Linux distributor Suse's latest version of the open source operating system, Linux 6.2, includes middleware that enables Microsoft applications to run on the OS.
A 30 day trial of Vmware 1.0 from developer Vmware enables customers to use Dos, Windows versions 3.x, Windows 95 and Windows 98 and NT 4 applications "comfortably under Linux," claimed the German based distributor.
"Until now other emulators only allowed Linux users to use Microsoft Windows 3.11 applications on their Linux desktops," said marketing manager Christian Egle at Suse. "It is very stable and gives Linux users the possibility of using other operating systems on Linux."
Analyst at IDC, Kirsten Ludvigsen said: "This is the first time customers can use Microsoft applications under Linux. It is similar to Sun Microsystems' Java virtual machine. You insert middleware to run Microsoft applications on Linux. But let's see how it works - this is only version one and there is the threat of bugs."
Ludvigsen said businesses would be able to switch their Microsoft applications to the Linux environment, "provided they have the time and it works."
However, she questioned whether it would work with Windows 2000 applications: "From what we know, Windows 2000 is very different from the present NT4."
Version 6.2 will be unveiled at the Linux World Expo next month and Suse said it has 180 updated programs and 200 new packages.
Version 6.2 also includes the latest Linux kernel, 2.2.1; over 1300 applications including updates of its Staroffice word processing package; its KDE user interface; and its Apache Web server.
It also offers new drivers not present in version 6.1 - such as Realplayer 5.0, a frontend for Realaudio and Realvideo letting users listen to music downloaded from the Internet and CD-Roms.
The English and German version of Suse Linux 6.2 ships on 9 August and is priced at 46 euros. French, Italian and Spanish versions will be released on 16 August.
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