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Rumblings of MS Office for Linux at CeBIT 293

An anonymous user noted that "ZDNet UK has an article concerning rumors at CeBIT that MS has a team of programmers working on a Linux port of Office. The report quotes a LinuxCare employee, and is probably only slightly more solid than the same rumors we've been hearing for ages now. " Again note, purely speculative rumor. This one comes from Linuxcare's Arthur Tyde.
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Rumblings of MS Office for Linux at CeBIT

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    In January, Eric Raymond spoke here at Washtenaw Community College about a whole lot of things. He concluded the lecture with "The 7 bullets Microsoft must dodge to survive the next 6 months". And he said that a friend and informant of his inside M$ said that the Linux version of M$ Office ALREADY exists and the date of it's release will be determined by the outcome of the DOJ trial. I write all my college papers in text editors and Pagemaker.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Until I see M$Office.tar.gz on freshmeat or linuxberg, I don't believe it. As everyone else has said, "it speculation", fact is; M$ is a propreitary software company that charges nearly $420.00 for consumer Office 2000. Then they make it for Linux? Who is going to by it when Star Office does everything except rip you off! ~j
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does Microsoft have plans to offer a Linux version of Office?

    The history of Linux and recent discussion about it has focused on its role as a network operating system used by IT developers and other sophisticated users. Desktop applications for end-users need services provided by a robust desktop operating system like Windows.
    A modern desktop application requires a rich set of operating system services that are broadly available on each desktop. Without these services an application ISV is often put in the position of providing least common denominator functionality or re-implementing services that exist in other operating systems--neither of those alternatives is necessarily good for customers. Some examples of these services include application interoperability, consistent user-interaction models across the customer base for dialogs / menus / toolbars, an infrastructure for setup and administration of applications, mechanisms for connecting to databases, etc.
    Today Linux is fragmented and its different variants don't all provide a standard set of these standard services.
    You say that customers aren't asking for it, but I can provide you with names of many customers who want to see Office on the Linux platform. So, that must mean that customers are asking for it, correct?

    I agree with you that Linux has been a topical subject recently. However, we conduct extensive research to ensure that we are listening to customers of all types and understand their needs. We are also hearing from a vocal set of customers that they would like Office functionality on Linux, but today there is no indication of broad support for Linux as a desktop alternative beyond those Linux users that are already comfortable with Linux on the server, customers that already use variants on UNIX (such as in academia), or customers that are "experimenting" with Linux. It is important that we focus on specific customer needs and work to meet them and as application vendors we are interested in solving specific customer problems. We are constantly talking to customers in a variety of ways to help insure that we are listening to a broad base of computing users that spans many particular interests and needs, including:

    User Surveys, through which we gather general input about usage patterns through a variety of survey methods
    Usability Testing, through which we observe users working with Office in their workplace and our labs
    Activity-based Planning, through which teams of Microsoft developers visit customer sites to understand how users get their work done every day
    Office Advisory Council, an example of the programs through which we work with enterprise customers to understand their needs
    User Input, through which we gather individual customer requests through various email aliases, web sites, and phone calls
    (only if you need to mention this) Any customers that want to provide input should visit our website at: and click on the "Write Us" menu item if you are a registered owner of any Microsoft products or send mail to

    Will future versions of Office support Linux?

    Based on the extensive research that we do across many types of productivity application users, we're hearing that today Linux does not offer customers the necessary infrastructure for a productivity suite like Office and we do not feel the level of operating system services is mature enough that we could offer a release of Office that would meet customer expectations. However, we are always continuing to evaluate the marketplace and base our development on the needs that customers express.

    It seems that Linux has the potential to significantly reduce TCO because it is cheap, reliable and provided open source code. How will Office and the Microsoft back/front end solution measure up to this?

    The easy-to-use Office front-end combined with the scalable, and reliable BackOffice servers enhances the experiences of end-users and IT administrators alike. BackOffice tools like the Systems Management Server reduce TCO by simplifying the roll-out of Office 2000 clients.

    In general, TCO reduction is based on scenarios that are important to customers. Many customers that are familiar with Linux and other UNIX variants find the services offered make for an attractive server platform. For typical customers of Office and Windows on the desktop, the same cannot be said. Again, as application vendors our role is not to judge the choices people are making, but rather to evaluate the marketplace and choose to invest in areas that help solve customer problems in a way consistent with our goals.

    Will Office support open source code? Why or Why not?

    Office is already an open, widely used development platform that provides end-users and developers a rich, well-supported set of tools through VBA. In fact, Office 2000 Developer provides developers with VBA 6.0, over 600 programmable objects, and all of the supporting programming tools and documentation for building custom applications to work with Office 2000.

    In terms of providing open source as a mechanism for adding features and addressing customer issues with Office, we do not think open source is compatible with the level of service, product consistency, and vendor relationships customers expect from us. With over 80 million customers of Office around the world in over 30 languages, the challenges of maintaining an source model significantly exceed even the largest such program today. As with any customer feedback we will continue to watch this closely and focus on addressing customer needs.

    ------------------------------------------------ --------------------------------

    ZDNet article

    MS porting Office to Linux?
    It may sound crazy, but developers say all the signs -- and rumors -- are there.

    By Mary Jo Foley, Sm@rt Reseller March 11, 1999 4:34 PM PT

    Could Microsoft Corp. be doing the unthinkable in porting Office to the Linux operating system? Rumors concerning the existence of an Office port to Linux have been circulating increasingly in recent weeks.

    Since last fall, when open source advocate Eric Raymond published an internal Microsoft (Nasdaq:MSFT) document outlining the company's view on Linux, Microsoft's interest in the open source operating system has been well documented and analyzed. The so-called "Halloween Memos" did not mention any intention on Microsoft's part to port Office, one of its cash cows, to Linux.

    However, when asked earlier this week whether anyone at Microsoft is currently involved in porting Office to Linux, Steve Sinofsky, vice president of Microsoft Office, said "I can't talk about that right now." He added that, "Linux is not there yet for end-user productivity applications. Lots of factors need to gel before we make a commitment [to delivering Office on Linux]."

    Developers: Work is underway But developers outside of Microsoft claim that the software maker has gone beyond the contemplation stage. Last week, Unix expert and technical author Simson Garfinkle mentioned on a radio talk show broadcast in the Boston area that he had corresponded with developers with inside knowledge of Microsoft's Office Linux porting efforts. Garfinkle declined to comment beyond what he said during the radio show.

    Another developer active on a number of industry news groups mentioned that he had been in touch with developers working for Microsoft who were working on moving Windows application programming interfaces (APIs) to Linux.

    "These [Microsoft] techies are programmers in the dev [development] group. They are running Linux on boxes at Redmond and most have Linux on their home computers. I don't think that MS is afraid of Linux but they ought to be," said the developer, who requested anonymity.

    Another developer and Linux advocate, who also requested anonymity, agreed that a decision by Microsoft to port Office to Linux could have the unintended effect of fueling Linux at NT's expense.

    A Microsoft Office port to Linux "will be good for corporate adoption of Linux," the developer said. "I can tell you that I would be able to move my main workstation over to Linux if I had Office for it, since that is what my employer standardized on."

    Hurdles ahead If Microsoft decides to field an Office Linux product, it will have to overcome some major hurdles first.

    Porting Windows applications to Linux is not easy, especially if the Windows apps are tied tightly to the operating system, notes Scott Petry, vice president of marketing with Cygnus Solutions, a cross-platform Windows-Linux porting tool vendor based in Sunnyvale, Calif. Cygnus is working with Corel Corp. to port WordPerfect to Linux via the WINE Windows-to-Linux translation layer.

    "Office would be one of the most challenging apps to move to Unix or Linux," Petry notes. "There's the Win32 APIs and Microsoft's implementation of the Win32 APIs, which is what Office relies on. A lot of hand-coding would need to be done to move Office just to the standard Win32 API set, let alone to Linux."

    Microsoft also will need to create a viable business model, via which the company and its partners can make money from Office running on an open-source platform. While Corel (Nasdaq:COSFF) and Star Divison GmbH have made public their intentions to offer desktop suites on Linux, Microsoft's main rival, Lotus Development Corp., has not announced any intentions to move SmartSuite to Linux.

    "Customers are asking us about Linux, but we can't make money on it today," says Howard Diamond, chief executive officer of Corporate Software & Technology, a Norwood, Mass., software reseller. "Our challenge is walking the line between shareware and the corporate market. The wrap-around things -- like applications services and support, is what you need to sell."

    If Microsoft does undertake an Office Linux port -- even if it is only a prototype or test -- it wouldn't be the first time that the company has made sure to cover all its bases with the Office platform. Microsoft historians will remember that Microsoft denied to the bitter end that the company was doing a version of Office written in Java, only to admit officially last year that the company was working on a Java-ized Office project, which it ended up scrapping.

