COMDEX: Cowpland outlines Linux strategy

Corel president and CEO Michael Cowpland outlined some of the reasons the Canadian applications company is betting heavily on the Linux operating system.

Speaking at a keynote address at Comdex, Cowpland explained his company's strategy around Linux, praising it as an operating system that offers freedom and reliability.

Corel this week launched Corel Linux OS for desktops which will ship early next year, Cowpland said.

"Linux is very reliable," said Cowpland. The best part is its users face "no threats to remove Windows licenses or increases in license fees."

Corel plans to build on its installed user base of 35 million users of its WordPerfect word processor and 15 million users of the desktop publishing application Corel Draw to build a base for its Linux offerings. Early next year, it will release a Linux version of the word processing application. Next year, it also plans to release Linux-based versions of QuattroPro spreadsheet application, Paradox database software and its Presentations application. In the second or third quarter, it will release CorelDraw on Linux.

Corel's strategy for getting its Linux OS into the market is threefold. It will work with PC makers to pre-install Linux on PCs. It has already inked deals with Compaq and Toshiba, Cowpland said.

Although a version of its Linux OS is available for free download online, the company will sell upgrades on the Web. More importantly in terms of revenue, Corel will sell corporate licenses and support contracts for its OS.

Cowpland also stressed Corel's strength in development. Almost 10 percent of its 700 developers are working on Linux applications. That's half the number of its Linux competitor, Red Hat Software, Cowpland said. In addition to those developers, Corel has a localisation team based in Dublin, Ireland, working on 25 language versions of Linux. "We will distribute it in multiple languages very soon."

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