The Linux focused site Phoronix is reporting that Microsoft is looking at developing Office for Linux in 2014. This is based on a conversation the writer had at the Free Open Source European Meeting in Brussels, where he was told, 'Microsoft is having a "meaningful look" at a full Linux port of Office thanks to Linux showing signs of commercial viability.'

Linux has certainly been getting more serious support recently, with the game platform Steam now available on the Ubuntu distribution of the open source operating system. Linux is also increasing in popularity among government organizations, attracted by its cost cutting possibilities.

How likely is Office for Linux?

Microsoft has said that Office will work on Android (and iOS) this year, with an app that will allow document viewing, and basic editing if you have an Office 365 subscription.

Sebastian Anthony at ExtremeTech says, 'Android, as you may already know, is a Linux-based operating system, meaning a lot of the porting work will have already been done — it shouldn’t take too much effort to take the next step and bring Office to Ubuntu, or whichever distro Microsoft favors.'

However the Android app looks like little more than a version of the Office web app, which is has nothing like the features or power of the desktop version.

Unlikely to be seen together soon

If Linux gets enough of the desktop market, I'm sure Microsoft will look at developing Office for it, but there's still a long way to go. Linux currently has a 1.21% desktop market share, which puts it a long way behind even OS X, which accounts for about 7%.

Alex Williams on TechCrunch believes Microsoft is looking at open sourcing its crown jewel, but this is even more unlikely (and he is probably just being controversial).

Is Microsoft Office coming to Linux in 2014?

Probably not. I'm sure Microsoft is looking at Linux, but it is unlikely to be developing Office for next year, unless there's a massive boost in Linux market share on the way.

A cut down version as will be offered on iOS and Android, is easier to imagine but there's little reason to believe it's on the way.


  • Yaro |

    There's a few barriers to going from Android to normal Linux distributions. I'll try to keep this brief.

    1. Android is predominantly deployed on ARM devices, whereas most mainstream Linux distributions are deployef on x86(64). These are highly different CPU architectures. There are x86(64) builds of Android, but the likelihood of Office for Android being deployed for those builds is minimal as they are mostly just used by enthusiasts, not normal mobile .

    2. Though the Linux kernel is (aside from item 1.) fundamentally the same between Android and mainstream Linux distributions, the userspace is extremely different. Most applications on Android run on a highly specialized Java virtual machine, with no X11 or standard shell to approximate normal Linux desktop functionality. On desktop Linux most apps (Including Java, Perl, or Python-based applications.) still rely heavily on a Standard C Library foundation, usually glibc, which is not present on Android. Yes, there is a C++ component to the Android SDK, but you still have to rely on the Java VM for the core of the app. Despite most Android apps being written entirely in Java, the APIs and VM they use is pretty well totally unusable for Xorg-based desktops, which virtually all Linux desktops are.

    3. Due to items 1 and especially 2, to "port" an app from Android to normal Linux distributions, a developer essentially has to rewrite the entire app from the ground up to work on an Xorg/glibc-based Linux system.

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