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Microsoft On Linux: Forecast Or Fantasy? 332

FarHat wrote to us about an article currently running on CNN regarding the long-term prospects of Microsoft and Linux. One of the launch points is the persistent rumors of Microsoft porting Office to Linux, as well as Neal Stephenson's In the Beginning was the Command Line. Fun read, overall.
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Microsoft On Linux: Forecast Or Fantasy?

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  • I guess maybe Microsoft is starting to learn that if they are going to continue to be succesful then they'd better start making ways for people who don't use Windows or Macintosh to use their other products.

  • Why not? They already have plenty of stuff for macs so why not Linux? of course most of the people that use linux despise M$ so I doubt that it would sell very well, but you never know.
  • It's nice as a student because I like linux for programming etc, but am make presentations / excel type stuff in Office - It's just easier to integrate with what professors etc. use.. Also, besides using html, powerpoint is available in all the rooms with projection systems.. I know that i can Export etc, but still need office to test, tweak etc.. just my thoughts
  • Where I work, and at a number of other places, I've noticed that most people aren't so much dependent upon windows as they are on office. If MS ported office to linux, people would be able to smoothly make the transition to linux without having to lose all of the files they've made with MS office on windows. They also would not have to spend a lot of time learning a new office suite. I personally like the other office suites out there right now for linux, but I think this would help bring the average joe over more quickly.
  • sure, most people who do use linux have a beef against MS. The corporate world is still pretty much owned by MS-everything for standard workstations among employees.

    If MS does go forward with a port, it will be based on the potential demand from the business world -- not the home-brewed linux folk... if a work is in progress, we won't see it until this demand is high enough.
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @10:03PM (#1220789) Homepage
    Myth: If I use Linux and encourage others to use it, I'm not hurting anyone.

    Fact: Employees of microsoft depend on the sale of Windows to support their families. By not buying Windows you will force them to starve on the street with their families. You can help prevent this by spending your rent and food budget on Microsft products.

    Myth: Using Linux will make me a super stud.

    Fact: Linux causes severe erectile disfunction. In a recent study, 47 impotent men were given computers running Linux. All 47 reported an inability to maintain an erection after using Linux for several days.

    Myth: Using Unix-like OS's will help me grow a thick bushy beard.

    Fact: Almost 7% of professional Unix admins do not have thick bushy beards.

    I hope this clears things up for y'all.
    (full disclosure: I am a Microsoft employee.)
  • Yeah right... I bet anti-trust cases, and bad publicity have nothing to do with it. They don't really want to work with competitors?!

    Visit uMoo - [] Betsy needs some company
  • I'm sure that in the end M$ will port msoffice to Linux. Office is their big cash cow, making more than everything else, and they are bound to realize that as long as they can sell copies, the bottom line doesn't care if they wrote the OS or not. Right now it's a mostly political thing, but as they start to open up their possibilities, they'll move into software areas that they aren't in right now (hard as that may be to believe) and start looking at the bottom line again.
  • Don't many users of Linux use Star Office ?
    Wouldn't Linux users be more likely to use an application that is Free and easy to use ?

    Besides, does M$ have the patience or the know how to create the different distros of office, or are they going to distribute the source code out for the applications ?

    (Of course it would be fun to have the source code.....)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2000 @10:07PM (#1220793)
    We install Linux systems in an attempt to wean clients from NT. It's usually quite easy, unless they're addicted to Exchange.

    We recently had several clients start running Office 2000, and were amazed to note that it added several Unix-like features to the *OS*, mostly as services on known ports - like Quote of the day!

    One theory is that these may form the beginnings of Microsoft's "3 great new anti-piracy features" licensing engine. We see these posters in Europe, and find them odd... anti-piracy isn't usually a marketing angle that works. But the posters are everywhere in the airports.

    Anybody monitored traffic from a NT workstation or 98 box with Office 2000 on it? We dissuade clients from "sharing" software, but I'd love to know what our pals in Redmond are doing. I think they'll have a hard time convincing the judge that the Apps are part of the OS, yet it seems that Office is about to start integrating completely.

  • It does seem kind of bizare. If Linux had MS Office support, it would get Linux a lot of converts.

    I program for a small buisness, and just a month ago, the prez was looking into switching his (rather computer intensive) buisness over to Linux. He almost did, too. The only thing that stopped him was that there weren't enough good office tools for Linux yet, that he could trust the rest of the office staff with. (read as: the people who DON'T program[gasp!]) If Linux had MS Office, then he would probably make the switch in an instant. And I'm guessing that he's not the only small buisness president who looks longingly at Linux's impressive stability record. I think that if MS supported it, it would sort of "legitamize" linux for a lot of people who have heard of it, but dismiss it as "a passing fad", or "something that only true computer geeks can use".

    ...Which makes it extremely interesting that there are rumors that microsoft might do exactly that. But hey, they put office on the Mac, so who knows.
  • I'd really be surprised if Microsoft actually did it. Right now their most valid argument why people should use Windows over Linux, in my opinion, is that it is too hard for people to use the applications that they need to do their work if they switch to Linux. Since most people use Office to do their word processing and spreadsheets, porting this to Linux would cause this argument to break down.

    If we were, however, to see a split up of Microsoft in which the portion that makes Office is independent of the OS, then I'd say the chances we'd see Office on Linux would increase.

    Of course, I can't say what will really happen. Maybe MS will port Office to make a quick buck. Who knows?

  • Hehe, thank you, but people will see it under the original article. It's at Score 4 now, and so long, people that are interested in that will notice it. ;) There is no need to post this sort of thing on another forum.

  • I'm not really anti-MS (or any other OS/Software Co. for that matter, as each has thier place), but at the same time am not looking forward to bigger companies coming into the Linux fold fullforce to sell thier costly wares. One can only wonder how long it will be until the primary pieces of Linux software excepted by business (and the masses) would consist of items that you have to pay exorbent prices for instead of using the collaborative freeware projects that have made Linux what is is: A great opsystem bulit by people who aren't in it for profit but for freedom, innovation, and to provide a free alternative to people who can't afford costly software such as MS. I mean if Office 2000 was available for Linux, would business expect MS Office or would they settle for something like AbiWord? Sure, freeware will always be around, but I could see a future in which if you use Linux you'd be expected to work with and exchange information with 'name brand' software and the like that you see with the Win32/Mac envirnoments. I think Linux is commercialized enough as it is, and the addition of MS could potentially be the final nail in the coffin. Hopefully the community will be aware of this and won't loose sight of the GPL, the FSF, and the very spirit of Linux: a collaborative and free opsystem made for the people by the people.
  • of course most of the people that use linux despise M$

    Then again, some of the linux user base/newer linux user base could be people who're switching to linux because of external influence (i.e. someone said "aww, come on, try it" or something) and they may want to be able to keep their windows apps because they're just stubborn that way (or, if M$ had already ported it/made it available on the CD as either for win or linux), and they'd use it da dee da.
    Therefore, this might appeal to people who are already accustomed to Microsoft's product/interface and they like it/don't feel the need to find something new, or maybe they're just new to linux from the windows world and would rather have some small piece of windows familiarity. Of course, if I were the target audience, I wouldn't want the product, but i'm not everybody..
  • Because one of the predominant characteristic of OSS is that it's free. So it would make more sense that Microsoft, trying to explore its possibilities in the Linux arena, ported its applications that are already free.

    I think it's obvious that the effort required to port Office would be much bigger than porting IE. So it would be better for them if they made some pilot projects.

    Plus, there's Star Office (which it's free) so MS would probably be forced to give away Office for free. Do you really think they're going to do that when 2/3 of Microsoft profits come from Office?? A lot of people would move to Linux just to have Office for free. IMHO, it just doesn't match with their business model.

  • msft would certainly put out Office for linux if they saw dollars in it. Could they expect to make money on it?

    Would you pay $250 for Office for Linux? Would it be unwieldy to port to Linux due to support issues on all the distros?

    Msft could offer Office for Redhat Linux (insert favorite distro) but then they would really be into antitrust problems. Would it be really difficult to port to Linux? Or is the support issue holding them back.

    How is Correl doing with support?
  • Fact: Almost 7% of professional Unix admins do not have thick bushy beards.

    Is that because 7% of professional Unix admins are women? :-)

  • If microsoft was to make a linux port of any of their products, it would mean admitting that there is a linux market that they can make money off, and that they do not dominate the operating system market - at least to themselves and their supportors. - Loss of face is usually accompanied with publicity consisting of "Ha ha, look at , they are ineffective!" And their stock drops... Now do you really think that MS will release linux specific ports?
  • This is HUMOR. Not flamebait. I'm getting tired of moderators moderating even _funny_ anti-linux posts down. Don't moderate something down because you disagree with it. Moderate it down because it is of the hot grits or Natalie Portman variety.

