Desktop Linux

February 15, 2004

After reading stories all year about the ascendancy of desktop linux all year, this story about IBM’s plans to port MS Office to linux is one of the first that I think justifies the desktop linux hype. It is clear that to co-operate with other users, MS Office is essential. Alternatives like OpenOffice, though improving and interesting, simply are not viable yet for most non-nerd users. This is why the IBM move is a significant one. IBM has the business acumen and the corporate infrastructure to pull something like this off. I think with a real MS Office port, desktop linux is a real possibility for most computer users.

That being said, Macintosh OS X already has a compatible MS Office, and it isn’t exactly taking over the desktop market, despite a look-and-feel vastly superior to either Windows or any of the Linuxes. I’ve been using OS X for years, and find it satisfies my Unix hacker side and my make-my-manager-happy side with ease and finese. I think functions like NetMeeting (still missing on OS X) might need to be included for a real business user to contemplate switching, tho’.

But it’s an important step, maybe the most interesting news on alternatives to Windows since Apple bought NeXT and brought Steve Jobs back into the fold.

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