  • Microsoft is beginning to realize that two OSes will dominate the next decade. Windows is incredibly entrenched and will probably remain a major player. Linux/UNIX is rapidly growing and embedded devices will continue to replace the PC for many traditional computing tasks. With the Windows monopoly in question, Microsoft is bound to investigate new ways of keeping the monopoly and hedging its bets. Microsoft's board of directors contains some really bright guys. A Linux port hedges the Linux bet and also keeps Windows around. Plus, by saying they will be porting their applications to Linux, Microsoft is able to keep many consumers and business waiting for it.

    Average consumer: Linux is looking like a great desktop OS. It has some applications that are somewhat compatible (Star Office, ApplixWare, etc..). But I'll wait for Microsoft to finish their port of Microsoft Office and Visual Basic.

    Just look at how many people are waiting for Linux until it has the games and applications they want.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    One of the greatest stumbling blocks to the corporate adoption of Linux on the desktop has been Office. As several in the Linux community have stated, Office has been the real barrier to entry to the desktop. In the server and embedded spaces, office suites like MS Office are not barriers to entry, hence Linux has garnered significant market and mind share.

    Why is it that when you get a quote, you get an Excel spreadsheet. Often when someone sends you a document, if it is not plain E-mail, it is usually in Word format. Non-programmers think that an Access database is a real database and how databases should be built -- especially after they build one. Can Linux and its office suites compete with that? It is very difficult.

    There are many EXCELLENT office packages for Linux, but they are not Microsoft Office. WordPerfect is great and my customers still use it, but they are getting more and more pressure to drop it and go to Word. Why Word? Well, because it comes free with the desktops they are purchasing! Not exactly free, but in the minds of most, it is free as it is "bundled" with the computer, O/S, and complete package they purchased (e.g., Dell or Gateway).

    Microsoft leveraged their operating system monopoly in order to dominate other markets. They took their cash cows (DOS and later Windows) and milked them. They spent megabucks on development of inferior products such as Word, Excel, IE, and Visual C++. They turned these inferior, limited products into world class products through years of development, aggressive marketing, bundling agreements, tying and other techniques, some of which are clearly illegal (reference Judge Jackson's findings of fact). Basically, they were good businessmen, and kept the DOJ off their backs long enough to achieve near-total domination on the desktop.

    A version of Microsoft Office for Linux would significantly further the Linux acceptance on the desktop. With Gnome and KDE as user interfaces, Office as the desktop suite, and the stability of Linux, the Linux desktop platform would be very attractive! Linux would be "validated" in the minds of many corporate types.

    What would be the impact on Microsoft and its Windows cash cows? I am sure that is the question Microsoft is asking internally and why we may NEVER see Office/Linux (unless Judge Jackson stipulates they develop such, or he breaks up Microsoft).

    My 2 cents. You may publish this if you wish.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    You do not really need Win to run Office, though. The Mac has had Office for years, and though this has helped save the Mac as a platform, it did not "make" Macs more prevalent in th ebusiness world. MS could port it to Linux, and we could see the same scenario. It may help Linux a little, but one proggie does not a platform make. Tom
  • "quotes a LinuxCare employee, and is probably only slightly more solid than the same rumors we've been hearing for ages now"

    Actually, Art Tyde is the CEO of LinuxCare. Not a random employee.

  • Let us assume, for a moment, that the Applications team at Microsoft has won some sort of politicial victory and is being allowed to port Office or parts thereof to Linux.

    This would be a good thing for a bunch of people. I could get rid of Windows for a bunch of stuff, because I wouldn't need Word for preparing documents for people who are illiterate in any sensible document-preparation scheme.

    It would be a good thing for Microsoft, who would get to make a bunch of money from Linux users who will end up using Office to match corporate standards, and would let them boost their antitrust defence by pointing to the Apps team developing for rival platforms.

    The other place it would be a win for Microsoft, and a huge loss for free software, is that it would undermine a lot of the impetus behind free productivity apps. Why persist with Abiword and Gnumeric when you've got Word and Excel? Free software types know the answer to that question, but most people won't care, and potential rivals to Office will bite the dust to a lesser or greater degree.

  • Actually, looking at his posting history, I have a feeling that Scooby's *default score* might be -2 by now.

    That's actually really cool. We need a "Use -1 Bonus" for that feature, though, guys. ;)

    And the *original* post in this thread was *really* funny. Especially that "W2K" bit. ROFL! Why is it only at (Score:4, Funny)? Moderate it up to 6!

    (I don't care if it's the press release, that's all The Onion ever does, and that's really funny too. Why? Because it's well done!)

    Also, moderate the entire story down to (Score 0: Redundant). Like many other people, I'll believe the "MS-Office for Linux" hype when I see it. ...And I have a feeling that Corel/The Wine Project will do it before Microsoft does, since Microsoft uses crappy proprietary porting tools (which they also own now, woo-boo-hoo.) like MainWin or whatever.
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • Because with the possible breakeup of MS into seperate divisions by the DOJ it would be wise for MS to hedge it's bets. Don't you think?

    After all they have enough money to pay for the development but they DON'T have to ever release it. If they are indeed going to be broken up then it would be in the BEST interest of the Applications group to have a Linux version of Office.
  • actually, you've got it backwards. gtk+ license would be much more favorable to them than qt. gtk+ is LGPL. OTOH, in order to release a qt app without releasing the source, they would have to pay a licensing fee to troll-tech, since qt is only free if you release the source to your qt apps. anyway, motif is still the most popular toolkit for commercial unix apps (was last i checked anyway) and it wouldn't be all that unlikely for them to write their own, if they made its API similar enough to the windows gui API. that would minimize their porting, and put most of the work in developing the tk.
  • Shoo, troll..


  • This is standard MS practice. They actually have no intention of producing an MSOffice for Linux, but want to damage their competitors (Corel, Star Division, Applix) by spreading rumours to the effect that they will. I'm surprised that you're all still being taken in by it.
  • Maybe if they port MS Office, IE5.x, Adobe PS 5.5, Flash 4(dev.), Adobe Illustartor, and Homesite I may actually have a reason to boot to linux.

  • I wouldn't bet on it. Remember we're talking about the kind of people who phone tech support and assert that they are running Windows 97...
  • (tell a secretary in your office she has a choice: move to a new OS, but keep her office suite or move to a new OS, but keep her office suite...see which she chooses).

    Oops, that should be:
    (tell a secretary in your office she has a choice: move to a new OS, but keep her office suite or move to a new office suite, but keep her OS...see which she chooses).

  • Who cares if there is a linux version of Office. There are many alternatives at least as good as it freely available. What we need is a browser and mozilla is NOT QUITE ready. If M$ wants to make a dent in Linux, and maintain a monopoly in at least one arena, they should port IE. hate to say it, but it is WAY better than any of the alternatives.
  • sig 11: Believe me - there is no port.
    sig 11's sig: question authority..

    Oh, I belive you Mr. 11! I do! No wait, ummmm. Question authority? Umm. Grog confused.
  • by deeny ( 10239 )
    > LinuxCare: I know you guys have a tremendous
    > amount of Linux talent and a lot of understanding
    > of the community in general. Please, please
    > start acting like grown-ups so you can get the
    > respect you deserve!

    Linuxcare has had some community relations problems in the bay area. For one thing, there's something inherenly alienating about working for a Linux support company. Most of the people active in the community *stop* attending community events. It's almost like a black hole (well, a grey one, because people DO get spat out) of Linux talent.

    Many of the linux geeks who were early hires at Linuxcare have long gone: five community members (out of 11 total who left) as of mid-November. Given the growth rate of the company, that's a lot of turnover. Most of the people who resigned did so to take higher paying jobs elsewhere. Within 24 hours, I had a job making $20k more a year.

    Let's say that the local community relations is bad enough that some bay area Linux geek (who never worked for the company) had bumper stickers printed up that say: "Linuxcare doesn't."


  • ...Linux Bloatware?? ;-)
  • Nifty. Anyone want to explain? The post didn't look all that bad...
  • What would be worse if Linux vendors found themselves in the same boat as Apple, with Microsoft threating to pull Office for Linux unless they got certain concessions.

    Of course that would be a silly scenario -- MS would have to give RedHat (etc) a desktop marketshare before they could have the power to take it away. (And, no, Linux vendors don't currently have a desktop marketshare in the Windows or MacOS sense. What they have is Unix workstation marketshare, with a userbase that by-in-large couldn't give a damn about mainstream office productivity software.)

    On the other hand, A Linux port of IE for Solaris port could happen.
  • The IE/Unix ports were so crappy that one wondered why they even bothered. (Except for marketing reasons.)

    It could be that an Office/Unix port would just be a "dogfood" way to improved their unix porting libraries to the point where they are usable for large applications. If the porting libs could run Office decently, they probably could run anything.

    Why would MS invest in unix porting libs? Probably not for their own purposes, but to give away or sell cheap to traditional Unix application vendors. "Don't maintain your Unix source tree -- save money and develop on Win32 only." Corel is already pursuing such a strategy for Unix apps, except using Winelib instead of MS's tools.
  • Agreed, it's a difficult scenario because companies like RedHat have no intellectual property, and therefore not much to conceed. The only thing possible is a split-the-market deal, as Microsoft illegally proposed to Netscape.

