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IBM Software Linux

IBM Wants to Port Office to Linux 662

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the couldn't-hurt-things dept.
shfted! writes "OSNews reports: As part of its initiative to put Linux on the desktop, IBM Corp. wants to migrate Microsoft Corp.'s Office suite to Linux. Microsoft said it's not involved and suggests that IBM might do it by emulation."
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IBM Wants to Port Office to Linux

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  • Why ? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PaintyThePirate (682047) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:38AM (#8285717) Homepage
    Why use Microsoft Office when Open Office [openoffice.org] is getting so good?
    • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by abner23 (724467) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:41AM (#8285742)
      Access Database support...
      • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:06PM (#8285897) Homepage
        Then IBM should use the money to improve Access Database support in OO.o - or someone has to do it. This current proposal is simply enlarging the DRM control of MS.

        Right now we can tell our governments not to use MS Word doc format because it's only available to certain systems. If IBM port MS Office, governments will find it harder to understand the issues involved.

        The Enemy isn't MS, it's unfree software. IBM's proposal is not a contribution [gnu.org].
        • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quantum bit (225091) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:20PM (#8286013) Journal
          Right now we can tell our governments not to use MS Word doc format because it's only available to certain systems. If IBM port MS Office, governments will find it harder to understand the issues involved.

          The argument shouldn't be that isn't not available, it should be that it's not right for a government to require you to give money to Microsoft in order to read official documents.
          • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Informative)

            by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:06PM (#8286435) Homepage Journal
            On virtually any other point about Microsoft I would likely agree with you, but on this one, you're wrong.

            At this location [microsoft.com] on Microsoft's web site you can download the Word 97/2000 Viewer. It runs on 95, NT, 2000, and XP. You can also search "viewer" on Microsoft's web site and come up with viewers for their other applications, including a version of Word Viewer that works on Windows 3.1. I've tested the viewer and it works fine. Many government sites actually offer a download or link to get the Word Viewer.

            There's nothing wrong with bashing Microsoft over their bloated software, or Machiavellian anti-competition tactics, but this time you just threw this assertion out that was entirely false.
            • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by quantum bit (225091) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:21PM (#8286595) Journal
              On virtually any other point about Microsoft I would likely agree with you, but on this one, you're wrong.

              I have already replied to this point [slashdot.org].

              There is a lot more involved in dealing with govt. than simply consuming documents. Sure, if you live in an authoritarian state when they dictate and the people have no voice, then yes, the reader would suffice. In a representative nation though, communication has to be a two-way street.

              Sure, for simple messages you can send plain text or some other format (and hope that they know how to read it). What about something that gets passed back and forth between govt. officials/workers and people on the outside for review/comment/editing? This happens more often than you might think.
              • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @02:11PM (#8287107) Homepage Journal
                Look, you can't go back and CHANGE YOUR POINT after I responded to it, and then beat me up because my response doesn't cover the altered version of what you said. You said that people had to buy software to read documents in Microsoft formats, and I said "no, there are free readers." You can't just wave a shiny object around and say "Butbutbut you can't WRITE those formats, then!"

                If there is interactive work, then the people on the outside can communicate with their contacts in the government, right? And if they don't have Word, and don't want to buy it, they can ask files to be sent in RTF. Admittedly not an ideal situation, but then again I was responding to your post stating there was no free way to read Office documents, not to write them.

                But there's lots of other arguments you can make like that...supposing the the government wanted to send you a file, edit it, and send it back...but you didn't have a computer at all? You'd have to buy your own computer! And internet service! The government also, in most states, requires you to have auto insurance...but it's not free!

                In any case, there IS OpenOffice, which in most cases CAN read and write Office documents. Typically I find that the extent of government document interaction is me downloading something in PDF, printing it out, and sending it in...but if the President wants to bounce a Word document back and forth with you and make some national policy, then OpenOffice might do what you need.
                • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

                  by quantum bit (225091) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @03:19PM (#8287632) Journal
                  Look, you can't go back and CHANGE YOUR POINT after I responded to it

                  Check the timestamps, this was brought up and replied to before you responded to it. The time window was only about 6 minutes though, so maybe you were already composing the reponse and didn't see that post. Sorry -- didn't mean to come across as jumping on you about it.

                  You can't just wave a shiny object around and say "Butbutbut you can't WRITE those formats, then!"

                  That was not my intention. Yes, I made a mistake. I should have said "use" instead of "read", and realized it almost immediately after posting. Thought about posting a quick follow up, but since I knew people would point out the readers even if I did, I figured it would be just as well to respond to one of them.

