Corel Interview Part III: The Grand Plan...

In the third part of our exclusive interview with Corel's Derek Burney, we ask what Corel's motives are behind the Wine project and how it plans to get the message out.
Written by Richard Barry, Contributor

ZDNet UK News: Isn't it the case that Corel is now a former heavyweight software house and has simply jumped on the Linux bandwagon as a means of clawing back some of the market share that it's lost over the years to the likes of Microsoft.

Derek Burney:

There's no denying that we are in business to succeed and an opportunity like that is one that we wouldn't be willing to ignore.

But that said, it was the Ziff-Davis Market Intelligence report "Technology User Profile 1998" that showed WordPerfect gaining 10% in the last year.

We saw two things of interest there. One, is that there was only a two-to-one difference between Microsoft and us and number two was that that twenty-two million figure went up two million from the year before. And at the same time we have PC data figures coming in telling us that we're at around 25% and holding firm so on the Windows side we're doing quite well and as a result of the Ziff-Davis Market Intelligence report we're confident that even upgrading within our own user base has huge room for expansion.

Linux offers us an opportunity to again expand the platform support we have for our line of products because we're already on the Mac, we're already in Unix. Linux is just another one and we've always been offering our customers maximum choice.

ZDNet UK News: What are you going to do to get Joe Bloggs to use Linux instead of Windows.

Derek Burney:

That's where Wine comes in because it not only opens up Corel products but everyone else's. Once people start getting that information on their own... and there's a lot of media attention right now. Once the Wine message gets out...

ZDNet UK News: (interrupts) Is Joe Bloggs really going to hear about Wine? Does he even know about Linux? Aren't you facing a formidable uphill struggle?

Derek Burney:

The Dells and Compaqs and IBMs of this world are going to hear about this too because they're paying Microsoft now to put Windows on their machines. So once they realise that they can put Wine and Linux on their machines for $100 less they're going to be all over it.

IBM has already announced a Linux machine. The hardware manufacturers are going to take care of that for us. They'll have a choice.

ZDNet UK News: So when can we expect to see this revolution take place?

Derek Burney:

We're expecting the Wine project to be complete within six to nine months.

ZDNet UK News: And say another year or so for the applications to be written to Wine and for the message to get out. By then you expect Dell, Gateway, Compaq etc. to include Wine on top of Linux as an alternative to the familiar Microsoft bundle.

Derek Burney:

Yes, exactly. I expect it will be the year 2000 before there's a rush.

I don't exactly see it as a revolution. There's now an opportunity for developers to create their applications for a newer platform and rather than doing all the work behind closed doors Wine is a way to avoid that.

ZDNet UK News: Will Microsoft suffer as a result of this?

Derek Burney:

Yes, sure. Are you familiar with the Halloween document? It made me chuckle because it's apparent that there isn't a whole lot Microsoft can do. We would welcome the opportunity to run WordPerfect against Word on a neutral operating system. We think that we have a compelling reason for people to use our products and it would be great to compete on a level playing field. So if Linux is what it takes for us to compete head to head in a fair environment, we look forward to that day.

ZDNet UK News: Does it help that Linux is now the trendy operating system?

Derek Burney:

Sure, but it's trendy because it works. It lives up to people's expectations, unlike Java which became a victim of its own hype. Linux has been there for years.

It's always been safe.

It's always been reliable.

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