SuSE Linux to launch desktop products

SuSE Linux AG plans to launch desktop versions of the open source-based Linux operating system early next year, the company said Tuesday at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in Frankfurt, Germany.

"People have been asking us when we're going to deliver products to the desktop and now, after our pilot tests, we can say that we'll have products available for consumers, enterprises and government organizations in the first quarter of 2003," said Petra Heinrich, vice president of qualified users at SuSE Linux.

The company will launch two separate products aimed at two separate markets, according to Stefan Werden, senior sales engineer.

SuSE Linux Office Desktop targets consumers and home office workers, particularly those using Microsoft Corp.'s Office software. The product, which also supports IBM Corp.'s Lotus Notes, will be available in January 2003. It will cost €129 (US$127).

SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop is aimed at businesses and public administrations with large networks of smart clients. The product is expected to be available in the first quarter of 2003. Price points were not available.

Both products will be available in German and English.

"One of the big features of our desktop products is that users who have licensed Microsoft Office will be able to continue using this software and thus protect their software investments," Werden said.

If users decide not to renew their Microsoft Office license, he said, they can easily migrate to open-source alternatives, such as StarOffice, now distributed for a fee by Sun Microsystems Inc., or OpenOffice, a scaled down version of StarOffice, which can be downloaded for free.

SuSE Linux will use the software Codeweavers CrossOver Office 1.2 to emulate Microsoft Office products.

"In our tests, we haven't detected any significant drop in performance when running Office products over the emulation software," Chris Schlaeger, a software engineer at SuSE Linux said.

The SuSE Linux desktop products are based on code from the company's flagship enterprise server software, Schlaeger said.

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