Despite pulling out of the Linux desktop market, Dell boss Michael Dell appears to believe the Microsoft alternative could still have a chance at success, although it is unlikely to make much of an impact in the next few months.

The computer giant put Microsoft's nose out of joint when it shipped desktop PCs running the open source operating system and backed Eazel, a company that worked to make Linux more user-friendly. The extent of its unhappiness with this decision was revealed in a memo that surfaced during its antitrust case.

But Dell says, "Microsoft is a great partner of ours, and they don't only sell to Dell and we don't only sell their products."

He says that rumours hinting the company is still willing to back the now defunct Eazel are true, and this is reflected in the company's support for Linux on the server side and also in education and scientific markets.

He did admit, however, that a volume market for Linux had not so far emerged, but said that this possibility was something the company was "interested in seeing … If there is a volume Linux on the desktop market, then great". But, he cautioned: "If you asked if [Linux on the desktop] would be significant in the next few months, it doesn't appear that way."

Michael Dell was speaking to Ashlee Vance, a correspondent for the IDG News Service, a part of PC Advisor's parent company.