Most desktop Linux users have at least heard of the free application Wine or its retail cousins CrossOver Linux and CrossOver Mac.
If you haven't heard of these applications, you may want to give them a try. They allow users to run Windows programs in other operating systems (namely Linux, Mac OS and Solaris) without any virtual machines or other resource-intensive processes, as long as you have an x86-compatible CPU in your PC -- and let's face it, nowadays, who doesn't?
In fact, with WINE there's no need for Windows at all. WINE< creates an environment that responds to Windows API calls, so apps 'think' they are running in Windows, when in fact there's no Windows there at all.
The difference between the two applications is that CrossOver uses a proprietary, more up-to-date version of Wine along with some handy extensions. The two also differ as far as support; CrossOver is commercially supported by CodeWeavers while Wine relies on the community for support.
Last week Codeweavers' Jeremy White posted an update on the CodeWeavers website outlining what has been happening over the last eight months and giving a preview of what is to come this year for CrossOver and Wine.
As far as the last eight months, most of the development work has gone towards what White calls "under the hood" improvements and better support for the newer releases of Microsoft Office. Many of these changes are now present in the development version of Wine. Quite a few DirectX 9 games are well supported along with many other common applications such as Photoshop and QuickBooks.
What is more interesting, though, are the few details White gives about what this year has in store. It seems that this year will be focused more on the core functionality and user experience. Developers will begin working on adding DirectX 10 compatibility layers while improving support for Outlook, Quicken, Photoshop, QuickBooks, and many other applications. On top of that, CrossOver will get a user-interface makeover.