Mike Prince, chief information officer of Burlington Coat Factory, has also made the switch. Prince is responsible for all of Burlington's 325 stores across the United States, but he lacks a large enough tech staff to support them. So the half-dozen computers at each store now run on the Linux OS and Sun Microsystems's (SUNW) StarOffice, a package of Linux-based word-processing, spreadsheet, and slide-presentation software that runs about $50 a copy. He figures he saves at least $250 per machine by forgoing Microsoft Office. "Six machines times 325 stores," he muses, "and you are talking about almost half a million dollars." The real savings, though, is in the cost of administration. Prince found it easy to load and run his Linux applications on hand-me-down equipment, and he says the new setup isn't as prone to viruses as Windows and hardly ever crashes. "Linux desktops," he explains, "really just got viable."
The above is only one example of somthing that is starting to happen more and more. StarOffice is a drop-in replacement for M$ Office for around 90% of the users out there at a fraction of the cost. And OpenOffice is free. I know I am biased, but I find StarOffice 6 to be much better than Office97 for the kinds of tasks that I need to perform, both at work and for personal use. I don't know about Office XP, which is suppose to have a bunch of "workgroup" functionality to collaborate over a network that StarOffice does not have. This is about the only thing I see critics complaining about which may or may not be a valid complaint and which may oy may not matter to most users' needs. At my job, we use Office 97 and collaborate by e-mail. I don't buy the "it doesn't have an Outlook-like program" complaint. If you want one, there is Evolution- if you just want an e-mail client, you can pick any of half a dozen really good ones. And none of them are incubators.

BTW, does not the concept of a M$ product (Office XP) with lots of "workgroup" functionality over the network, sound like a colossal viral disaster just waiting to happen?

Anyhow, I think that it is going to be on the small to mid-sized business desktops where Linux is going to get in and start to grow, as we see in the above quote. And once people start using Linux at work they are more likely to try it at home, especially considering the price. I still doubt that Linux will kick M$ off the desktop, but I bet that over the next five years it will grow to around a ten percent share of the market, and that is going to be real competition for the Beast of Redmond.