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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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