Just read an interesting blog entry on ZDNet Open Source by Dana Blankenhorn posing the question: “Would you buy Microsoft Office for Linux?” if it was available.
It was more of a hypothetical question and he didn’t seem to be backing it up with any hints that Microsoft are thinking along those lines, but when you do a bit more thinking, it’s not far from the realms of possibility. I mean, they’ve already hired the guy that started Gentoo. They’ve already seemingly admited Linux is taking big chunks out of their market share and Linux on the desktop is a viable alternative that many small businesses are using. They’ve also come under quite a lot of stick from open source developers of office suites due to closed specifications and formats that Microsoft Office uses.
How much work would it take to make a Linux port of Office? They’ve done it for the Apple Mac, obviously to tempt people that have moved to a Mac to use a fully-compatible Office suite, so critical in business. With so many small business looking heavily at Linux on the desktop in their offices, but a major stumbling block being a compatible office suite, would they be tempted?
I wouldn’t, to be honest. I’ve used OpenOffice at home for going on 3 years now, and StarOffice was rolled out across the network at work 18 months ago. Many people still use Microsoft Office as they’re used to it, but of those that have used StarOffice, their only complaint is lack of clipart as you get with Microsoft Office, and problems with nested tables (which is a known problem going back to closed-formats). Other than that, there is no noticeable difference in the documents produce, plus we have the ability to easily convert to PDF’s in OpenOffice / StarOffice, which small business surely find very useful by saving further on licenses.
Nice idea, but I reckon too little take up even with businesses means it wouldn’t be viable for Microsoft to give it a go.