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6 February, 2004

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MozillaQuest OpEd/Analysis

Novell Linux Dominates LinuxWorld 2004 -- Part 2:

Deja Novell All Over Again

Mike Angelo -- 6 February 2004 (C) -- Page 4

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Perfect Office for DOS Note:

In the mid-1990s, I was writing articles for DOS World (AKA DOS Resources Guide). Nancy Pomeroy and Blake Stowell were in Novell's WordPerfect PR department -- one of the best PR groups with which I ever have had the pleasure of working. All of us were great DOS fans back then. And we all were pushing for Novell to develop a PerfectOffice suite for DOS.

However, interest in developing for DOS was waning at Novell. I did a few stories about WordPerfect for DOS and QuatroPro 5.5 for DOS for DOS World. Apparently that helped to stimulate WordPerfect for DOS and QuatroPro for DOS sales enough that Novell's WordPerfect developers started working on an office suite for DOS.

Then, Novell dumped WordPerfect and Corel picked it up. The WordPerfect DOS suite was released after Corel had purchased WordPerfect from Novell.

If the name Blake Stowell catches your attention -- you guessed it. Blake and Nancy left WordPerfect shortly after Novell sold WordPerfect to Corel.

Eventually, Nancy Pomeroy went over to Caldera (not then associated with SCO or Darl McBride) as director of corporate communication. Caldera had bought DR DOS from Novell.

When Nancy left Caldera, Blake was hired to take her place. That was before there was any association between Caldera and SCO and before Darl McBride was hired by Caldera.

Caldera bought SCO and then changed its name to SCO. Thus, Blake Stowell now is SCO's Director of Public Relations.

Chris Stone on Office Software for Novell Linux

At LinuxWorld on 21 January 2004, MozillaQuest Magazine had an exclusive interview/discussion with Novell Vice-Chairman, Chris Stone. The discussion centered on office software for Novell Linux and the GNU-Linux operating-system desktop. Apparently, Novell retained some of the WordPerfect and PerfectOffice modules when it sold that stuff to Corel.

MozillaQuest Magazine: Well, then you basically still have WordPerfect and QuatroPro?

Chris Stone: No. QuatroPro and the word processor are gone. We don't own them.

MozillaQuest Magazine: So when you say you kept Office, you really don't --

Chris Stone: We kept the mail, the post office agent -- client side software for the mail client, the address book for QuickFind --

MozillaQuest Magazine: WordPerfect back when you sold it, it was better than what Microsoft has now --

Chris Stone: I've heard that.

MozillaQuest Magazine: And Corel messed it up. The PR team you had there was great. The developers were great -- I was always talking to them. I'm the guy that got them to do what eventually became the DOS WordPerfect Office Suite.

Chris Stone: Oh yah, that's right.

MozillaQuest Magazine: What you guys ought to do is get WordPerfect back. The WordPerfect Office suite -- Look at what you had, Chris.

Chris Stone: We can open source it and use it that way.

MozillaQuest Magazine: When you had Unix and WordPerfect -- You were postured -- to really run Microsoft into the ground. And then unfortunately you divested. -- But what the Linux desktop needs more than anything else is a good office suite. OpenOffice comes close --

Chris Stone: It's pretty good actually.

MozillaQuest Magazine: But it's not the same. It's not the same as WordPerfect. I could be wrong -- If you guys were to get WordPerfect and QuatroPro back --

Chris Stone: Well, it's good advice. I'll go look at it.

Chris Stone went on to mention that some Novell-Ximian developers and about thirty Novell people in India are working on the OpenOffice project. We also got into a discussion about the grammar checker from WordPerfect.

OpenOffice/StarOffice does not have a grammar checker. The StarOffice (Sun) people argue that people do not use grammar checkers.

While some people do not use grammar-checkers embedded in office software, many people do use them. For those people that do use grammar checkers, OpenOffice/StarOffice is not an attractive substitute for Microsoft Word.

Interestingly, MS Word's grammar checker is not as good as the grammar checker that WordPerfect had when Novell owned WordPerfect ten years ago. So imagine the impact on the Linux office software if OpenOffice had Novell's old WordPerfect grammar checker or if WordPerfect were open sourced. There is a WordPerfect for Linux, but Corel is just sitting on it and doing nothing with it. What a shame! What a waste!

In our LinuxWorld discussion, Chris Stone indicated that Novell still has the grammar checker.

MozillaQuest Magazine: You have the grammar checker?

Chris Stone: We have the spelling tools in QuickFind.

Chris Stone: Some of that shows up in GroupWise. Open sourcing QuickFind that might be a good idea

MozillaQuest Magazine: Would you guys be willing to give that grammar checker to OpenOffice

Chris Stone: That's an interesting idea. Actually open sourcing -- that might be a good idea.

However, in some e-mail discussions last week with Novell Director of Public Relations Bruce Lowry, he told MozillaQuest Magazine that Novell does not have a grammar checker. We have asked Chris Stone and Bruce Lowry for an explanation of this inconsistency between what they have told MozillaQuest Magazine about a Novell grammar checker. However, they have not so explained the inconsistency.

Even so, the discussions with Jack Messman and Chris Stone show that Novell realizes the importance of good office software for Novell Linux and the GNU-Linux desktop. Novell already is contributing to FOSS office software, to-wit OpenOffice. Moreover, Novell is open to the idea of getting the PerfectOffice suite back and making it available for the GNU-Linux desktop -- perhaps even open sourcing it. Now that is some great community spirit!


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