At a press conference today, Corel CEO Derek Burney revealed
little solid news on the future of Corel Linux except to confirm
the broad details of widely circulated reports that the company
will be spinning off its consumer-oriented distribution in the near
Burney's comments were made as part of a press conference
designed to reveal the company's plans to return to profitability
by the third quarter of this year. Corel has faced rough times, and
Burney has faced the challenge of reviving a company that has
endured heavy losses and layoffs.
According to Burney, though his company retains a "commitment to
the future of Linux," Corel's still in the process of examining how
its Linux distribution will be spun off as the company focuses more
on creative applications and its core money-makers: CorelDRAW and
WordPerfect. Burney refused to admit that Corel is in talks with a
particular company, saying it's too early to project its
distribution's fate. New York's Linux Global Partners has been
widely identified as likely to purchase a large portion of Corel's
Linux OS division for $5 million.
"We won't be in the operating system business any longer is what
it boils down to," said Burney.
Burney also said that Corel will retain control of the two
existing Linux applications it has produced to date: WordPerfect
and CorelDraw, but that its spinoff of its Linux distribution
reflects a desire to provide an "end to end solution where the
Corel distribution is a building block to something much
In the broader picture, Burney also revealed that Corel is
shifting emphasis toward "evangelizing the Macintosh to prove that
[Corel does] 'think different,'" and backing away from head-to-head
competition in the office applications space by focusing instead on
the existing WordPerfect user base, placed at 22 million users.
Burney said efforts will be directed toward moving WordPerfect to
Microsoft's .NET platform, and that product changes reflecting that
shift should begin to appear by the end of this year. According to
Burney, Microsoft Word represents too large a segment of the market
to compete with directly.
Taken in conjunction with the news that Corel will be expanding
its graphical design product line with new releases of CorelDraw
10, Kai Powertools, and Corel KnockOut, it seems clear that Corel
has been given an opening and room to operate in a space where
Microsoft is relatively weak.
In October, Microsoft invested $135 million in Corel in a deal
that supposedly had no strings attached. Later documents revealed
that Corel committed, at least in part, to researching how to
integrate Linux into Microsoft's .NET platform.
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