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Stuart Cohen Predicts Office for Linux 300

wysiwia writes "Stuart Cohen, CEO of OSDL, said during an interview with vnunet.com at the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco that it's 'inevitable' that Microsoft will release a version of Office to run on Linux within the 'next couple of years'. But when one reads the OSDL survey about the 'Top inhibitors of Linux desktop adoption' this 'next couple of years' might mean quite a long time. This leads to the question, has Stuart Cohen read his own survey and how does he overcome these inhibitors so MS really will think about MSOffice for Linux." I think the bigger question is 'In reality, how likely is Office for Linux?' I'm not sure that I agree with his assumption.
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Stuart Cohen Predicts Office for Linux

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  • More likely (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith ( 2679 )
    Office will become irrelevant. ODF is going to become the digital equivalent of paper. Universally readable, that'll remove the requirement for Office in a single stroke.

    which is good btw, we'll see some real competition in that segment again.

    • Re:More likely (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Aladrin ( 926209 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:49AM (#15948103)
      (I'm gonna be modded troll for this, I can just feel it.)

      Maybe there's no 'real competition' in 'that segment' because the need is pretty much filled? Can you name something that you wanted to do to a document that you couldn't do in Office Or OpenOffice.org?
      • Re:More likely (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:52AM (#15948130)
        Accurate legal-style wordcount? Mathematical equations editing that doesn't crash or slow to a crawl? Sane bibliography/reference management without a stupid payware addon? Page layout that doesn't randomly change according to your printer drivers (okay, that's mostly only microcrap office).

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MankyD ( 567984 )

          Accurate legal-style wordcount?

          That's a pretty trivial thing for them to fix I would think and if they thought it was worthwhile, they would do it.

          Mathematical equations editing that doesn't crash or slow to a crawl? Sane bibliography/reference management without a stupid payware addon?

          Worthy additions but peripheral to the main function of Word for an average user. It's certainly not going to be enough to cause a major wave of competition compared with other features.

          Page layout that doesn't random

          • by xtracto ( 837672 )
            There is no obvious way to shrink the image data itself - file sizes grow huge with just a few small 1" square images. Powerpoint is an even bigger offender here.

            Wow, that is plain bullshit. Easy image resizing and cropping is something that has turned me down about OpenOffice. for Which Microsoft Office has convenient toolbar [microsoft.com] icons [microsoft.com].

            Those are part of the "small details" that still make OpenOffice unconfortable for me. And as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by megabyte405 ( 608258 )
          Well, I'm not sure about the other features (though they can be written, probably most easily as plugins), but AbiWord definitely has mathematical equation editing that works - it's MathML and LaTeX based, and basically surpasses all other word processors in this account for those with experience in math markup (no new language to learn!).

          Check it out at www.abisource.com (and stop back in a few months for our real-time collaborative editing plugin, debuting with version 2.6.0 )

          --Ryan, AbiWord Dev and Win32
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          OpenOffice has an absolutely excellent equation editing function- far, far better than Microsoft Equation Editor 3.0 that is used in Office. You can use a palette a la MSEE 3 or better yet, just type the numbers and use brackets for grouping, underscores for subscripting, and %GREEKCHARACTERS. It's very easy to do and one of the big features that OO has over MS Office in my mind.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by doti ( 966971 )
          Word is by far the most horrible, painful software I ever used in my life.
          You don't use it, you fight against it.

          Believe me, even for your mom, it is actually easier to use LaTeX than Word.
      • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:07AM (#15948230)
        With MS Office, the format changes on a regular basis. There are already doc format files which are almost impossible to read, even on Windows. Governments, multinationals may want data to remain readable for the forseeable future, you don't get that unless you are using a standardised document format.

        Mmmm, also switch platforms. With doc, you are locked into a monopoly, which is frankly a dumb place to put yourself given an easy alternative.

        • by doublem ( 118724 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:04AM (#15948653) Homepage Journal
          It's been my experience that Open Office tends to do a better job parsing older DOC files than the latest and greatest Word.

          For example, I was working at a company that did a massive upgrade from Office 95 to Office 2000. Most the documents were Insurance and Securities courses, some close to 700 pages in length, complete with complex formatting and layout.

          The process of reformatting the documents was long and painful, until I started using the then Beta Open Office to convert the documents to the newest Office format.

          While some fiddling was still necessary, most of the tables and floating text boxes came through just fine. The first sample course I did required an hour of reformatting after my conversion, where it has needed over six hours of editing if Word 2000 was used straight from the Word 95 document.
      • Yes, sometimes I'll be reading a document and I'll just want to rip it up and set it on fire. Can I do THAT in Office or OpenOffice.org?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 )
      ODF is going to become the digital equivalent of paper. Universally readable, that'll remove the requirement for Office in a single stroke.

      Bleh. We already have a decent standards that'll handle 99.99% of word processing documents just fine: HTML/JPG tarballs. Viewability on any browser post-extraction is a definite advantage. That's the standard that should be adopted worldwide for WP documents.

