“A company called CodeWeavers is using an open-source technology called Wine to allow some Windows programs to run under Mac OS X,” Ina Fried reports for CNET News.

Fried reports, “CodeWeavers is in early testing with CrossOver Office for Mac now and plans to release a final version of the software in July or August.”

“White said CrossOver Office has one big advantage over those other options: Using it doesn’t require the purchase of a copy of Windows. However, it also has significant downsides. Its focus is on application compatibility, not device drivers, so things like printers don’t work with the Windows applications,” Fried reports. “Also, Wine is a compatibility layer, not a true emulator, so it works with only some Windows programs.”

“While many Windows programs may work with the Mac version of CrossOver Office, CodeWeavers will support only a handful. These will likely include Microsoft Project, Microsoft Outlook and the Windows-only game ‘Half-Life 2,’ White said,” Fried reports.

“White said he has some hope that, despite the competition, Mac users will prove less tightfisted than Linux users. Many of these have been reluctant to pay for the CrossOver product, when the technology is also available free in the open-source world. ‘Parting with money is just not part of the Linux way,’ White said. Plus, there are a lot of Mac users out there. ‘There are far more Mac users than there are Linux, at least in North America on the desktop,’ White said.”

Full article with links and more here.

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft would have a cow (they’d finally “deliver Longhorn” – literally) if this Windows apps without Windows really worked for a wide range of applications. If Apple themselves ever did anything like this in a future Mac OS X, the OS war to end all OS wars would erupt, but it’d be difficult to imagine how Apple do anything but win in spectacular fashion.

Some say that Apple have to have an Office replacement prepped, tested, and ready to go. Maybe virtualization is the way to go; it works well enough (you can always boot straight into Windows when you need top speed) and it’ll take share from Microsoft through millions of tiny bites. Why provoke the bloated behemoth by dropping a Wine-soaked hydrogen bomb directly on Redmond when you can accomplish the same thing over time with millions of smaller virtualized explosions? Unless, you don’t fear retaliation because your OS can already run existing versions of Office for Mac and the Windows version of their Office suite, of course.

Remember: Microsoft is shackled to “backwards compatibility.” They can’t change things very much or very quickly. Older versions of Office that are still in use in millions and millions of businesses and homes must be able to open documents produced by the latest version of Office or they’ll lose their competitive advantage.

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