On Thursday, at the CeBIT exhibition in Hannover, Arthur F Tyde, the executive vice president of LinuxCare, revealed the strongest evidence so far that Microsoft is developing a version of Office for the Linux platform.
According to Tyde, there are strong indications that the software giant is about to offer the leading suite to the Linux community, which is sure to spin some heads. A long-standing criticism of Linux as a viable desktop alternative has been the lack of user-friendly word processing and spreadsheet applications.
"I have heard there are 34 developers working at Microsoft to develop a version of Office for Linux," says Tyde. "I don't know whether it is true, but I've heard that from a number of different sources."
Tyde's credentials within the Linux development community are impeccable. LinuxCare provides training, certification and a wide range of development support for developers of every Linux distribution available.
It is widely known that Microsoft has been hiring Linux developers, and some have speculated that the software behemoth could even be in the process of producing its own Linux distribution. But while Tyde doesn't think this is the case, he says he and others would actually welcome a Microsoft version of the Open Source nemesis to the Windows platform.
"I would like to see a Microsoft version of Linux," he adds "If they played by the rules, then we would support them."
Microsoft was not immediately available for comment.
Will Knight is reporting from CeBIT. A follow-up to this story is expected by Friday.
Back in December Guy Kewney thought Microsoft may be muscling in on the Linux bandwagon. Go with Guy Kewney to find out how far away this move could be and what will be the major stumbling blocks...
What do you think about Linux running Microsoft Office, or even Microsoft Linux? Tell the Mailroom.
For full coverage, see ZDNet UK's CeBIT 2000 special.
See also, CeBIT 2000: A summary.