WideOpenNews: Competition Spirals Down on MS Outlook

“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
— 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.”