Microsoft limits support for Office on Linux

Users can now run Office XP on Linux, but if they have problems they will get little sympathy from Microsoft technical support

Microsoft said on Thursday it would not offer full technical support to customers running Office XP on Linux using intermediary software such as CodeWeavers' CrossOver Office package.

CrossOver Office allows Microsoft Office XP's productivity suite -- with the exception of Access and Outlook components of the package -- to be run on versions of Linux that use the Gnome or KDE desktop software.

Tony Wilkinson, product manager for Office at Microsoft Australia, said the company would only assist customers running Office XP on Linux platforms using intermediary software if they can prove that the glitches they experience occur on the Windows platform as well.

"If there is an issue that's reproducible on Windows then we will help to resolve it but if the issue only exists when you're running Office with CrossOver on Linux, then that's a problem with their implementation and we're not going to resolve it -- it would be up to them," said Wilkinson.

The onus for proving that an issue affects both Windows and Linux would lie with the customer, said Wilkinson.

He said Microsoft did not issue documentation or an agreement explicitly stating the support condition with copies of the Office XP, but maintained relevant licensing information concerning its after-market service on the company's Web site. He added that supported platforms are listed unambiguously on packaging for boxed consumer versions of the Office XP.

Microsoft said it would apply the same set of conditions for supporting Office XP on Linux to all variations of its licensing agreements, including deals with major enterprise customers.

Office is widely considered to be a major bulwark protecting Microsoft's overwhelmingly dominant share of the operating system market. Many enterprises are hesitant to switch to an open source platform for fear of losing compatibility with the productivity suite.

CrossOver Office is aimed at making Linux a more viable alternative to Windows by allowing it to run familiar Windows applications. Besides Office XP, the software supports popular software such as Adobe Photoshop, Lotus Notes and Intuit's Quicken.

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