    My $2E-2

  • by Shaheen ( 313 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @10:29PM (#1220814) Homepage
    There is a really easy way to distinguish distributions of software for Linux (and Linux itself). Tux can be on every box, or as a readme.gif file along with a distribution.

    The girth of the software or distribution defines how fat Tux is! See, for Embeddable Linux, you have a Tux that hasn't eaten in a few weeks. For RedHat, you have one that's been eating too much caviar instead of the regular fish. And for Office for Linux, you have a Tux that has had WAY too much Mackerel, and is really starting to look like he needs to pull his own weight around here....

    And who in hell is going to want to buy a product that has a penguin that looks like Fat Bastard stamped on the box?
  • What better way to demonstrate that you're not a monopoly than to port your biggest cash cow to your up and coming rival OS. I've gotta believe that there's some slick consultant telling them to do this to sway the ongoing lawsuit.

    "So we port Office 2000 to Linux to demonstrate how even handed we are. Who knows, we sell a few copies and then make it worthless by changing the file formats and slow rolling the port for the next version. By then, the government case will be over and we can resume our quest for world domination. Heh Heh Heh...".
  • by pb ( 1020 )
    Yeah, I'm a rabid Linux user. I hate Microsoft, because they haven't done anything worthwhile since releasing DOS 5.0. But, that having been said...

    I would happily use any Microsoft software that was ported *decently* to Linux. (you know what I mean if you've used Microsoft's "Internet Explorer for Unix". Ugh.)

    Unfortunately, I have a feeling that the Wine project will beat them to it. I ran Excel '97 a while back on Wine, and that stupid paperclip came up just fine. Not much else worked, though. I'm sure it's better now. Of course, there's always VMWare, but that's not even close to native! (need a copy of Windows, too much RAM, etc., etc...)

    ...and if Microsoft can't play fair, let 'em burn. They've been asking for it for years. I'll happily give them another chance, I just don't think they can change their ways by now. But we'll see what the trial brings. Windows 2000 will probably make them more arrogant than ever, now that they've invented a few more features from Unix. ;)
    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by Gromer ( 9058 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @10:36PM (#1220817)

    It ain't happening. No way in heaven or hell is MS porting Office to Linux until it has absolutely no choice (and even then, Gates would probably rather go down fighting).

    It isn't the office suite monopoly that maintains MS' dominance. It's not even the OS monopoly. It's the combination of them that is so lethal. It's like that classic hack where you get two intruder processes running as root. Whenever the sysadmin kills one of them, the other immediately restarts it. The only way to kill them is to kill them both simultaneously (not as easy as it sounds) or reboot. The two together are orders of magnitude stronger than either alone.

    In the same way, Windows and Office together are literally orders of magnitude stronger than either alone. Whenever Office is seriously threatened by a competitor, MS comes out with a new version of Windows with shiny new features, and a companion version of office using all those new features. By the time the competitor manages to catch up with the new OS, it's all over. Similarly, Office enforces the presence of Windows in literally every computer workplace in America- Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and Powerpoint presentations are the lingua franca of the modern business world, and no self-respecting business user can be without them if they want to communicate with anyone else. All those who have been asked for a resume in Word format raise your hands. I thought so.

    The proof is Macintosh- MS Office for Mac, when MS decides to sell it (which is far from always), has always been at least one major version behind the Windows equivalent. This, probably more than any other factor, is what killed the Macintosh as a business product and what will sooner or later kill it entirely.

    Mac once accounted for over 10% of the desktop market. Linux now accounts for about 4%. The only concievable reason for MS to sell Office for Linux would be for the revenue, which could hardly amount to more than a few tens of millions. Linux is the most credible threat to MS's dominance in the last 5 years at least. Let's think about this. Is MS going to shatter their iron triangle of software dominance in exchange for an additional 4% of a market they already completely dominate? If you believe that, I have a bridge I'd like to sell you for a really great price...

    I'd love to see Office on Linux. I really would. But don't hold your breath.

  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Monday March 06, 2000 @10:40PM (#1220821)
    > It does seem kind of bizare. If Linux had MS Office support, it would get Linux a lot of converts.

    Microsoft is stuck between the proverbial "rock and a hard place" on this one. If they port their apps, they make it easier for their desktop customers to ditch Windows (and more generally, they give Linux credit as being more than a student's toy).

    But if they don't port their apps, they let the application competition grow and strengthen unhindered. How can they crush WP, SO, KO, Abi, etc., if they don't challenge them on their own turf? It's a true dilemma, and I'd sure like to have been a fly on the wall at some of their executive meetings where they must surely have debated the pros and cons of porting by now.

  • I don't use Micresoft Officeon my Win box and I wouldn't use it on my Linux box either. I resent it and find it tragical that my fellow students force me to use it to actually write in when doing group projects...

    The only tragical part about a port of Office to Linux is that a lot of people probably would use it instead of Koffice, Staroffice and similar suites. That would be bad, cause they really need all the support they need.
  • While having Office on Linux would be nice (not that Id use it, but Im sure alot of others would) we do not need Office to *legitimize* linux in anyone's eyes. Microsoft have already *legitimized* linux by way of their constant FUD attacks and 'linux myths' pages. Even the quote in this article from an MS-Droid, stating that Linux is not a robust enough platform reeks...all of this tallies up to the fact that MS are shakin in their boots... Linux is now a very *legitimate* force on the OS playing-field, even in MS' eyes.

  • I've got one sentence for you: Internet Explorer for Solaris. There ya go.

    I really would not love to see Office on Linux. It's a crappy piece pf spftware that thinks it knows what you want, which it doesn't. Unless you think and act exactly the way Micresoft thinks you should. I don't, I don't want to, and I won't.
  • Actually I wouldnt be surprised if a fair share of female professional Unix admins had thick bushy beards too... too busy sys admining to shave, ya know? :)
  • Actually, IE5 for HP-UX/Solaris *is* a decent port. Having used both IE4 for HP-UX and solaris and recently IE5 for same, I must say that IE5 is a much better port than IE4 was. It's more stable, faster, and doesn't eat nearly as much disk space as IE4 did (a big concern if you have a quota'd account you use it on). So it's not quite as fast as Netscape is on the same machine, but it renders html much better and actually supports stuff like DHTML.

    If IE5 were ported to linux (it should actually be almost as simple as recompiling on a linux box), it would be a good, and would finally give us linux users a decent browser (yes, I know mozilla is getting better, but it's not quite usable yet for most people).
  • MS will not release any Office port for Linux until such time as MS has been broken up into component businesses by a court settlement.

    Even without the prospect of a breakup they might have been working on one at a low priority anyway. It would be stupid not to plan for future contingencies. But there's more reason at least for someone to want this to get done quickly.

    When MS is broken up, Bill will probably leave with the applications division in his pocket. OS is looking less and less attractive. Win2K is being squeezed from below by Linux and from above by Sun. It will never be the goldmine that Dos/Windos has been. As for that former goldmine, Win9x is the product that's in legal trouble and under scrutiny: dealing with it is just going to get more and more tedious following the settlement/Court Order. Anyway, applications are where it's at profit wise --I thought almost everyone around here agreed that Office is really the basis of the monopoly. And keeping applications under his control keeps Bill mobile in a post-breakup world.

    If he wants to remain the Grand Vizier in the future that he has been til now, Bill will abscond with applications and suddenly become Linux's best friend.

    Then you will see Bill Gates magically produce "Office for Linux" as if plucked it from under Judge Jackson's robe. At which time, the most common Mac application will be his property, the most common Win32 apps will also be his, and the applications that give Linux the legitimacy to vie at last for world OS dominance will also belong to Bill Gates. During these feats of pretigitation he'll have never left the audience's gaze on center stage for a second, and he should easily find ways to become the biggest beneficiary of the world's "Great March To Linux".

    Meanwhile, since that future route (breakup) is not yet necessary, he can slow the adoption of wouldbe competitors in the Linux field. Aren't we just around the corner from Corel's Office2000 for Linux announcement?

    When you hear that Microsoft is working on a port of Office for Linux, you can file in it the memory hole--Microsoft may be working on a port, but Microsoft won't be a company anymore when or if this thing is ever released. IOW: it's a vapor announcemnt from a company that hasn't even been born yet. Pure BogeyMan, and nothing to lose sleep over.

  • ...we do not need Office to *legitimize* linux in anyone's eyes.

    Linux is now a very *legitimate* force on the OS playing-field, even in MS' eyes.