      Other data like spreadsheets? Much as it pains me to do so, I'd go for MS's XML solution (maybe compresse

      • If it's compressed after creation, it's not going to be readable in any text editor without jumping through a few hoops, like decompressing the file.

        And if I recall correctly, ODF is just a zip file containing a few XML files and possibly a few more zip files inside. Or I may be thinking of the previous OpenOffice format. Or I may be thinking of another type of file completely.
      • Not to mention that you're discussing a product that creates said documents, not the actual documents themselves. If ODF becomes the worldwide standard GP predicts, MS will support the standard in their product, and MS Office will continue to prevail.

        ODF is fine and all, but you're talking about file formats. Word 2003 can save to about 10 different formats, including WordPerect and AppleWorks file formats. You think that saving to ODF is going to cause them that much pain?

        Office is a huge money maker fo
    • More likely (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You have never seen how Office is used in a corporate environment. You haven't seen how extensively VBA is used and how people have built mission critical apps in Excel and Access. I'm not saying its a good thing, but replacing these apps is going to take over a decade.
    • SharePoint (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sqwubbsy ( 723014 )
      What about SharePoint?
      Any good collaborative, real-time tools out there being developed on the Open Source front?

      You might want to mod me as troll, mods, but that's because I'm right and it angers you.
      SharePoint's only serious competitor, Groove, was acuired by MicroSoft and Lotus Notes doesn't want to create 'real' clients for Linux or Mac. Sure, you can install them, but they suck.
    • Office will become irrelevant. ODF is going to become the digital equivalent of paper. Universally readable, that'll remove the requirement for Office in a single stroke.

      Yeah, wake me when it actually is universally readable.

      This weekend, my husband and I decided to catalog our game collection into a nice spreadsheet. I used KSpread and made it all pretty, a tab for every console and a front sheet that calculated the totals. It looked nice, I was happy. Then my husband opened it on his computer with

  • Who will use it? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:40AM (#15948056)
    "Microsoft will fight the total cost of ownership [issue] with a very inexpensive office solution," he said. "I do not think that they will open source Office, but they will make it available to run on Linux desktops."

    Who will use this? Sure, I can see Microsoft doing this, as the article says, in order to take a pre-emptive strike against Open Office. But who will use Office for Linux? The current Linux users defintely won't for several reasons: 1.) They hate Micrsoft 2.) They don't want to have to pay for anything, especially something that runs on Linux 3.) They don't want to introduce new vulnerabilities to their system 4.) They already have a solid alternative in Open Office

    And, there honestly aren't enough general users using Linux yet, so Microsoft would be lucky to get even a small percentage of Linux users to use Office on Linux. I don't see a user base right now. If Linux were widely accepted (like Apple) on the desktop, then that's another story. But right now it isn't, and therefore there is no user base for this product.
    • Re:Who will use it? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JBHarris ( 890771 ) <bharris@NospAm.isf.com> on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:48AM (#15948101)
      I think you may be missing the point. Companies are switching to Linux because it is a viable OS alternative. However, OOo is NOT a viable Office alternative. I have used both OpenOffice and MS-Office each for SEVERAL years, and I have yet to find many features in OOo that I use regularly in MS-Office. Microsoft is loosing ground in the desktop OS category. They want to make sure they at least make SOME money from this explosion of Linux adoption.

      Simply, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dc29A ( 636871 )
        OOo is NOT a viable Office alternative.

        I converted my mother's Office suit to OOo about a year ago. She doing bio research so her documentation is mostly spreadsheets and your regular documents. She never ever once complained that OOo couldn't do something Office could. Let's face it, the common mortal doesn't use all features of Office, infact they use only a small subset of features.

        When all you need are bold, italic, paragraphs, insert a picture here and there, simple formulas and whatnot. Why would one
    • by div_2n ( 525075 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:50AM (#15948112)
      >>> Who will use this?

      One of the primary arguments by the PHB's in my company against Linux on the desktop is Microsoft Office. Do not pretend it isn't a big deal.
      • >>> Who will use this?

        One of the primary arguments by the PHB's in my company against Linux on the desktop is Microsoft Office. Do not pretend it isn't a big deal.

        I've heard much the same myself. Now, on the one hand,

        1) If there was MSOffice on Linux, more people would migrate to Linux, while paying for MSOffice, causing revenue gains for MS.
        2) Yet, currently, those people are paying for BOTH Windows AND MSOffice licenses.

        So this would be a net loss for MS. However, on the other hand,
        • I think that you are pretty much spot-on with your assessment. Because MS offers both Office and the OS it runs on AND both are the extremely dominant product in their category, MS has little incentive to offer Office for a competing OS at this time. However, I think that we might eventually see Microsoft offer Office for Linux, but it would have to make sense for them to do so. Thus the following things must be true for them to do that:

          1. A court in a country breaks Microsoft's monopoly on both OS and offi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mrjatsun ( 543322 )
        Having Office available didn't help Apple make it in the corporate world. I expect you would see the same bug ridden, slightly behind version that you see on Mac OS.
    • by ScriptedReplay ( 908196 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:51AM (#15948124)
      Who will use this?