                  If there is interactive work, then the people on the outside can communicate with their contacts in the government, right? And if they don't have Word, and don't want to buy it, they can ask files to be sent in RTF.

                  This is probably more of an education issue than anything. Most of the people who work in government that I know would say, "What's RTF? Why can't you just use Word like everyone else?" (paraphrasing). Even then, the last time I tried to use Word filters to export to anything else the result was pretty awful. That was with Word 2000; I don't know if it's impoved any since then.

                  But there's lots of other arguments you can make like that...supposing the the government wanted to send you a file, edit it, and send it back...but you didn't have a computer at all? You'd have to buy your own computer! And internet service! The government also, in most states, requires you to have auto insurance...but it's not free!

                  The debate over whether electronic communication excludes the poor is an entirely different discussion. The situation here is akin to them requiring you to have a Dell computer, or Allstate insurance. The requirements may not be free (as in $), but you still some choice.

                  In any case, there IS OpenOffice, which in most cases CAN read and write Office documents.

                  It can read the current generation of Office documents, for the most part. The biggest problems I've encountered in it are with documents which were saved with the "protection" option enabled to make part of it read-only. There seem to be quite a few of those out there. OpenOffice can't read them at all. Irony is that this misfeature is trivial to remove for anyone who has MSWord/Excel.

                  The big picture, however, is that MS has the pieces in place to eventually stop this. Their new XML format is covered by patents, making it feasible for them to sue anybody who attempts to reverse engineer it or use it in a competing product. When Word 2008 or whatever drops support for saving to old formats, OO.o may not be a viable option anymore.

                  Typically I find that the extent of government document interaction is me downloading something in PDF

                  Some of the departments with more public exposure have gone PDF for forms and such. PDF is a little better than the MS formats as far as read-only data goes. They do make the specification available to the public, but restrict its distribution. So if Adobe one day decides to clamp down on the format and yank the specs, you're pretty much out of luck. I doubt they'll do that, but the possibility does exist.

                  Taking the license agreement at face value, I can't even quote the section that tells me I can't reproduce it. I suspect a short quote would still be covered under fair user, however.

                  In any case, I should point out that I have no problem with MS products in the business sector (other than technical problems). If the free market wants to use it, then let them. That's what freedom is supposed to be about. I'm just against governments letting themselves inadvertently become pawns of companies pushing proprietary formats.
                • by idontneedanickname (570477) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @04:07PM (#8288007)
                  Well, what if OpenOffice didn't exist? There'd be almost no way for you personally to make a MS-compatible document without paying someone for the privilege. Even though OpenOffice does exist and it gives you a costless way of creating Word-format documents, it's not like the government financially (or otherwise) supports it. OpenOffice was created exactly because people needed to communicate with people who used MS Office exclusively. It did not magically appear, many people had to spend quite some time working on it and they did not receive compensation from the government for making a tool which enabled citizens to communicate with their government without having to pay a third party.

                  One could make the analogy that this is a similar situation if the government charged an entrance fee to public buildings.

            • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Maestro4k (707634) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:51PM (#8286886) Journal
              • On virtually any other point about Microsoft I would likely agree with you, but on this one, you're wrong.

                At this location on Microsoft's web site you can download the Word 97/2000 Viewer. It runs on 95, NT, 2000, and XP. You can also search "viewer" on Microsoft's web site and come up with viewers for their other applications, including a version of Word Viewer that works on Windows 3.1. I've tested the viewer and it works fine. Many government sites actually offer a download or link to get the Word Viewer.

              There's at least one popular OS not listed there -- Linux. You also have to wonder exactly how well it'll work on documents that the user's decided to turn on a bunch of useless bells and whistles. It lists the publishing date as 1999. It does say version 2000, so perhaps they updated it a year later.

              In any case, just having a document viewer doesn't solve the problem with Government picking an office suite that's propritary and not free. How about the occasion (which is definitely not rare, I've run across it nearly everytime I needed something from a government agency) where you download the document and have to fill it in with your information, then save and send it back? In that case if you only have the viewer, you're SOL. Well maybe not totally SOL, but best case you have to print out the blank document, fill in the information by hand, then mail it and wait for several days for it to arrive and get processed.

              And then you still have that annoying little problem of no viewer available for Linux, Solaris, BeOS (ok, yeah I'm nitpicking with that one), etc.

      • Re:Why ? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by sniggly (216454) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:34PM (#8286721) Journal
        access database.. try database access

        http://dba.openoffice.org [openoffice.org] really nice and versatile. Can do forms as well.

