An Open Office

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2002-08-19 Print this article Print

Oracle Corp. CEO and Chairman Larry Ellison, in Redwood Shores, Calif., agreed, saying the biggest impediment to Linux on the desktop is the entrenchment of Office. Ellison said the biggest need is for an open-source response to Office that has enough capabilities and includes support for sharing files between environments.

Nat Friedman, co-founder and vice president of Linux desktop developer Ximian Inc., of Boston, agreed that interoperability with Office is the biggest issue in corporate adoption of the Linux desktop.

"For a long time, usability was the big issue, but that is no longer the case. Microsoft protocols and file formats are. It takes us two years to write compatibility with any Microsoft product into ours," Friedman said.

Despite the publicity surrounding Microsofts recently launched program to license 113 communications protocols to promote vendor interoperability, Friedman said these were hollow gestures that will not improve interoperability.

Scott Johnson, vice president of business development for, a business-to-business application service provider in Plano, Texas, also expressed concern about the issue of Microsoft interoperability.

"While I welcome a dedicated corporate version of the Linux desktop, the issue for us on the business side would be interoperability with Office and other Microsoft products," Johnson said. "As such, any Linux desktop implementation would have to be phased in, starting with those staff who dont need the interoperability and functionality of Office."

The Chinese government, an avid proponent of Linux and open-source software, said it believes that the desktop has a way to go. Jiang Guang-Zhi, director of the Beijing Software Industry Productivity Center, said the Linux desktop operating system "is not mature enough to meet all of our customer requirements."

Large OEMs such as IBM and Dell Computer Corp. also admit that corporate demand for a Linux desktop is slow.

Randy Groves, a vice president at Dell, in Round Rock, Texas, said he has seen limited interest in the United States concerning Linux desktops, although demand in China and the Far East is increasing.

Related stories:
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  • McNealy Takes Jabs at Microsoft
  • Ellison: Linux/9i a Dream Team
  • Dell, Red Hat Look to Accelerate Linux Migration (PC Magazine)
  • More LinuxWorld Coverage

    Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

    He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

    He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

    He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

    He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

    He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

    His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

    For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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