      Business users. If migrating the business desktop to Linux gains enough traction MS will have to do it to keep at least some revenue stream from those customers. The other incentive that's been growing lately is government desktops. Unlike Apple users, individual Linux users are not likely to pay for MSOffice - but an IT department is a different kettle of fish.
    • I believe his point is that there will be enough general users using Linux forthwith. I think for example in India, China, and Africa. And a good number of them will have used Office/Windows. They'll be soothed by the familiar Office when their companies go to Ubuntu/Red Flag/etc.

      Chapter Two: I think there will always -- no matter how big ODF gets -- be things that MS makes it difficult to do from a non-windows box. "You want that spreadsheet updated with stuff from an IIS-based intranet... easiest thing

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      Who will use this?

      Companies who are not deploying Linux as of now because of the costs of retraining users to use an office suite other then MS Office, and the problems with imperfect interoperability with MS Office docs in other office suites.

      My company has a significant number of daily-use files and periodic procedures that would be expensive to rebuild using a new office suite -- these are patched-together items that have evolved over many years.

      Would it theoretically be better to build new from scratc

    • by vishbar ( 862440 )
      All too often, it's not the actual user who decides whether to implement Office for Linux, but instead the upper management who feels warm and fuzzy when they're buying a product developed by a corporation instead of by a ragtag group of programmers who everybody knows can't really develop software. Microsoft's FUD machine works wonders on the upper brass.
    • I would use it. I currently have to keep a Windows partition around solely to deal with Word documents. OpenOffice doesn't cut it for anything beyond simple formatted text. For example, I do a lot of writing, and for publishers whose editors use Word's "track changes", I'm stuck with booting into Windows and opening the file in Word.
    • by RobotRunAmok ( 595286 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:23AM (#15948339)
      Who will use this?

      I would. In a heartbeat. And the small office that I am setting up for a client this week, they'd use it too. In fact, I'd put them all on Linux today if I could assure my client he could easily get temps and office workers who wouldn't have problems (genuine and imagined) with OO, but I can't.

      These people aren't fourteen years old, they don't "hate Microsoft," they just have a job to do and want to do it with reliable and familiar tools. Linux works just fine on the desktop, and I'm happy to recommend it and install it, but outside of geek-dom no one cares about the OS. It's all about the applications.

      Microsoft releasing Office for Linux is the greatest thing that could happen to Linux. That's why I am skeptical they will do it...
    • Who will use this? Sure, I can see Microsoft doing this, as the article says, in order to take a pre-emptive strike against Open Office. But who will use Office for Linux? The current Linux users defintely won't for several reasons: 1.) They hate Micrsoft 2.) They don't want to have to pay for anything, especially something that runs on Linux 3.) They don't want to introduce new vulnerabilities to their system 4.) They already have a solid alternative in Open Office

      If desktop Linux is ever going to be signi

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by massysett ( 910130 )
      People will use it because the Linux alternatives are inferior right now. I've got a huge spreadsheet. Excel opens it in about two seconds and recalculates it in about half a second. OOo and Gnumeric take at least two minutes to open it and a recalculation takes about five *minutes*. I love free software but I'll admit when it's inferior, and it is here.
    • Have you ever worked in an actual corporation?

      Even if MS doesn't port Office, just porting Outlook alone would be HUGE for the open source world, and get Linux millions of new workstations no doubt. (And no, none of those alpha version email clients that pretend to be able to talk to Exchange server count.)

      I think the prediction is plausible. After all, Microsoft puts a big effort into creating a quality MS Office for Macintosh, and they've never worried about that sniping from their Windows sales.

      I would
  • by kisrael ( 134664 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:41AM (#15948064) Homepage
    I have a buddy at works who takes pride in the fact that no-one ever notices he's running OpenOffice, not "the real deal".

    Admittedy he's a developer and Office is only a smallish fraction of his work, but file compatible software and "workalikes" in general decrease the need for a proper port to Linux. Microsoft will try to push the envelope with new UI bits, which will either be duplicated, or might even be a drawback to the "conservative" Office audience.

    A similar process has happened browser-wise. With the web being a larger and larger percentage of what people Do With Computers, having Firefox on any given platform makes it very easy to switch OSes without thinking about it nearly as much.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by brunascle ( 994197 )

      no-one ever notices he's running OpenOffice, not "the real deal".

      that's certainly not always the case. i had a major project senior year of college. we collaborated on a presentation in PPT. the first guy worked on his stuff, sent the .ppt to me, i added my stuff and sent it to the next guy.

      at the time, i was using linux as my desktop, and added my part in OpenOffice. unfortunately, the first guy added animations to each slide which apparently werent handled in OO. since the only one who had seen it wi

  • ...and you'll know how serious any Microsoft announcement about software for Linux is.

