Since the begining, AbiWord has been written to be an cross-platform application, and ran on Windows and UN*X with Gtk. We have always advocated this, and when people did ask us "why Windows ?" in Open Source conference, we always ended up saying that it was part of the freedom of choice we wanted to offer. After all, AbiWord is Free Software.

The other argument was that it is easier to move apps that to move the whole desktop to Free Software, and that could help doing the first step, which would allow the second step. After all, OS and desktop environment are meant to run applications, not the opposite.

Recently Aaron J. Seigo, a KDE developer, pretended that Open Source apps will kill Open Source desktops.

Like Sean Parson, I don't agree with Aaron. Here is my point.

First an OS is a way to run applications. This is often what decide the choice of the OS. They won't use the OS if they don't have the application they need. Take apart the motivation of using Free Software exclusively and let consider the case of the user willing to switch if he can get a replacement for all his applications. Switching people to Free Software Operating System is not an easy task.

Starting by replacing application by versions that runs also on Free Software Operating Systems is probably the best way to proceed because not every applicaiton might have a replacement. This is more and more true with enterprise computing where they have custom apps designed with Windows in mind. So, replace IE by Firefox and OE by ThunderBird. Replace MS-Office by (this replacement are only based on current trend). Without changing the operating system and without finding replacement for some apps, you still have freed the desktop more than it was. These application wouldn't be running on Windows, nobody in the Enterprise IT would have even an argument to even think about migrating to it. Most of the time they are locked into Windows with other chains like these little apps they spend thousand if not millions of $ into.

Mark Carter explains why he use Windows XP, and all the applications as free software, telling he has eveything he need as Free Software to run on Windows, and that Linux lack support for hardware there is no spec for. This basically brings water to Aaron J. Seigo mill. But it also explains why it is still good, because Mark use Free Software, and it will be easier to make him switch once he get his problems with Linux solved.

So in fact it is important that Free Software applications runs on proprietary operating system. It does not dismiss the effort of the Free Software Operating System, au contraire. It brings them credibility by demonstrating theire interoperability.