazines and websites in a career that has spanned over 20 years. You may have seen Barry as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten.