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Corel: Whose side is it on anyway?

Corel has been a very bizarre company ever since its deal with Microsoft. Ambivalent, confused, aimless and reliant on other companies. That's Corel.



It's almost like Novell, only several years further down the line. The GNU/Linux identity of Corel is absolutely lost by now. As for Novell, that loss of identity is still 'work in progress'.

Corel produces software only for Windows. It's still proprietary, just as Microsoft et al prefer for it to be (Fernando Cassia calls it a mistake). Corel was among the first parties to declare support for OOXML. It was a big deal at the time. Here is the latest from yesterday's news:

Once ousted from the desktop by Microsoft, Wordperfect is back and better

One of the first widely-used office suites on PCs was Wordperfect. Then Microsoft muscled into the game and quickly its Office suite became the de-facto standard, edging out competitors.

[...]

WPO X4 includes a range of PDF capabilities including the ability to import, edit and export PDF documents - including scanned PDFs.

WPO X4 is distributed in South Africa by Workgroup. Corel product manager at Workgroup, Kevin George, says that as well as offering good PDF support, WPO X4 is also compatible with Microsoft Office 2007 files as well as Open Document Format (ODF), used by OpenOffice.org.


More interesting perhaps is Corel's 'bastard child' called Xandros. Apart from signing a software patent deal with Microsoft, it has been up to other deals and ITJungle summarises.

The commercial Linux distribution business just got a little bit less diverse but perhaps a little stronger while IT Jungle was off on holiday last week when New York-based Xandros acquired fellow Linux distro Linspire for an undisclosed sum.

[...]

Xandros, you will remember, is the company that was founded in the wake of graphics and office automation software maker Corel's attempt to become a Linux distributor a decade ago, which it spun out in 2001 as a separate entity. Xandros has attempted to create a Debian Linux that plays nicely with Windows and has some of the same look and feel of Windows, to which the company created its own Xandros File Manager to make something that works like the File Manager in Windows. Most recently, Xandros has become famous as the supplier of the Linux embedded in the popular ASUS Eee PC, a tiny little flash-based laptop PC. (I got my wife one of these for Mother's Day, and she adores it because she can lug it around everywhere since it is no larger than a hardcover book. Which she also lugs around, now that I think about it.) Just as Xandros was cooking up the second edition of its Xandros Server variant last summer, it acquired Scalix, the HP-UX OpenMail groupware program that was spun out of Hewlett-Packard, ported to Linux, and open sourced.


This brings us back to H-P again, and particularly its attitude towards patents. We've covered this before. H-P fights for its patents and, not surprisingly, it's apathetic towards GNU/Linux. If it's ever offered as a choice, then it's taxed by Microsoft [1, 2].

Scalix too plays the software patents game with Microsoft (it has roots in Microsoft's friend, Hewlett-Packard). It joined Xandros shortly after Microsoft and Xandros had signed that horrible deal. And lastly, speaking of H-P, recall what we wrote about GNOME the other day (further comments here) and remember that H-P and Xandros support Microsoft OOXML. To repeat this yet again, the concern here is that Microsoft tries to lock down the core of Free software inside Software Patent Prison, rendering it non-Free. To extent, this has already happened.

Bad decision

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