In May of this year, PTC announced that we were planning to drop our support for the Linux operating system with the Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 release, currently planned to be available early in 2008, per the PTC Product Calendar (http://www.ptc.com/cs/product_calendar/PTC_Product_Calendar.htm
). Our justification for this decision was multi-faceted. First, we continue to see increasing consolidation of our Pro/ENGINEER customers around fewer and fewer platforms. In fact, a survey of our users earlier this year shows that today over 80% are running Pro/E on Windows, and this number is expected to approach 90% within three years.
PTC began support for 32-bit Linux operating systems with Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire, in 2003. Since then, we have seen very limited adoption of Linux by the engineering market. While we recognize that our pilot program was limited in that it provided only 32-bit support, and only covered Pro/ENGINEER itself (not Mechanica or Pro/INTRALINK 3.x), we have not seen the widespread migration of the engineer’s desktop to the Linux OS, as many had hoped.
Beyond limited adoption of Linux on the engineer’s desktop, there are other factors that have driven us to the decision to drop Linux support for Pro/ENGINEER. PTC’s product strategy is to deliver a Product Development System (PDS) – a collection of software solutions that are defined, designed, developed, and tested together to address your product development challenges. The PDS includes many other desktop engineering products beyond Pro/ENGINEER, such as ProductView, Mathcad, Pro/TOOLMAKER and IsoDraw, none of which currently run on the Linux OS. In order to remain true to our product strategy, and continue our commitment to the Linux OS, we would need to port all of these products to Linux as well. Unfortunately, these are all natively developed Windows applications, and would require significant, and unjustifiable expense to port to Linux.
A further compounding factor is that the Linux ecosystem of hardware and software providers is generally not targeting the MCAD market with Linux. While Linux is enjoying some success in adjoining markets like ECAD and Oil and Gas, market data has shown low acceptance of Linux in the broader MCAD market.
In addition we have considered the required investment in third party components, and the expense of the pure development and testing effort required to support our Product Development System on 64-bit Linux. In summary, the lack of Linux acceptance on the desktop in commercially meaningful numbers means that it is difficult to offer a full solution to our customers on Linux, forcing us to the conclusion that we will drop Linux support when Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 ships.
A limited number of customers have requested the ability to run Pro/ENGINEER Mechanica on 64-bit Linux machines in a "compute server" environment, which would allow users to create batch files on desktop machines and send those off to be solved on this server. While this is not possible today, we are exploring the viability of supporting such a scenario in the future.
We recognize that discontinuing support for Pro/ENGINEER on the Linux OS may be disruptive to some of our customers who plan to upgrade to future releases. Therefore, PTC is committed to providing an acceptable migration path to all Pro/ENGINEER customers currently running on the Linux operating system.
First, we will continue to provide technical support to all active maintenance customers who are using Pro/ENGINEER on the Linux operating system. PTC will appropriately address Pro/ENGINEER issues that are reported to technical support, following our existing protocols. However, any Linux-specific issues may not be resolved after the Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 3.0 release becomes Maintenance Discontinued, per the PTC Product Calendar. PTC also guarantees that all data generated by Pro/ENGINEER running on the Linux OS is completely compatible with Pro/ENGINEER running on any other supported OS.
Furthermore, Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire 4.0 will run on a variety of other operating systems, including both 32- and 64-bit versions of Microsoft Windows XP and Microsoft Vista, as well as HPUX 11i, Solaris 8, and Solaris 10.
Of course, we will continue to monitor the market situation and if and when Linux on the desktop obtains a meaningful market share and the third party software that we rely on becomes more broadly available, we can revisit our decision.
We invested significantly in supporting Linux in the first place and I am disappointed that a critical mass of customers did not move in that direction. However, the market has spoken with their actions and PTC is really left with no viable choice but to discontinue Linux support for desktop clients.