Industry body Open Source Industry Australia (OSIA) has called on PC manufacturers to contribute to the completion of WINE, an open source re-implementation of the Windows API that would allow Linux to run most Windows applications and deliver higher margins to PC vendors.
OSIA claimed that by making WINE (which stands for 'WINE is not an emulator') fully compatible with most major Windows applications, PC vendors could "remove the heavy burden of the Windows OEM platform licence from their costs of production, yet still deliver a Windows-compatible desktop into the market."
"Also by not having to rely on Microsoft for the desktop PC platform, hardware vendors will improve their strategic position considerably," OSIA said.
Steven D'Aprano, OSIA spokesperson said the industry had reached a maturation point whereby most of the hardware is now a low cost commodity. "This process of hardware commoditisation has been relentless and greatly benefits Microsoft at the expense of all the hardware vendors.
He continued: "Microsoft platform and application software costs many times more than the hardware, giving Microsoft huge financial and platform leverage advantages. As an example, Microsoft makes 84 percent margin on some products, while vendors like HP, IBM and Dell make crumbs on their main PC lines."
OSIA claimed that in simple terms, if all is equal, eliminating the cost of one of your product's components allows a manufacturer to sell more of that product and make more money. "A fully realised WINE will allow Linux to be substituted in place of Windows, allowing the PC vendors to grow both their markets while increasing their position of profit," OSIA said.
Companies like Sun, IBM, Red Hat, Novell and HP all had a vested interest in Linux and injecting $10 million each into the WINE open source project, "they can all benefit substantially through a complete Windows-compatible platform that is free of Microsoft's control," D'Aprano said.
The WINE project started in 1993 as a way to support running Windows 3.1 programs on Linux.