      • by jbn-o (555068) <mail@digitalcitizen.info> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:56PM (#8286954) Homepage
        I think ciaran_o_riordan has the right take on this. When proprietary software is running (say, by emulation) there is little desire to pursue software freedom.

        This is partially because of the ethics the open source movement teaches--practical ends are the goal, not software freedom. When an open source program won't do the job, that movement gives one no reason to reject proprietary alternatives. Ironically, that means the open source movement's philosophy can sometimes advocate for software that is not open source. Once the desire or need for a program is sated, very little interest exists to write an open source replacement.

        The free software movement, by contrast, does not have this built-in problem in its philosophy. Non-free software is rejected because (as the name says) it doesn't have the freedoms of free software--put briefly, the freedoms to share and modify the software.

        It's not surprising to me that IBM would champion this. The open source movement was started to speak to business desires and it's doing an excellent job of that, even if it means giving up software freedom to achieve that end. Open source software can be a genuine contribution to our community when its advocates work on free software. I'm grateful that many open source advocates do this (IBM, for example, has contributed work to the Linux kernal under the GPL). But this is not always the case.
    • Re:Why ? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by DrSkwid (118965)

      perhaps because getting != got

    • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Stugots (601806) <`johnderosa' `at' `me.com'> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:44AM (#8285763) Homepage
      Because the only software that will be 100% compatible with Microsoft Office is Microsoft Office.
      • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Limp Devil (513137) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:58AM (#8285851)
        Ah, but not even Microsoft Office is 100% compatible with Microsoft Office!
      • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aheath (628369) * <adam,heath&comcast,net> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:03PM (#8285875)
        A less obvious reason why Microsoft might want to get behind this effort in order to address antitrust concerns by increasing support for Microsoft Office on non-Microsoft operating systems. Imagine the government of Munich running Microsoft Office on Suse Linux with IBM's support.

        It would be great if the Microsoft Office team was given the go ahead to develop a version of Microsoft Office for any commercially succesful platform. I'd like to see the Microsoft Office for Mac OS X team use the UNIX knowledge to develop a supported version of Microsoft Office for Linux.

      • Sure? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by dark-br (473115) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:09PM (#8285919) Homepage
        Because the only software that will be 100% compatible with Microsoft Office is Microsoft Office.

        Are you sure? Even between diferent versions of MS Office I usualy have some compatibility problems.

      • 10 LET M$ = "Microsoft": REM Slashdot limits subject length, and Penny-Arcade authors have probably never coded in BASIC

        To expand on what the others have mentioned: OpenOffice.org not only will handle documents from different versions of M$ Word better than the current version of M$ Word but also will often read corrupted M$ Word documents that make M$ Word crash. Seriously, people have reported here on Slashdot that they use OO.o as a recovery tool for .doc files.

        • by udippel (562132) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:51PM (#8286291)
          Seriously, people have reported here on Slashdot that they use OO.o as a recovery tool for .doc files

          True. We had a file once, created by M$-Office, which crashed any M$ system when you wanted to print it.

          In OO I could open it, make minor changes, save it as .doc and it could be printed.

          Since someone is going to mod this redundant, I might as well add another note: OpenOffice files are meanwhile usually smaller than their M$ counterparts.

          Still redundant: I would like to find out why this IBM chap opinions that MS is a great packet. Used to find it not intuitive even before I was introduced to SO and later OO. Maybe he has never thought of some of its flaws ? As someone who was meant to support its users, Yes, at times it defies logic and common sense.

          Now I'll get the thumbs down from zealots: The only good thing of M$ is, that it loads really fast. And I used to run it on different machines together with SO / OO.

    • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:48AM (#8285798)
      Because Sun (behind openoffice) and IBM don't like each other. Also because Microsoft and IBM are huge commercial partners and also because PHB trully believe they need Microsoft Office.

      If MS office runs on linux, there'll be nothing else closing the road for linux on the corporate desktop.
    • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by $calar (590356) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:51AM (#8285806) Journal
      I'm sure the name recognition is what makes it so popular also. For instance, Mac users look forward to Microsoft announcing a new version of Office for Mac, because otherwise they might have a hard time getting new people on board. Yes, Office for Mac already exists, so why get in a tizzy? Well, it might look like support will be dropped. MS Office has always been a huge factor, regardless how great OpenOffice, GNOME Office, KOffice, WordPerfect, and others are.

