COMDEX MIAMI: Corel and Inprise Band for Linux

Corel Corp. and Inprise Corp. will collaborate on development of Linux products, including Corel's office applications and Inprise's application development tools, the chief executives from both companies announced today. The accord between the companies also calls for joint marketing and distribution efforts, the officials said.

"The key thing about Linux is that it's all about freedom," said Michael Cowpland, Corel's president and chief executive officer (CEO), during his keynote address at Comdex Miami '99 this afternoon. "The time to get into Linux is now."

Inprise is developing a Linux rapid application development (RAD) tool, code-named Kylix, to create new applications for Linux and to port existing ones to the open-source operating system, said Dale Fuller, Inprise's president and CEO, who joined Cowpland on stage for a question-and-answer session after the keynote. Kylix, scheduled to be shipped next year, will feature the Borland Visual Component Library and support for C, C++ and Delphi, he added.

Linux, the popular open-source operating system, lacks RAD tools, so Inprise's efforts will help fill a gap and give developers much needed tools, Cowpland said.

Corel, which has a version of its WordPerfect 8 for Linux, and Inprise, which has ported some of its wares to Linux, both plan to continue porting their products to the operating system (OS).

Cowpland devoted most of his keynote to singing the praises of Linux and of Corel's upcoming version of the open-source OS, called Corel Linux, which is now in beta testing and slated for shipment in November.

Because Linux is an open-source OS whose kernel can be obtained for free by anyone, Linux gives developers freedom to partner with others and to innovate using the platform, Cowpland said.

It also gives users freedom from "Microsoft control and fine print" and from Microsoft's constant price increases, Cowpland said.

"Windows is a great software, but negotiations (with Microsoft) can be a bit lopsided when there is only one option," he said.

Cowpland said that although PC manufacturers are "scared" of Microsoft and don't want to get on its bad side for fear they will lose access to Windows, he is confident that they will embrace Corel's Linux distribution and pre-install it in their machines.

Linux also offers "freedom from crashing" because of its reliability, and "freedom from cracking" thanks to its solid security, Cowpland added.

Corel decided to develop its own version of Linux because it considers the others in the market to be hard to set up, difficult to use and lacking in compatibility with Windows-based networks, he said.

Corel Linux is being designed for mass-market desktop users, he added. Thus, Corel has given its version of Linux plug and play capabilities, a user interface that it considers easy to use and very similar to Windows, tight integration with Windows and what it calls high-quality printing features, Cowpland said.

An assistant joined Cowpland on stage and gave a demonstration of Corel Linux, whose GUI is very similar to Windows' interface. For example, it features what the assistant called a "pseudo-Start button," which works in the same way as the Start button in Windows 95 and 98. Users can have as many as eight "virtual desktops" running at the same time, each with a different set of applications open, the assistant said. Corel Linux also features a "control center" for users to manage system functions, she added.

In an aside earlier on the show floor after they announced their partnership, Cowpland and Fuller said they chose to make this announcement at Comdex Miami in part because their companies are interested in reaching out to the Latin American market, which they both consider to be full of opportunities for their respective products.

Using Linux in Latin America, where economic crisis often affects countries, makes sense because its implementations are less expensive than those of other operating systems, Cowpland said.

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