IBM has teamed up with Austrian and Polish partners to offer Linux-based PCs for the Eastern European market:
International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it was offering the PCs based on the open-source Linux operating system together with Red Hat (RHT.N: Quote, Profile, Research) software distributor VDEL of Austria and Polish distributor and services firm LX Polska in response to demand from Russian IT chiefs.
The PCs will include IBM's Lotus Symphony software based on the Open Document Format, a rival format to Microsoft's Office Open XML document format, which the latter is trying to get adopted as an ISO internationally approved standard.
IBM, which has sold its PC business to China's Lenovo (0992.HK: Quote, Profile, Research), said the hardware would be made by partners of VDEL and LX Polska.
Russia, where many large corporations and public-service bodies are building large computer systems for the first time, is emerging as a key battleground between Microsoft and rivals offering open-source alternatives.
Microsoft is active in IT education campaigns in Russia and last month signed a deal with MTS (MBT.N: Quote, Profile, Research), Russia's largest mobile phone operator, to offer services and cut-price laptops installed with its Vista operating system for small businesses.
IBM said the Linux PC line it would offer with VDEL and LX Polska, called Open Referent, would cut desktop computing costs for buyers by up to half.