      If this program isn't available, they won't touch your platform. I know it's sort of dumb, but it is true.
    • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:54AM (#8285826)
      Does Open Office have Clippy? I think not!
    • Re:Why ? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gilesx (525831) * <gil@foresigh[ ]nux.com ['tli' in gap]> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:56AM (#8285832) Homepage
      I'd say a major blocker is the fact that AFAIK Star/Open Office offers next to no support for macros - we use a lot of spreadsheets littered with macros, all of which are commented out when you try to open them in Open Offce :(
    • Re:Why ? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by _|()|\| (159991) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:03PM (#8285870)
      For that matter, what ever happened to Lotus?
    • Re:Why ? (Score:4, Informative)

      by shfted! (600189) <shiftedMPAA@RIAAshifted.ca minus evil> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:12PM (#8285935) Journal

      I just found this more insightful article. Sorry I missed it from the story post!

      http://www.linuxinsider.com/perl/story/32871.html [linuxinsider.com]

  • *ahem* (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rhinobird (151521) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:38AM (#8285721) Homepage
    Big Bleu cheese and WINE?
    • Re:*ahem* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LehiNephi (695428) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:46AM (#8285778) Journal
      I'll agree with that--there are already emulators out there. IBM would just be repeating the work done by others.

      On the other hand, what are the chances IBM has access to Office source code? And if they have access to it, what are the chances they have contractual permission to take Office and port it to Linux? Well, maybe they do, since M$ isn't threatening to sue.....yet.

      And another question--I can't imagine they'll distribute it under GPL once it's ported. M$ will get no additional sales because of it. The people who will use it are people who are locked into Office, but want to switch from Windows to Linux. I imagine they'll be able to use it for free, but how will the distribution be handled? For some reason, I have a hard time imagining "MS Office for Linux" on CompUSA's shelves.

      No, wait, I realized how dumb the 'free' comment was--M$ office 'upgrade' to Linux for free? HA!
  • Does... (Score:5, Funny)

    by sparklingfruit (736978) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:39AM (#8285725)
    Does this mean we'll finally get clippy?

    WOOHOO!
  • bugs, bugs, bugs (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ed8150 (554077) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:40AM (#8285732)
    iam not in favor of this. i would view it as contaminating the linux operating system with MS's foreign programming techniques and bugs. i say IBM should put the effort into developing openoffice or koffice instead of porting the bloated suite that is office.
    • by mAineAc (580334) <mAineAc_____NO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:47AM (#8285783) Homepage
      The only problem is that 90% of the office users Think that they need MS Office to be productive. About 2% of those users actually use any of the 'features' or even much more than Word. Most people don't know how to set up a macro or even what a macro is or does. THe only thing that is keeping 100% interoperability from happening is the fact that Visual Basic is proprietary and can not be ported to linux at all. now if someone could develope a wrapper that would have the speed and functionality to be able to use Windows macros then Open Office would stand a chance.
    • I'm not sure (Score:5, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:56AM (#8285833) Journal
      I have to say that MS getting work done for them is a little unsettling. However, the problem is not A Decent Office Suite For Linux. We have at least a usable one, OpenOffice, though it isn't utopian.

      The problem is A Decent Office Suite For Linux That Can Interoperate Flawlessly With Microsoft Office. There's a lot of content out there in Office format, and having darn near perfect support for the format is important for any adopters.
    • by bloggins02 (468782) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:01PM (#8285863)
      i would view it as contaminating the linux operating system with MS's foreign programming techniques and bugs

      And this, my friends, is the attitude that keeps Linux off the desktop.

      There's a word for it: elitism.

      You must REALLY hate WINE.

      Having said that, it would be nice if a huge company like IBM would get behind a project like OO or KOffice, but the economics of the situation make that look like a very remote possibility. Unforrunately, we have to live in corporate reality when dealing with corporations, no matter how angelic they may seem (this year, anyway).
  • by danielrm26 (567852) * on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:40AM (#8285734) Homepage
    Yet more evidence of the fact that Microsoft's days are numbered. The reasons for various organizations staying with them are steadily being taken away, one by one. I'd like to see one of those counters like they have for various social events counting off the number of organizations that have decided to go with open source as an alternative to MS.

    Alas, this is only a good thing. Microsoft isn't wholly evil, they have just become something along those lines due to their position in the marketplace. Some competition capable of putting the fear of God into them will do nothing but improve things for everyone.
  • by emulation??/ (Score:3, Informative)

    by stonebeat.org (562495) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:40AM (#8285736) Homepage
    we already have that. WINE [winehq.com]!!!
  • Hoax? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by arendjr (673589) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:41AM (#8285738) Homepage
    I'm seriously questioning the validity of this article. It says an IBM spokesman said they got access to parts of Microsoft code. Something I believe is very unlikely given the IBM's purpose. And on the contrary Microsoft denies any involvement.
    Not that I don't hope it would be true...
    • Re:Hoax? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by dreamchaser (49529) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:47AM (#8285780) Homepage Journal
      IBM and MS still have some extensive cross licsensing agreements, so it would not surprise me one bit if they had access to some of the Office codebase.
    • Re:Hoax? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by donutz (195717) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:47AM (#8285786) Homepage Journal
      I'm seriously questioning the validity of this article.

