Researchers have predicted that Linux is going to be big in China, with the market for the OS in that region generating more than $51m annually by 2010, up from just $11.8m last year. Seemingly, banks and industry in China are rapidly replacing older SCO Unix installations with Linux.

Recently, Microsoft began an initiative to move its software into China more fully and legitimately. The company put pressure on major Chinese PC makers to bundle legitimate versions of Windows with every unit sold domestically. As to whether this will encourage or discourage sales of cheaper Linux-only machines in China remains to be seen. The Chinese IT market is huge.

"China's Linux market featured unprecedented competition in 2005, which will continue well into 2006," said IDC analyst Nielse Jiang in a statement.

"As a direct result of such intense competition, price wars will be inevitable in 2006. Most of the public tenders closed with relatively low prices in 2005. Keen price competition continues to serve as a major barrier to the China Linux market."