As the de facto standard in desktop operating systems, Microsoft Windows is generally the platform of choice—often, to the exclusion of any others—for commercially developed applications and services.
Although good open source alternatives to Windows-only applications have been appearing in growing numbers, sometimes only the Windows version will do.
Personally, almost all of my daily application needs are being well served by open source software. I use OpenOffice.org whether Im working with a Linux or a Windows system; Mozillas my choice for Web browsing; and I cant say enough about Gaim as an upgrade for instant messaging on multiple systems at once.
However, until recently, my favorite online music service, Launchcast, had me maintaining a Windows laptop at my desk, solely for listening to my custom-tailored music station. For no particularly good reason (in my frustrated view), Launchcast requires Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player.
This is why Ive eagerly been awaiting the release of CodeWeavers CrossOver Office 2.0, which enables Linux users to run certain Windows native applications, most notably Adobe Photoshop, Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office XP—including Access, which the previous version of CrossOver Office did not support.
The $55 CrossOver Office, which became available April 22, is based on Wine, an open-source Windows API implementation that enables Linux users to run many applications developed for Windows.
I heard that some users have had success running Internet Explorer with the vanilla release of Wine, but I was never able to get it installed properly. Making matters worse were the system library changes that arrived along with Red Hats Phoebe beta, completely breaking Wine compatibility for my distribution of choice. CrossOver Office Version 2.0 now supports Red Hat 9, along with most other major Linux distributions.
CodeWeavers builds on what works in Wine, adding application-specific fixes and a very good Windows software installation tool that does a good job simplifying the tricky process of installing and running Windows applications on Linux.
Ive had good success installing and running the applications in CrossOver Offices list, including Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, and the Macromedia Flash client required for me to listen to my tunes.
Its disappointing that CrossOver Office does not support Outlook XP (Outlook 2000 is supported), although the company has announced plans to extend its Outlook support in the next version.
What Windows application is keeping you from booting into Linux full time? Drop me a line at email@example.com.