Microsoft Holding Its Ground on Office for Linux

Some prominent figures in the Linux community believe that as enterprises increase their use of Linux on the desktop, Microsoft Corp. will be forced to consider offering a version of Office for Linux—or at least make its software more interoperable with open-source desktop productivity suites.

“When the [Linux desktop] market share gets to a certain point, Microsoft will, just as it did with Apple [Computer Inc.] in the past, make Office available on Linux,” Open Source Development Labs Inc. CEO Stuart Cohen told eWEEK in a recent interview.

“I’m sure they have done the work and that they know what the market numbers need to be for that to be financially viable for them. I really think that when enough of their enterprise customers’ office workers, help centers, IT and engineering departments are running Linux on the desktop and interoperability really becomes an issue, they will go and listen to their customers,” he said, acknowledging that he has no evidence of any willingness on Microsoft’s part to allow Office to run on top of Linux. But Mark Martin, a Microsoft spokesman, strongly denied that any such plan is in the cards for Office. “Microsoft has consistently said that Windows is the platform of choice for Office, and there is no plan to develop a version of Office for Linux,” he told eWEEK.

Bill Hilf, Microsoft’s director of platform technology and the man behind the Linux and Open Source Software Lab at Microsoft’s Redmond, Wash., campus, also told eWEEK in a recent interview that Microsoft has not created a prototype of Office for Linux. To do so would be extremely technically challenging and would require a huge investment of staff and financial resources, he said. “Why would we do for something that does not play into our product or business plans?” Hilf asked.

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