[Fwd: IDC opinion on GNOME Foundation]

Here's an interest overview by IDC, International Data Corporation, one
of the main analyst firms that's generally positive about Linux.  Their
analysis is consistent with how they've approached Linux on the desktop
in the past, but worth sharing.

Thanks to Rob at Collab.net for passing this on!


IDC Opinion

The GNOME Foundation has been formed to create an open source standard
graphical user interface (GUI) and encourage its broad use across both
Linux and Unix. Can the
GNOME Foundation succeed in making GNOME the standard GUI?

In a word, no. It is not at all clear that GNOME will become the
standard GUI for Unix and thus replace CDE, the current standard. It is
also not clear that all Linux
distributions will adopt this GUI as their default.

Furthermore, when the dominant PC/client operating environment is
Microsoft's Windows, how could GNOME become the standard GUI. Linux and
Unix made up just under
5% of the PC/client operating environment shipments in 1999.

Announcement Highlights

On August 15, many members of the Linux and Unix communities announced
that they were joining the GNOME project in the creation of the GNOME

 The following organizations have announced support for the GNOME

     - Compaq Computer Corp.

     - Eazel Inc.

     - Free Software Foundation

     - Gnumatic Inc.

     - Helix Code Inc.

     - Henzai

     - IBM Corp.

     - Object Management Group

     - Red Hat Inc.

     - Sun Microsystems Inc.

     - VA Linux Systems Inc.

 The organization's goal is advancing the availability of GNOME, the
open source graphical user interface and user interface toolkit, which
is designed to make PCs, workstations,
and servers easy to use.

 The foundation will help set the technical direction of the GNOME
project, promote the broad adoption of GNOME on Linux and Unix desktops
and servers, and offer a forum for
industry leaders to contribute to GNOME. The Bonobo component project,
GTK toolkit development, Pango internationalization, and GNOME Office
integration and other projects
will be embraced under the GNOME organization.

 The foundation will be modeled on the Apache Foundation, with a board
of directors elected by the hundreds of volunteer GNOME developers.

 Sun Microsystems announced that GNOME v2, when available, will replace
the MOTIF/CDE GUI on Solaris-based systems as the default user
environment on Solaris.

 The GNOME Foundation also announced it will help Sun Microsystems
incorporate the GNOME interface into its StarOffice.

 The GNOME Foundation will integrate the Openoffice.org technology,
which is based on StarOffice, as a core component of the GNOME Office

Snapshot Analysis

Will GNOME Make Linux a Leading PC/Client Operating Environment?

Although making Linux easy to use and consistent from distribution to
distribution is an important and valuable proposition, it is not the
only element required to make Linux the
leading PC/client operating environment. After all, very few people
using computers purchased them to look at the operating environment.
Users purchase an operating system and
computer to run applications that help them accomplish the specific
tasks they'd like to do.

In other words, it is application availability that guides the selection
of operating environments, regardless of how pretty the desktop manager
is or is not. Until the most popular
applications are available on Unix and Linux PC/client systems, these
environments will lose to Windows. Ironically, this leads to a
chicken-and-egg scenario: Users won't flock to
Linux PC/client systems until the applications they want are there;
developers won't port applications to Linux until there is enough
customer demand to justify supporting another
operating environment.

It currently appears that there is only a small possibility of Linux
becoming a leading PC/client operating environment for consumers. Even
with a common user interface, Linux will
continue to be of interest mostly to people who have sufficient
knowledge to either develop the software they need or to integrate all
the applications they find on the Internet.

However, Linux may become popular as a low-cost, reliable platform for
transactional software used by many task-oriented workers.

In the embedded market, Linux has a much better chance for widespread
success. Fortunately, the GNOME Foundation recognizes that the
components it creates will likely see
reuse in embedded, handheld, and mobile device products, and it plans to
architect GNOME technology with this consideration in mind. IDC believes
Linux is likely to be popular
as the embedded operating environment in PC companion devices and
network-oriented appliances.

Will GNOME Give Sun an Advantage over Other Unix Suppliers?

This will be the second time that Sun has asked its users to switch
graphical user interfaces; the first time was about a decade ago when
Sun lost the GUI war and suggested that
its users move from NeWS/OpenLook to X-Windows/Motif. Sun will soon push
people to move once again, this time to X-Windows/GNOME by positioning
it as a "modern"
desktop. Furthermore, applications will need to be modified to leverage
this new desktop. Since not all applications will make the move quickly
to GNOME, Sun will likely need
multiple GUIs on its systems for a long time to come. Furthermore,
unless other Unix suppliers jump on board -- including Hewlett-Packard,
IBM, and Caldera/SCO -- GNOME on
Unix is liable to remain a niche solution. So far, it is not at all
clear that Sun's customers will be happy with this initiative and will
hence follow along.

Another perspective exists, however, which says that new applications
being created for Linux will port more easily to Unix if the user
interface is common between the platforms.
>From this perspective, Sun may have a leg up on some of its competition.

One thing is certain: This is not likely to change the make up of the
PC/client environment market. At this point, Unix holds less than 1%
share of this market. Even if all the Linux
suppliers move to GNOME as well, the two would make up only a tad less
than 5% of the market, which is a tiny slice of the market compared with
Microsoft's dominant 87% share.


While IDC applauds this announcement as necessary for Linux's success,
it is not sufficient by itself to overcome the barriers Linux faces on
the personal productivity application
front. Depending upon how receptive other server vendors are to this
initiative -- particularly if HP, IBM, and Caldera/SCO choose to
integrate GNOME into their respective Unix
products -- the GNOME Foundation may be able to meet some of its goals.
Given the promise to have GNOME v2 released in the first half of 2001,
this trend will not likely have
broad impact on the market until CY03.

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