    3 or 4 years ago, /. had the announcement of WMP for Linux (which I, correctly I believe, posited that it was both vaporware and a strategic announcement to get content providers away from RealPlayer, then the only DRM system that officially supported Linux).

    This one makes even less sense, as there's no target, no commercial enterprise that has a potential market for office for Linux (OO is free and if OO didn't come out, the Gnome office suite would probably have gotten more development and attention). Nobody has the potential in the Office suite to use Linux as a means of saying "we're better than Microsoft" to any content providers providing proprietary material.

    So unless its going to be part of a larger "patent scare" program Microsoft might pull (they've been holding THAT trump card on Office apps for years), I don't see the point.

    And if there's no point, there's no truth to it. Nothing Microsoft does it does without a specific competitor in mind, and there really is no competitor here.
  • Given the current market penetration for linux on the desktop, there is no incentive for MS to give their competitors a bullet point. And without more reasons to switch ( like Office on linux, which would be a big one ), linux desktops aren't going to get that critical mass.

    Which isn't a bad thing as far as I'm concerned. While I would like an alternative to windows, I think linux shines in server land, and that's where we should be focusing our efforts.
  • economic question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by polar red ( 215081 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:48AM (#15948099)
    Why would you first install a free OS to later add a paying Office application ? my answer would be : only in a very small number of cases. So potential sales for this MSOffice4Linux are small ... not attractive for MS.
    • by dtietze ( 708094 )
      Well -- maybe you're not running Linux for only the short-sighted economic (read: pennypinching) reasons, but because it's an incredibly stable and robust system, which supports more media devices out-of-the-box than Windows?
      And maybe you're forced to use MS office applications (due to investment in macros, templates, interchange with partners, etc.) -- reasons which have a very direct impact on your income? And maybe in fact MS Office is the last thing tying you to Windows?
      Just a thought....
    • Well, they -could- release it for free. In fact, with MS looking to copy Google's success, they may just release all of their software for free, and try to market ms-adwords.

      Office (and Operating Systems) are becoming more and more irrelevant every day---Microsoft would be pretty clever if they realized this, and just gave it away to maintain market share (and come up with some other means to make money). Maybe not business level stuff, but for consumer level stuff.
    • I'm not sure economics... at least short to medium-term "traditional" economics would necessarily play a role here. I'm not saying I *ever* expect to see MSOffice-Linux, but I think it's pretty well known how much effort Microsoft put into copy/piracy prevention when they were building their monopoly. They saw more value in having Windows on the desktop than they saw in Windows itself. It enabled them to get it out there everywhere and even accounted for "pirated copies" as part of their user statistics.
  • by HighOrbit ( 631451 ) * on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:49AM (#15948104)
    MS would only do this is there was a critical mass of linux desktops. Overall there is too much danger to Microsoft in this because the Office and Windows monopolies are mutually supporting. There was a related story on this in 2004 IBM Wants to Port Office to Linux [slashdot.org].

    Here is a cut and paste from my comment [slashdot.org] then:

    Can MS-Office be ported to Linux technically? I would say yes, because they were able to make a Mac OS X port, which has BSD-Unix underpinnings. Pretty much anything than can be done on BSD can be done on Linux. So no great feat of technology would be involved on getting MS-Office ported to Linux.

    Now lets talk about why MS would or would not want to do this. If enough of a market existed (read: Corporate customers clamoring for a native Linux port), MS might have an opportunity to retain those customers (and maybe get a few new customers) and make some money doing it. So there is an opportunity for them there in the office suite market. The danger is this: MS-Office & MS-Windows are mutually supporting monopolies in the corporate world. . As long as Office effectively requires Windows, every corporate desktop sold with Office almost guarantees an accompanying windows license. So double the revenue for M$. A native Linux version of MS-Office would undermine Windows. Once Windows is undermined, then Office itself might be jeopardized because they are mutually supporting.

    A native Linux port of MS-Office is just too much of a threat to the MS monopoly structure. MS knows this, so such a port will never see the light of day.
    • by NihilEst ( 976138 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:05AM (#15948213)
      Overall there is too much danger to Microsoft in this because the Office and Windows monopolies are mutually supporting.

      This was what the original DoJ anti-trust effort against MSFT, if you'll recall, attempted to accomplish: a divestiture of MSFT's OS and applications divisions. It failed. We still have the three-headed Hydra whose left hand (Windows OS) supports it's right hand (Office and similar apps).

