Sunday, April 4, 2010

Windows Application Compatibility in Linux using CodeWeavers CrossOver Linux 9 & CrossOver Games

As the seemingly eternal struggle between proprietary and open source…between the expensive and the free…and between the challenging and the insanely complex… It is the struggle between Windows and Linux. It is estimated that somewhere around 90% of the computing world runs the Microsoft Windows operating system, while the other 10% is divided amongst Macintosh OS users (which is still a derivative of UNIX), Linux OS users and a handful of other vendor specific OS's (i.e. Solaris). The conclusion that can be drawn from this percentile is that Microsoft Windows is the most supported operating system currently in production—it supports a larger variety of hardware and software programs due to the fact that ±90% of these components are most likely themselves built on (and for) Microsoft Windows. Since Linux first started getting popular in the early '90's, continuous attempts at bridging the quite distant gap between the two OS's have slowly but surely started have an impact on computer users throughout the world.

One such attempt is CodeWeavers' most recent version of CrossOver Linux 9 (or, similarly, CrossOver Mac 9). This program strives to increase the number of Windows-specific applications that can be run on a Linux machine in an effort to reduce the all too heavy dependency on Windows. While CrossOver Linux has been developing for 10+ years, CrossOver Linux 9 includes such supported Windows programs as :
  • Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) both 2003 and 2007 versions
  • Microsoft Office Outlook 2003,2007
  • Internet Explorer versions 6 and 7
  • Quicken versions up to 2010
  • Intuit QuickBooks up to 2004
  • Some versions of Adobe Photoshop
In Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols article CrossOver Linux 9: Run Windows apps without Windows, he notes that "…I'd say this new version supports about 20% more applications (at a level that most users would find usable) than the last one." Although this number might not seem very impressive, the fact is that Linux programmers are striving to "wheen" Microsoft users off their deep seeded dependency of their unstable (at best) OS—most likely due to a compatibility conflict with one certain application.

Another perk about CrossOver Linux 9 is that it is possible to install and run applications that are not specifically included in CrossOver's "Officially Supported" list. Among these that have been successfully installed and ran are the .Net Framework 3.0 as well as Visual C++ 6.0! While this is impressive, it fails in comparison to CodeWeavers' answer to handling Windows gaming support—namely support for DirectX 10—in an alternate version called CrossOver Games. Because of this compatibility with Microsoft's graphics API, Linux users can now play games such as W.O.W., Battlefield 2, Modern Warfare 4, Fallout 3 and Halo 3 a what-used-to-be impossible feat to accomplish without the use of a virtual machine (which is not the greatest for games because of the graphics inconsistencies.

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