Consumers and small businesses seeking a desktop word-processing program that looks and works much like Microsoft Word but costs only a fraction as much can take a peek at the beta 2 version of TextMaker for Linux.
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The software, which runs on the open-source Linux operating system, is available until 31 May as a free beta download on the web site of its developer, SoftMaker Software in Nuremburg (http://www.softmaker.de/tmldemo_en.htm).
TextMaker for Linux will start shipping worldwide on 1 June 1 for €49.95 (£33.90), Kotulla said. Users can purchase the product directly from Softmaker's website.
The user interface is available in two language versions - German and English and language tools featured in the software, such as a spell-checker, are available in 16 languages.
TextMaker reads and writes in numerous formats, such as Word for Windows (in versions 6.0, 95, 97, 2000 and XP), RTF (Rich Text Format) and HTML (Hypertext Markup Language. The software requires no conversion and ensures no loss of formatting.
System requirements include any Linux product incorporating glibc (the GNU C library), support for X86 processors, and X Window with any Window Manager.
SoftMaker also aims to have a beta version of its PlanMaker software, resembling Microsoft's Excel spreadsheet program, available for downloading in May. The product is scheduled to ship around June and cost €49.95.
DataMaker, resembling Microsoft's Access database software, will be available in a beta version around June or July. The product, to ship later in the year, will carry a price tag of €49.95.
Later this year SoftMaker hoped to have a beta version of a software product providing the same e-mail, address book and calendar functions of Microsoft's Outlook program. The product, which has yet to be named, will also cost €49.95. By the end of the year, the plan is to offer this suite of products as SoftMaker Office for around €100.