    Of course Linux is legitimate in MS's eyes, and in the eyes of nearly everyone associated with the computer industy. The people who it is NOT as legitimate with, yet, are the very people Microsoft is doing their best to keep in the dark about it: Average consumers, home users, etc. THEY are the real targets of the microsoft "fact [ha!] sheets", and articals on Linux vs Windows. Of course the people who do much work with it will realize that they are full of !@#. But you see, it doesn't matter, as long as Joe consumer doesn't figure out. And as long as Joe consumer still uses Windows, the rest of us, even those of us who would rather not, will have to deal with it, to some extent, just because it is what the majority of PCs are running right now. And that is why these are the people who most need education, since most of them either

    a) Have never heard of Linux
    b) Think it is inferior to windows, thanks to MS's propaganda campaign.
    c) Think it is just "something that nerds/geeks/whatever use" or is "just a passing fad".

    If MS were to actually acknowledge Linux as viable enough to produce software for, then quite a few people would begin to look at it in a different light. And quite possibly switch OSs, after Linux's virtues became more aparent to Joe Public. Which is probably why MS won't. But it's nice to think about, at least...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Announcing a Linux distribution with 79% uptime.
  • I disagree. I use both MS stuff and linux, for very practical reasons. Even if I don't like the MS OS-es, and I don't like their strategies, I find Word and Excel very useful, and will happily use them if released under Linux.

    Now, if I could have exactly the same functionality WITHOUT Microsoft products, fine... But until then...
  • You're kidding right?

    Linux users make up less than 3% of the home market, and less than 5% of the business market.

    That's less than Macs!!!

    MS doesn't need to, nor will they (I have a feeling) make products or port existing ones to Linux.
  • ESR spoke of open source software using open services and protocols as commodities - everyone can use them, since they provide a level playing field.

    Now we are seeing that Linux itself is becoming a commodity - a component which can be plugged in to use in a multitude of purposes. If you are using Linux, you get a solid, clean base that you can build your things on (this applies to other free unices, too, in a lesser extent).

    By using Linux, you gain competitive advantage over your rivals who haven't embraced the open source phenomenon. It's only lately that the Big Boys of the industry have begun to understand this. IBM certainly knows it; they are very clearly committed to Linux. SCO got the message. Intel realizes this - and let's not forget the recent announcement by Motorola.

    And - you can be very certain of this - Microsoft knows it too. You can be sure that the top heads of the corporation have thought of what Linux may become and how they might counter it. In the end, they, too, might have to submit.

    As many others have pointed out, Microsoft is in a difficult situation. By not releasing Office for Linux, they are losing. By releasing Office for Linux, they are losing. The key point is to make the release at the time when they lose the least - or even better - when they have the opportunity to make an advantage of it. The time is certainly not now - and I don't think it's because they are incapable of producing software for Linux; such claims are ignorant FUD from the unwashed Linux advocates. It's not a far-fetched idea that they could release Office for Linux tomorrow if they wanted to - it just doesn't make sense for them.

    If the near future goes as I think it will go - if Linux is being made a standard which everyone must (should) conform to (World Domination anyone ? :), Microsoft will start supporting Linux. And they are going to do it the same way as with any other commodity - embrace and extend. They will do everything in their power to corrupt Linux, while making a profit from their Office package.

  • Porting of Office is very likely, -releasing- it is another story. The sequel Windows-Office is absolutely true, but one could kill Linux with office, i.e. give it some bad propperties and blame Linux.

    You can do all sorts of things, I don't think MS ports Office to Linux because they want to support Linux. Consider this: if Microsoft is bringing you flowers, they're most likely decorating your grave.

    Yes I believe the Office port, I won't use it, but what will the mass do?

  • It's well known that Office is the main cash cow for Microsoft besides the OEM Windows installs. For them to port Office over to Linux (amongst other things) would mean they'd somehow benefit from it - but what are the benefits? More installed seats? Another solution to "compete" with (the "free") StarOffice, ApplixWare etc? IMHO the only benefit is perfect document conversion from Windows to Linux...
  • You can download a copy of In the Beginning Was the Command Line from Neal Stephenson's site html [] in plain text format, or read it nicely reformatted into HTML here [].
  • I don't disagree with you - it's not a big market numbers-wise for MS, but you are missing one possible argument - it is a NON-SATURATED market. Existing PC and Mac users are harder to sell with, because the chances are they already have several MS products, and are less likely to want to upgrade. So a new market of 3-5% could be really quite profitable

  • Wow, you got the darn thing to work? It apparently runs on some mythical
    version of Solaris 2.5.1, and it's always a pain for me to find a machine
    that will run it at all... (I'm trying it on a box running Solaris 2.6,
    which is what they're all upgraded to on campus now. The script for IE5
    thinks its okay...)

    In case anyone was wondering what "UNIX" is according to Microsoft, here
    it is:

    case $OSname in

    SunOS) case $OSrev in
    OSdir=sunos5 ;;
    echo "$OSname $OSrev is not currently supported."
    echo "Please visit $IEUrl for a list of supported platforms.\n"
    OSdir=sunos5 ;;
    HP-UX) case $OSrev in
    OSdir=ux10 ;;

    I got past the "display server cache" on IE4, but it isn't doing much
    else at the moment...

    They both It don't work over a regular X connection unless I use the
    undocumented '-remote' switch, and make sure the mouse isn't on the
    window to start with. One time it locked up my mouse cursor, and I
    had to ssh in *again* and kill it off. I got it to show the licensing
    agreement, but it will consistently "Abort" under IE5 or sleep under IE4.
    Oh, and it needs 17MB of RAM to do nothing, so far.

    Here are the ones I tried:

    Internet Explorer 4.71.1410.4 ; Copyright (c) 1995-98 Microsoft Corp.

    Internet Explorer 5.00.2013.1312 ; Copyright (c) 1995-98 Microsoft Corp.

    So until IE 5.0 for Unix actually *works* on a Solaris box I can use, I'm
    not too impressed with it. I hope you'll understand why--it's as if
    Microsoft released IE5 and it worked on Windows '95, but not on '98,
    but that's okay, because who uses Windows '98, right? :)

    pb Reply or e-mail; don't vaguely moderate [].
  • by Anonymous Coward
    nobody uses linux on the desktop. no, the readership of slashdot does not count. There is no reason for ms to make apps for linux when it will only harm them. this is the dumbest idea I have ever heard.

    and no, this is not like the argument for why ms will never make office for mac. Mac was never a threat to MS. Linux is.
  • (Disclaimer: I've never run Linux - so shoot me down. Tell me where I'm wrong - cause mostly I'm just making guesses when it comes to Linux and what it can and can't do.)

    Microsoft does not really gain anything out of porting office to Linux.
    They have to:

    - develop a whole bunch of "services" that don't really exist under Linux in order to get office to play nicely. (Think OLE / ActiveX type stuff / ADO / OLEDB / ODBC / Unicode? and code pages / Internet Explorer integration ...). Where do you stop - there are a lot of things that "exist" on Windows that would probably take a lot of effort to implement in or port to Linux.

    - shoot themselves in the revenue foot becuase now people don't have to buy Windows. I know - I know, but the Mac has never historically eaten into Windows sales - It was an extra revenue source. Linux will be detrimental to Windows sales.

    - Train people to support linux? and the office on top of it? I don't think so.

    Microsoft never wanted to be in the Unix business. A long long time ago Microsoft had one of the most popular *nix OSes for the intel platform (Microsoft Xenix). They sold it off becuase of the way Windows and OS2 were developing - I believe it was bought by SCO and Xenix either became SCO unix or a lot of it went into SCO unix. (long time ago - could be a bit wrong here...)

    End result: They have to work incredibly hard for a very small return... It's not going to happen.

  • Well I guess the port could be done, but as previous poster have mentioned Office is tighly alligned with Windows. Uncoupling this will take time, IE5 has Solaris/HPUX versions, but they had to start from scratch basing the code on O/S neutral techniques and it STILL doesn't cope with multiprocessor Unix boxes (you have to bind IE5 to a particular CPU to get it working).

    Given the functional complexity of Office 2000 (hey even 95 and 97 for that matter) this will be no mean feet.

    Also with added competition from the like of StarOffice/ Abiword/K-office and the Linux/Unix desktop environments like gnome/KDE I think that M$ will have some really good competition in the corporate market place (which is where it gets most of its revenues from).

    basically these are "Interesting Times" for M$ (thanks to Terry Pratchett for this one:-)
  • I agree with you completely that IE should and would be the first thing that MS ports to linux... hell, they already ported it to solaris so I'm sure the jump from a different unix wouldn't be anywhere near as rough as the jump from windows.

    What I disagree with is the assertion that they would be forced to give away Office to compete with Star Office. First of all, in my brief encounters with Star Office, I've been totally unimpressed, IMHO word is a much better product, that could change, but I don't have all that much faith in sun to get SO up to snuff. One should really be comparing it to the WordPerfect suite that is out for linux, which still costs money for comercial use (where most of the money MS makes off of Office sales).


