Running MS Office on Linux


What is Open Office?

Simply put, it's a Open Source product that gives users comparable features to those of Microsoft Office.

Typically, Open Office is seen pre-installed on Linux platforms but Open Office org has also produced installation files for MS Windows platforms. The following list gives a comparison of applications within the two productivity suites:

Microsoft Office Open

Writer Word

Calc / Base Excel

Impress Powerpoint

Although the features are similar, Open Office is lagged in performance. Many users reported extremely slow start up and running of Open Office applications. These problems seem to have been ironed in the latest release, version 2.4.

Currently, Open Office does not provide capabilities to match those of Visio but Open Source products such as Dia give users limited diagramming utilities. KOffice, another Open Source product, ships with the Kivio application which provides features akin to Visio although the free templates within the base application are rather limited. A number of companies sell Kivio templates that enable users to create Visio-like diagrams at a significantly lower cost than that of purchasing a full Microsoft Office package.

Office is the jewel in the crown for Microsoft. Sales of the proprietary productivity suite supply MS with huge sums of revenue which has enabled diversification into other areas of technology. Consider the tight integration of Microsoft Windows and Office. By creating hooks into products such as Windows XP and Vista plus dedicated monitoring, package, deployment and update services Microsoft has ensured that Office is optimized for only Microsoft platforms.

Considering the points given above, why would anyone want to attempt an office installation on anything but Windows? Simple. Freedom of choice. Open Office is available for a huge range of OSes, including Windows. KOffice is working on porting their application to Windows. But for some users only Office will do. However, they are not prepared to pay to the price of purchasing Windows in order to run MS Office. So, how can Office be run on Linux?

Wine, the Open Source compatibility layer for running Windows applications on Linux / UNIX. Wine is not an emulator, the software Wine implements a compatibility layer which provides alternative implementations of the DLLs required by Windows programs. The Wine project has focused primarily on 32 bit applications and will not run 64 bit apps. Another issue associated with the use of Wine is the way in which Microsoft validates the installation of applications. If WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) detects Microsoft apps running on Wine it will disallow genuine updates, downloads, and security patches for the affected applications.

The choice of office productivity suites is a personal choice. In some cases, users may not have a choice. Consider UMPC hardware such as the Eee PC . The current CPU installed is simply not sufficient for a device that needs to run Microsoft Vista and Office as an installed application but IS ideally suited to a Linux / Open Office installation.


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