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New SuSE Linux OS to run Office 2000, other Windows apps

By Todd R. Weiss
October 30, 2002 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A new business-targeted version of SuSE Linux AG's proven Linux operating system will incorporate software that allows users to run many of their favorite Microsoft Windows applications such as Office 2000 right on their Linux desktops.
In an announcement yesterday, Nuremburg, Germany-based SuSE said the new SuSE Linux Office Desktop version of its maturing operating system will include an integrated version of CodeWeavers CrossOver Office 1.2, which includes Windows application program interfaces (API). The APIs allow SuSE Linux to communicate directly with applications such as Office 2000.
CodeWeavers Inc. in St. Paul, Minn., has been offering products for several years that allow Windows applications to be used with Linux.
Holger Dyroff, manager for Oakland, Calif.-based SuSE Americas, said the idea of a Windows application-enabled version of SuSE Linux for business has been kicking around in the company for quite a while.
"It looks like it's really ready for the market now, so we decided to include it," he said, referring to the CodeWeavers software.
"I think there is definitely demand for that," Dyroff said, adding that at least 10 to 15 e-mails arrive each week from companies interested in running lower-cost Linux while still being able to use their favorite Microsoft products.
Jeremy White, a CodeWeavers spokesman, said that users will be able to insert the SuSE installation CD into their computers, and after going through the install routine, they can put in their Microsoft Office CDs and begin their installs of that application, as well. "This is a genuine competitor to the Windows operating system," White said. "It runs at speed."
White said there has been no direct reaction from Microsoft on the announcement, but he added that it's likely that the company is "aware of what we're doing at the very highest levels."
The first versions won't support Office XP, but that compatibility is in the works, he said.
Customers using the new operating system will be able to run Microsoft Office 97 or Windows 2000 applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Visio 2000.
Customers will also be able to run IBM's Lotus Notes client software under Linux for the first time on SuSE, using the new operating system.
The SuSE Linux Office Desktop version is aimed at small and midsize companies. The price for one workstation will be $129, with availability expected in January.
A separate additional SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop version with other features will be available in the first quarter of next year. It will be aimed at large corporations. That version will include a focus on easy central administration and will be optimized for deployment in large companies and companies with multiple locations.
Both versions are based on SuSE's standard 8.1 versions of its stand-alone operating systems but are being offered as separate products.
SuSE Linux Office Desktop also includes tools to migrate from Windows operating systems, as well as tools to install SuSE on a separate partition to dual-boot it alongside Windows.
Stacey Quandt, an analyst at Giga Information Group Inc. in Cambridge, Mass., called the new SuSE offerings a good market opportunity.
"A lot of people have been talking about a Linux desktop, but for a lot of people it's not practical" because they couldn't use their needed applications, such as Microsoft Office, Quandt said. "This would make a lot of sense for a lot of users," while lowering their operating costs by going to Linux instead of Windows.
Al Gillen, an analyst at IDC in Framingham, Mass., called it a "great idea from a packaging perspective" because it eliminates hassles and compatibility issues for potential users who want to try Linux with CodeWeavers products. "If they're going to make that easier for people, that's a good thing," he said.
Earlier this month, CodeWeavers announced a similar deal with Ottawa-based Linux vendor Xandros Corp. to include CrossOver Office 1.2 in the upcoming version of the Xandros Linux operating system. In August, 2001, Ottawa-based Corel Corp. sold its Linux operating system business to Xandros, which has been working to create the new Xandros product.

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