While the industry is distracted by the ongoing tussle between Microsoft and OpenOffice.org over document formats, the KDE project is quietly preparing the next generation of its own office suite, KOffice, for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X.
KOffice 2.0, to be released sometime in the first half of 2008, will be cross platform like many other applications in the KDE suite built with the Qt4 GUI toolkit.
Spokesperson for the KDE project Sebastian Kugler told Computerworld there is a community building around KDE on Windows and KDE e.V., the non-profit organization that represents KDE financially and legally, sponsored a meeting to help people get the port to Windows going.
"The by-product [of Qt4] really is that it became possible, now people are taking advantage of it," Kugler said.
That said, Kugler admits KDE on Windows is "not really a steered effort" but is being done because there is interest in having KDE software run on Windows, and because KDE was developed to be platform-independent in the first place, it is possible.
People involved in the Linux and open source communities have often expressed conflicting views on whether free software on Windows benefits, or detracts from, the adoption of free operating systems, particularly on the desktop.
Kugler believes it is "hard to say" one way or another if KOffice 2.0 on Windows and Mac OS X will benefit KDE on Linux.
"For some, there is definitely less incentive to switch to free platforms, which is a pity," he said. "On the other hand, we see users that simply cannot switch that easily, and we're able to open up the world of KDE for them as well. Having KDE applications run on Windows of course also makes a lot of sense for enterprise users [as] they don't have to support one client per operating system that might be used in the company, but they can standardize on, for example, KMail as a PIM solution."
Kugler said another benefit will be attracting new developers to work on those platforms which will help make KDE better.
"The focus for KDE, however, will always remain on free software and free platforms, including the operating system," he said.