Microsoft Office is not coming to Linux

Summary:There's a rumor that Microsoft will be bringing Office to Linux. That will happen when pigs fly.

There's a story going around that Microsoft might be porting Office to Linux. If you believe this story, I have a wonderful, lightly used bridge in Brooklyn I'd like to sell you for a mere million dollars cash.

Office2010onWine
You can run MS-Office on Linux today with WINE or Crossover, but running it natively on Linux is a pipe-dream. (Credit: WINE)

Is this technically possible? Sure. In fact, you can run Microsoft Office on Linux today by using WINE or its commercial big brother, CodeWeaversCrossover Linux. I've done it myself. WINE and Crossover runs Office, and other Windows applications, on Linux by providing an implementation of the Windows API (application programming interface) on top of Linux.

What people are talking about  is running Office natively on Linux. That too is technically possible. There's just one problem: I can't imagine for an instant that Microsoft would bother doing it.

Sure, Microsoft actually ships a desktop Linux program now, Skype. And, yes, on the server side, Microsoft supports Linux on its Azure cloud and on its Hyper-V virtualization system. Indeed, believe it or not, Microsoft has been a top five Linux contributor in recent years. But, does Microsoft have any significant interest in supporting its most important end-user software natively on Linux? No, no it doesn't.

My friends at Microsoft—yes I have some—tell me they'd never heard of such an effort and they can't believe that anything like that is afoot. Indeed, there's now a lot of doubt about Office for the iPad appearing and that looked like a sure bet not so long ago. At a rough guess, I'd say the iPad has about a thousand times as many users as the Linux desktop. So why exactly would Microsoft want to invest in Office for such a tiny market?

I did some digging to see where this rumor came from and I discovered that the stories all spring from a single Phoronix report, which stated, "From a source in Brussels, Belgium during the Free Open-Source Developers'  European Meeting (FOSDEM) this past weekend, I was informed that Microsoft is having a 'meaningful look' at a full Linux port of Office thanks to Linux showing signs of commercial viability on the desktop."

Yeah. OK. You'll excuse me if I don't put too much faith in a story from a single anonymous source at an open-source meeting. True, Microsoft was at this show, but Microsoft often comes to open-source gatherings these days.

When I need an office suite on Linux today, I use LibreOffice. Until I hear oinks from the sky as the piggies fly north for the spring, I don't believe I'll be running Microsoft Office natively on my Linux desktop anytime soon.

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Topics: Linux, Enterprise Software, Open Source, Operating Systems, Software, Software Development, Windows

About

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, aka sjvn, has been writing about technology and the business of technology since CP/M-80 was the cutting edge, PC operating system; 300bps was a fast Internet connection; WordStar was the state of the art word processor; and we liked it.His work has been published in everything from highly technical publications... Full Bio

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