Technology

An Office Without Windows


By Matthew Newton Are you itching to try Linux but unwilling to leave Microsoft Office behind? Check out CrossOver Office from CodeWeavers. This software allows users of the Linux operating system to run the 97 and 2000 (but not Office XP) editions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook--and Lotus Notes 5, as well. CrossOver Office enabled me to write this review using Word 2000 on a PC running Mandrake Linux.

Installing my shipping version of CrossOver Office software began with a wizardlike setup routine. After a few clicks, CrossOver asked me for my Microsoft Office CD-ROM (purchased separately); Microsoft Office Setup appeared shortly thereafter, wanting a CD key. The installation then proceeded as it would have under Windows, but when Setup asked me to reboot, CrossOver intervened with a reminder that this sort of foolishness is not necessary in Linux. In no time, Microsoft Office appeared in my Linux start menu.

I found Lotus Notes similarly painless to set up. CrossOver can help install Microsoft TrueType fonts, too, and I used its "Add Other" feature to load my Windows PIM of choice, InfoSelect. (CrossOver is built atop the Wine open-source project, which enables Windows applications on Unix operating systems. At present, CrossOver officially supports only Notes and Office, but check out www.winehq.com to see whether your favorite Windows tool might work with it.)

I tested CrossOver Office on both the Lycoris Desktop/LX and Mandrake Linux distributions. On Desktop/LX, CrossOver had difficulty locating the CD-ROM drive, and Office fonts were a bit mangled, but the applications were usable. On Mandrake, Office looked and behaved almost exactly as it does under Windows. There were minor display oddities, but that's par for the course with Wine and hardly a disruption.

Office suites that are native to Linux (such as OpenOffice.org) continue to mature, but for some users, there is just no substitute for Microsoft Office. With CrossOver Office, you don't have to leave your Word and Excel behind if you're ready to work without Windows. From the July 2002 issue of PC World magazine


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