There has been a lot of rumouring and discussion going on in the last few days about Microsoft potentially releasing Office for Linux by 2014. Opinions are divided between those Linux fans who believe this will make 2014 the year of desktop Linux, those who believe Linux users have absolutely no desire to switch from their free LibreOffice software and those who find it hard to accept that Microsoft would spend resources on such a low market operating system.
The source of the rumour is Michael Larabel, the founder of Phoronix, a Linux advocate and consultant. He is said to have spoken about this issue at the Free and Open Source Software Developers’ European Meeting (FOSDEM), an event to promote the widespread use of Free and Open Source software in Brussels. He stated that Microsoft might be actually interested in releasing a Linux version of Office in 2014 because of Linux’s significant signs of growth and commercial viability. After all, there has been a growing number of hardware merchants who have been selling PCs that offer preloaded versions of Linux, together with an increase in the uptake of Linux by universities and governments.
So far, Microsoft has refused to make any comments on what they regard as “rumour or speculation”, but there are a couple of reasons why the general public is talking about it. To begin with, Microsoft is reportedly working on Office for Android, a Linux-based operating system. This would make it easier for Microsoft to create a version for Linux itself and altogether more probable to happen, as a lot of the work will have been done already. Secondly, according to James Utzschneider, a high tech marketing executive who used to work for Microsoft, the company has become increasingly open to provide customers with flexibility and choice. Microsoft has already released Office for Mac, so Linux might not be that much of a wild bet.
However the matter turns out, we should have to wait another year to find out whether these rumours were worth the discussion, but for those Linux fans out there, there might be much growth to be expected ahead.