Microsoft Agrees OpenOffice.org Is Basically The Same As Their Office Suite

In a document buried deep in Microsoft’s website, detailing their relationship with Linspire in light legalese, Microsoft calls “Wine, OpenXchange, StarOffice, CrossOver Office and Mono […] product (or major component thereof) of Linspire that has the same or substantially the same features and functionality as a then-existing product (or major component thereof) of Microsoft (“Prior Product”) and that (a) has the same or substantially the same user interface, or (b) implements all or substantially all of the Application Programming Interfaces of the Prior Product.”

StarOffice is the keyword here, as it was the original name of OpenOffice.org when it was originally being developed by Sun. I used it for a short time in the late 1990s but eventually went back to Word and the other familiar Microsoft apps. So, couched in trade names and lawyer-speak, Microsoft has called OpenOffice.org a product with basically the same features as MS Office. While almost no one will ever see this document, it’s still interesting that they seem a bit more open to admitting that free software is giving them a real run for their money these days than they have been in the past.

In the same document Microsoft also discusses GPLv3 software, widely reported to have been excluded from Linspire due to their patent sell-out. “GPLv3 Software” means those portions of software products of Linspire, if any, that are distributed by Linspire under Version 3 or later of the GNU General Public License,” is the verbiage in the document, so who knows what that means? The small but sinister words “if any” are present, so reporting may be correct in general so far.

While Novell has told Microsoft they will release GPLv3 software in SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop whether Microsoft likes it or not, Linspire and, as far as I know, Xandros, have not had such an outbreak of cajones. To use the tired but favorite journalistic phrase, “only time will tell.”

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