    The point holds that if MS Office shipped for Linux, and Linux started to get a desktop marketshare, Microsoft would think of something to twist the Linux vendors' arms over. It's the nature of the beast.

  • assuming OS X survives, MS will have to replace it with a Cocoa-native port

    Why? I would imagine that Apple needs to support Carbon indefinately. (90% of the apps Mac users use will be Carbon, not Cocoa.)

    That means Unix

    No it doesn't. Cocoa is the old NeXT API. Athough it expensively used to run on Solaris, HPUX, and Windows, it's not a normal Unix API. Perhaps GNUStep, someday.
  • Off-topic, but I really question that IBM's PC mis-steps had anything to do with the anti-trust case.

    If anything, the huge /2 screwup was the result of monopolistic actions, not the avoidance there of. They tried to extend their mainframe monopoly by introducing a mainframe-centric client OS (OS/2) that favored a proprietary hardware platform (PS/2). The plan failed mainly due to poor execution (and because the mainframes started to get their butts kicked by client-server Unix systems).

    But, you are essentially correct that Microsoft is "whistling dixie" internally when it comes to the anti-trust trial. If anything, they are consolidating divisions across product groups to make a breakup more difficult.
  • IBM didn't really lose their market lead until the PS/2 was introduced in 1986-7. They were making a ton of money selling open, clone-able PCs.

    As for why they didn't buy MS, I'd guess that it was mainly because Gates wouldn't sell. Don't forget that MS was giving them a sweetheart deal, and they were getting DOS essentially for free (in exchange for redistribution rights).

    I can't quite recall the details of IBM's antitrust case, but it was more complex than software/hardware bundling (IBM has always built their own OS for every system but the PC), and it was limited to the midrange S/38 and AS/400 lines. I believe it had something to do with leasing practices.

  • I'm not sure they care about the resources required. They have a lot of money that they throw at research and development. There are countless R&D projects you folks never hear about. A large portion of Microsoft's budget goes to these projects.

    Researching the prospects of porting MSOffice to Linux is a likely scenario. Whether they ship it or not, only time will tell. Who knows what the marketplace will look like next year?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Contrary to popular opinion, there are many cool people and talented programmers working at MICROS~1, so a skunkworks project to port Office doesn't sound like too much of a stretch. However, getting it past the MICROS~1 marketing droids and into a commercial release would be well nigh impossible. The question is really one of what's more important to Microsoft: making sure Office remains the office suite standard, or leveraging sales of the Windoze operating system.

    However, if the DoJ breaks up Micro$oft into separate application and OS companies, or if the DoJ forces them to open source the OS or distribute it for free, than MSOffice for Linux DOES make good economic sense. In other words, this product will never see the light of day without some government intervention.

  • I'll begin by saying I don't have an opinion on the validity of this rumor, or the likelyhood, or any of that.

    What I'm somewhat annoyed with is the tendancy of big applications of this sort to not use decent toolkits. WordPerfect 7, 8, Corel Office 2000, StarOffice, they all use toolkits that contribute a *lot* to how slow and bloated they are. MS would be no different. Hell, they'd probably go to the trouble of writing their own toolkit. After all, that's what Corel is effectively doing with their Office suite. Rather than port Corel Office to Unix platforms/toolkits, they're porting it to their own branch of Wine. The result that I saw in the first beta was an extremely unattractive program. But of course, this was just the first beta.
  • This gets a -1 as a 'troll'? That's ludicrous. It's bluntly put, but let's go over it point by point:
    • They are not to be trusted: this is hard to argue with. They win through playing business as a bloodsport and through using technical leverage where they can. I can't think of a single software business _less_ trustworthy.
    • They would intentionally break stuff: this is perhaps the most debatable point. I'd say it was even chances that they intentionally break things, versus just incompetence. However, the evidence that they intend to subvert existing net standards would seem to count as intentionally breaking stuff.
    • or use it to send information about my machine to them: this is another case where you need to accurately perceive their interests. They are less likely to send off bits of your global history to an MS server, and more likely to check for pirated programs. However, in saying this one has to take into account the known information: Word files are known to include decidedly unrelated information, such as extraneous filenames, lists of open files or lists of active connections. People opening Word files and grovelling through the data with a hex editor have discovered very startling things on the order of 'where'd it get _that_ information? That wasn't on an adjacent disk sector'. This _is_ known.
    • This is the outfit that brought obviously falsified video tapes to their trial: anyone wishing to argue this one might explain what purpose video editing served here, the outright changing of video evidence to flatly contradict what was claimed avout it. This is inexcusable, quite factual, and was an amazingly major gaffe on Microsoft's part.
    • They know no honest way of functioning: one might well ask why they would ever want to learn an honest way of functioning, as their essential dishonesty has earned them so much money. Crime pays if you don't get caught.
    • Running MS code under WINE is probably not going to be smart any longer either: in this case it's more like that was _never_ very smart. It's a losing game. It's normal behavior for MS to churn their APIs and change things around to screw up third parties. WINE is an energy hole: as it approaches near completion it will be trapped trying to keep up with undocumented changes, it can't possibly reach full compliance without the cooperation of Microsoft, which is not forthcoming.
    • I wouldn't put it past them to put in code to detect that situation and do ugliness: actually, they need never even be aware WINE exists. Their normal behavior is to put in code and shake things up a bit, or a lot. The fellow who writes The Hacker Diet had a lovely rant based on the fact that his relatively simple Excel spreadsheet for the diet required total revision for EVERY VERSION of Excel that ever came out- in other words, WINE or no WINE, they already do this, even to their own customers. Naturally this hurts WINE too. Rather than just trying to hit a moving target, WINE has to hit about 35 moving targets all moving in different directions.
    • They are very treacherous: yes.
    Troll, hell. Seems quite factual and well-adjusted to _me_. Does being reasonable and intelligent require that you _trust_ the obviously untrustworthy? That seems like taking fairmindedness to an absurd extreme- when you get right down to it, some unpleasant things are still true.
  • This is a ZDNet article, not a CNet article. CNet generally commands a lot more respect, at least here. Then again, to be technical it is a ZDNet UK article and their UK division is much less of a fud-factory, from what I hear (note: I'm not saying this article is or is not fud, just that ZDNet likes to publish fud). Anyway, I just thought the attribution needs to be corrected.
  • by skyfish ( 2889 )
    What if they did? Sure i would use it, iff i could get rid of all the crap that they would port with it, i.e. all the sudden we all need the micorsoft sound engine for linux to hear the paperclip talk, microsoft x windows to run office at all because ms is concerned about being able to integrate all of its applications, and of course as ive seen someone speculate before the a microsoft kernel with all kinds of extra ms goodies added in. This would be bad. im all for progress, but jesus christ. why are we all so anxious to get linux where everyone is using it? Say we get everything so everything runs nice and my grandmother can use bitchx, what then? Then everything gets boring and useless and we have to start all over again. Why arent we making it so WE can use it? Applications for linux should be designed with highly competent people who dont care about useless bells and whistles in mind. not morons. This is one step away from AOL being ported to linux, and does ANYONE want that? yes, i am an elitist, and yes this is offtopic. i dont believe in karma.
  • This might be their contingency planning in case Linux really takes off. Then they could still try to keep their 'Office' monopoly in spite of the fact.

    Maybe these rumors all true. 34 developers is probably very little for M$. To make an usable port of their Office, it would have to be better than their ports of IE to Solaris and HP/UX, as well as also consuming an large amount of resources.
  • Hell, they'd probably go to the trouble of writing their own toolkit.

    Only if MainWin [] (which is what was used for the IE 4 [] and IE 5 [] ports to various UNIXes) won't do the trick. (I.e., they may just let Mainsoft write the toolkit in question for them, given that Mainsoft have already done so....)

  • ...that Mainsoft is porting WinMain (or at least is rumored to) to linux (can anybody confirm/deny this?).

    Yes, MainWin for Linux [] "is now in limited beta release, with general customer availability scheduled for early first quarter of 2000." (The page in question even offers a MainWin-based port to Linux of one of the main productivity applications that comes with Windows [].)

  • With the radical redesign of OSX, it would make sense from a technical standpoint to make an OSX-specific port (probably with Carbon, since that would take the least effort). ... Anyway, writing an OSX port would involve doing a lot of UN*X-ish code.

    I thought the whole point of Carbon was that it was a modified version of the MacOS Classic API; would that not mean that an OS X port to Carbon would involve doing little UNIX-ish code, if any?

    This means that after the initial effort of doing an OSX version of Office, it would be a relatively small effort to do versions for other Unices, including Linux.

    Presumably you mean "to other Unices that support the Carbon APIs"; the only such UNIX I know if is, err, umm, MacOS X....

    If they didn't use Carbon, they'd presumably use Cocoa, in which case it might involve doing some more UNIX-ish code, but would also presumably involve doing a lot of Cocoa code that wouldn't Just Port to a UNIX/X system.

    What I'd like to see is a port of all the Win32 APIs and DirectX to Linux.

    Such as MainWin for Linux [] (although I see no sign that MainWin implements the DirectX APIs)?