      Actually, it sounds more to me like you've got a native English-speaking reporter interviewing a non-native English speaker (an IBM-er in Sweden). So I think what it boils down to is a failure to communicate.

      So what's really going on here? Who knows! Maybe MS did provide some Office code that IBM is using to achieve greater compatibility in WINE. Or what if IBM was re-writing Office in Java (yeah, that's a real long shot).
  • well.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by xao gypsie (641755) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:41AM (#8285740)
    they certainly wouldn't need to do it by emulation should there be another source leak....*cough*
  • by Dr Reducto (665121) * on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:42AM (#8285748) Journal
    Will Microsoft try to sabotage this by "upgrading" Office in future versions to things that are difficult to "emulate" or include a clause in the EULA that says "You may not run this with a compatibility wrapper" or Linux or anything else? I could see this happening.
    • by IANAAC (692242) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:00PM (#8285858)
      They already have... Try installing Microsoft Office 2003 on Codeweavers' Crossover Office. Immediately comes up with "You need a newer version of your OS" (or something similar).
    • by mijok (603178) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @02:20PM (#8287179)
      IANAL and IANAUS (US citizen) but a well-informed EU citizen and at least where EU legislation applies that make that completely impossible (and feel free to tell me what the case is in the US). Most of this comes from an EU consumer rights brochure I obtained from the consumer rights authorities (in Finland, similar exist in other EU countries) - strangely I haven't found it online:
      The brochure points out that EULA:s especially are completely invalid due to two reasons: 1. All terms entered once a purchase has been made are invalid (and you've already paid for the product when you see the EULA). 2. All click-through agreements, which require you to click "Yes" in order to access some service (such as a website and so on) are illegal if they prevent you from accessing when you click "No" (I have yet to see this enforced, though, but obviously such "agreements" are invalid even though you might click "Yes". As far as enforcement is concerned I've heard about a few cases where it might soon be enforced - sites which require you to accept advertising to your cellphone, if you wish to use the service). So as far as software is concerned, only normal copyright applies (i.e. do not make illegal copies). So even though an EULA might forbid reverse-engineering you can reverse-engineer software day in and day out until you get sick of it.
      In addition to that it is illegal to make consumers to buy product A if they buy product B. So consequently requiring that consumers buy Windows if they want to use Office is illegal (so as long as they can run Office using wine there's no problem).
      An additional note regarding this (even though you didn't bring it up): Claiming that something is "free" if it requires you to buy something else is illegal - so if a store advertises "buy X get Y for free" you're legally entitled to get Y without buying X (and thus a store being stupid enough to advertise that way is soon screwed). This and EULA:s (requiring that you own Windows) being invalid actually makes MS "free" Internet Explorer download useful for me. I no longer have Windows anywhere but IE runs well enough under wine to test websites and thus it is not only cost-saving (since in this case it actually is _free_ since I pay nothing for it) but also very convenient - running tomcat on linux and testing the localhost site with IE is very nice :)
  • Emulation (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ezh (707373) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:42AM (#8285749)

    IBM tried to emulate Win16 application compatibility with its OS/2. As a result, nobody cared developing application of OS/2 as such. IMHO, emulation is a dead-end branch of development in this case.

    For some reason (probably licensing issues with Sun) or compatibility with the rest of MS office document base, IBM does not want to develop OpenOffice or Corel WordPerfect Suit. I am just wondering - have they given up on their Lotus completely then?

    • Re:Emulation (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RoLi (141856) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:19PM (#8286001)
      That's complete nonsense. Being able to run more software is an advantage.

      OS/2 was too late, too expensive, by IBM and didn't offer any significant advantage.

      • Lateness: Linux is also late
      • Expensiveness: Linux is beer-free :-)
      • Vendor: While OS/2 was a failure from the very beginning because PC-vendors would have been pretty stupid to include software made by the competition, Linux is a true vendor-neutral standard
      • Advantage: Linux does offer a significant advantage, being open-source. For all those morons who think that this doesn't matter: If it weren't open-source we wouldn't have a version for AMD64 and would still have to wait for some fat arrogant software vendor to port it, just as an example.

      So compared to OS/2, Linux has very good cards.

