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Wine Hits 'Prime Time'

Moving to Linux from Windows doesn't necessarily mean users need to leave their Windows apps behind. With a bit of Wine, Linux users can have their cake and eat it too.

Twelve years after the Wine project began in 1993 as a way of running Windows (then Windows 3.1) applications on Unix (now all Unix variants including Linux), Wine's developers have upped the application's status from alpha to beta.

CodeWeavers, the lead sponsor of the Wine project, announced the beta version of Wine 0.9 yesterday along with its release of CrossOver Office 5.0, which uses Wine to enable Microsoft Office 2003 and other Windows apps to run on Linux.

Using mostly "Microsoft-free" code, Wine (Wine Is Not a [CPU] Emulator) lets users run Microsoft applications without the need for Windows. The beta release does not require users to download DLLs from Microsoft, as Wine 0.9 claims to include a full set of DLLs.

The company said support of Windows application installers has also been improved, "making the likelihood high for a smooth install of many Windows applications."

According to its developers, the tools and libraries in the 0.9 release, "are functionally complete and ready for commercial testing and optimization."

Though it has been in "alpha" status for more than a decade, Wine has been included in nearly every major Linux distribution and is already a part of commercial applications from CodeWeavers.

Alexandre Julliard, lead coordinator of the Wine project since 1994 and CTO of CodeWeavers, declared the 0.9 release, "the beginning of prime time for Wine."

"Wine 0.9 is now a stable application with solid support for all Linux kernels," Julliard said in a statement. "While work remains to be done before Wine can stand on its own, we are excited and encouraged by this major milestone."

The Wine milestone is directly related to a milestone release for CrossOver Office 5.0.

According to CodeWeavers, the CrossOver Office release supports the installation and operation of many of the leading Windows-based applications, including Microsoft Office 2003, Internet Explorer, Lotus Notes, Intuit's Quicken and QuickBooks, as well as Macromedia Dreamweaver and Adobe Photoshop.

CrossOver Office 5.0 is built on Wine 0.9 with additional features to further support Windows emulation on Linux machines. One of those features is a virtualized container called "Bottles," which allows for Windows applications to run on separate virtual Windows platforms on Linux.

"CrossOver Office 5.0 is a major step forward for the Windows-to-Linux movement," said Jeremy White, chief executive officer of CodeWeavers, in a statement. "Its improved install capability alone makes it far easier for Linux desktop users to operate independently in a Windows-dominant world."