Red Hat said it has dropped plans, disclosed last year, to develop a version of the Linux operating system for consumer PCs -- in part because of Microsoft's dominance over the market.
"The desktop market suffers from having one dominant vendor, and some people still perceive that today's Linux desktops simply don't provide a practical alternative," Red Hat officials said in a blog post Wednesday.
"Building a sustainable business around the Linux desktop is tough, and history is littered with example efforts that have either failed outright, are stalled, or are run as charities," they said.
Linux commands only about 1.2% of the desktop market in the United States, according to research group Gartner.
Red Hat said, however, that it would continue to develop its Enterprise Linux desktop.
It also said it has no plans to abandon its Red Hat Global Desktop program. Under RHGD, Red Hat is developing a slimmed-down Linux-based desktop OS designed for low-cost PCs in emerging markets such as Brazil, Russia, China, and India.
Red Hat said it had originally hoped to ship RHGD within a few months, but the company has now backed away from a firm timeline. "The desktop business model is tough, so we want to be prepared before delivering a product to the emerging markets," the company said on its blog.
Indeed, Microsoft is also looking to capture those markets, which are expected to provide the bulk of the computing industry's growth in the years ahead. Redmond earlier this month announced that it would extend the life of Windows XP -- but only for low-cost systems not capable of running Windows Vista.