  • (several apple employees are working on a
    linux desktop []

    The desktop on which they're working is called GNOME. Eazel aren't doing a new desktop, they're doing the Nautilus file manager for GNOME 2.0.

  • Actually I believe that they used one of the commercial Win32->UNIX porting products (either Bristol's Wind/U or Mainsoft's MainWin)

    They used MainWin for both IE4 [] and IE5 [].

    I believe that one or the other if not both of those now have Linux versions of those products

    Mainsoft have MainWin for Linux [] in "limited beta release".

  • I suspect that they are preparing as a commercial product a UNIX porting layer (similar to Wine) which will allow Office and other MS products to run.

    Mainsoft - the folks whose MainWin product was used for the IE4 [] and IE5 [] ports to UNIX - already have MainWin for Linux [] in "limited beta release". It implements an API that is "tightly controlled" by Microsoft, namely the, err, umm, Win32 API and various Microsoft APIs atop it.

  • That is pretty cynical - people around these parts do tend to want to correlate every move Microsoft makes as having something to do with the antitrust trial.

    See, people think they're conniving, backstabbing, predatory bastards. I agree, I just think that they're smarter than other people think. Most gigantic companies are like slobbering wolves, they'll do anything for a scrap of profit, no matter how demeaning or dangerous to themselves or others. What makes Microsoft so bad is that they're not like that. Companies that are stupid and go for profit regardless of long term consequences get squashed. By Microsoft. Microsoft is more of the patient wolf, still hungry for profit, still posessed only by the need for profit, (what are companies for, particularly publically traded ones) but they're smart enough to take short term hits in order to guarantee long term profit. They're smart enough to injure their opponent and then let them bleed to death rather than waste energy and possibly get injured themselves by ending the fight quickly.

    Microsoft's gleaming white teeth swoop in out of nowhere to clamp down on the unsuspecting jugulars of nubile companies. They rip, tear, eviscerate, and slash their way to the heart of the company's business, impaling the very soul and spirit of the hapless competitor upon the iron halberd of market dominance.

    What the hell am I talking about? I shouldn't post while under the influence of metaphors... :)
  • Agreed, when you look at it from the whole company's stand point, bad idea, if you look at it from the MS Office group / MS Application group however, it looks a lot more sensible...but don't worry, some one from higher up will beat that idea 6 feet into the ground :)

    Sgt Pepper
    Lame Sig Shamelessly Ripped from

    You're ugly and your mother dresses you funny.
  • I can sum up the impracticality of this in one sentence: The MS Office suite, it's OS, and most of it's applications are geared towards large corporations, the government, and other "Big Contracts". Until a few Fortune 500 companies go grumbling for Office under linux I can say with confidence MS does not have a team of anything (dogs, programmers, marketdroids, or other) working on a port of Office to linux. Not an option - it's a waste of resources.

    MS will do whatever those big corporations say they need. Keep this in mind, always. Corporations demanded a way to validate someone's knowledge of MS products - they created certifications. They needed an easy way to connect hundreds of offices - along came W2K and it's directory services along with Outlook 2000 and it's global directory access. Corporations needed reliable, robust, high performance servers. Whups - Sun got that one. But W2K aims to even up the score. See how it works?

    Believe me - there is no port.

  • GTK is GPL (not LGPL) right? So that means thay can't use that. I guess they could go Motif but most Linux users these days wouldn't fall for it. What they should use is Qt, probably, as it has a favorable license for them and is already installed on a decent base of computers.

    What was the Solaris IE port written in? Did they rewrite the entire GUI widget set?

    my 2 cents.
  • Today Microsoft announced its new brand of Office for Linux. "It is The Killer App" said Bill Gates on the gigantic worlwide multimedia announcement. "This time we will show the Linux community that we are not so Windows sided"

    Office 2001 is an highly complex system for all possible uses, home or office, on camping or in the Bermudas. It has minimum requirements Merced-dual 256Mb RAM 2Gb free space. To installit users are required to install the new Linux kernel "Full Embedding"(TM) from Microsoft. It carries all needed drivers in static form: IE7, ActiveX, JanitorS, Wizards, OLE/COM/DOM/SOM/BOM/POM/BANG, XML/HTML/DHTML/VRML/UML and CSS/VSS/XSS. It also contains special drivers, distributed as modules, for support of documents in Excel2000 and Excel97, Word2000, WordPerfect 5 and TXT. But the great innovation is the integration of Windows GUI inside the kernel. Prices are expected to run from $200 to $2000 (Professional Edition).

    Some people have questioned how Open Source is this product. According to Microsoft sources it will be distributed under a new EULA. According to it, source code will be distributed in steganographic form inside the user's manual, in form of spaces. This will allow Microsoft to avoid several patenting issues with the code. Anyone can take a look at it.
  • Folks,

    I personally think that porting over Microsoft Office to Linux is not such a good idea.

    There's a good reason for this: most of Office 2000's functionality is total ridiculous overkill for the vast majority of home computer users out there. Unless you have extremely formatted and specialized files and have to exchange them in HTML/XML format in an office LAN environment, most people won't use most of the functionality of Office 2000.

    A better choice would be for Microsoft to write a "from scratch" version of Microsoft Works 2000 designed specifically for the KDE interface. Having used MS Works 2000, it's actually a surprisingly good program for home users and has lots of very good features to simplify things like generating reports, formatting documents and the much-dreaded printing of envelopes and labels.

    I think Microsoft might actually enjoy success with a Linux version of Works 2000, since must users don't want a program that is overloaded to the tilt with every conceivable bell and whistle in terms of features.
  • Let's forget all the political rhetoric about Windows and Linux for a while.

    Let's remember that the ultimate responsibility of Microsoft is to INCREASE SHAREHOLDER VALUE.

    Lately, they haven't been doing so well: the stock is off 20ish% from a high of 119 late last December, and off 18% from a high of 109 earlier this month.

    We've all noticed that when companies mention "The L word" (as my former boss used to call it), stock value increases.

    Also remember that Office is the core of Microsoft's profit. They make their money from Office (and investments), not so much of it on Windows. Thus, making Office more available would be a good idea from a profitability standpoint.

    In other words:

    a) From a PR and shareholder standpoint, announcing Office for Linux would be a good idea;

    b) From a profitability standpoint, it would be a good idea.

    Thus, I think it's inevitable. It may also be that they can't stomach Sun's market share in StarOffice. :)

  • So they want to come into our turf and compete with open source office projects? OK *fine*, not only will it exponentially increase Linux's market share over Linux, nothing would do more to stimulate us to out-office them in every way.

    Come on in, Bill the water's fine :-) But do be careful, some of the fish swimming in here have lots of little, sharp teeth.
  • Most gigantic companies are like slobbering wolves, they'll do anything for a scrap of profit, no matter how demeaning or dangerous to themselves or others. What makes Microsoft so bad is that they're not like that.

    Actually, that's close to my point... they may be willing to take the hit of spending development effort on a Linux version of Office, and risk losing a few paying customers, just to get a foot in the door. After a while, let the Linux version of office lag a bit, have a few less features, and make it easy for someone to say "Gee, the Windows version is so much better..." Take a look at the evolution of Office on the Macintosh, and ask youself if MS would be willing to do something similar to Linux as part of an "embrace and extend" strategy.

  • You're looking too far ahead... by the time OS/2 came, it was too late for IBM...

    Why'd they license their OS from Microsoft rather than just buy microsoft? ever wonder that?

    Well, if they did that, then they would have been in the position of selling both hardware and the software of the IBM PC. That was EXACTLY why they were in anti-trust trouble in the first place, albiet in the mainframe market. IBM wanted none of that, and didn't really see what was happening when they decided to license their OS from Microsoft and use of the shelf parts rather than build a proprietary box.

    If IBM hadn't been in the midst of turmoil, they'ed have just bought Microsoft directly and ended the PC revolution as we now know it.
  • As for the Solaris/HP-UX IE, when it was released sometime ago, I remeber reading in a Microsoft site that they used Motif for it.

    Actually I believe that they used one of the commercial Win32->UNIX porting products (either Bristol's Wind/U or Mainsoft's MainWin) which happen to use Motif. I believe that one or the other if not both of those now have Linux versions of those products, so one would tend to think that Microsoft would be inclined to do the same thing if/when they ever port any of the application software to Linux.

    I personally don't believe they are in the process of porting MS-Office to Linux, but I'd believe they might be working on a port of IE. It makes me shudder a little to think about it (I've seen the latest version of IE for Solaris), but I could believe that they might be doing it.

  • I found out that it was MainWin that Microsoft used for their IE port to Solaris after I posted that. I actually suspected as much given that Bristol was sueing Microsoft around that time due to them having jacked the licensing fees to Bristol way up. I also checked on Bristol's site, and found they have a Linux version of Wind/U as well. So the answer is that both have Linux versions, although as you note that MainWin is in limited beta release. That being true, it would be perfect for a Micrsoft product. :-)

  • No, I wouldn't use IE on Linux even if it were available. Actually, I use Netscape instead of IE when I am forced to use Windows (only at work, I don't use it at home or for any of my freelance work). You are right that some of the main reasons I wouldn't support Microsoft's browser is that I think there needs to be real competition to keep Microsoft from hijacking the market.

