CodeWeavers app smooths Office use on Linux

Software vendor CodeWeavers has released a CrossOver Office Server edition that will allow thin-client users to run Microsoft...

Software vendor CodeWeavers has released a CrossOver Office Server edition that will allow thin-client users to run Microsoft Office and several other popular applications under Linux or Sun Solaris without having to run Microsoft Windows.

CodeWeavers said Server Edition 1.3.1 is an expansion of its existing CrossOver Office desktop application, released last March. That product allows a desktop PC user running Linux to run Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Visio without the Windows operating system.

The new server edition means systems administrators can install the server version of CrossOver Office and one copy of Office and make it available to users across the network, minimising administration and installations tasks.

Each user of the client applications would still need to have the appropriate licences to use the software.

For the first time, the server edition of CrossOver Office will allow Solaris users to also share the applications. Other Unix support is in the works, said chief executive officer Jeremy White. "We can actually make it work very quickly with any Unix," he said. "We're sort of waiting for customers to drive us to do it."

The server edition supports Office 2000 and Office 97, with Office XP support expected to follow within the next month. Office 95 is not supported at present, but the company hoped to add that in the future to help support legacy applications not supported by Microsoft.

The number of users that can be supported at once on the server edition is constrained only by the server hardware it runs on.

Competitors including Citrix Systems offer similar technologies, but they cost as much as 20% more, White said.

Not all Microsoft Office functionalities are available when using CrossOver Office Server, he acknowledged. "There are occasions where there are bugs," White said, though development is continuing to stamp out the remaining compatibility problems. He estimated that nearly all available functions are supported.

"CrossOver Server Edition is designed to help the corporate market bridge to Linux," White said. "With Server Edition we offer corporate workgroups the ability to control costs by consolidating on a lower-cost desktop, while still running the applications their users have grown accustomed to."

Giga Information Group analyst Stacey Quandt said there were cost benefits to reducing the Windows licences in a business, but she cautioned that the use of CrossOver Office would be dependent on how many users it could support in each specific company that might deploy it.

Other benefits would include the lower costs associated with running Linux and the ability of Linux to run on machines that are older, without requiring costly regularly scheduled hardware upgrades, she said.

Pricing for the server edition begins at $1,195 (£748) for the software, with an additional $1,185 for a licence for 25 concurrent users. A 100-user concurrent licence costs $4,000. Unlimited enterprise site licences are also available.

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