      To go back on-topic: Emulation is a big advantage because it offers a way to do a smooth upgrade. According to your logic all software on Windows would be DOS-software because Windows offers DOS-emulation. Of course that's nonsense, without DOS-emulation, Windows wouldn't have been accepted by the masses so fast, without Windows-emulation, Linux won't be accepted by the masses very fast.

      We need Win32 emulation, the sooner, the better.

  • by rongage (237813) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#8285753)

    I hope they DON'T go the "emulation" route - i.e. WINE [winehq.com]

    While WINE is a nice attempt to make a Win32 compatability layer, it is just too flakey to be used in a day-to-day business sense. IBM has used WINE before for providing Linux apps - HomePage Builder comes to mind immediately - and it was NEVER stable. Display problems, startup flakeness, and just general unstableness made the product truely painful to use.

    If they want to do it right - and impress people at the same time, they should make a NATIVE APP

    • by 0x0d0a (568518) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:52AM (#8285813) Journal
      I have to agree. WINE is cool, but not a solution for the general public. I don't think it ever will be, just by nature of the project.

      Of course, if they do a native release, then they have several widget sets to choose from:

      1) GTK/GNOME -- piss off the KDE adherents.

      2) Qt/KDE -- piss off the GNOME adherents.

      3) Proprietary a la OpenOffice -- piss off everyone and have graphical glitches and be slow.
  • by hillct (230132) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#8285755) Homepage Journal
    If Microsoft is not involved and is not providing any source code or detailed internal specs, the only reason IBM could provide a superior office suite to that offered by OpenOffice.org is a simple resourcing issue. IBM has a great deal of money and programming expertise to throw at such an effort. With this in mind, why wouldn't IBM simply become a greater contributor to the OpenOffice.org effort?

    What could IBM achieve on it's own that they could not achieve in colaboration with OpenOffice.org? This whole effort seems rather strange and somewhat poorly thought out.

    --CTH
    • by ajagci (737734) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:03PM (#8285873)
      OpenOffice is enormously useful right now, and bigger contributions from IBM would be great. But I think in the long term, OpenOffice is a lost cause because it is too much like Microsoft Office is today: a bloated, monolithic piece of software written in C/C++. Microsoft will be changing MS Office over the next few years, by rewriting large chunks of it in C#/CLR and modularizing it more. That will greatly ease their software engineering problems that they are having with their Office software today.

      OpenOffice will need to make a similar transition. But that won't be happening within the existing OpenOffice framework: OpenOffice simply doesn't have the resources or will for such a radical and quick transition. Instead, it will have to be a newly designed office suite based on Mono and Gtk#. That is what IBM should really be investing in.
  • Hello (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:43AM (#8285756)
    It looks like you are trying to build your kernel, would you like me to help?
  • While they are at it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by __past__ (542467) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:45AM (#8285770)
    If they can port Office without help from Microsoft, maybe they could also implement compatibility with open standards [oasis-open.org].
  • by RaeF (120232) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:45AM (#8285774)
    How about Crossover Office [codeweavers.com] by CodeWeavers. You can run the full Office suite including Outlook and Access. It works VERY VERY well. Better than running on Windows actually.
    • by bender647 (705126) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:53AM (#8285819)
      Crossover Office has been great for me on my laptop. I work at a plant with 1000 Microsoft users and they can't write a five-word meeting notice without putting it in a Word document. For the sub-$60 license fee, it has been worth every penny. I keep Star Office going on my Sun and Ooffice on my desktop linux system, but more often than not, they can't properly open MS documents. Yes, it would be great if I could convince a billion dollar company to convert all its employees to Ooffice, and convince all our vendors and customers to convert, and convince all the technical organizations to use Ooffice presentation software at the conferences. But instead, I just paid the $60 and got back to work.
      • by zeeboy (599698) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:06PM (#8285898)
        Hi,

        Have you tried OpenOffice 1.1? I find it hard to believe ( note: I'm not calling you a liar :> ) that less than half of the word documents won't open correctly. I work in an organisation where everybody uses Office. They mostly create overly formatted Word documents or formula spreadsheets and I have yet to have a single problem opening any of them.
  • by yanestra (526590) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:47AM (#8285784) Journal
    Of course, Linux desires some other environmentally needed tools too, like Outlook (Express) (needed so badly - still no viruses under Linux!), MS Scripting Host (invaluable for executing virus scripts, dialer and spyware pages and so on), the whole broken framework of object interferences and misguided authorizations is missing under Linux.

    Without that, the whole Office software couldn't be properly integrated.

    To make Linux inferior and totally broken we need it! Port it to Linux! Finish your work, IBM, buy SCO and be friends again with Microsoft!

