Advances in virtualization technology and web applications coupled with ever-rising memory and storage capacities have progressively turned the stage lights away from Wine, a software tool for directly running Windows applications on Linux and macOS. The Wine developers kept on working, though, and earlier this week, the team released the stable release of Wine 2.0.
The highlights of the new version are support for Microsoft Office 2013 and the ability to run 64-bit Windows executables on macOS. Macintosh systems with Retina displays should work much better with the 2.0 release, too. The release notes list other enhancements, including better support for Windows graphics APIs like DirectWrite, DirectDraw, and DirectX 10 and 11. There's also improved support for Windows' Web Services API, a feature that underpins Wine 2.0's Microsoft Office 2013 compatibility. The full release notes are available here and the application compatibility database is here.
Wine is a recursive acronym for Wine Is Not an Emulator. The tool is a software compatibility layer that tries to replicate Windows resources for applications to run atop. The project has been an ongoing effort since 1993 and its first stable 1.0 release appeared nine years ago. Wine is far from perfect, but the fact that it works at all is still quite impressive, given the complexity of the task and the fact that Windows compatibility is a moving target.
The release was the subject of some discussion among the staff here at The Tech Report. Some argue that support for gaming in Wine is better than in a virtualized Windows environment. Others believe that the overhead of a virtualized system is worth the reduction in headaches when productivity applications like Office and Creative Cloud must work without potential quirks and bugs. We invite your comments below.