      We are now seeing the oligopoly behaving like an oligopoly does: less choice, fewer options. Once upon a time, MSFT did release a Word for Mac and a Word for OS/2; but that was before Windows had its death grip on the desktop market. Now MSFT sees no need -- until ODF, there was no competition. Now there is. This ought to be interesting :)

    • A thought: if MSOffice already runs on MacOS, why can't we make a thin API for Linux and emulate a Mac? Presumably, it would be easier than emulating Win32 - although the Wine Project does this very well. Actually, you can already run Office on Linux, via Wine.
  • Deja Vu... (Score:3, Informative)

    by lseltzer ( 311306 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:50AM (#15948110)
    This stupid idea gets predicted every few years. Check this one out from early 2000 [zdnet.com], and I remember earlier ones. It makes sense to Linux-Heads, but from Microsoft's standpoint it's a 100% loser, and it would require a great deal of effort for probably trivial revenues.
    • by mgblst ( 80109 )
      I wouldn't say it was a 100% loser idea for Microsoft, but it is definately a big regime change for Microsoft.

      It would mean that Microsoft are recognising Linux as a legitimate operating system - which would mean that many over businesses start to take Linux seriously, and would even consider it on their desktop machines. This will probably happen eventually (there are signs that it is happening already, amoung goverments anyway). This means that people will start to look at Linux/Office rather than Windows
  • by Helmholtz ( 2715 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:50AM (#15948113) Homepage
    I like to ask folks who are rigid about sticking with MS Office what features they use and/or in their minds really make MS Office stand out. Normally there's not much of a response beyond things along the lines of "it's what I'm used to", "I can open documents other people send me", etc. Personally, I think a majority of non-technical people really don't care what Office-style product they use, and are much more concerned about whether they are using the software that "everyone else is using". And granted, there are people that actually use and utilize specific features in MS Office, but if those were the only ones who actively purchased MS Office, I don't think it'd be considered the de facto standard of Office applications.

    Just my 2c.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Creepy ( 93888 )
      My wife's comments, in order, in about 20 seconds after she loaded her word created document and excel created spreadsheets:

      "It's not exactly like MS Office - I hate it"

      "I need my macros - this is useless without my macros"

      "How do I add a VB script to this spreadsheet? I need them for my pivot tables to get the right information from the database. How do I access my Access database?"

      After struggling with alternates for all of the above, there was really one sticking point - Access. I'm a fair DB guy, and
    • Lots of companies have spent serious money fielding highly integrated applications based on the ability to use Visual Basic with Office. If might be an Office only app with VBA, or a third party app with VB that calls the various office components to build spreadsheets in Excel or forms in Word. Linux very possibly could break that.

      Here is a question for the Office 2007 Beta users: As of Office 2003, VBA was based on VB6. Does Office 2007 have a VBA based on .Net? Could all of those VB apps be ported to
  • Nope, Won't happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by trboyden ( 465969 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:51AM (#15948117)
    This will never happen for the same reason it hasn't been done up to now - If there was M$ Office available for Linux, why would anyone need to buy M$ Windows... - M$ knows this and won't enable a competing operating system to impeed their operating system market share. The only reason they make a version for the Mac is because of legal arrangements between the two companies, and that agreement is most likely to be ended within 5 years as Apple develops their new productivity applications to replace the current M$ Office applications that continue to stagnate on the Mac platform. ODF is a contributing factor, but it'll be awhile before that takes hold in corporate America and thus becomes the new defacto standard.
  • Micro$oft's Office for Linux? Please don't take me wrong, I would never use it, I have OpenOffice.org and many other fine Open Source Application. But imagine all that companies spending money for MS Office _AND_ MS Windows licenses. Now they finally can switch their OS from Windows to Linux because Office is the most important application for them. As a result, I don't think that MS will develop a native Version of MS Office for Linux.
  • "Cohen compared the expected Linux Microsoft Office version to Oracle's Database 10g Express Edition application launched in November."

    Didn't he just say that it would be F/OSS? It would be a closed/binary app? I'd compare it to a flash player, or Acrobat, or something...

  • by cblack ( 4342 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @09:58AM (#15948169) Homepage
    In my opinion I doubt that the development effort to bring Office to Linux desktops is worth it for Microsoft.
    Programmer effort including learning/using libraries that I doubt MS programmers have lots of experience with.
    Potentially making Linux a more viable-looking desktop OS alternative to Windows
    Potential added complexity to the codebase
    Miniscule amount of sales to a small market
    Improve their image of working with non-MS technologies

    It just doesn't seem like they have a lot to gain from doing this...
  • Way back in the day, MS promised (directly, not someone else saying they would) Office for OS2 when it hit a certain number of users.

    It blew by that number, and was Office forthcoming? Nope.
  • Of course Microsoft are not a stupid company. They'll produce software where they think they will make money. As Windows gets more and more of a pain in the ass for people (I'm thinking governments etc. proposing and actually doing the dance of moving to a Linux desktop or an Open Document Format) and they move away from those, they still want Office, some Microsoft products, some migration or keepsake Microsoft functionality. They may even begrudge the fact that they have to leave a perfectly good solution
  • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:06AM (#15948220)
    In order for this to become reality, there needs to be a clear business benefit to Microsoft.

    If Office is about the only thing keeping people on Windows (and you can bet Microsoft won't willingly give up that monopoly), then a port has no benefit.

    Let's look at this from the reverse perspective: benefit to Microsoft customers.