  • I see people spouting statistics (%5 of users use linux... etc) My question is where are you guys getting these stats? Are they guesses or fact? Anybody got a link?
  • If you think Microsoft will ever release Office for Linux you need to take a stroll down monopoly lane. They may start rumours about porting Office to Linux and if the heat gets to them expect them to make a formal announcement of Office for Linux. Just don't expect to see it. They have provided several precedents. Company "X" gets all kind of glory by selling a product Microsoft doesn't have and they need to respond. They announce their intention to make a product that's 10x better, free, and is mere weeks from delivery. At this point they have already won the battle -- everyone waits quietly for the Microsoft solution (who gets fired for recommending Microsoft?) and no one invests in a competitor. Now their options are open. Either they can delay the project indefinitely or they can come out with crappy product that no one buys and blame the lack of sales on the fact that there was no market. Option #1 was used for NetPC, option #2 was used for SMS. Either way the competitor loses and the market is lost. So yes... expect to see Office for Linux announced some day but don't ever expect to see a viable product hit the shelves.
  • But doing the port protects MS from risk, and they don't have to release it just because they put some effort into doing a port.

    On a related note, it looks like FileMaker [] might be working on a Linux port, check out job listing (#2971 []), which states: Experience with Unix/Linux development is required...

  • "Linux users make up less than 3% of the home market, and less than 5% of the business market."
    Now, do you remember what those percentages were a year ago? Do you remember why you even know of Linux?
  • It ain't happening. No way in heaven or hell is MS porting Office to Linux until it has absolutely no choice

    The proof is Macintosh- MS Office for Mac, when MS decides to sell it (which is far from always), has always been at least one major version behind the Windows equivalent. This, probably more than any other factor, is what killed the Macintosh as a business product and what will sooner or later kill it entirely.

    This may be the reason why they will release Office on Linux.

    Microsoft is so profitable because the Office suite is standard on all major companies. Bills worst nightmare is if some major companies buy Linux for their desktops and start to use Staroffice, or something. In this situation, Bill has to release Office on Linux to keep the file format monopoly/initiative for documents. It might even be a very good port initially, just to squash the office suit competition. But guess which platform the Office suite is going to run best on in the future? If Bill releases office on Linux, he will use it to crush Linux like he crushed the Apple.

    In year 2003, magazine reviews will find that the new Windows version runs Office 3.14 times faster than Linux on equivalent machines....

  • Microsoft doesn't gain anything by porting Office for Linux? How about $500 for every sold copy? If Linux becomes mainstream in businesses (you know, people that aren't religious about operating systems and companies like most people here) then Microsoft may very well sell shitloads of copies of Office for Linux. After all, there's hardly any real competition! Better crush what little competition there is NOW before it's too late!
  • Mac once accounted for over 10% of the desktop market. Linux now accounts for about 4%.

    I have no idea where you get these figures from but anyway (suppose these figures are right). There is one great difference between mac and linux on their run for common desktop environment. That is linux has a fair share of server market to support desktop market. I don't know about OS X but mac has never had stability or performance for server environment.

    Why I think this makes difference is that I think windows is where it is now because of its LAN integration (yes, they are finally catching up with tcp/ip but its LANs where their products are usable IMHO) and exchange.

  • Uh, if you mean that it adds services and applications to the OS then yes, that's what software does. I'd hardly refer to it as "modifies NT OS" like that, sure you could think of it that way, but then it's nothing more than an addition.

    Just cause Unix distributions generally come with QOTD, doesn't mean it's part of the OS. Anyone could write a service to add QOTD etc to Office. Gee hard. I mean look at VMWare, they managed to write VMWare for NT without any access to NT source code. It's extending the OS without source that windows is good at.
  • It's not unlikely that Windows apps will be ported to Linux. Seeing as Linux is the 'thing to do' (stamp Linux on anything and it'll sell).

    This is ESPECIALLY true now that Mainsoft [] have released MainWin for Linux (basically a complete port of Win32 to Linux - includes COM/ODBC/MFC etc). This is the porting tool Microsoft used to get Internet Explorer and Outlook Express on Slowlaris a HP-UX.

    Ofcourse, I'm refusing to use any Offfice product on Linux until X has antialiasing :P.

    BTW, these people who thinks MS Office is 'bloated', should try Star Office. 30 second load time comapred to 2 second load time....not to mention the way it pretends to be a shell...
  • There is one thing that alot of people keep forgetting when discussing Microsoft's plans for Linux, even though it has been discussed here several times. The final hurdle Linux has before becoming a major contender on the desktop is having a decent browser. Face it, Netscape is bloat, Mozilla might never be ready, and Opera and Lynx just don't have the features everyone wants. I can see Microsoft porting Office to Linux, without making the slightest dent on its Windows profits, because Office suites are not what people get a computer for anymore, the Internet is. The day Microsoft decides to port a free, full-featured version of IE to Linux (and I know they already did to Solaris) is the day that Microsoft has given up on fighting the open source movement.
  • But why isn't Linux used on the desktop? Could it be due to the (perceived or otherwise) lack of 'standard' desktop applications?

    Besides, you are missing the point of the articles - as it points out, at the moment everyone who chooses Linux over Windows xx (and there are some, and that number is likely to grow, even if it's just because it's easier to grow a small market share than a big one) deprives MS of an OS customer and an Apps customer. If the number of people using Linux grows, then the likelyhood of a Linux port grows significantly for purely economic reasons - some people will choose Linux anyway, it's better to make $150 from each of them, then $0. Not everyone who uses Linux now, and in the future, objects to paying for software.

  • There are three reasons that microsoft might do this.
    1) They think they have lost the OS war and don't want to lose the Office Suite War (This isn't happening yet, and probably won't for a while)
    2) They are extending their FUD strategy to create an illusion that linux is a real threat, and if successful, they will have an easier time defending their position that they are not a monopoly in court.(I believe this makes the most sense, at least at the present)
    3) They are setting up to build their own distributions, in which their "enhancements" only work with their distribution, therefore causing a migration to their distribution(this is also not very likely, and it would be tough to do this without violating the GPL)
  • Why not? They already ported IE5 to Solaris, it's easy enough to get that to work on Linux, and I for one would love IE5 for linux, with Netscape crashing and being the slow bitch that it is.
  • The article made it sound like Stephenson is some sort of software industry pundit or expert, not just an excellent writer throwing out musings which happen to include Microsoft and Linux.

    Still, he did title his essay In the Beginning was the Command Line, which you must admit has a sort of comp-sci history feel to it, so maybe Stephenson was trying to project the impression that he's an expert. =)

  • In HMO office is the best wordprocesser/spreadsheet package around, however I don't think that Lotus SmartSuite is to bad either.

    Basically me and most other users would be happy with either one. Is there any chance of IBM doing a smartsuite port to Linux I wonder? They don't have any problems with OS's any more (OS2 is dead) and they would have the staff for it.

    They have just finished porting Lotus Notes r5 to linux, which also shows they take Linux seriously.
  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @02:40AM (#1220883) Homepage
    Note: I think this guy is trolling but I think his points are worth answering anyway

    Sometimes I have met with outright hostility, and sometimes I am accused of being a "troll" (whatever that is) but since I am getting paid for this, I have to endure it.

    Typical marketeer. Whinges about having to work for their money while expecting others to contribute to their projects, career and company's marketing strategy for free.

    Indeed it seems such robust interaction is part-and-parcel of the whole "Open source" community. Us Marketers didn't grasp that before, we took our eye off the ball, but trust me, we will not be blindsided again, like we were by the Internet in 1994.

    Well, the rest of your post seems to indicate that you're going to be deliberately covering your eyes this time. Just because you're in denial doesn't mean it wont happen.

    Linux has no support for de-facto industry standards. DCOM, and DirectX are the main examples, but there are many others.

    Sorry, directX is an evil Microsoft development. Not sure about dcom but be sure that if there were any real need for these things, Linux would have them.

    Linux lacks the industry standard word processor - Microsoft Word, and spreadsheet - Microsoft Excel

    I think most of us on here know why this is. But I don't think you're claiming it's the fault of Linux anyway. If companies want to be tied to MS, I guess that's there call but I really don't see this lasting forever. If and when Linux takes over the world, if these applications are still only available for windows, they will be forced out of the market an replaced with something else for better or worse.

    We cannot produce a coherent marketing story for Linux. This is despite having one of the largest marketing budgets in the industry. We therefore cannot hope to sell our software on the Linux platform.

    Did you ever consider the option that you just don't "get it"? Seriously? I suspect that for you, "failure is not an option" so when you can't work something out, it can't be your fault, it has to be the fault of the market right?

