Pigs Taking Flight? Office Web For Mac and Linux?

by Ostatic Staff - Nov. 16, 2008

When Microsoft announced it was planning to offer lightweight, web-based versions of some of its Office components, there was some speculation that maybe it could be used with alternate browsers. It seemed Firefox would be a likely candidate beyond IE, and some ventured to wonder about Safari.

Even if Firefox was supported, it didn't seem likely this suite would be specifically web based, so it would need Windows, right? According to a few sources it seems as if that might not be the case. Though the source is a Microsoft Community member blog (and not a pronouncement from corporate sources) the concept of this service on Mac and Linux is fascinating because it suggests so much about what Microsoft might be thinking.

Even if your initial response is a resounding "meh" -- there are other web office suites, such as Google Docs, and even the Ulteo Linux/OpenOffice suite -- there are just so many other implications in Microsoft's making this available for Firefox, never mind Safari and the Linux operating system.

Is it an unspoken acknowledgement that open source software and systems are popular, and prevalent enough that neglecting to support them would be -- foolish? Even more alienating? Financially damaging? Giving Google the upperhand? All of the above? Is it a company warming at least somewhat to the idea that it's distasteful to force potential customers who use one application to forfeit, in many cases, the option to use others that might complement it?

If this should come to pass, it will certainly be interesting to see if the Microsoft Web Office will be able to compete with the existing web office suites in general, and if a signficant number of users are doing so on Mac and Linux machines. I've a feeling that while there may be many Firefox/Windows users, and perhaps a few more Mac/Safari users than Linux/Firefox users, most Mac and Linux users have already found web office solutions that work for them.