Bonum Certa Men Certa

On Novell and Microsoft Office Web Applications (Silver Lie)

Novell Abuses Sun and Red Hat to Shore up Failing Business Model

A FEW days ago we explained Novell's role in harming OpenOffice.org, ODF, Red Hat, and GNU/Linux as a whole. Novell's poor business model is hard to blame because its legacy technologies are talking a dive too rapidly. Inheriting Novell's place is -- weirdly enough -- Novell's partner, Microsoft. The choice of partners was particularly bizarre given Ray Noorda's persistent warnings. But Novell is now run by former IBMers, whose commitment seems dual.



One reader of ITWire wrote: "Novell fighting RedHad in stead of Windows... Just as they fight OpenOffice.org in stead of MsOffice." As pointed out the other day, they indeed just fight Sun and Red Hat (among other F/OSS entities), creating somewhat of the civil war Microsoft prescribed as its strategy [1, 2, 3].

This is also something we explained and showed last week. Microsoft can establish in-the-cloud lock-in by summoning OOXML, which no existing application works with properly (unlike the old binary formats). On 'the cloud', non-Windows platforms are likely not to receive all the same features, which renders them second-class citizens. Here are the uncertainties being pointed out.

There appears to be good news, according to a Microsoft support site: Office Web applications can run on operating systems besides Windows. But the questions of how and why were left unanswered, and not even Microsoft can explain.

A blog post to a Microsoft-managed site, turned up this morning by Computerworld reporter Gregg Keizer, seems to indicate that the Web applications in Office 14 will run in a Mac- or Linux-based Web browser. That information contradicts what BetaNews was told two weeks ago at PDC 2008 in Los Angeles, where attendees were given the first peek at Office 14's Web applications suite.

There, we saw demos of the Office Web apps (a formal name has yet to be rendered for them) running in both Internet Explorer 8 and Mozilla Firefox 3, on Windows 7-based virtual machines. Those demonstrations involved Open XML-format documents and spreadsheets stored on Office Live Workspace, which is a service geared for enabling Office apps for Windows to store documents on Microsoft's cloud-based servers. Also during the demos, the sharing process between Office users was facilitated by Windows Live services.


Will users of GNU/Linux need to install browser plug-ins like Moonlight, which normally contains or requires Mono?

What wasn't clear at the time, however, was whether Office Web apps would work on non-Windows platforms. In theory, Microsoft could still tie Firefox and Safari users to Windows through the use of extensions or browser plug-ins, if that is how the company wants to play its first move into the Web-based productivity software market.

This week, however, a blogger on Channel 10, a Microsoft-sponsored online community and news site, confirmed that Office Web would also work for Linux and Mac OS users running either Firefox or Safari browsers.


Until Microsoft's reactionary product is ably catching on, all Microsoft can do is throw FUD at Google Apps. Unlike Google Apps, Microsoft will discriminate against other platforms because it's in the business of selling operating systems for desktops and servers.

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