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Breaking the Microsoft lock-in

With thousands of documents in Microsoft formats, and a whole infrastructure devoted to supporting Office, many companies are reluctant to change to Linux. Fortunately, there’s hope.

Far more than the Windows operating system itself, many companies feel more strongly locked in to Microsoft Office. If your company is willing to convert to another office suite, such as the OpenOffice.org suite, you have a chance at migrating to an alternative operating system such as Linux. But unfortunately, much of a company’s communications and scheduling may be tied into Exchange and Outlook.

And with thousands of documents in Microsoft formats, and a whole infrastructure devoted to supporting Office, many companies are reluctant to change. All of this hinders the adoption of alternatives to Windows, such as Linux. While you can purchase Microsoft Office for Windows and Mac OS X, you cannot get Office on Linux.

Luckily, if you do want to run Linux and your organization is tied to Microsoft Office, there is hope. CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers allows you to run more than 30 major Windows business applications on an Intel-based Linux system.

CrossOver Office has been around for a number of years. The upcoming 3.0 release adds support for Adobe FrameMaker, Microsoft Project, Microsoft Outlook XP, and Lotus Notes 6.51, along with support for Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, Intuit Quicken, and Macromedia’s Dreamweaver and Flash.

In addition, a previous product, CrossOver Plugin, is now bundled with CrossOver Office. The CrossOver Plugin allows you to run Windows Web browser plug-ins on Linux. Linux sports far fewer browser plug-ins, than those that run on Windows.

With the 3.0 release, a new home user can purchase CrossOver Office Standard for $39.95, as compared to the $74.95 for CrossOver Office Professional. CrossOver Office is built on top of WINE, a free package for running Windows applications on Linux.

While CodeWeavers has focused on business applications, another company, TransGaming, has taken a different tack. TransGaming’s WineX product aims at the game-playing market.

WineX 3.3.2, the most recent release, adds support for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and properly handles the copy protection scheme on Battlefield 1942, in addition to all the other popular games that run on WineX.

If you want to stick entirely to the free software realm, you can run WINE, which comes with most Linux distributions. WINE forms the basis for the CodeWeavers and TransGaming products, and can run a number of Windows applications.

You can look up applications in the WINE support database to see if your necessary applications are supported or view the most-requested applications.

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