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Crossover Office 5.0 works with MS Office 2003!!!

By stress junkie ·
I purchased the student edition of Microsoft Office 2003 back at the beginning of this year. I found that Wine and Crossover Office 4.2 would not run this version of MS Office. So I've been waiting for about ten months for the new version of Crossover Office.

For those who don't already know this, Wine and Crossover Office are products that enable you to run Microsoft platform applications on a Linux machine. Wine is available from winehq.org and Crossover Office is available at codeweavers.com. The two products are created in cooperation with each other in the same way that Sun Microsystems works on it's Star Office product and cooperates with OpenOffice.org. There's another enabler for MS software on Linux made by Transgaming Technology called Cedega. It is available from transgaming.com.

Today I downloaded the 30 day trial version of Crossover Office 5.0 from codeweavers.com. Once I installed it I tried to install Microsoft Office 2003. After one false start where in invoked the wine excutable to install Office, and one false error message during the installation, the software was finally installed.

Then the moment of truth. I tried to start Microsoft Office 2003 using Crossover Office. I couldn't find the executable to start the office shell but I did find the executables for each of the applications.

I started MS Excel. I receive Excel spreadsheets via email from my stock broker every week. I've never been able to view these properly because I couldn't find a FOSS spreadsheet that would display these Excel v5.0/Office 98 formatted files. So I opened up the honest-to-goodness-genuine Excel and tried to display one of the XLS files from my stock broker.

The first thing that happened was that the spreadsheet was displayed in reasonable looking format on the screen for the first time. That was great. Then I got a message saying that the file included macros and that I would have to lower the default security setting of Excel in order to run the macros. So I did that and I closed and reopened the XLS file. I then got a message saying that the specified macros could not be found. Rats.

I started to look around. I knew that the file contained several worksheets but I could only see one spreadsheet. I checked the Excel format menu and found that I could unhide four other worksheets. When I did that I could finally see the data that I had never been able to see before.

Although I cannot find or run the macros that the stock broker has apparently set to execute I was able to see the data on all of the worksheets in the file correctly for the first time in all the years that I've been receiving these files. I've got about three years of files which were sent once a week. So that's about 150 XLS files worth of data about the performance of my stocks. Now all I have to do is to export the data from Excel to ASCII and then import the data into a FOSS spreadsheet. OH WAIT. NO I DON'T. I can run real Excel under Linux now. I can do all of the data analysis that anyone else using Office 2003 is able to do.

Yay!!!

I'm a happy boy.

One unexpected benefit. The student edition of Office 2003 includes Microsoft Outlook. I don't plan to use it but it could be useful to anyone that wants to try Linux but keep using their Microsoft applications. You probably don't need to purchase the enterprise edition of Office 2003. The student edition looks pretty comprehensive. Unfortunately the license for this version of Office 2003 prohibits using this version in a commercial setting.

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Update: 18 December 2005

I tried playing with MS Word. It doesn't seem to be completely functional. One of my favorite things to do with MS Word is to create a calendar page. I tried to do that with this installation. I found the template/style/wizard for creating a calendar. When I tried to run it I got an error and it wouldn't work.

On the other hand I found that when I open an Excel spreadsheet from my stock broker the charts and other graphics don't work. Macros didn't execute because they could not be found. If I then save this file in the new Excel format then several FOSS spreadsheet programs can open it and display the data as well as Excel had done. The conclusion is that the FOSS spreadsheets may work well on the new Excel format files but not work on the old (1995/199 Excel files.

In all cases the Excel macros and charts were broken. The only test left would be to install Office 2003 on a Microsoft operating system and see what does and does not work in that environment. Since I have two licenses for W2K I guess I'll just have to go ahead and do that.

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