    Our Marketing department was surprised to find that Linux, despite being written by a "communistic" process, actually had quite good security controls

    And you wonder why you get labelled "troll"? Linux has some of the foremost people in the field working on it. Clearly your research is pretty shallow if you come up with statements like this.

    even compared to the code some of our best (and by best I mean highest paid) hackers

    And you guys wonder about being called "suits" when you refer to youe professional programming staff like that?

    We spend $millions. Believe me, we would have found it if it existed.

    Once again this comes back to the "suit" thing. If a geek can't grok something, he'll go back and readjust his perspective and try again and keep trying until he "gets it". A suit will just assume it's something wrong with the item in question and just dismiss it

    The zealots are Linux's market. They are not lucrative. They dissuade naive user takeup of Linux. They talk down, condescend and patronise. They are arrogant. They scare people off. They mumble under their breath about "suits" and "clueless newbies".

    And they're part of the thing that drives the success of Linux as well. Their message may be wrong but they bring Linux to the attention of others. Have you ever really used Linux? I mean really and seriously? From the perspective of an admin who's had to put up with all the Microsoft crap moving to Linux with it's power and configurability is enough to put a fanatical gleam in nearly anyone's eye. It's no wonder there are zealots out there. And yes, "clueless newbie" is a standard insult but it's there for a reason. Most of us had to go through all the reading of HOWTOS, misconfigurations and other joys that build our skills, we are not paid to babysit someone who got their redhat CD off the front of a magazine and now wants to know if they can run Linux in a dos window. I repeat, we are not paid but these users demand to know the answers, now, and in full.

    Our software company has significant Market share in its chosen niche (some would say too much share). We do not need the incremental revenue that a Linux port of our products would produce.


    Therefore we have no plans to port our software to Linux now, or in the next two to three years.

    Sure, close your eyes. That steam train is still going to hit you.

    Alternatively, get someone on your team who "gets it". Not all of us Linux users out here are zealots. Most of us are too busy doing our jobs to answer your marketing questions. Of course you're going to mostly hear from the zealots. Go find one of your big marketing books and look up "self selection".


  • by Anonymous Coward
    QOTD has been around for ages. Just go into NT4's network settings and add "simple TCP/IP services" then you can telnet into the QOTD port to get some wisdom. IIRC, it also worked under 3.51

    Unfortunately it always shows the same sequence of quotes, and doesn't record where you left off. So if you are one of those people who needs to reboot every so often, you get stuck with the same quotes again.
  • by acb ( 2797 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @03:03AM (#1220888) Homepage
    Microsoft have a policy of only supporting UNIX platforms that run on non-Intel architectures. It is Microsoft doctrine that its OSes are the only official OSes on Intel platforms (hence the way their OSes clobber the MBR without asking, and sabotaged OS/2 file attributes).

    It would take a drastically changed environment for MS to support Linux.
  • Quick buck? Yeah right. If MS *ever* ported Office to Linux is would be made to run only on an MS distribution. Or, it would be made to run so badly that people would think "Wow, this Linux is a piece of crap". Something along those lines, but don't expect them to release an Office2000 quality version any time soon.

    Although, they do have a Mac version, don't they?


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • That depends where you study. Where I studied, a large number of the CS staff were harcore Mac users (we did some vile coursework where we had to write Hypercard stacks which illustrated floating point arithmetic. Our AI tutor wrote a LISP interpreter for teaching [QALisp] in QuickApp).

    Yet another professor, quite rightly favoured LaTeX for his slides and handouts, since there was a lot of algebra in there.

    Most of the "proper" programming was done on Suns -- and the PCs were useful when you couldn't find a console or a VT220 to get your work done on.

    Moral: don't assume that everywhere is like your place. There are a good number of sites where MS Office is *not* the defacto standard.
  • It's not awful. Abiword is awful; Office2000 is just sort of sour.

    As an end user, I don't give a damn about how they do their file format. It would be nice if it played well with other processors, but it's not the end of the world. Besides, it's not like Corel and Sun are writing books on how to read *their* formats.

    No, I don't like all those buttons. Fortunately, it's customizable and I get rid of only the ones I don't use.

    I don't buy software based on the hair, do you?

    Turn the paperclip off -- it's not that hard.

    Maybe we can do this ourselves... I don't see anything remotely approaching Office 2000's level of usefulness. KWord isn't that great. I'll give it some time, but I'm not going to hold my breath on this one.

    Yeah, go back to the CD player... After all, we don't have enough of those on freshmeat, do we?


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • That's crap. Word, IE etc all start in new processes, the DLL memory sharing is done on ALL applications, so it doesn't explain why netscape is so slow at loading (as well as star office). also there's NO reason why netscape can't do any preloading either (hey they go around installing AOL IM and change your default hompage in IE etc without asking).

    Netscape is BLOATED. eg. it's HUGE, SLOW, UNMAINTANABLE and doesn't do what it's supposed to do properly.

    Why do you think the source for netscape was quickly 'disposed' of.
  • Is that because 7% of professional Unix admins are women? :-)

    No, because I'm not sure if the two 7% groups actually overlap ;-)

  • by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @04:07AM (#1220912) Homepage
    Aha, good. Some dialogue rather than just firing comments off into the wild blue yonder

    Your statement is not the case. Most "geeks" do not "grok" CAPITALISM but they make absolutely no effort to adjust their perspective.

    Well, my own data point is that most of the coders I know are just about the most capitalistic bastards in existence. The reason they don't like marketing is that most of what they see of it is about 60% bullshit and only about 5% of the capability of the product. Most of us are extremely clear thinkers and would rather just have a datasheet of the facts rather than some salesdroid telling us unmeasurable opinions about how their product is "fantastic" and "the best" (often at the bottom of an advert where 9/10 of the page is taken up with some anorexic model)

    They do not understand that fundamentally, they owe their living to the hard working guys and girls in their marketing departments

    And I'm sure that they feel it's the other way around. The fact is that in this world, marketeers are needed so it's more of a symbiotic or team relationship. Again, coders can visualise a world where they can produce their product and people would buy it on their merits without the need for marketeers. A utopian view perhaps but somewhat more realistic than the other way around where marketeers would sell stuff that never needs to be produced.

    who slave daily to persuade the software-buying public that the bug-ridden mess they have developed is worth spending $$$s on.

    Im sure many programmers feel they would like to produce bug free code but don't have time to. Well, who's fault is that? The marketeers who sold the product for a fixed price and to a deadline. The reality is that bug free software isn't currently financially viable for most applications at the moment (Except for Open Source which has no deadlines or budget of course). Now, that is capitalism for you.

    And I would like to talk more on this subject, but events have overtaken me, as I seem to have upset someone in our legal department with my previous posting. If you don't hear from me for a while, it will be because I am dealing a rather large amount of that "corporate BS" that you open source guys are lucky to be free from.

    Oh, I'm not an "open source" guy, I code distinctly commercial software for a living, as I suspect, do many people who contribute to open source. So we all get to see some of that corporate BS. I'm fortunate enough to work for a company where we don't see much of that and that I'm happy to say, goes for honesty in its marketing rather than BS (But we can afford to because we're damn good)

    I'm still not sure that you're not a troll (I can't see that you'd have been still posting on here if your legal dept had jumped on you) but if you're not, I hope you get through all the legal stuff. Far as I could see, there wasn't anything too commercially sensitive in there and I don't have a clue which company you're working for. Also, IMO, posting to this kind of forum is exactly the kind of reasearch you should have been doing.


  • You are making the mistake of performing what is often call "static analysis": failing to take into account what changes in the system would occur given an event.

    Right now, Linux may be 3% of the business desktop market, but that is because MSOffice is not available for it. Were MS to release Office for Linux, that number would jump to about 25%, or much larger than the Mac.

    The Mac market WRT business is saturated: you are unlikely to see a huge increase in the number of Macs being used in a business sense (by this I mean word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, etc., not graphics manipulation or page layout.) The Linux market is like a supersaturated solution: one disruption and the system will undergo a massive state change.

    This is both why MS won't port Office in the near term (since it would "knife the baby") and why they must port it in the long run. Eventually, all that potential money just sitting there waiting for somebody else to grab it will be too much.

    However, the day MS announces Office for Linux is the day MSWindows has a sheet pulled over its head and a toe-tag tied on.

  • I guess they figure people will think like this:

    "Oh, it has anti-piracy features. This means I won't have a chance to get a pirate copy, so I'll buy my own copy right now !"

  • M$ will port their Windows API, complete with the multimedia and telephony extensions, as well as DirectX, to Linux.

    The best solution for everybody: Linux users will get drivers for all their hardware, Microsoft users will get Linux system stability for their applications.

