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WideOpenNews: Competition Spirals Down on MS Outlook

Mar 06, 2000, 19:57 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Paul Boutin)

"For anyone who follows Linux desktop development, today's announcement by Cambridge, Massachusetts startup Helix Code is hardly a shock: the company, cofounded by well-known Gnome developers Nat Friedman and Miguel de Icaza, will ship and maintain a 'latest-and-greatest' easy-install Gnome binary distribution. But the release also lays the groundwork for a far more ambitious project, one that aims to plug a gaping hole in the Linux desktop. Helix Code's real raison d'etre is to develop open source desktop productivity applications for Linux. And while the company's first application product, an HTML-enabled email client, personal contact manager, and calendar manager -- called Evolution -- won't be ready for consumer download for several more weeks, the brief wait won't matter much to would-be Linux converts long frustrated by the lack of a Microsoft Outlook or a Lotus Notes in the open source world. If they end up liking what they see, Helix Code could be the company that puts Linux on the desktops of nontechnical consumers."

"The new Gnome binaries rolled out today are the red carpet that applications like Evolution will step onto a few weeks from now. Helix Code's software will be based on a componentized, open source architecture designed to promote both flexibility and ease-of-development - thus encouraging other developers and companies to contribute improvements and new applications - with the distribution's standard set of desktop libraries serving as the supporting layer between Linux and Evolution. To serious open sourcers, this comes as no surprise: the protean Evolution code has been publicly available from the Gnome CVS tree for months, and Helix Code developer Ettore Perazzoli has made no secret about his work on his personal Web pages. But the company's plan to provide standardized binary distributions, rather than source code or separate library components, promises to make Gnome-based desktop applications readily available and installable for a much wider audience of users unwilling or unable to decipher, download, and compile separate source components into a working desktop."

"Conventional wisdom says that competing against one of Microsoft's core competencies is business suicide, but Helix Code's founders say funders weren't as skittish as they might have been even a year ago."

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