Linux Offers Better Windows Apps Without the Wait
Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols - eWEEK
Now here's a thought: In all the debate over Longhorn versus Linux (news -
web sites) 2.6-or, as I like to pose it, vaporware vs. "Red Hat Fedora is
running on my desktop right now"-has anyone ever considered that legacy
Windows users might be better off running their applications on-drum roll,
No, seriously. Microsoft is clearly pushing the idea of the 64-bit desktop,
with AMD and Intel cheering them on, but guess what's missing from this
ultimate desktop of 2006? Well according to Brian Marr, Microsoft's product
manager for Windows 64-bit, you can kiss such client legacy subsystems as
the OS/2 subsystem, the portable operating-system interface for Unix (news -
web sites) (POSIX), and oh yes, 16-bit Windows support goodbye.
Now, maybe no one will much miss the OS/2 subsystem, and if you want to run
POSIX-compliant applications on Windows you're probably already doing it
with Microsoft's Services for Unix, but there's a surprising number of
applications out there that still need 16-bit support. And, I'll bet you a
dollar there are a lot of developers out there who rely on 16-bit support
for their applications and aren't even aware of this news. yet.
Programmers don't reinvent the wheel, especially when they have old wheel
code that's run just fine for years. We saw the folly of that approach with
the billions we spent rebuilding obsolete code to get ready for Y2K, and
we'll see it again as programs and devices unexpectedly break on 64-bit
Even when you know it's a problem and the vendor tries to help, as was the
case with Apple and the jump from Mac OS 9 to OS X, you end up with hundreds
of broken programs and legacy devices that won't work. Heck, my Mac-using
friends tell me there are still dozens of older devices that still won't
work with OS X, and it's been a long time since OS X was new and shiny.
Now, this will keep developers busy, but what are Windows users to do in the
meantime? My modest proposal is that they should look to Linux.
You want to run Windows applications, but you want better stability and
reliability? You can run your applications on Windows 98SE or ME under Linux
using NeTraverse Inc.'s outstanding Win4Lin. I use this program myself to
run Windows applications on Linux and it just flat out works. Better still,
if an application runs amok in the Win4Lin Windows virtual machine, I can
just virtually reboot and I'm back up and running in a tenth of the time it
would have taken me had the same error occurred in native Windows.
You want to run a Windows application, but you don't want to run Windows?
Then, CodeWeavers Inc. has the program for you: CrossOver Office. This
program, based on the open-source WINE project, enables you to run many of
the most popular Windows programs, including Office 2000 and two of my
personal favorites, Intuit Quicken (news - web sites) and Macromedia
Dreamweaver. Better still, the upcoming CrossOver Office 3.0 also supports
Lotus Notes 6.51, Microsoft Outlook XP, Microsoft Project, and Adobe
Heck, why wait for Longhorn to make things "better" tomorrow? If you want to
run Windows applications today on a new and improved system, why not just
run them on Linux 2.6 today?
eWEEK.com Linux & Open Source Center Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has
been using and writing about operating systems since the late '80s and
thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.
Check out eWEEK.com's Linux & Open Source Center at http://linux.eweek.com
for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.