My main desktop system is Windows 7. One of the main things that prevents my from switching to Ubuntu for daily tasks is that the standard MS Office products (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) are not available for that platform.

What are the different options for using/running them under Linux (e.g. wine, virtual machine), what would that require me to do and what are the (dis)advantages of each method?

(Yes, I know there is OpenOffice/LibreOffice but I don't like that for a number of reasons, so suppress any urge to suggest switching to OpenOffice.)


I have had mixed results trying to run Office 2007 in wine. Some bits work, some bits don't.

Office is an incredibly complicated program that makes use of some very specific windows technologies that wine doesn't support.

I have resorted to running Windows in a VirtualBox VM in order to use Office. It works perfectly and is pretty speedy. The down-side? It takes time to boot up when I need office - which I find is ever more seldom these days.

  • Most of the Larger "made by Microsoft" products have hooks that break wine (intentionality or not). for example I have had NO success installing Zune Software under wine. – mjrider Apr 21 '11 at 13:16

There are two different routes you can take: run Windows as a VM or run a Windows API layer.

If you want to run Windows as a VM, my suggestion is to install VitrualBox and then install your favorite version of Windows and MS Office as a virtual machine under Virtual Box. You will then want to create a share to allow you to move files back and forth between your VM's file system and that of your host.

The other option is by running a program that provides a set of Windows APIs for applications. The simplest of these is WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator). It provides enough "windowsness" to allow many programs to run.

A more powerful (and complete) solution is CrossOver Impersonator (formerly Office) by Code Weavers. [Code Weavers actually contributes some of their work to WINE.]


From the various answers I've compiled the following list (and included the Citrix option).


  • in a virtual machine (e.g. Virtual Box)
    • Pros: runs native, most VMs have good integration with the host system (like shared folders, seamless windows, clipboard sharing ...).
    • Cons: VM overhead (startup time, slower, memory impact, space), integration with host system (will double-clicking a .docx file in your Linux mail client open the file in the Windows VM? It seems in the most recent versions of VirtualBox this is available and known as guest control), license for Windows OS required
  • Dual boot configuration
    • Pros: native
    • Cons: impractical (requires a restart), license for Windows OS required,
  • Online, using office.com
    • Pros: no installation required, free
    • Cons: (very) limited functionality, internet connection required
  • Online, using Citrix client/server:
    • Pros: runs almost native
    • Cons: requires Citrix server (not for personal solutions, but might be available in your company/institution), internet connection required

Using an emulated Windows API layer:

  • using Wine
    • Pros: relatively fast (?)
    • Cons: "some bits work, some bits don't"
  • using CrossOver Impersonator
    • Pros: (apparently better than Wine)
    • Cons: not free

I am still not convinced, the virtual machine seems to remain the best option, especially with newer devices having plenty of memory so that VMs run quite smooth.

  • Are there any online consumer services that let you stream Windows apps in a Citrix-like fashion? Sorta like OnLive, but for software. – Pieter Oct 26 '13 at 18:00

I almost forgot myself. but you do have office.com - as in Office WebApps, free.

This includes Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, although in a more limited feature set...but it is still MS office


Try installing KDE for Windows and then consider also dual-booting (using GRUB, etc…) to get Ubuntu functionality some of the time. KDE for Windows won't get you a whole lot in the way of DPKG and the like, but it will give you some linux-like options. One problem might be that I'm not sure if KDE for Windows supports Windows 7 yet.

If you have something in particular against OpenOffice/LibreOffice/StarOffice, you could try the GNOME Office Suite or KOffice/Calligra.


I don't believe there are any options. You can run windows in a virtual machine. That is how i plan on setting up my new rig when i get it. Install Ubuntu, install windows into virtual machine, save a copy/snapshot of the clean install. I'm not sure how well Office would run inside a VM on your computer, depends on the specs.

What about dual booting your laptop with Ubuntu and Windows 7, you get the best of both worlds

  • Office does not require many resources, it should run well. It may also run in WINE. – Simon Sheehan Feb 24 '12 at 20:32

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