An IBM technical manager based in Sweden apparently spoke out of turn recently when he told several publications that Big Blue was working with Microsoft on porting Office to Linux.
Representatives of Microsoft and IBM have denied there was any validity to the rumors.
"No, it's completely erroneous," said Mary Rose Greenough, director of communications for IBM's Lotus software division. "None of it is true."
Office and Lotus Notes are the leading desktop solutions on the market, while Sun's StarOffice and the open source OpenOffice.org are the leading alternatives.
IBM, meanwhile, is heavily committed to Linux, and the company's focus to date has been on server implementations.
Linux users may currently use Office or Notes on their Linux systems via emulation software, available from vendors like CodeWeavers Inc. and the open source Wine Project. Their software acts as a bridge between the application and operating system, enabling Linux-based computers to run Windows applications as if natively.
This, however, is very different than porting code from one platform to the other, especially without Microsoft's having provided its code.
Postings to several Linux discussion forums were down on the possibility -- and in some cases venomous toward IBM, calling Big Blue's decision makers opportunists, closet Windows backers and no friends of open source and Linux.
One states: "We need open standards, open file formats, not an extension of MS lock-in. I was starting to like IBM; please don't do it."
Another offered: "Helping MS Office maintain its ubiquity by allowing it to run easily on Linux is NOT the answer. Having a native, open source Office suite with the full functionality of MS Office is, however. It would be so much better if IBM put their resources into that instead of helping MS. The way IBM is doing it, however, means that MS gets what they want (Office on Linux) without appearing to endorse the OS directly themselves."