Linux software suite to take on Microsoft Office

Like a circling vulture waiting for the death of its prey, tiny Linux applications developer Applix announced this week its plans to take on market-leader Microsoft Office with a spin-off that will sell its ApplixWare productivity software. The news, which might otherwise have gotten little attention outside of the insular Linux community, has instead rocketed to prominence because of Microsoft's legal woes and news that the U.S. government wants to split the monopolist into competing units. According to Applix, a spin-off named VistaSource will market and produce ApplixWare for a variety of platforms, including Windows, Linux, and other operating systems.

VistaSource will attempt to win favor with Application Service Providers (ASP), a growing segment of the market that rents software applications to its customers using high-speed data lines and powerful servers running on the backend. Because the price of monolithic applications such as Microsoft Office has risen so dramatically in recent years, and the cost of maintaining and managing this software has grown with the increase in its complexity, small and medium-sized businesses are expected to flock to ASPs in the near future. Sun is targeting this very market with StarOffice, which it purchased last year, while Microsoft will make its first real attempt to manhandle the ASP industry with the next version of Microsoft Office, code-named Office 10.

The VistaSource software for ASPs, called Applix Anywhere, will feature a flexible licensing model designed to attract cash-strapped adopters. It requires a tiny client component, based on Java, and a much larger server component. The company will also continue to sell boxed versions of the software for individuals. ApplixWare consists of several modules, including Words (word processing), Spreadsheets, Graphics, Presents (presentation software), Data (relational database), and Mail (for Internet email). The suite also includes an HTML editor, a file manager, and Microsoft Office-compatible key bindings, menu bars, and icons.

For more information about ApplixWare, please visit the VistaSource Web site

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