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Which Linux distros are the biggest competition for Microsoft's products?

What would you say is the current market share of Microsoft Word, Outlook, Excel and Word compared to their Linux equivalents and other competitors? What Linux versions are gaining the most ground versus MS products right now?

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With regards to market share I don't I have any relevant recent data, but there was a 2004 Forrester Research Study (Open Source Moves into the Mainstream, Schadler) that pegged use at 14.3% in the 140 North American companies they surveyed..

Per your question on what versions of Linux are gaining ground on MS products right now: I would focus in on the desktop here because of your first question. Once again, I have no recent data, but I can say this: The following distributions are good functional replacements of Microsoft Windows for all but the most demanding desktop users (ones who use a lot of peripheral devices like Windows CE PDAs, specialized hardware, etc.).

Of those the one that has the most resource and a large existing customer base that needs to be refreshed is Novell. With their large market penetration for desktop and back office systems they would be the most likely adversary for desktop Linux competition right now. If your question is who is in the most competition for the server with Microsoft I would say it's still Novell -- but I would add Red Hat as well.

This was first published in March 2005

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