    Only the Wine developers will have to find another hobby. (I need Vax emulation in Linux)

  • We don't need MS Office for Linux, we need to get MS (IOW all the non-Linux users) to use open file formats. If MS started using XML or some kind of markup language, as they did with the earliest versions of MS Word, then we could read and write MS Office files using StarOffice, Applix, Abi, or even vi or emacs.

    Of course MS will never do this, since it is the main reason that:

    1. MS Office reached a tipping point [], gaining mindshare dominance
    2. MS Office users fork over $400+ every 2-3 years for the latest version.
    3. Despite remarkable efforts at reverse-engineering, non-MS programs cannot fully read/write MS Office files with complete functionality, therefore forcing many of use to keep buying MS crap just to be compatible.

    Things will only get worse if UCITA passes, because then it may be illegal for any company to reverse-engineer the MS Office file formats. Then we'll see the true power of mindshare.

    An example:

    A co-worker of mine who writes a newsletter in MS Publisher asked for my help in distributing the newsletter online. I suggested exporting to html, but discovered that was not possible. Finally I suggested just stripping out the text and sending it as just a simple email. Too difficult. She's now trying to get volunteers to hand out paper copies!
  • a penguin that looks like Fat Bastard

    Need a cute fat penguin ? Go and read UK broadsheet newspaper The Guardian []. Steve Bell's overweight penguins have been a regular cartoon strip for nearly twenty years (since the Falklands conflict).

  • While a port of Office would be fine, there's much work to be done before the typical Linux environment is as comfortable as Windows. I have to admit that while I love the stability of Linux, it still makes me feel like I'm living in the 1970s. That's how I felt almost ten years ago when I used UNIX workstations during the day, and the general consensus was "UNIX is a dying dinosaur."

    I'm still unable to get sound working on my Dell machine running RedHat 5.2. I still get "pixel trash" using the latest Bashee driver for X that I can find. And I've started tiring of having to spend hours grabbing constanst updates for this part of the system and that. I would much prefer using Linux all the time, but it isn't there yet. I'd run a web site on a Linux server in a minute, but I sheepishly have to admit that it's still a clunker as an alternative to Windows for most everyday tasks.
  • the day Rush Limbaugh delivers the commencement speech at a liberal arts college....
  • by Wellspring ( 111524 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @05:57AM (#1220959)

    It isn't the office suite monopoly that maintains MS' dominance. It's not even the OS monopoly. It's the combination of them that is so lethal. It's like that classic hack where you get two intruder processes running as root. Whenever the sysadmin kills one of them, the other immediately restarts it. The only way to kill them is to kill them both simultaneously (not as easy as it sounds) or reboot. The two together are orders of magnitude stronger than either alone.

    I agree with almost everything you say... which is why, if MS is smart, they will port Office to Linux. Here's my scenario:

    First, MS continues badmouthing Linux, but changes its strategy. Current efforts to brand it as unstable and insecure are failing. MS can't take the next likely option: claim that Linux has poor support options, because MS's customer support is legendarily bad. The place to hit Linux is where it has an acknowledged weakness: the GUI.

    Attack Linux as a poor desktop solution whenever possible. Win2K purposely blurs the distinction between desktop and server; keep doing this and market W2k as the answer to all needs at once.

    When Linux reaches 10% market share, release MS Office for Linux. Don't implement all the features. Do a poor port, similar to the Mac version, that has fewer features, clashes with Linux's interface, and is much slower-- especially in places where a user will be frustrated. Make documents look poorer in Linux than in W2k.

    Then show the result. StarOffice isn't a mature product, IMHO (it is good, but still needs a great deal of work). WordPerfect 8 is in a similar position (I've been using it for 6 months for windows, and it is still slow and clunky). Well-meaning Linux ompanies eager to expand market share will promise that MS Office runs on Linux, without warning of the drawbacks. Companies will ask for Office, to ease their transitions. Remember, the market is saturated. Offices that want Linux are having to switch from Windows, and migrating everything your office does on computers all at once is very difficult.

    Horror stories will emerge. Linux will have failed to deliver. Poor GUI will be blamed, because it only takes a few bad anecdotes to kill a product. People will say "it's good for web, file and print servers, but don't use it with an office suite." And that will be that.

    If your technology can't keep its promises, then that's it. Managers won't wait for patches, and they won't wait for upgrades. If they've just switched operating systems and had a disaster, there is no way they will 'fix' it by switching office suites, too. They will blame Linux (not Office for Linux) and switch back. And tell all their friends what a disaster it was. This is what we call a poison pill.

    So let's hope and pray that MS doesn't do this, or that if it does, that we as Linux advocates have the patience and wisdom to handle it carefully. Remember, be careful what you wish for. I'd say to sysadmins that if it happens, that you give it a long hard look before recommending to your corporation-- then recommend StarOffice or Corel Suite 8, or whatever open source equivalent is out there.

  • Porting of Office is very likely

    Agreed, given that a group within MS completely rewrote MS Office in Java. You could open up your browser on any platform and work in MS Office. Gates had a screaming fit and killed the project. Shortly thereafter, the VP in charge of the project took a year-long sabbatical. Don't know if he was forced to or if it was voluntary, or if he ever went back.
  • I'm usually a staunch MS hater.. but to be rational, they do make some good products.. they just go too far to corner the market.
    LOTS of their products are both good and useful, their only drawback being an intnentional difficulty in using non-ms products with them.

    So. why am I proud of them? With Windows 2000, MS decided NOT to ship a whole bunch of vendor drivers.
    With windows, they would say 'we support lots of hwardware... more than our competitors. WIndows is great.' And from a marketing poitn of view, I guess this worked, but from a technical view, it's the manufacturers responsibility to make sure the drivers for their product exist. MS had them convinced that to make your product cool, windows had to support it, so you had to give your driver to MS.
    Now they've backtracked. Win2k is great (I mean, it's still windows, and it sure doesn't replace unix, but it's the best thing MS has released yet.). Win2k by itself is very stable. Oops. I added the 3dfx drivers, and after a while, while watching some video, it crashed. From what I've seen, it really *IS* the third party drivers that are messing things up (and linux is no different).

    If we had the full windows API, ported (OSS or not, though of course OSS is good) to Linux by MS, and the built the 'Lindows' or top of it, or whatever, and had all their apps recompiled... we'd get all the advantages of Windows as a desktop, and all the advantages of Linux as a backend. But this will only work if MS decides to use the power of linux, instead of trying to extend and extinguish it. The windows desktop has to be X compliant, and the control panel has to work on standard init scripts (at least, human readable ones)
  • by Shoeboy ( 16224 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @06:37AM (#1220972) Homepage
    even Linux does not help women grow bushy beards
    I understand that Alan Cox has a patch for that, but Linus won't allow it into the main tree for reasons of aesthetics.
  • by hawk ( 1151 )
    But it is also known that 15% are dwarves. As the buring question, "are there no female dwarves, or do they have beards?" has yet to be answered, we still don't know whether the 7% are female, or whether they are follicularly challenged males while the 7% female are bearded dwarves . . .
  • by tweek ( 18111 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @06:45AM (#1220977) Homepage Journal
    These kinds of arguments hold no merit to me. Before i get moderated down as a troll or flaimbait or a linuz zelot let me explain.

    The arguments that certain hardware support is weak under linux is, indeed, valid. I will concede that point. But hardware support under NT is sometimes no better. It reminds me of the microsoft FUD article that says linux doesn't support USB. Well neither does NT 4.0 but of course that does not get mentioned. Linux has a reputation of being well handled on older hardware but as with NT, you get better results with better hardware.

    I've been using linux exclusivly at home for the past 4 years. At work for the past 2 years. Admittedly i am a geek and do not mind playing with my OS.

    The issue as I see it is not hardware support and what not but the user. Not everyone should own a computer. It's that simple. Some people can't drive. I don't want these people using a computer. Give them a limited function internet appliance and let them be on their way. In those cases, the hardware is tuned to work explicitly before it goes out the door of the factory. I think it's wonderful that computers have been pushed into the mainstream and that people WANT to use them but as much as apple or microsoft or even the eazel people would have you believe, a better interface isn't the answer. The desktop interface paradigm may change and SHOULD change but we need better educated users. Sometimes I feel that maybe we should have Internet Usage License afterall.
  • Fact: Linux causes severe erectile disfunction. In a recent study, 47 impotent men were given computers running Linux. All 47 reported an inability to maintain an erection after using Linux for several days.

    That depends on the distribution you use. Slakware does in fact cause severe erectile disfunction however RedHat doesn't. And Debian actually makes your penis grow! Why, in the first 3 weeks that I used Debian, my penis grew 4 inches! Do the words "Foot long hot dog" bring anything to mind? There you go, then...

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @07:56AM (#1220989) Homepage Journal
    I think it really depends. They don't have a lot of reason to release it right now, as they aren't losing a whole lot of market share to Linux and an office release would probably just add momentum to the snowball.

