A small German company, which has developed an Office suite that threatens to break Microsoft's monopoly on Office applications, was the main target of the attack.
StarOffice 5.1, produced by Hamburg based company Star Division, has not only been developed for Windows and OS2, but is also currently available for Linux and Solaris operating systems. Also, in the spirit of the open source movement, Star Division has taken the step of offering the StarOffice Linux application free from its Web site. StarOffice 5.1 also offers virtually all the functionality of Microsoft's Office 2000 application as well as almost complete compatibility with Microsoft Office file formats.
Microsoft's UK Marketing Manager, Anne Marie Duffy, hit out at this application saying, "These things are free at a price. Customers pay in terms of reliability and stability." Turning her fire on Linux itself, she added "At Microsoft we spend about $3bn on development, so our operating system is tested in all environments. My concern is that if there are so many people developing Linux, customers will not have confidence that it will work so well."
This has unsurprisingly provoked anger from Linux enthusiasts as well as advocates of the open source movement.
Andy Kaufman, director of Penguin Computing, a US company that sells Linux optimised PCs, was bemused by this criticism. "This makes no sense," he said. "Our customers have turned to us to run not merely their back-end operations, but also their mission critical operations on Linux. They choose Linux for superior price performance and system reliability and availability."
Top Linux kernel developer, Alan Cox, also disagrees with these accusations. He says, "Most folks seem to like Linux because it works. I'd hope people use Linux because they enjoy it or because it's the best tool for the job."