Microsoft Office is not coming to Linux

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.

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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

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107 comments
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  • Microsoft is a business

    ... when the number of desktops makes it worthwhile, Microsoft will probably release Office for Linux
    hubivedder
    • There is no such market

      Market share of 20 years of Linux is less than that of 3 months of Windows 8. By my guess it should be around 2% of PC users; how many of those would be willing to pay for MS Office? I bet almost all of them would rather extol the values of OpenOffice and LibreOffice than pay for a Microsoft product which is clearly superior.
      nishsingh
      • Used to be

        Superior. As flawed Libreoffice is, MS has managed to make them a decent competitor by degrading the usability and performance of MS Office suite.
        kirovs@...
        • That's right

          productivity has been cut in half out our offices when they switched from office 2003 to 2007.
          I Am Galactus
          • Source?

            I've been more productive with the Ribbon UI than I ever have been with any drop down menus. Leave the old, 90's UI in the 90's.
            The one and only, Cylon Centurion
          • ... and where does METRO fit in

            Oh, wait, they changed the name ... not Metro anymore .... that was a pig ... it is now called ...
            BrentRBrian
          • Many features have been dropped

            When I used Word to write my Masters thesis, it had the ability to automatically generate the table of contents, the citations, and the index. Try that with the ribbon interface. Word has been dumbed down so much that monkeys could use it. These days, the feature set is only a step or two above Wordpad. The ribbon is no more useful than the button bar was, and it takes up a big section of screen real estate.
            BillDem
          • Well...

            In my version, all your requested features are neatly stacked in the references ribbon. But i guess that is too difficult to figure out for the average monkey :)
            On-topic: For me, there is no match for office, although I really wanted to love the open source alternatives.
            Christian Hau
      • Obviously

        For the basic office users who just type crap, insert charts and pictures Libre office itself is too much. No sane man doing scientific work would choose the costly ms word over the ever so stylish Latex. If you talk about presentation for business users power point is worth less there are lot of cloud packages available which gives more present-ability. And again if you just have a look at Latex-beamer you would never go back to another place for making presentation. By the way we already made MS-OFFICE work on linux using wine... ;) thereby reducing the pain of microsoft to do it on their own.... You would ask why after saying all that??. and the answer is "We can"... :D
        Vijai Kumar
    • The Android and iOS market is MUCH LARGER than the desktop Linux market

      So Microsoft is a lot more likely to port Office to tablets first. In fact, that was the rumor just a few months back. Frankly though, I don't think it will happen any time soon!
      M Wagner
  • Just use...

    OpenOffice or LibreOffice. To me they are both excellent, both Free and you get Free upgrades and updates. :-)
    sg1efc
    • What Are You On

      What medication are you on?
      Blogsworth
      • What ever the medication might be

        it still allows him to be polite, something that you lack. He gave an opinion. He is entitled to that opinion and it is not an unreasonable opinion. You can disagree with his opinion, but that doesn't make you right, either.
        Wakemewhentrollsgone
      • none at all...

        but we can all see that you are on the Microsoft medication, Troll. LoL. :-)
        sg1efc
    • And they both

      Run on Windows as well as Linux and a host of other operating systems. I would have thought Microsoft would have been more worried about Windows users downloading a free office package than selling a proprietary office package to Linux users.
      colinmeister
      • Good point

        With the relatively high market share of Windows and OS X on the desktop, there are likely many more OpenOffice/LibreOffice users on these two platforms than on GNU/Linux and BSD.

        Microsoft, some years ago, made an attempt to secure patent-related license fees from Sun Microsystem's over OpenOffice. But, they were thwarted when Sun turned the tables on Microsoft and brought up their Java patents relative to .NET. Sun's last CEO, Jonathon Schwartz ,wrote of this on his blog after the Oracle acquisition of Sun.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
        • Sun loses with Java

          Java is imploding and will slowly die away as it's inherent inefficiency and insecurity are becoming undeniable to all
          Panwo1@...
          • You wish

            Java will stay for a long long time my friend.
            chaosfire
          • Harder to replace in the enterprise

            But its use on end point machines like desktops, laptops, ... is doomed
            Panwo1@...
    • Just downloaded and ran Libre through some basic tests

      still missing features MS had more than a decade ago. Until it comes up on the feature front, MS wins in business and anywhere people must be compatible with business.

      In other words, Libre and Open are a decade behind (Yes, I did test them) and while functional will remain second rate has beens in the market. Pretty bad for a free product to be a has been before it's had a chance to live.
      Cynical99