  • Blue Linux (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:48AM (#8285789)
    Yeah, this is great news and it only proves that IBM's in it for real. IBM is also creating a _desktop_ version of Linux - Blue Linux. It's not out yet, but PC Magazine's John Dvorak has already seen it.

    HERE's [pcmag.com] the PC magazine article about it.
    • Re:Blue Linux (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0x0d0a (568518)
      John Dvorak is roughly equivalent to a Slashdot troll in both accuracy of his analyses and his attempts to produce controversy.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2004 @02:59PM (#8287487)
      Sorry for the AC post, but I'm an IBMer and we're not allowed to make public comments.

      "Blue Linux" does not exist. What we have is Linux Client for E-Bussiness (C4EB), a Linux RH9 desktop that includes IBM apps such as a Lotus Sametime (an excellent Instant Messaging program) client, a Lotus Notes client (Windows version) running under WINE, and a few other things useful in the IBM Intranet.

      There are about 20,000 users or so at the moment, and the IBM Linux desktop community is very active. The IBM CIO is extremely supportive: whenever we see a boneheaded internal site requiring MS IE only or other such atrocities, we report it and the Office of the CIO puts pressure on the site's maintainers to toe the line and support Mozilla.

      Bottom line: "Blue Linux" = customized RedHat 9. It's hardly our own distro. But IBM is not just promoting Linux and recommending it to customers. We're also eating our own dog food.

      We are studying a migration to a Fedora-based C4EB.

  • by The Spie (206914) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:48AM (#8285790) Homepage
    Oh, how many posts are now being composed in how many minds that state that IBM has now betrayed the FOSS Movement by not acknowledging the greatness of OpenOffice? How dare they!?

    Come on, people, calm down. If IBM is doing this, they're acknowledging what everyone without ideological blinders admits: until OpenOffice can write a file that's 100% compatible with its Office equivalent, it won't make any headway. MS is too entrenched at this point. I can hear those same people as above screaming about Linux, but it's also a different battleground being fought in the office suite theater than in the desktop OS one. It's a hearts, minds, and heads battle rather than an economic one (which is the only argument that has been proven effective on non-tech types when it comes to converting systems to Linux). We've all heard the stories about the intransigent secretaries. That's where the fight will take place, and it's going to be a much harder battle that needs a much more polished product.

    I'm hoping that IBM realizes that it owns Lotus and uses that particular brand for this effort. It still has some cachet in corporate circles.
    • by mmurphy000 (556983) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:13PM (#8285951)

      There has to be more to it than IBM just getting 100% file format compatibility. Think of these alternatives:

      1. Convincing Microsoft to license the Office source code, then porting it to Linux
      2. Writing a whole office suite from scratch and getting 100% file format compatibility
      3. Creating a 100% reliable emulation layer (e.g., contributing to WINE)
      4. Helping OpenOffice.org get 100% file format compatibility

      You would have to think the last one is the easiest, and probably by a wide margin. If IBM isn't taking the easiest route, there has to be other factors (e.g., fights with Sun, wants it to be proprietary).

  • Probably WINE (Score:3, Informative)

    by mark0 (750639) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:53AM (#8285822)
    IBM already offers Lotus Notes to its employees using Linux via WINE -- available for download by employees as part of its C4EB (Client for e-Business). They call it NUL (Notes Under Linux).

    I have no special knowledge to substantiate this, but I expect they would take the same approach to accomplish this; it would certainly fit the pattern. In the end, we could see a substantially improved WINE as a result.
  • by venomix (87217) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:53AM (#8285823)
    In the original swedish article [www.idg.se] it's written that Microsoft believes that IBM probably is working on a Terminal Emulation solution, not a emulation solution.
  • by }InFuZeD{ (52430) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @11:59AM (#8285854) Homepage
    These IBM and Microsoft Reps must come pre-made or something... Petterson... Perrson... come on, too many similarities there. They must buy from the same company.
  • by SmileeTiger (312547) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:02PM (#8285868)
    I can't believe no one has pointed this out yet:

    From the article:
    "Microsoft said it's not involved and suggests that IBM might do it by emulation."

    IBM:"..But we're working together with Microsoft, who have provided us with part of their code. We've worked together like that previously."

    So Microsoft isn't working with IBM but IBM is working with Microsoft because MS has provided them with part of their code. Hmm does MS have split personalities or something?
  • Crossover Office (Score:4, Informative)

    by chrysalis (50680) * on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:05PM (#8285889) Homepage
    Have a look at Codeweavers Crossover Office.

    It's a commercial Wine derivative that allows running a lot of Windows apps, including the full Microsoft Office suite.

