Derek Burney: Corel CEO gives the rundown on the way ahead and a Microsoft deal

InfoWorld |  Operating Systems

IDGNS: Is it still possible that Corel might spin off or sell off some of its businesses?

Burney: Spin-offs are possible. We're working with (international consultancy) McKinsey to help craft our strategy. We made it very clear that there are no sacred cows and we'll leave no stone unturned in determining our strategy.

IDGNS: There have been suggestions that Corel will release an open-source version of your WordPerfect software suite next year. Is this true?

Burney: We have no plans to do so. We have open-sourced our Linux operating systems and have shown we are committed to the open-source concept, but I firmly agree with Steve Ballmer (Microsoft's CEO and president) that there needs to be a business model attached to it. In my opinion, open source makes sense for operating systems and nothing else. With operating systems, the users are the developers -- people like Microsoft and ISVs that have scads of developers who can make use of open source. Users of WordPerfect aren't developers and they can't program, so open source makes less sense.

IDGNS: Is it true that Corel will bring out a combined version of its desktop and server Linux distribution in 2001?

Burney: With Corel Linux OS, we specialize in user interface, and we thought there's no reason why the server version should be more complicated to use than the desktop version. We have changed our direction a bit -- we won't have an all-purpose server version: It'll be segmented into file, print, Web servers, etc.

IDGNS: Has desktop Linux made sufficient strides in becoming simple to use? And what about Linux desktop applications -- are there enough of them yet?

Burney: We think the ease-of-use issue with Linux on the desktop has been addressed. Compared with setting up Windows, our Corel Linux OS setup takes three steps -- it's a joke it's so easy. The knock about not having enough Linux applications is still fair, but that will change; .NET and other innitiatives will do more for Linux than anything else.

IDGNS: Is Corel working on optimizing its applications so that it makes sense to access them from Internet access devices other than PCs?

Burney: We are looking at PDAs (personal digital assistants), wireless devices, you name it. We're also looking at the user interface of applications as well. With CorelDraw (Corel's graphics software), you need a mouse or some device to use it. I think CorelDraw on the cell phone will be a few years out.

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