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If IBM Migrates to Linux on the Desktop, Will It Port MS Office to Linux?

The reason IBM doesn't collaborate with Sun is that "they're too small," says an IBM Sweden manager

LinuxWorld reported recently on IBM's internal initiative to migrate its internal IT systems to Linux. But what about the fact that the ubiquitous desktop software package, even inside IBM, is Microsoft Office? Does IBM plan to abandon Office?

Apparently not - according, anyway, to one Stefan Pettersson.

Pettersson is technical manager for IBM Sweden's Lotus division. "The Office package is very good," he told Computer Sweden's reporter, Sverker Brundin. "If there's anything from Microsoft that shines, that's it. Frankly, we choose to port all our solutions to Office," he added.

How? It seems it is possible for Linux users to run both Microsoft's Office suite and IBM's Lotus Notes, using so-called emulation - as provided by a company like Codeweavers, with whom LinuxWorld Magazine's editors spoke at LinuxWorld last month.

There are as yet no Lotus apps that are actually compiled for Linux but Pettersson said that there will be a Java client of Lotus Notes some time "during the second half of 2004" - which would mean that the first "native" Notes client to run under Linux will soon be available.

Pettersson alluded to how IBM ported Microsoft Outlook to the Domino server system, driven by the fact that Domino was important in e-mail. That was made possible using code from Microsoft, though uncertainty surrounds the question of whether such collaboration is likely to be forthcoming from MS in this case too.

The Computer Sweden report gives two differing versions, one from IBM Sweden and the other from Microsoft Sweden.

First IBM:

"It will be possible to run the Office package on the Linux platform. 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."

Then Microsoft:

Jonas Persson, Microsoft sales director for development tools, denies that Microsoft is collaborating with IBM about the Office suite. According to him, there can be no porting of Office to Linux. "I am sure IBM is looking at different solutions. That's good, we encourage evaluations," he said.

The report ends with a sting in its tail. Reporter Brundin wonders out loud if perhaps IBM might abandon the Microsoft Office suite in favor of Sun's StarOffice, which of course already runs under Linux.

IBM's Pettersson shudders at the thought. Here's his reply:

"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.

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SYS-CON's Linux News Desk gathers stories, analysis, and information from around the Linux world and synthesizes them into an easy to digest format for IT/IS managers and other business decision-makers.

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Most Recent Comments
solprovider 03/22/04 01:09:40 PM EST

The reason IBM does not collaborate with SUN is that they are the enemy.

IBM still sees itself as a hardware company, even though "services" is now a very large part of its revenues. SUN was the leading competitor for much of the last 2 decades. IBM is willing to destroy Lotus Notes to pump technology into WebSphere, because WebSphere helps the attack on SUN, even though nobody could justify a business plan that starts with "make a very expensive product to compete against free software."

I am very happy that there will be a Lotus Notes client for Linux. If it includes the Domino Designer, we can finally remove the remaining MSWindows PCs from the businesses of the world. (If your company is not using Lotus Notes for business applications, you are not being competitive. It is the only platform that allows IT to produce applications faster than business people ask for applications.)

As far as MSOffice, IBM killed Lotus SmartSuite around 2001. After years of "we do not accept MSWord, MSExcel, or MSPowerPoint documents," they decided to use MSOffice internally. Huh? They could have open-sourced SmartSuite. They could have let the OpenOffice developers use the code, but that would also assist SUN's StarOffice (see the first line of this post.) Instead they are giving money to MS for its proprietary software. I think this is called "strategy".

John 03/22/04 11:47:12 AM EST

Using CrossOver Office under Linux, MS Office (and other supposedly Windows-only apps) DO run under Linux! See

Jojo the clown 03/22/04 10:18:30 AM EST

Not so lol. Think about it. It already runs on MacOS, a bsd derivative. so it IS possible. Just not likely. The two parts of the MS juggernaut are windows and office. one supports the other.

homebru 03/22/04 09:52:26 AM EST

So many people seem hopped up for IBM to port or emulate or transmogrify MS Office to Linux. And they all ignore a few simple facts: MS/Word isn't critical to IBM's operation. MS/Excel isn't critical to IBM's business. MS/Access isn't critical to IBM's business. MS/Powerpoint IS critical. MS/Visio IS critical. MS/Project IS critical.

Much of IBM (and certainly all of IBM Global Services) cannot survive without Powerpoint & Project & Visio. If these pieces are not available on Linux, then IBM cannot and will not move to company-wide, exclusive Linux-on-the-desktop.

Adipex 03/21/04 12:51:44 PM EST

ms office on linux .. LOL . .wow!