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According to a story in, of all the unlikely places, the New Zealand Herald IBM is to start ditching Windows and introducing Red Hat Linux on a range of computers aimed at the Eastern European market. The newspaper reports that IBM is working with Red Hat software distributor VDEL of Austria and services firm LX Polska of Poland, who will build the hardware, to meet demand for Linux based PCs coming from the direction of Russian IT companies.

As well as Red Hat, the Russian PCs will come complete with IBM Lotus Symphony pre-installed which will no doubt please Microsoft as it pushes the Open XML document format as an ISO approved standard. It should come as no surprise that Russia is emerging as the front line when it comes to the ongoing war between Microsoft and Linux, considering the business and technology boom that has exploded over there in recent years. With the arrival of real money, and real investment opportunities, large enterprise computer systems are being commissioned by public service and private sector organisations often for the first time. There has already been interest from the likes of the Ministry of Defence, Aeroflot and the Alfa bank. Value is key, and open-source holds the upper hand. IBM reckons the 'Open Referent' line of Linux PCs would cut the cost of desktop computing in half when compared to buying Windows machines. That said, Microsoft is not sitting on its laurels, and only last month is kick-started an IT education marketing awareness campaign as well as doing a deal with the largest mobile phone network in Russia to get Vista laptops out to small business customers.

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