    If I were them I'd develop it in (mostly) secret and if the snowball becomes an avalanche, release it then. If the snowball peters out, just throw the code out. If Linux goes away, MS won't mind throwing out the work of an entire development team (It's not like they can't afford to) and if Linux gets big, MS can jump on the bandwagon then after having milked 'doze for all it was worth.

  • I agree with you. I thought the same thing about "what if MS ports Office". But then I was thinking, "what can we do if they did." Now, I also sure that MS thought this, and thought about what might go wrong (well maybe). Say they did port Office for Linux, but a broken Office. Now RedHat refuses to install it, since it is not under GPL. Corel has their own suite so they don't install it. But maybe Caldera? or are they in with Applixware? So you have SuSE, Slackware, Mandrake. But they decide not to. Whose left? LinuxOne! They install it, but it's broken. Then it is discovered that they are not apart of the Linux Community, and all the bad things associated with Office just goes on top of LinuxOne.

    That's not too bad of a scenario. How about this. Office is installed on most of the distributions. But it is broken. Then an e-mail is leaked that has one of the top guys at MS writing to Balmer about how to break Office on Linux. Here we go back to the DOJ.

    Or what if we have a last ditch effort by Corel or Star Office to save themselves from MS. They open source their product completely. Now we have people trying Linux with the option of going to a fully open sourced Office suite.

    The problem Microsoft has with Linux is that it will never go away. It's not like Netscape or Apple where you can destroy a company. But Linux is an OS that is free to the public and as long as someone is tinkering with it, it will always be a threat. MS has lots of resources, but it may be hard to fight against the rest of the world. As long as someone uses Linux, Linux will constantly show up as a competitor.

    Steven Rostedt
  • Mac once accounted for over 10% of the desktop market. Linux now accounts for about 4%.
    I have no idea where you get these figures from but anyway (suppose these figures are right).

    According to the article:

    According to IDC market research, Linux users comprise only 4 percent of the desktop operating systems in the United States (not bad for an OS that's been around only since 1991).

    That's pretty badly worded, though. Does that mean that 4% of the computers in the workplace are running Linux? That 4% of users run Linux? That they run Linux exclusively?

  • While I agree that it is highly unlikely that Microsoft will ever port MS-Office to Linux, porting from Windows to UNIX or Linux isn't as hard as you think.

    Three commercial companies make products for just that purpose, two of which include source code licensed from Microsoft (Bristol's Wind/U and (Microsoft's choice for porting IE to HP/UX and Solaris) Mainsoft's MainWin). The other is Twin from Willows (funded by Ray Noorda (former CEO of Novell and also the money guy behind Caldera)). The Wine project also has winelib, which is what Corel is using for their Windows->Linux ports. It is my understanding that it isn't quite as refined as the commercial products yet, but is now progressing more rapidly now that Corel is contributing back their enhancements and fixes.

    These porting products provide most if not all of the services and API's you are talking about, and as for IE integration, I would believe Microsoft doing an IE port for Linux way before I would believe they'd do an MS-Office port, especially since they have already done ports of IE to Solaris and HP/UX.

    The reason that Microsoft won't do a Linux port of Office is because it would hurt Windows sales more than it would build sales of Office. It would also be an admission of defeat that Microsoft's pride would never allow them to make, even if it were monetarily advantageous in the long run. Training support costs wouldn't be that big of a deal to them, they barely support their own products now (a lot of the support they push off to the hardware vendors), so what would the difference be? They train people to support MS-Office on MacOS, so adding one other OS wouldn't be that much more of a stretch.

    Microsoft XENIX was sold to SCO way before Windows or OS/2 were in development. SCO sold XENIX (which was a UNIX V7 variant) for a long time, then they grafted major parts of XENIX into their SVR2 UNIX port which was SCO UNIX. SCO OpenDesktop and OpenServer still contain a lot of cruft for backwards compatibility with old XENIX apps. SCO UnixWare on the otherhand is based on SVR4, and is a lot cleaner (albiet still wouldn't be my first choice).

  • Sounds like fun.
    I've been walking around looking at all the "Windows 2000: Comming Feb 17. As stable on the internet as off" posters, and now I think I'm going to sticker over "the internet" part of the poster. Then it will read more gramatically correct... of course who'd want a computer that acted like it was off when it was on anyway is beyond my comprehension.
  • 3) They are setting up to build their own distributions, in which their "enhancements" only work with their distribution, therefore causing a migration to their distribution(this is also not very likely, and it would be tough to do this without violating the GPL)

    How about this:

    1) Create a binary-only kernel module that must be licensed from Microsoft.

    2) Push UCITA so that your clause about not reverse engineering it or how it works will hold up in court. Also your clause about only running the module with MS Linux.

    3) Have MS office for Linux do something in that module and have it refuse to run unless it has the module loaded. It'd probably be something cryptographic.

    Voila. Instant proprietary distribution, no violation of the GPL and well with in the kernel rules according to Linus.

  • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    What's wrong with emacs and TeX? I use them all the time* and I consistently get results that look better than the GUI word processors. I'd far rather spend a few minutes looking up some obscure markup feature in LaTeX than spend a couple of hours trying to figure out how to turn off some annoying feature in a GUI word processor.

    And I can put out PDFs or HTML with LaTeX. I've got everyone covered as far as distributing my documents goes. HTML is the lowest common denominator, of course. PDF's are just a hair above it (Alladin GhostScript can view PDFs, so Acrobat isn't your only choice.)

    * Well, LaTeX anyway. Nothing puts out a better looking document. Nothing.

  • by Junks Jerzey ( 54586 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @09:06AM (#1221022)
    The issue as I see it is not hardware support and what not but the user. Not everyone should own a computer. It's that simple. Some people can't drive. I don't want these people using a computer. Give them a limited function internet appliance and let them be on their way. In those cases, the hardware is tuned to work explicitly before it goes out the door of the factory. I think it's wonderful that computers have been pushed into the mainstream and that people WANT to use them but as much as apple or microsoft or even the eazel people would have you believe, a better interface isn't the answer. The desktop interface paradigm may change and SHOULD change but we need better educated users.

    This is completely off base. On a superficial level, your analogy is wrong. Most anyone can drive, but it isn't necessary to know how to replace a fuel injector or a muffler in order to do so. Some people can, but does that mean that other people are stupid and shouldn't drive?

    More fundamentally, you're dividing the world into techies and grandmas and are focused on the different ways each of those groups uses computers. That's not the issue. The point is that Linux is still too much hassle for the techies who don't want to waste their time in that way. Car enthusiasts may like to fiddle, but that doesn't mean they want to own cars that are more difficult to maintain than everyone else, just to show how cool they are. And yet that's the Linux philosophy.

    Look, there's a *reason* that in any group of knowledgable tech-heads that most of them would rather just work with Windows--and this is even though they don't like Windows. It's because all the sysadmin headaches of Linux, all the do-it-yourself issues, all the compatibility problems, they just don't seem worth it for a lot of people. These people are not stupid; they're quite often brilliant. It Linux *were* clearly superior to Windows then the techies would be switching over just for the sheer joy of it, and you'd never find a hardcore programming shop using anything but Linux. But this isn't the case. Linux is only worth it if you want to make a hobby of twiddling and downloading and configuring instead of writing code. That's something that you can do if you're a student, or if you just like the twiddling, but it's a deterrent otherwise. Let me clarify that this isn't the "keep away the computer newbies" barrier everyone seems so fond of, but something that's keeping away great technical minds. That's the hurdle Linux can't get over; that's why it isn't taking over the desktop. It's a weird philisophical issue that's at fault, not the underlying technology.
  • by Jens ( 85040 ) <jens-slashdot@spamfreem a i l .de> on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @09:14AM (#1221027) Homepage
    Here's what I think will happen if (and that's a BIG 'if') Microsoft really decides to port "Microsoft Office" to Linux.

    (They cannot port "Office", because Office aka StarOffice, ApplixOffice, WordPerfect Office,.. is already or will soon be available, and not by Microsoft.)

    There will be one big binary setup chunk (no RPM or anything, because MS does not/cannot control the RPM format) called "MS Linux installer" that will scatter 1024 files around your /usr/bin, /usr/lib, /usr/share, /var/lib, /home, and /etc directories, even if you select /usr/local/office as destination directory. The "MS Linux installer" will complain that it is incompatible with other package managers and that you might want to only download *.msl packages from for optimum system performance.

    There will be an uninstall option that needs a web connection to, and downloads an "uninstaller" (also binary only) that only runs as root. This uninstaller will not work on many systems until after the first "service pack".