    You can get Microsoft site licensing for just Office (on the assumption that you'll be buying every PC with an OS license anyway and you pay for any upgrades individually as and when).

    Where is the business benefit in me shifting all desktops to Linux if I intend to maintain a Microsoft site license? Because I bet you anything you like a Microsoft site license which includes "Office (Linux Edition)" would be more expensive than the "Office for Windows" equivalent. And I'm still stuck with all my data in a proprietary format.

    Most organisations following a desktop Linux migration have been either to save money or (more commonly) to avoid having to store data in a proprietary format. Licensing Microsoft "Office for Linux" would eliminate both of those benefits.
  • MS does anything for Linux, it means its marketshare has been already depleted and such a move is largely irrevelent. But we are not there yet.

    I think Linux uptake will come slower at first, the first 5% is hardest, and then suddenly accelerate (we are on the left side of the bell-curve). It's only a matter of time until those who have to pay MS money (computer vendors) will dare to preinstall a Linux (hopefully Ubuntu) on some of their systems and it will be a slow downhill slide for MS there as more and
  • False Analogy (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bobby Orr ( 161598 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:18AM (#15948300)
    His logic is that because MS created an Office for Macintosh, therefore it will create a port for Linux. But Linux operates in a different space with a different user base than Macintosh. Further, Microsoft's relationship with Linux would have to be more similar to Microsoft's relationship to Apple for this to be a valid analogy.

    I think a better analogy would be to compare SQL Server Express to MySQL and PostgreSQL. SQL Server was and is an expensive technology but Express is free. Why did MS do that? To compete with Open Source DBs. I believe it is more likely that when Open Office acquires a sufficient fan base to worry Microsoft they will either slash the price of Office or else release Office Express or some such version that is meant to compete ON WINDOWS with the Open Office space.

    IOW, it is just as valid to assume that MS will create a WINDOWS variant of Office to compete with Open Office than it is to assume that they will create a LINUX version to do so. And, I think, more likely.
  • That's about as relevant to linux users as getting IE explorer (which is to say not very relevant).

    But it could be useful for companies who actually don't have much use for a PC except for reading emails and writing .docs and .xls', and I do believe that this should be the case for a huge number of companies out there. Which is why it will never happen, not until Microsoft starts losing cash in droves and get desperate (which, coincidentally, is also highly unlikely :)

  • Nasty problem... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:21AM (#15948327)
    Pick a distro...any distro... They all work slightly differently. MS is not going to release an open-source version of Office that can be recompiled at will, because - well - they're still Microsoft. So, I'm betting that Office will act broken on a lot of distros and add to MS's image as a producer of buggy software. MS knows this all too well and thus won't release office for "Linux" in the first place. Maybe as a package guaranteed to work under RHEL or something, but still unlikely...


  • that keeps a Windows machine on the KVM switch under my desk. Wine and Crossover Office don't work with the current version of QB last time I checked and I've yet to see an Open Source alternative that is comparable. Intuit is right up there with MS in regard to the suckiness of their business plan with forced upgrades to software that was doing everything I wanted from it. At least I've got OO as a good alternative to Office.
  • MS is too busy getting their core Windows products (Vista) out late. And their introduction of a new product (they never just "port" a Windows product to a new architecture, even on Intel) is always a nearly useless trial balloon for their most insatiable addicts.

    I'd love to see MS introduce a Linux MS Office. The competition would be good for OpenOffice. And an LMO would probably be quickly wrapped in Wine and an OO.o plugin. So we could buy MS doc compatibility for Linux by buying a LMO then wrapping it.
    • by JustNiz ( 692889 )
      >> So we could buy MS doc compatibility for Linux

      OpenOffice is already compatible with MS doc format. Why would you want to buy a product when a free one already does it?

      Anyway I'd much rather see effort spent on the OpenDocument format than a port of crappy MS software.
      • I don't think OO is 100% compatible. Even in my own experience making the simplest bulleted/indented lists, when I open an MS Word doc in OO, change a few items' text, then save it as MS Word, I turn a 45KB .DOC into a 2MB .DOC . That makes it hard to pass around a group that's "tracking changes" on the Net.
  • does any one remeber IE (AFAIK IE 4) for unix ? it never worked propperly (buggy) was slow as hell and even incompatible with windows and mac version (read no activex, no VB, different front sizes, etc.). Microsoft didn't support it fro long ...

    MS Office is another beast, it is not "just" a web browser (ok, ok, IE is also not just a web browser but still, office does a lot more and is tightly integrated in their OS).

    OTOH, wine IE6/5.5/5 works well from my own experience (altough it's a bit slower than nativ
  • Several others have mentioned the very real problem of distro choice. Because each are different, is Microsoft going to support every one? If not, which ones? Certainly Red Hat and Novell's SUSE make sense, but although that addresses part of the problem it still doesn't resolve the greater concern of providing "MS Office for Linux".

    In my opinion, while I fully support the wide range of distro's, they do nothing but hinder the real viability of Linux in a business environment.