    I'd like to see an Open Source browser that was as good or better than any of the commercial offerings, however, I still don't want to see only one choice, even if it was Open Source -- competition is still good. I've got no problem with commercial browsers like Netscape and Opera existing -- if people want them as options that is fine. I only dislike IE because I just don't like the way a few things in it work, and because I highly disapprove of the way that Microsoft conducts business. By the same tokem I don't begrudge the existance of commercial *nixes (I've got three SparcStations at home and mostly use Solaris at work) even though I mainly use Linux at home.

  • However, if it works very poorly compared to other offerings on Linux (ApplixWare, StarOffice, Word Perfect Suite, etc), then it will look more like MS doesn't know how to develop for other platforms than Linux isn't ready. Microsoft has to play a very careful game there. They have more to lose if they aren't careful than they could possibly gain by this one maneuver.

    Personally I don't believe that Microsoft is really working on a Linux version of MS-Office.

  • I don't understand what Microsoft would have to gain by porting Office to Linux.

    Live insurance ;-) - and a very cheap one.

    Really, you should pose the question the other way around:
    "What could Microsoft loose by not having Office on Linux available in time?"

    See, what was their revenue in the last six month: $11.5 billion.

    What would they loose if linux got 5% of the desktop market in a year and they couldn't deliver office for linux: approx. 5% of their revenue of selling office

    What does that mean in numbers (I can only guess here and I estimate 1/5 of their revenue comes from office): $1.15 billion

    OTOH, what do 40 developers cost a year: let's say 40x200,000$ = 8,000,000$.

    So IMO they would be plain silly not to be able to quickly deliver office for their strongest rival OS when needed.

  • by JohnZed ( 20191 )
    I just lost so much respect for LinuxCare. It is absolutely irresponsible for a top level executive to go around spreading completely unsubstantiated rumors. This, and their "call to Microsoft to open the Windows source code," as if anyone cared what LinuxCare thought. It's not even a decent stupid publicity press release, it just makes them look like a bunch of amateurs!
    LinuxCare: I know you guys have a tremendous amount of Linux talent and a lot of understanding of the community in general. Please, please start acting like grown-ups so you can get the respect you deserve!
  • Has anyone actually looked at the numbers? Microsoft makes a boatload of money on the MSOffice product-- and a significant portion of that money comes from sales *on the macintosh platform*.

    If Linux really does represent a significant desktop market-- and it is clear that if that hasn't already happened, it will inevitably happen-- then Microsoft is going to port office to the platform *because it is going to generate a boatload of revenue*.

    Sure a lot of folks are going to make all kinds of noise about it not being OpenSource. So what? Is that really going to matter to people who are actually going to PAY for the software?

    If Microsoft does go this route, I [and likely CodeFab] will quite likely BUY copies of Office for Linux? Why? Because we use it.

    Why do we use these packages from the *evil empire*? Because--very much unlike their operating systems-- *they work*.

    Deal. Linux is going Big Business. Success will do that to any grassroots product.
  • The article claims that one of the problems with Linux is the lack of an easy to use office suite. Well, there's Corel Office on the way, of which Word Perfect exists on shelves today. But, beta-released vapor is not the end of it. There's Star Office, Applix (does anyone remember when it was Asterix?) and whatever the AbiFolks are doing (haven't checked in quite some time). This, not to mention the GNOME effort (of which gnumeric is the only currently functional product that I know), KOffice (never used any of it) and a few misc. contenders.

    So, perhaps the real problem is just that there are too many to choose from and choice confuses people who are used to windows....
  • If you read the "findings of fact" in the DOJ/Microsoft case, you'll see that one of Microsoft's key concerns is to prevent cross-platform APIs that would allow other OSes to be used on an equal footing with Windows, and allow easy migration. While Office isn't an API as such, it would certainly allow some projects to be done entirely on Linux that currently are deemed to require Windows.

    And of course it would add to the credibility of Linux amongst those who currently take the view that "no-one got fired for buying Microsoft".

  • Office is much more of a profit center for Microsoft then its operating systems. A Linux port would give them a new market to cash in on for their business applications.

    Remember, Microsoft Office is (IIRC) the leading office suite on the Macintosh, and Microsoft doesn't control that OS (yet(grin)).

    Don't even think that Microsoft is considering making it Free (as in Beer or Speach).

  • These motives would seem sensible if Microsoft were openly discussing the idea of Office for Linux, but they're not. Instead, we're getting rumors. You don't go out and create vaporware, talk up a competitor, or gauge public reaction by quietly hiring a group of developers to work on a product.

    As my conspiracy theory has it (and that's all I think it is), M$ didn't hire any group of developers. They're just spreading a rumor that they did; this has the advantage that it costs nothing.

    But like I said, this is all purely speculative, based on no evidence at all (although I don't see any evidence to refute it, either). Frankly, I myself don't really believe anything about Office for Linux either way, until there is better evidence than rumors.

  • ... yeah, well could be they're getting a jump on Judge Jackson -- Office for Linux could be the first product of Microsoft's Applications Corp -- OR they are setting up to win the next appeal by saying "Look what we do! We offer our apps software for all platforms!"

    "C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot; C++ makes it harder, but when you do it blows your whole leg off."
  • BetaNews is reporting that Microsoft reps are refuting this news as rumor. Check out the story here [].
  • I don't think MS will be selling or distributing a Linux version of Office, but they might do a developmental version concurrently with the version of Office for OSX. Their even might be a bit of portable code in the Mac version. On the bright side, though, Mac Office isn't nearly as integrated with the OS as Windows Office is. Hopefully the Linux version will not be either.

    This isn't to say I'm going to buy the product by any means. I work at a MS OEM and I can get anything they sell for free, so I might take it home when it comes out and play with it just long enough to get sick of it. Then I'll format the partition I installed it in and go back to Pico.

  • #include Halloween.doc

    Are we forgetting history here?

    Microsoft has everything to gain and little to lose by creating a version of one of their applications which will run under Linux:
    - contingency against a federally mandated breakup,
    - appearance that they are not an "Only on Windows" company,
    - pre-announce to keep potential competition out of the market,

    However, such a product will never ship while the applications people and the OS people work for the same shareholders.

    They may drop hints about it in the trade press.
    They may announce it, even officially.
    They may hire people for the project.
    They may produce an executable.
    They may demo it at trade shows.
    They may give out beta copies to influential people.
    They may even schedule a release date.

    but it will never ship.
  • Okay, how about this for a (not entirely thought-out) strategy for MS to take over Linux.

    1) Microsoft releases a modified version of the Linux kernel where each system call requires an extra, useless, added parameter. (Let's call this MSLinux) Something like a copyright string so the OS knows who owns the copyright on the application making the system call.
    - reduces performance of MSLinux vs Linux.
    - breaks anything currently compiled for Linux.

    2) These changes are made available to anyone who wants them, as required under GPL. Of course, nobody wants them. They patent the innovation, anyway.

    3) Microsoft re-compiles all of their major Microsoft applications to do the MSLinux dance.


    - You can have Linux , or you can have MSLinux. If you want Microsoft apps, though, you have to use MSLinux.
    - If you want your application to do the MSLinux dance, you'll have to license the technology from Microsoft.
    - " announces the availability of the new MSLinux Kernel release: 2.5.27 As with previous releases, there are major kernel interface changes, and you'll probably have to re-write your applications again if you want them to run under this new release..."

    Of course, slashdotters will just ignore MSLinux, but can you really ignore an 800 pound gorilla? And when your boss says "Sure you can have Linux, just as long as you can still run MS Office", which Linux are you going to choose?
  • I'm sitting here trying to think this out logically. Why would microsoft do this? This would do several things that I can think of:

    Gives linux even more mainstream exposure;

    Gives linux credability (at least from those who don't know any better, think of your non-techie boss, etc);

    Helps linux in an area where it has been arguably hurting;

    Gives businesses another reason to switch to the cheaper and more stable linux: Almost no time re-training office workers who have been working with ms office for years.

    Anyone have any idea WHY microsoft would want to do this? I shouldn't even be replying to rumor stories, I guess I'm just bored at work...
  • Could Sun's plans for Star Portal and Corel's Office Suite for linux have been enough to convince MS to enter this market?

    It certainly does seem unlikely, but you never know. I've read most of the messages in this thread and thought about it for the last hour and really can't some up with any real solid reasons for them to do this.

    I'm not even sure that I'll use it if it does get ported. I may be the only person in the world who doesn't use all of the applications in my office suite every day.

    And most of the time I only need a word processor to type a simple letter or resume'.

  • They may just be hedging their bets. If Linux were (heaven forbid) to really take off, they would have MS Office for Linux ready.
  • They probably figure that there will always be people who are going to use Linux, no matter what they do. This leads them to thinking... "well, if we can't get them to buy Windows, maybe we can get them to buy Office!"

    -- Dr. Eldarion --
  • I won't buy into point 1, but will strongly
    support 2 and 3. As a 6 year old ISP we've
    seen microsoft break standards time and time
    again. Either they are totally incompetant
    or it is intentional.