    And Office works extremely well. In fact... even better than Openoffice. Startup time is shorter than Openoffice. Rendering is good and fast. Compatibility is of course perfect.

  • This is actually possible, using so-called emulation. Companies such as U.S.-based Codeweavers offer such products. But this will not give you applications that are actually compiled for Linux.

    Stefan Pettersson, technical manager for IBM's Lotus division in Sweden, said that there will be a Java client of Lotus Notes some time during the second half of 2004. This means that the first "native" Notes client to run under Linux will soon be available.

    How exactly is that "native? I'm sorry, but a java version is only native to that weird Sun java cpu that never made it out of production... it's nothing more than emulation for a machine that doesn't actually exist.

  • by buhatkj (712163) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:13PM (#8285949) Homepage
    the ONLY reason to port MSOffice instead of just use openoffice is because you have already written office macros or extensions in VB and don't wanna rewrite em. other than that, its a total waste of time, since OO.o is more stable anyway. i CAN see the attraction in this for some businesses, because they dont wanna re-do their stuff, but what we REALLY want, is a open source port of VB, and then integrate it into OO.o
    -ted
  • by beforewisdom (729725) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:16PM (#8285979)
    Maybe this is a repeat of the situation ( last year? ) when Apple decided to use Konqueror/KHTML instead of Mozilla as a base for its Safari browser.

    Mabye IBM ( & others ) thinks Open Office is to S--L--O--W, big, unweildy etc etc.

    It could be a good thing for OO as it might convince them to clean up their code( get the lead out ).

    Steve

  • by HighOrbit (631451) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @12:26PM (#8286073)
    In business, its all about money. (More on this later).

    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 Halo1 (136547) <jonas...maebe@@@elis...ugent...be> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:55PM (#8286941) Homepage
      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.
      MS Office for Mac OS X doesn't use the BSD's api directly (except maybe an open() here and there or so). It's based on Carbon, the re-entrant version of the classic Mac OS API that Apple developed for Mac OS X to make porting easier. You'd have to port all of Carbon (and probably Quicktime along with it, neither of which is open source) to Linux to even get somewhere in the neighbourhood of doing a port with "no great feat of technology".
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:02PM (#8286396) Homepage Journal
    IBM has close to 300.000 employees. The guy talking about this is the technical manager for the Lotus division in Sweden. In other words, he works for a small IBM division in a small country, and he isn't even the top manager for the division. Secondly he's spouting off to Infoworld, instead of releasing a press release through IBM's ordinary channels.

    This is some guy that's trying to make an impression for a pet project of his, not global IBM strategy. I bet he's in for some angry phone calls from various people, including his boss who'll likely be pestered as to why one of his subordinates is talking to the press about things that isn't his business.

    The reason Microsoft hasn't heard anything is probably because he's been talking to people at his level in Microsoft, who has no authority to make any real decisions, just as this guy is unlikely to have.

  • Lotus Notes (Score:4, Insightful)

    by torkwrench (749879) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:07PM (#8286450)
    Now if they'd only create a native Lotus Notes client port, then I'd be really happy.
  • by o517375 (314601) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:48PM (#8286858)
    IBM wants to port MS Office to Linux because IBM wants to sell Linux desktops. Bingo! Sun is selling their "java" desktop. IBM can include in their desktop everything that Sun has on theirs plus the MS Office port. Many people like MS Office; many people think they need it. IBM wants to make money. MS makes a lot of money on their MAC Office port. If you had to use one which would be, a desktop with Office port or one without?

    I know, the one without, blah blah blah....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 15, 2004 @01:52PM (#8286916)
    kill -9 `ps -ef | grep -i clippy | awk '{print $2}'`
  • by diakka (2281) * on Sunday February 15, 2004 @03:35PM (#8287773)
    If I were a normal company with a product and some company came along and offered to port my application to other platforms for free, I would most likely jump at the idea. However, if you had a monopoly on the desktop OS market and willing to use illegal tactics to guard your share, how would you behave?

    MS may have stated in the past that the reason they don't port Office to Linux is that there is 'no demand'. Now with the Linux desktop share challenging the Mac share, thos arguments are being diluted. If IBM were to offer to port it for free, gee... seems like a great deal for any company... unless you are trying ot illegally maintain your monopoly of course.
  • by benja (623818) on Sunday February 15, 2004 @03:38PM (#8287802)
    "It suits us fine the Microsoft and Sun fight about office application suites. We stay away from that. The reason we don't collaborate with Sun is that they're too small," said Pettersson.

    Astronomy 1&1: The sun only looks so small, because it is so far away.

    In fact, it's rather large!

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