German software developer SoftMaker has made a free beta test release of SoftMaker Office 2012 for Linux available, an application suite for Linux-based PCs that offers full compatibility with Microsoft Office files.
Available to download now, the beta release comprises three applications: TextMaker 2012, PlanMaker 2012 and SoftMaker Presentations 2012, which offer full compatibility with the file formats used by Microsoft's Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
SoftMaker claims that the new suite not only works seamlessly with Microsoft's legacy formats used up until Office 2003, but also reads and writes files in the new XML-based formats introduced with Office 2007.
SoftMaker Office 2012 supersedes the previous release, SoftMaker Office 2010, adding further support for the updated file formats of Microsoft's Office 2010, better integration with 64-bit systems, an enhanced sidebar and improved spell check capability.
The suite runs on all desktop Linux distributions for PCs that support the GNU C Library (glibc) 2.2.5 or higher, such as Ubuntu.
The firm did not disclose when the full version is expected to ship, but this is likely to be before the end of the year.
Pricing has also yet to be set, but will probably be in line with that of the Windows version, currently €69.95 (£55) for the right to install the suite on three separate PCs.