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I’ve had a little play with Kingsoft Office since hearing it was finally released for Debian and openSUSE, and I like it a lot.

The first question people are probably asking themselves is why another office application for Linux? Well, the first reason is probably the interface. Some, like myself, prefer the classic word processor layout of OpenOffice/LibreOffice, but others migrating from Windows to Linux (Ubuntu, for example) might prefer the flat and rather bland Microsoft Office 2013.
Apparently, according to the openSUSE Adventures blog, Kingsoft also supports the Microsoft document formats better than OpenOffice, although I’ve almost exclusively used the latter for the past several years without any issues.

The Business Version and Canonical
Kingsoft has actually been around for quite a while, developing its first office software back in the 1980s. Of course, most of us haven’t heard of it because Microsoft Word is packaged as default with new Windows PCs, and OpenOffice is included as default in mainstream Linux distros. Both have become the standard.
But that could change. It seems that Canonical and Kingsoft are working together on moving into the enterprise desktop market, and Kingsoft has done a beta release on openSUSE for what might become its business edition.

Testing…
Kingsoft Office is actually available as RPM and .deb packages (140MB download), plus there’s also the .tar.xz archive. So Kingsoft have managed to release a version for Linux eventually. How well does it work? With Kingsoft taking a while to get a working version for Linux, I was a little skeptical at first.

Although some features, such as the ability to create graphs in the spreadsheet, are missing, the software overall works like a dream. As far as I can tell, it’s also quite stable. Even in Linux Mint’s MATE desktop, the application’s interface shares the flat style of Microsoft Office 2013, and is scaled up perfectly from the Android version.

Here’s the Android version:

kingsoft-android-1

kingsoft-android-2

And the word processor, spreadsheets and presentation on Linux Mint:

kingsoft-1

kingsoft-3

kingsoft-5

kingsoft-2

The Kingsoft Office .wps default format is at least readable in LibreOffice. The special effects and decoration in Microsoft Word 2013 docs appear a little off in Kingsoft, but otherwise the document comes out okay.

Conclusion? It’s a very good first attempt, and I think including Kingsoft Office as default with Linux would tempt a large demographic to Linux. If Kingsoft could arrange some licensing and support agreement with Canonical, it might even find itself on enterprise systems also.
Kingsoft now has something its competitors don’t – versions working successfully on Windows, Android and Linux, with an interface uniformity across devices that Canonical and Microsoft have sought for their operating systems. Potentially the company could build on that, maybe by integrating a cloud service that makes docs accessible on mobile and desktop devices.

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