    Of course, Internet Explorer 5.5 will be included with MS Office 2000 for Linux. You will have to install it "to harvest the real power of Office and to experience all of the advanced features". Internet Explorer will automatically convert your KFM and Netscape bookmarks to IE format (which will be binary, i.e. not easily converted back) and unless you go after "Advanced Install" and uncheck "Options / Internet Explorer / Post-Install Options / Advanced / [x] Autoconvert older browser bookmarks", will delete the original bookmarks. (I witnessed this behaviour on some Netscape installations I've seen - so it's not entirely fiction...)

    Internet Explorer will also complain on first start that it is running in an incompatible desktop environment/window manager and that you might want to download "MS Desktop for Linux" as a .msl package from MS Desktop will (by default) automatically delete any other window manager executables it finds, converting the Gnome/KDE menus first (i.e. deleting the originals, of course).

    By then, you will have three different uninstaller applications on your system (problably in /Program Files/Microsoft/Uninstall/), each of which requires that the other two are deinstalled first ... Of course, Microsoft realizes their mistake and announces a press release that they are already planning on thinking about starting to develop a concept for a possible upgrade.

    If you actually try to run one of the office apps, it will crash the system hard the moment you start anything like strace, gdb, or anything. Of course, all MS Office applications need to run setuid root, because otherwise they would not be able to "offer all the advanced high-tech e-commerce network industry solution features" they provide. Oh yes, and because they run setuid root, you will have to purchase the "Office 2000 Network Install Update" if you want a network-capable installation, because otherwise everything MS Office saves will be in "/My Document" owned by root.root, no matter which user starts MS Office.

    You will not be able to deactive active content in Internet Explorer for any Microsoft site (actually, that's how it is in Windows today, at least on some of the systems I saw), or rather, they will execute no matter what you configure. Internet Explorer will from time to time just forget your homepage and automatically load one of the Windows 2000, MS Office or Windows 98 homepages when you start it. Internet Explorer will also stop loading and crash hard if you start tcpdump or something in a terminal. You will notice frequent DNS requests to, and such when running Word or Excel, if you configure your DNS server to log requests. Microsoft will tell people that Office is checking for new versions and upgrades that may be available, thus the DNS requests.


    Actually, I myself don't think they will do it as obviously as that. But something in this direction is bound to happen, if Microsoft starts producing applications for Linux. They can only both "embrace and extend", they only start in markets where they can bully/cheat/kick the competition out.

    Fortunately, Microsoft still does not seem to have realized the impact that Open Source software has worldwide. Two years ago, the EU would never have dreamed of requesting Windows 2000 source code to check for Diskeeper. Two years ago, France would never have dreamed of suggesting to BAN software in government where no source is available ("for security reasons").

    The only way is forward. Choose the right path. Now please give me a good score on this one, I spend a lot of time for the satire and I don't post too often :)

  • Microsoft won't do it because they can't profit from it.

    Buddy Microsoft guy here is so completely corporate he's almost a cartoon.

    This is the old, out-dated style of business thinking clashing with the new style of business-think. I have this argument with my father all the time (an IT executive at a big corp) and I think even he is beginning to grok it. Maybe a bit of topic, but what the hell.

    Microsoft (and most of the large IT players right now) are old-style business thinkers. Their product strategy is simple: devise product, patent product, sell product, defend product.

    These companies exist only for profit. They never seek opinions or approval from their industry peers - why would they - they are trying to drive their peers out of the marketplace. They act nice to the customer not because they respect him, but because they need his loyalty. They act nice their hackers not because they like them, but because they don't want their competitors to have them. They contribute to the common good only in return for taxation benefits. Their only contributions to education and knowledge are certification programs designed to perpetuate the product and generate even more profit.

    The easiest road to profit is control. Control of the product, control of the marketplace, control of the consumer. Monopolies an excellent way of maintaining this control. Microsoft is almost the ultimate corporation this way -- they maintain absolute control over their product, develop their own standards, and sell to a clientle that is not educated enough to know any better. Microsoft has acheived what most companies can only dream of -- total control of their market.

    Without competition there is no challenge to the product. If the money is rolling in why on Earth would you invest more money in making the product better? From Microsoft's point of view, Windows is already the perfect product -- it generates profit. Subsequent versions of Windows do not have to be better or more stable, they just have to sell.

    Successful old-style business thinkers to nothing to advance knowledge, because they don't have to and it isn't profitable. Windows 2000 is really nothing more then a nicer looking NT4. A server operating system with plug and play, a server operating system with Direct X, a server operating system that went to market with 60000 possible bugs, but I'll bet the shadow under the mousepointer works great. Style over substance, because the product is already 'perfect'.

    The problem Microsoft faces now, and what all of the old style business thinkers face, is the unsustainability of this style of thinking. Growth can't go on forever, and neither can intellectual stagnation. One day, a group of people are going to come along, who can't be bought, who can't be sued, and who make things, not for profit, but because they can. Because it needs to be made. Because it advances knowledge. Because it is cool. They don't need to amass multi-billion dollar fortunes to pay for their computer bits and beer. They make their money helping others to use their product, something that should be done anyway. In the OS world, these new-style business thinkers are those "Linux Zealots". And one day, without ever launching a lawsuit, or a hostile take-over, they will topple these greedy, arrogant companies. Microsoft will either change, or it will die.

    Microsoft guys, if you are still reading this thread, this is your fate. Start thinking like people rather than corporations before it is too late. Get off your asses, and tell your boss that you want to port Office over Linux, that you want to give it away free, and that you want to open source it. Then the rest of us can hack it, make it faster, and get rid of that damn talking paperclip.

  • I have had to _scan_ _paper_ to get a graphic out of a Publisher document. Thankfully, I was able to get hold of a nicer version of the graphic I was trying to extract- still, it's a rather damning indictment. MS File Formats: once they check in they _don't_ check out! ;)
  • by samantha ( 68231 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2000 @10:20AM (#1221052) Homepage
    Well, lets see what a port of Office would really take. Unless you rewrote all the code from scratch you would first have to port all of OLE/COM/DCOM as Office and most MS products are totally dependent on that. Then you would need to port Visual Basic or at least Visual Basic for Applications as this is how extensions and macros are written in Office packages. You would need to support of course the full DLL structure of Windoze to make COM and most applications work. You would need either a registry (bad, bad idea) or a true multi-user version of Active Directory. And, oh yeah, you would need a windowing system or overlay that acted much like MFC.

    I've probably left out quite a bit. When you get done with all of that will the result still be Linux? If you don't do most of that will the product be MS Office on Linux? I believe both answers are No. Such a beast would be a real nightmare. Not because it is so good and would steal more market for Microsoft but because it would be hideously ugly and painful but people would try to use it anyway to be "compatible".

  • I had my doubts as to the authenticity of this whole thread, but the parent to this message just gave it all away...

    Doesn't anyone think that $473/minute legal consultation fees are a tad high. Well, how about dropping the decimal places and text around his figures: $3133 7. Hmmm... looks like [hax0r|skript-kiddy]speak to me!

    I will admit that this is one of the more clever trolls posted in quite a while. Kudos, dmg... whoever you are.

  • That's just simply not true. An MS distribution would have to include the source to all GPL'ed software, but there's nothing that prevents Microsoft from adding their own proprietary software to the distro. And the Linux-version of Office could depend on this being present. With some decent crypto work, it would be very hard to reverse engineer.


    "You can't shake the Devil's hand and say you're only kidding."

  • I take it you don't know ANYTHING about the Active desktop. That has nothing to do with it, Explorer starts whether or not you have an Active Desktop. But like I said, it's irrelevant, IE starts in a new process. And there's no reason why Netscape can't do any 'magical preloading'.

    Please show me any undocumented features in windows dlls netscape can't. you mean MSHTML.DLL? oh wait, that _is_ IE and anyone can use it.

    And that doesn't explain why other browsers (mozilla5 and opera are also many times faster than netscape at starting and rendering).
  • Ahh, being microsoft means being a 'troll'. I now know your intelligence, but I'll bite anyway.

    1) There's no reason why other vendors can't "preload DLLs" (most DLLs are shared in memory and most apps use those DLLs anyway, like mscomctl). And besides, there's no such thing as 'preloading' DLLs, you can have apps that loads a library, and another app that needs to use it won't take as long to load it cause it's already in memory. And what's this "system" dlls thing? To me system dlls are things like gdi32.dll etc.

    2) Windows 2000 boots faster than Redhat Linux on the same machine here.

    3) Windows bloated? Uh, what's netscape/staroffice?
  • I'm sure he already has. It's funny, but a liberal arts degree, because it's based on more classical content, is one of the most conservative educations possible.

    Remember, all conservatives are "classical liberals", so you need to keep time context in mind and avoid knee-jerk use of or reaction to the term "liberal"...

Today is a good day for information-gathering. Read someone else's mail file.