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IBM 'Microsoft Office for Linux' rumoured

IBM is keen to migrate Microsoft Office suite to Linux, although Microsoft has said it is not involved and suggests that IBM might do it by emulation.

Many Linux users would prefer to run both Microsoft's Office suite and IBM's Lotus Notes. This is possible, using emulation. Companies such as US-based Codeweavers offer such products. But this will not give users applications 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.

"The Office package is very good. If there's anything from Microsoft that shines, that's it. Frankly, we choose to port all our solutions to Office," said Pettersson.

Microsoft is also one of IBM's largest and most important partners.

"It will be possible to run the Office package on the Linux platform, said Pettersson. "Exactly how it's done, I can't reveal right now. But we're working together with Microsoft, who have provided us with part of their code. We've worked together like that previously."

Pettersson is referring to IBM's porting of Microsoft's Outlook e-mail client to the Domino server system, which was made possible using code from Microsoft. Domino is a major player in e-mail.

Jonas Persson, Microsoft sales director for development  tools, denies that Microsoft is collaborating with IBM about the Office suite.

"I am sure IBM is looking at different solutions. That's good, we encourage evaluations," said Persson.

IBM might consider Sun Microsystems' StarOffice as an alternative, since StarOffice already runs under Linux. However, this is not  on the horizon now.

"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.

Sverker Brundin writes for Computer Sweden


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