Microsoft: No MS Office for Linux

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

The rumors just won’t die: Someone, somewhere is working on porting Microsoft Office to Linux. This week’s version making the rounds online: IBM Corp. is extending its Linux commitment with a Linux version of the productivity suite.

On Thursday, however, Microsoft Corp. poured cold water on the reports. “Microsoft has no plans to work with IBM on porting Microsoft Office to Linux,” a Microsoft spokeswoman told As for porting Office to Linux in general, she said, “It’s not happening.”

The latest round of speculation was prompted by remarks to ComputerSweden magazine by Stefan Pettersson, technical manager for IBM’s Lotus division in Sweden.

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

It’s long been possible to run Office on Linux using emulation programs such as CodeWeavers Inc. CrossOver Office and its open-source sibling WINE, both of which work by emulating Windows application programming interfaces on Linux and Unix. With them, users can run Microsoft Office 97, 2000 and XP successfully on Linux today.

Users who want even more Windows compatibility can turn to NeTraverse Inc.’s Win4Lin Terminal Server 3.0 or Win4Lin 5.0. Terminal Server duplicates many capabilities of Citrix Systems Inc.’s MetaFrame and Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft’s own Windows Terminal Services.

NeTraverse’s terminal server technology can enable users to run Windows applications not just on Windows but on remote systems running Linux. Win4Lin 5.0 lets users run a Windows 98SE or Windows ME virtual machine on top of their Linux systems. In both cases, users run a real version of Windows, thus avoiding almost all the compatibility problems that can trouble the emulated WINE approach.

And for users seeking native Linux alternatives, office suites include Sun’s StarOffice, OpenOffice, KOffice and Evermore Integrated Office.

Check out’s Linux & Open Source Center at for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.

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Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in eWEEK.

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