    Here's a prognostication:

    • So Microsoft would make an OS, that runs Windows programs, and could even have the Vista interface? What in the world would they call it?

      I'm sorry, but MS making a linux distro that is essentially their already existing Windows OS (at what point does it stop being linux and start being windows?) is even crazier than them making Office for linux in the first place!
  • Building Blocks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:48AM (#15948528) Homepage Journal
    I don't think many people "get" how MS is built as a company.

    Rarely have I seen another company whose products are so heavily interlocked and relying on each other. MS doesn't sell individual products, it sells building blocks of a "microsoft world". I still think Gates' dream is to run everything in your house, office, etc.

    MS Office is built heavily on MS Windos. There's even a whole secret API especially so that MS Office can beat competing products. Windos, in turn, sells mostly (in the corporate environment) because of Office. Exchange/Outlook are so common because they "fit into" the landscape, and are integrated heavily with both.

    The Xbox is boosted by the fact that it uses largely the same APIs (DirectX) as the Windos PC.

    Even the other MS hardware - keyboards, mice, etc. - have special support in the OS. There's hardly any product in the MS portfolio that is not supported, helped along or built upon by half a dozen others.

    So will MS ever take one of their products out of its natural environment and move it somewhere else? They've tried here and there - IE and Office on the Mac, for example - and none of that works so very well. IE for Mac is dead. Office on Mac is still around because a trial version ships with every new Mac and due to its dominance in the corporate environment. But on the Mac it's just another application.

    Office on Linux? Don't think so. They're not going to give corporations any reason to switch away from Windos, because who knows what's next? These hippies might think about replacing Exchange with something much better and cheapter next!

  • The only business strategy Microsoft ever have had is a borg-like 'embrace and extend' attack.

    Now they're starting on Linux.
  • Microsoft will make Office available for Linux, when it decides that it will make more money selling Office to a new market than it will lose in the Windows OS space. MS sells new versions of Office because 1) it has new features that users want and 2) they've changed formats and users must upgrade to be compatible with external Office users. My opinion is that MS hit a wall years ago on item #1 (i.e. they've been adding obscure features most users don't use or care about). On item #2, they're slowly bei
  • VBscript (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bytesex ( 112972 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:55AM (#15948588) Homepage
    They might port Office to Linux, but like apple, they'll forego creating or supporting a decent VBscript parser. And that's what all these businesses want. Never mind that it's impossible anyway, since all of these scripts will be full of hardcoded paths like 'C:\Program Files\myapp\some path I thought was cute.ini' that no UNIX will eat.
  • Obviously (Score:5, Funny)

    by Orange Crush ( 934731 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @10:59AM (#15948616)
    "Office for Linux" will no doubt be released immediately following Microsoft's long anticipated version of "Wings for Pigs."
  • Missing the obvious (Score:5, Informative)

    by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @11:09AM (#15948693) Homepage
    For three years I've already run MS Office 2002 on Fedora Core. It works perfectly, insert CD-ROM, launch "Setup," click "Next" all the way through, then the first time you run it complete the product activation, etc. It starts faster than OpenOffice.org, is more stable, and it's absolutely transparently like any other Linux application.

    I've also run Photoshop, Internet Explorer, and FrameMaker for the same period of time.

    Wine really is that good now, people, if you configure it well, *or* if you go to Codeweavers.com and buy Crossover Office for well under $100. No, I don't work for them, nor do I work for the Wine project, I'm just still shocked at how people treat Windows compatibility like it's such an issue here--the posts that talk about it as if Microsoft loses the farm the moment Office runs on Linux... well, it has now for years. I wrote two books and my thesis on it, in Linux.

    Same thing with Photoshop, I'm always seeing all these posts about how Linux desperately Lacks a Photoshop and GIMP isn't there yet... Well, install @#($* Photoshop in Linux and be done with it.

    I was a nonbeliever when I used to try to configure Wine myself (though I did get Office 97 to run under it, after lots of self-configuration), but once I finally broke down and gave Crossover Office a start, I'm recommended it to all my family and friends. I know it sounds like a commercial, but Office for Linux is such a solved problem. And I know people don't like commercial software, but Codeweavers is an OSS service company in most ways: their product is simply a reworked version of an OSS project, and they contribute code back regularly.

    But if Office for Linux came out tomorrow, I wouldn't buy it. I already have Office 2002 for Windows running flawlessly on my FC5 desktop. Why would I shell out again?
  • 'In reality, how likely is Office for Linux?'

    No chance. As noted, the lack of Office is a key factor in limiting desktop migration to Linux. Microsoft will never voluntarily act against its own interests. Any gain it would reap from Office for Linux would be at the loss of desktops and associated OS sales and related profits. Office for Linux has been predicted many times. Microsoft itself claimed it was forthcoming during the anti-trust trial. But it never has and never will actually arrive. Unfortu
  • In the past, I've joked about MS releasing its own Linux distribution, and this could still happen in the future, but I only see this if Vista comes out and fails spectacularly. By the same token, if MS Office were to come to Linux, I think that would be in conjunction with the MS Linux release, again, in the aftermath of a Vista implosion. Much is made of the dominance of MS Windows on the desktop, but the thing that really keeps millions of business users on Windows is MS Office. Most businesses think it
  • Wow, it might beat Vista to market!