    Maybe I'm just a cyncial bastard, but sooner or
    later they will release Word for linux. It will
    be, like the Mac versions of their software, a
    poor cousin. To get the real features, give up
    and get Windows: how many people run Mac's now?

    And don't forget, it will run SUID root. No more
    laughing at melissa and word viruses. I can't
    think of a better way to slam linux than to
    release a crippled version of word.
  • Anyone have any idea WHY microsoft would want to do this? I shouldn't even be replying to rumor stories, I guess I'm just bored at work...

    Two words: Contingency Planning. Microsoft may be fighting tooth and nail to avoid being broken up by DOJ, but any reasonably intelligent person has to consider it as a possibility. If the company does get broken up, the new applications company will no longer have their old motivation not to make applications for non Windows OSes that are "too good". They'll also still have DOJ looking over their shoulder to make sure that they aren't colluding under the table. An early release of Office for Linux would certainly help both profitability and proving their good faith.

    The Microsoft Board of Directors would be derelict in their duties to their stockholders if they weren't making plans in case of a breakup. Nobody should be at all surprised if they hear reliable indications that MS applications people are looking at other OSes and OS people are looking at better supporting outside applications. It's just sound business practice to plan for an unpleasant possibility.

  • Why do such a thing? Well ...
    • Maybe some people will hesitate to start using a product like StarOffice, because they'll think it might be worth it to wait for Office/Linux. Indeed, this posture might end making them hesitate to use Linux at all. It would hurt Sun, too.
    • Maybe they're trying to butter up Linux' reputation as a formidable competitor, to influence the courts' decisions in the anti-trust suit.
    • Maybe they want to gauge public reaction to such a project. If it's positive, then they might really will give it a whirl.

    These motives would seem sensible if Microsoft were openly discussing the idea of Office for Linux, but they're not. Instead, we're getting rumors. You don't go out and create vaporware, talk up a competitor, or gauge public reaction by quietly hiring a group of developers to work on a product. If you're going to do one of those things, you get the formidable Microsoft PR organization to talk about your upcoming Office for Linux port, or at least leak corporate memos about looking into applications for Linux. When they were talking about Media Player for Linux, they actually had a Microsoft manager get up and say that they were looking into it. This smells more like a feasibility study, possibly even a pilot project to see how easy it is to port existing applications to Open Source Operating Systems.

  • How about this... Step 1. Release Office Linux. Give it the functionality of Office 98. Step 2. Upgrade it to Office 2000 functionality. To do this, you have to add a few key extensions. Step 3. Lock down the shell. Ok, we'll use MS's linux shell. Step 4. They've go ttheir hooks in Linux, and can now develop for it and affect the community while they finish up their consumer OS project. Step 5. abandon Linux totally for the next version of WinNT? Drag the customers along with? Who knows what MS is up to? Doesn't matter to me, I already use NT. I don't care what some MS marketing geek, some Open Source zealot, or some twerpy l33t script kiddie tells me - I'll use what works for me. But this is right up their alley...
  • It needs to be every bit as functional and easy to use as Office to the point of feature bloat (via plugins) that people expect in a modern office suite. It needs to be very efficiently coded. It needs to support the MS Office file formats almost perfectly for BACKWARDS compatibility. It needs to create a NEW ,open, flexible, industry standard document format (or wait.. why aren't we just using HTML and tarballing the attachments?!?)

    A closed source, free-as-in-beer Office suite WILL NOT WORK either. I believe that StarOffice has proven that free, closed source software has quite a few limitations. This office suite I describe must be under a GPL license.

    If the open source community can rally together enough resources to create a perfect replacement for MS Office (and perhaps a truly Open Source browser as well - I am a tad leary of Mozilla), we can completely eliminate Microsoft once and for all and finally get back to efficient technological progress in this industry.

    In the places using Microsoft products where I've worked as a assistant net admin., MOST of the desktops only had Windows and Office installed. If these can be provided for free, what business in the right mind would actually buy Microsoft products? Currently, there is an incentive to go with Microsoft Windows / Office because there are no office suites for Linux of comparable quality and stability. But how much effort would it REALLY take to change that?

    At this point, I see KOffice as the closest to what I am describing, except that: 1.) It's development is progressing too slowly 2.) It is nowhere near feature rich enough to replace Office 3.) It is tied to the KDE / Qt libraries, thus wasting memory if you do not prefer to use the KDE environment 4.) It relies upon non-standard native file formats rather than some sort of industry wide accepted standard. 5.) It does not support MS Office formats (which will be necessary as people make the transition to Linux and convert their 'old' documents).

    I urge all open source developers to stand back and take a look at the whole scene. I truly believe that the future of Linux will depend solely on if the community can eliminate proprietary standards and file formats. Look at the DVD scandel and see how that applies to all software.
  • Which would be easier? Who knows. Which will they do: Port their virtual win32 environment.

    Otherwise, they'd have to help fix WINE. The day that MS helps fix WINE is the day I buy the ice skating rink concession at the innermost circle of Hell.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • Maybe it'll have to be run suid root so it can destabilize... I mean interact with the OS more fully.


  • There are basically three ways to look at a port of Office for Linux: Technical, Financial, and Political.

    First, Technical. MS has for quite some time ported it's more popular end user applications, like Office, Works, and IE, to MacOS. With the radical redesign of OSX, it would make sense from a technical standpoint to make an OSX-specific port (probably with Carbon, since that would take the least effort). Mac users would be tempted to try alternatives like Appleworks if MS didn't have an office product that didn't use the OS9 emulation mode (I'm not sure if the aqua widgets are used in emulation, anyone know?). Anyway, writing an OSX port would involve doing a lot of UN*X-ish code. This means that after the initial effort of doing an OSX version of Office, it would be a relatively small effort to do versions for other Unices, including Linux.

    Next, the financial standpoint. Would it be profitable to do a Linux port? Well, Linux is growing far faster than any other OS on the planet, and already has over 10 million users. Of course, MS knows there are plenty of users out there, but are they potential office customers? Considering the animosity that many Linux users, myself included, have towards the empire, it may be difficult to get people to make the switch from StarOffice, Applixware, or whatever else they're using.

    Which brings me to the final veiw, political. I know I'm not alone in saying that I believe wholeheartedly in Open Source. I also believe that partial source licenses, like the "Community Source" license Sun uses, aren't enough, but they're better than nothing. Even so, I will be using StarOffice until the KDE or GNOME office suites become more mature. The political landscape looks like this now: Linux has 2 "free beer" office suites with partially open-source. They are both extremely full-featured and usable, possibly even more so than MS Office. There's one more closed source office on the way (Corel), and 2 GPL'ed ones in the pipe. Functionally, StarOffice and Applixware can both hold their own against Office, and politics shift the balance in favor of former.

    In my opinion, the Linux community does not want or need office. What I'd like to see is a port of all the Win32 APIs and DirectX to Linux. This would signal the start of a massive reverse engineering project that would end with WINE outperforming windows on all it's own apps (but don't tell MS ;)).
  • The benefits to MS are just to obvious. Remember their resources in terms of programmers are _immense_ - they hire thousands of temp workers, chew them up in a couple years and spit them out. According to people I know at MS the number of projects that never see daylight are obscene.

    So whats the benefit? Profit? Maybe. Making sure that they have a port in case they need it? Possibly. Providing for a check on Linux? Certainly.

    If MS were to release a 1.0 port of MS Office for Linux it would instantly destroy much of Corel's projected Linux income, freeze many other development projects and basically monkeywrench the entire nascent office app industry for free software. But I would be _very_ suprised if they stopped there.

    I suspect that they are preparing as a commercial product a UNIX porting layer (similar to Wine) which will allow Office and other MS products to run. The API will be tightly controlled. In conjunction with such a product they could/might produce an MS branded Linux distro which would be available for free. These products would be initially all free (as almost all MS version 1.0 products are) and promoted and distributed to business and consumers and basically called the way to experiment with Linux and still get MS software.

    If the market took off MS would then control the API, have a product (MS Linux Enhancements) that most people would purchase on top of their favorite distro so that they could still run MS apps. They would have done just what Apple has done - move to an open source kernel and supporting utilities while controlling the top layer, API and applications.

    There are any number of holes in this theory - but it makes a lot of sense in light of MS's past history, their aquisitions and their enormous research budget.
  • I've got an old version of Word that was ported to UNIX (in my case, an ATT7300) from back in the late '80s. Now I feel old. I also attended a microsoft product showoff where they gave a presentation on the upcoming generality of the ms platform. They knew that windows wouldn't fill every niche and it was something of a trend then, ala DW370 that would run on an IBM mainframe or a PC seamlessly (if you could figure out all of the key mappings and didn't mind that it was almost impossible to transfer files between the two systems). P.S. Word wasn't usable, but then again, not much was on the UNIX PC.
  • by Chris Johnson ( 580 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @03:34PM (#1248141) Homepage Journal

    Read this: Fear And Trembling In Silicon Valley []

    Do you still want Microsoft and their Office to CONTROL EVERY COMPUTER PLATFORM IN EXISTENCE??

    There's evidence to suggest that they control the Mac. How can anybody want them to get equivalent leverage (and ability to decree the killing of competing technology) on Linux? For God's sake, Linux is about the only place left that they don't get to say, "Kill that. We don't like it. Or we'll kill Office for your platform/withhold Windows/lock you out of the market/etc". And people want to hand them that power?

  • by moonboy ( 2512 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @08:15PM (#1248142) Homepage
    I was just reading this arti cle [] over at O' []
    ESR says that he has "inside information" from MS about a port of MS Office to Linux. Hmmmmm.... the plot thickens.
    Here's the quote: "Raymond: That is not something I feel like I have a good answer to. I am fairly sure that there is already, however, a Linux-portable Office. I have some intelligence from inside Microsoft that strongly suggests that, and it also makes sense for that to exist already if the people at Microsoft are smart enough to see that there's a wreck coming in their operating systems business -- and I think they are that smart." []
  • by caolan ( 2716 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:06PM (#1248143) Homepage
    Abiword [] has spiffy word import capacity due to the wv [] library.

    The wv library has working word import capacity right now

    The basics of import are completed, i.e. word 95 and word 97 and word 2000 fastsave and fullsave support. Fastsave has always been the bugbear of word importation import, wv is on one level complete. It only requires some minor modifications here and there to complete its work, as abiword gains more features to equal word, then wv can be used to map the word features to the abi ones.

    Koffice could also use wv for its word import, I wrote it as a library which should be reasonable easy to use from inside any word processor, the code to use it from inside abiword is pretty straightforward. I'd reccommend a look at it, wv has wvHtml as a standalone app to convert word docs to stylesheet enabled html which (if netscape wasn't so crap as using the data) would give almost identical html layout to the original doc layout

    Its not perfect, but its as good in many aspects (or even better in some) as the commercial offerings


  • by mfterman ( 2719 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @01:33PM (#1248144)
    Microsoft is a big corporation and they can afford to blow money working on projects that are more contingency plans that won't see the light of day. Office for Linux is merely an option, and managers are quite possibly seeing how difficult it is to do the port and how well it runs. Not to mention that it might be DOJ fodder.

    Microsoft won't do an Office for Linux port until they are seeing steady erosion of the desktop market for Linux. I think Microsoft porting their server software to Linux is a far more likely scenario right now. If Windows 2000 continues to show lackluster performance, that possibility will keep going up. Especially if Linux somehow takes a higher percentage of the server market than Windows, and that could well be within a couple of years.

    Of course that would effectively shoot themselves out of the server market, so they're not going to do that until they're ready to surrender. But that is a distinct possibility. Every generation of NT took more and more money to develop and forcing more and more gruesome licensing schemes to compensate and companies are starting to get into this idea of Linux in their servers. Even the popular press says that Linux is great as a server solution, even magazines that get lots of Microsoft funding.

    Something to remember is that Microsoft has killed a lot of projects in the past. Bob is the most infamous example but there are other Microsoft projects that also have died. If a piece of software doesn't justify the investment, it dies. If Windows 200X projected sales doesn't make up for the investment in resources, then they'll look for a way to cut their losses. Customers who leave Windows 2000 for Linux are not likely to come back for Windows 200X and the licensing schemes that will be needed to make a profit off of that.

    A more sane approach for Microsoft in that scenario is to conceed the server market and port their server software to it, their Active Directory solution et al. Lets Microsoft hop on the Linux bandwagon and take advantage of all the hype. They might try to take over the Linux standard, but I don't think they're going to manage it. There are too many other Linux vendors and if Microsoft comes up with their own standard, everyone will go off and make up their own. Remember MCA versus EISA?

    Microsoft will hang onto the client side a lot longer. When that area starts eroding seriously, once again when it is no longer profitable for them to keep producing a new version of Windows, they'll hop on the Linux bandwagon for the desktop and produce a Office for Linux as well as porting all their other desktop application software. But that's four to five years away.

    Around that time they'll start producing their own version of WINE for Linux with their claims of full Win32 comptability and make revenues off of legacy applications.

    That assumes Microsoft as a single company. If applications and operating systems are broken up, all bets are off. That could be a very likely reason there's a project to do the port now. No one knows how its going to end up and the applications people don't want to be caught with their pants down when they are forced to compete on their own.

    But that is just worst case planning here. I think we'll see Microsoft SAMBA long before we see Office for Linux.
  • by SgtPepper ( 5548 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:05AM (#1248145)
    It's a pretty well known fact that /most/ of MS's income is from their applications, specfically office, making them only compatible with windows helps keep a monoply status and hence more money...but...and this is a big BUT....someone at MicroSoft sees that Linux is a big up and comer, then perhaps porting to Linux would make good finacial sense, as Linux gains more speed, people would want to use what they're familar could actually be a /smart/ life-saving move for Microsoft...but you think anyone there is that far thinking? we're hear rumours that the port will be GPL'd :)

    Sgt Pepper
    Lame Sig Shamelessly Ripped from

    If a man is not a liberal at 25, he has no heart.
    If he's not a conservative by 45, he has no brain.
  • by um... Lucas ( 13147 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:54AM (#1248146) Journal
    P eople always seem to think that since Office is available for the Mac, that means it will arrive for Linux. But most companies are standardized on x86 hardware, so they're not going to jump ship to the Mac platform because of Office. However, if office existed for Linux (and not Star Office... No matter what everyone thinks, it's not the same as having the real thing in the minds of many many people. I'm actually one of them) many IS or IT types would be VERY tempted to switch their desktops to Linux...

    Office is the "killer app" that windows has and Linux isn't getting any time soon. Regardless as to how anyone tries to justify it, it just isn't worth it for microsoft to allow Office to arrive for Linux. Companies are standardized on Office. If office is only available for Windows, then they're standardized on Windows as well.

    Microsoft has stated that their strategy is to make Windows the most compelling platform available... They have no vested intereste in Linux succeeding.

    Remember IE? How no company's would use it because it'd lock them into windows? So Microsoft released IE4 for HP/UX, Solaris, and maybe another Unix... Company's then moved to IE... now where's IE4.5 let alone version 5 for any of those platforms
  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:07AM (#1248147) Homepage Journal
    Why did the monkey fall out of the tree?

    Because it was dead.

    Why would MS port Office to Linux?

    To make money. Just like the Mac port. For a while they were supposedly making more money on every Mac sold than on every PC sold.

    Also, strategically, the Mac port never did anything to affect their OS dominance, and I don't think they really think Linux will be any more successful on the desktop (where office suites matter) than the Mac. Heck, there's every reason to think Linux is going to be less significant on the desktop than the Mac, which is much more mature and elegant from a typical office and home user standpoint. (Of course they may well be wrong -- free beer in cheap paper cups is hard to resist).

    Finally, they can complete the humiliation of their rivals who see Linux as a safe haven from office suite competition.

  • by / ( 33804 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @12:13PM (#1248148)
    WINE's liscense [] is BSDish, meaning that the source doesn't have to accompany the binaries. So no, Microsoft would not have to release its modifications. And anyway, there's really no reason why they'd have to, since they wouldn't be releasing a modified copy of WINE -- they'd be releasing the binary version of Office that they compiled against a modified copy of WINE that they kept entirely in-house. Remember: Wine isn't just a compatibility layer that will let you run existing win32 binaries -- it's an actual port of the win32 api, meaning that if you have the source to the win32 program (as MS does with Office), then you can compile it against wine and release a truly native Linux program.

    As for all these "MS is porting Office to Linux" rumors, it's all old news, since slashdot reported [] on it 21 minutes from now, right? :)
  • by imac.usr ( 58845 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @12:26PM (#1248149) Homepage
    MS has committed to releasing Office for Mac OS X. I believe the initial versions are merely Carbonized, but in the future, assuming OS X survives, MS will have to replace it with a Cocoa-native port. That means Unix, and once that happens, how hard is it to make a Linux/BSD port?

  • by Anomalous Canard ( 137695 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @12:16PM (#1248150)
    Get it here [] and cry.

    Anomalous: inconsistent with or deviating from what is usual, normal, or expected
  • by pestie ( 141370 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @10:58AM (#1248151) Homepage
    I don't understand what Microsoft would have to gain by porting Office to Linux. Seems to me they'd just be undermining themselves. Can anyone shed any light on this?
  • by bachma ( 150536 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:53AM (#1248152)
    Doesn't make any sense. Why start with MS Office? If they were interested in porting anything to Linux, they would have started with IE or Media Player, and we haven't seen that. On the other hand, I kinda agree with a couple of the other posts re: if MS Orifice sucks on Linux then users will return to Windoze (at least the dumb ones).
  • by Samrobb ( 12731 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @10:59AM (#1248153) Homepage Journal
    But I have to wonder; if this happens to be a rumor with a grain of truth behind it, perhaps it's an attempt by Microsoft to show that while the OS group may have misbehaved themselves, the MS Office division is committed to cross-platform support, and gee Ms. Reno, don't let a few bad appl... er, vultures in marketing and sales ruin our Technological Innovation (tm).
  • by SoftwareJanitor ( 15983 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @01:59PM (#1248154)
    Microsoft has done more recent ports of IE to Solaris than that. The newer versions are still very bloated and slow. You are basically right that they basically re-implemented the entire Windows API under Solaris, what they specifically did is use Mainsoft's MainWin product which is a Win32->UNIX porting layer, which basically re-implements all of the Windows stuff under UNIX and is actually based largely on Microsoft's code (under license).

    Porting MS-Office wouldn't be that much larger a challenge than IE, given that they have done ports of both to MacOS. I'd guess they would just use MainWin again. However, I don't believe they will do it, for political reasons. I wouldn't be surprised to see them do a port of IE to Linux, especially since I believe that Mainsoft has ported MainWin to Linux.

  • by PeteMurphy ( 138372 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:05AM (#1248155)
    I think it is is inevitable that Microsoft are working on a port of Office for Linux... however, I think that this is something they will hold back from releasing so as not to assist Linux for the desktop. If Linux does increase significantly on desktop machines they will have to evaluate which is the worst threat to them: the threat to Windows or the threat to Office. When they gauge the time to be right and decide that ignoring Linux is working they will deliver Office in minimal time.
    Alternatively, if Linux doesn't make headway on desktop machines the Linux port of Office will be binned.
    Microsoft aren't stupid and I can imagine that there are a lot of people inside the company preparing battle plans to combat further Linux encroachment on what they regard as their territory.
    What I *really* wonder about is if they are thinking about creating a Linux distro of their own, or indeed a Windows desktop for Linux with Windows GUI and APIs.
  • by Robin Hood ( 1507 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:24AM (#1248156) Homepage
    Press Release: Microsoft releases Linux version of Office

    For Immediate Release

    Today, Microsoft (MSFT) announced the release of MS Office 2007 for the popular Linux operating system.

    "Linux has proven to be a very stable operating system, much more so than Windows NT," said Albert Hobrach, Microsoft representative. "We we able to reduce our development time by about 75% because we weren't constantly having to work around bugs in the OS. Expect to see more Microsoft products for Linux in the near future."

    When asked to comment, Linus Torvalds said, "Microsoft? Who's that?" He then went back to working on Transmeta's latest secret project, code-named Friday. It is rumored to be an add-on to the Crusoe chip, but nobody knows any more. Torvalds would not comment on the Friday project.

    Since the spectacular failure of Windows 2000, when computers world-wide exploded due to a programming mistake that later came to be known as the "W2K bug", Microsoft has been struggling to reestablish itself as a major player in the computer market. This announcement is projected to increase Microsoft sales of software by 100%. When asked to comment on this figure, programmer Andrew Welch said, "Twice nothin' is nothin'!"

    In related news, farmers are concerned by increasing reports of winged pigs terrorizing the countryside. "Ya know how sometimes ya'll look up and a bird'll shit right in yer eye?", said agricultural worker Matthew Jones. "Well, ya don't want ta see what a pig'll do to ya. At least we should be grateful the cows ain't flyin' yet." Also, temperatures have been dropping rapidly in the infernal regions, and a major blizzard is expected sometime tonight. When asked to comment, Satan said only, "What the hell?" Reporter Dante Alighieri is on the scene.

    Disclaimer: This is a work of parody for humorous purposes. Any resemblance to actual people or companies is entirely intentional.
    The real meaning of the GNU GPL:

  • by roystgnr ( 4015 ) <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:35AM (#1248157) Homepage
    Think about it - if they were going to port Microsoft applications to Linux, why wouldn't they start with Internet Explorer, which already has a Solaris port, and just type "make"? Sure, porting from Solaris to Linux could be more difficult than that, but not much, and the biggest difficulty would be the different endian architectures, something they'd have already figured out with the Windows -> Solaris/Sparc port.

    Or for that matter, why not port Windows Media Player? They could reuse code from the Linux port of NetShow that got killed a while back.

    Hell, while we're on the subject of Unix ports, why did they port IE to Solaris/Sparc and not Solaris/x86?

    Simple. Microsoft isn't in business to let it's application development teams build up more competition for it's OS development teams. Solaris/Sparc runs on obscure hardware that NT can't? Fine, give them an IE port and hope that the accelerated death of Netscape will outweigh the few lost sales of NT/x86 workstations. But practically every copy of Solaris/x86 (and Linux) in use means one more Intel system that won't see NT installed, and so no ports for them.

    It would be a retarded decision for Microsoft as a whole to spend resources on a project whose net outcome is to make their most dangerous competitor much more viable in a much wider market. In 4 years, when KOffice (and maybe Corel Office, if it ever ships) is kicking ass, then maybe Microsoft will port Office to try and keep marketshare. Even then I doubt it.
  • by Harmast ( 6975 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:21AM (#1248158) Homepage
    I don't know if MS is planning to release, or even has in long term development, Office for Linux, but someone in Applications isn't doing their job if an outline and fesability study isn't already done.

    Why? Because Office is MS bread and butter in more ways than one. First, it is their principle revenue stream right now and probably will be for quite some time. Also, even though control of the Windows API is how Office became dominant and there is still a symbotic relationship between them, I think it is reasonable to believe Office Upgrades drive Windows upgrades more than vice versa. Hell, I'd argue that Windows upgrades are driven more by Office upgrades than any other factor (with other applications coming in second).

    So, MS has two monopolies: OS and Office Suites. The OS monopoly is under attack from multiple directions: Server OSs, the Government, thin clients, computing appliances, freeware OSs. Also, the OS one is much less visible to the majority of end users (tell a secretary in your office she has a choice: move to a new OS, but keep her office suite or move to a new OS, but keep her office suite...see which she chooses). Right now, you aren't loosing yet on Office Suites, but a couple of the groups pinging you on OSs are gearing up for it. They are planning to using this OS diversity against you.

    Even MS has limited resources. If moving a small amount of resources from the OS battle can protect you in the office suite battle without noticabily changing the odds in the OS battle, what do you do? You port Office to Linux to keep StarOffice and Corel Office from hitting you on the flank and maintain the stronger standard (Office file formats) that you have.

    Hell, even if Windows looses this round of the OS battles to Linux or Mac or Be, this is a good plan. Office will last longer than Windows in that scenario, but provide an in for a Windows counter attack.

    Just my $0.02

  • by killbill ( 10058 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @11:23AM (#1248159) Homepage
    I can think of three possible reasons, all cynical (my apologies). These are all oversimplifications, and are just ideas (with some obvious holes), but there may be a grain of truth here somewhere...

    1) The Clinton/Gore whitehouse has been using this type of technique with great success. When you are caught red handed doing something bad, hide and fight for as long as possible, but just about the time your enemies are about to pin you down and hammer you for it, you completely flop your behavior and make a big public scene about it. You steal your enemies victory and make them look silly. A pre-announcement or pre-release of Office for Linux would make a ruling by Judge Jackson forcing Microsoft to release Office for Linux at best a non-event, and could set the stage nicely to villify the Justice department for harrassing such a "noble and generous company". Microsoft lackeys can then start trolling the media talking about a 3 year 30 million dollar investigation that is accomplishing nothing...

    2) As long as they fail to include support for exchange (microsoft outlook) integration, then Joe Corporate User will STILL need a microsoft OS on their desktop. They lower the heat on themselves, and don't give up a thing (as the business user is their bread and butter). Microsoft has done an outstanding job of using email extensions to cement their positing with the corporate IS departments, and is doing the same thing with Active Server Pages. Having Office for Linux won't do squat for you if when you view a web page a Microsoft proprietary format DLL has to be merged into your operating system to use the page.

    3) If they release a 90% working version of Office for Linux, it will continue to control the market, but will always make Linux a sorry second to Microsoft, as you would need a Microsoft OS to use (insert key feature here), and Linux support for that feature will somehow never appear. Again, the corporate user is locked into a Microsoft OS. This will "scratch the itch" of consumer demand just enough to keep Corel or others from developing real Office competitors, but never really bring a the same level of functionality to Linux that the competing Microsoft OS would offer.

    Just some thoughts...
  • by Get Behind the Mule ( 61986 ) on Thursday February 24, 2000 @02:05PM (#1248160)
    Lots of interesting theories around here, so I'll just toss another one out: It could be that M$ isn't doing a damn thing about Office for Linux, but they're spreading rumors (allowing "leaks" to reach the press) that they are.

    Why do such a thing? Well ...
    • Maybe some people will hesitate to start using a product like StarOffice, because they'll think it might be worth it to wait for Office/Linux. Indeed, this posture might end making them hesitate to use Linux at all. It would hurt Sun, too.
    • Maybe they're trying to butter up Linux' reputation as a formidable competitor, to influence the courts' decisions in the anti-trust suit.
    • Maybe they want to gauge public reaction to such a project. If it's positive, then they might really will give it a whirl.

    But you know, everything in this whole thread has the whiff of conspiracy theories. Maybe space aliens have disguised themselves as M$ employees leaking bogus rumors, because, well uh, who the hell knows why those space aliens do what they do? Maybe the Microsofties have been the space aliens all along! We need David Duchovney to find out.

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.