IBM takes a stab at Microsoft; offers Microsoft-free Computers

IBM could finally make Microsoft pay for all the health and wealth damage; think Lotus Smartsuite and OS/2.

In a smart move, IBM has teamed up with Austrian and Polish computer builders to supply the rapidly-growing East European and Russian markets with Microsoft-free software platforms which use Red Hat Linux and IBM software.

Dubbed Open Referent, it is IBM's first recent attempt to directly challenge Microsoft's hegemony on the desktop front.

Apart from Red Hat's OS, IBM will throw in Lotus Notes, Lotus Sametime and Lotus Symphony which is based on the award winning OpenOffice.org business suite.

Lotus Notes is pitted against Microsoft's popular Exchange solution and Sametime is a unified communications platform which allow users to communicate more efficiently.

IBM is targeting corporate and government departments with this latest offer and stressed that government agencies are looking for open standards like ODF (open Document Format) or PDF (portable Document format).

IBM has not revealed whether the Open Referent solution will be deployed in Western Europe.