  • Yup, 2007 is definitely gonna be the year of the linux desktop.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @12:51PM (#15949452) Homepage

    OpenOffice has made real progress. As a long-time user, I've watched it go from "totally sucks" to "almost works" to "works, but is irritating at times". Right now, it works mechanically, but has more sharp edges than Office. Compare, say, OpenOffice word completion with Microsoft Word. OpenOffice will try to do the same dumb thing twice. Microsoft Word will stop fighting you after the first time.

    And, let's face it, OpenOffice help information needs help. If you ask for help on something, you often either can't find it, get info about the wrong thing, or get info which doesn't tell you exactly where to find something in the menu system. It's little stuff like that which affects user likability.

    All these things are fixable, but they're not the kind of problems that get fixed via Bugzilla complaints. The open source process isn't good at fixing usability issues. It takes things like videotaping users struggling with a program to get these kinds of problems fixed.

    Usability testing is simple enough. You make up some tasks, like "Write a letter on company letterhead, then print it and its envelope". You videotape a few people doing this, with a system that records both the screen and the user's face and voice. You watch the videos (this is the time-consuming part) and note all the places where the user got stuck, had to undo something, or lost time. Those are your usability bugs. The goal is a seamless user experience, or "flow".

    It would be useful to have video like that on SourceForge or YouTube. It's boring, but it would give more developers a sense of what usability is really about.

  • by josh_freeman ( 114671 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @12:51PM (#15949456)
    This seems to pop up on our beloved /. every couple of years or so. Personally, I would LOVE to see Office on Linux, and I think it's in Microsoft's best interest to put it out there, but I doubt it will happen. It appears they've developed a myopic, RIAA-like fixation on propping up their current market without preparing adequately for the next one. Sure they have a 90%+ marketshare of the desktop, and finding a computer without Word is almost as hard as finding a TV without satellite or cable, but that's now. OpenOffice is making inroads into that market. Google is doing an end-run around the whole market by releasing Writely and Spreadsheets. Apple has their own office products. Adobe wants to make Powerpoint irrelevant by using flash for presentations. All it would really take is for one or two of those ideas to catch on to see Microsoft lose a fair amount of money.

    Eventually, someone at Microsoft will realize that Linux / *BSD / *NIX WILL cut into their server market, and to a lesser extend the desktop market, and there is NOTHING they can do to prevent that. So long as Microsoft exists, there will be people on Slashdot bashing it, and they will hook a wi-fi card to an abacus before booting a windows box. The dumb thing to do, which what Redmond is doing now, woul be to ignore them, or worse villify them in some way as being communist or anti-American for not wanting to shell out large amounts of cash for an OS and software. The smart thing to do would be to finding markets where they can reach them. Office on *NIX would be one way to do that.

    We know Office will run on *BSD. It's already running on Mac OS X. One would hope that it would not be impossible to run Office on Linux. I would like to think that there are at least a few geeks on the Office team that got loaded on half-caf double decaf expresso lattes with a twist of lemon and have ported it just to see if it could be done. Only time will tell.
  • Catch 22 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Arceliar ( 895609 ) on Monday August 21, 2006 @03:23PM (#15950471)
    If I were at Micro$oft, I'd look at it like this...

    2 options. Either A) port office, or B) don't port office. If office were ported, then they'd likely make quite a bit of cash on sales from it. However, file format support is, to my understanding, one of the major reasons businesses don't leave windoze platform. Office on linux could cause more users to make the big switch. Microsoft wouldn't like that. They'd still be making money from office sales, but why lose the income from the OS itself as well? (Though it's still rarely an option to buy a given model of computer without xp installed if it comes from any of the major OEMs). Worse yet (for M$ at least), users who switchover would be exposed to a buffet of FOSS equivilents to countless proprietary software products. A good number of users would probably decide to save themselves more money by using openoffice instead, after having been exposed to it (as it seems to come standard on most the major distro's now, or at least is easy to get).

    If they follow option B, and don't port it, they miss out only on the market share currently held by the *nix variants. From the business point of view, in the long run, option B seems safer.

    Fortunately, WINE and its variants are already very compatible with the staple software most people rely on, and are progressing at an impressive rate. So if M$ doesn't port it themselves, in the end anyone with an x86 can still likely run it virtually flawlessly. At this rate, in a year or two if M$ ported it, it wouldn't matter anymore. Sure, it'd be 'officially' supported, but unless they also ported to different processor architectures, I don't see it having much of an effect. (And I'm sure the last thing M$ wants is people to start buying pc's with anything but x86's or x86_64's in them).

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser