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Microsoft Office 2007 or OpenOffice.org?

February 19, 2007

Here around the office we have a diverse mix of computers and technologies. There are, of course, numerous Sun Solaris servers, the Sun Ray thin clients are growing like weeds, I have a Sun Ray and an Apple MacBook at my desk, and of course countless desks have Microsoft Windows boxes running XP. Up until about three years ago everyone on the Windows boxes ran Office 2000 as their Office productivity suite. That is about when I tried Star Office for the first time – and only due to persistent nagging from my colleague Bruce. Needless to say, I didn’t like it.

Why? It was different, it meant change. I like to think I adapt well to change, especially when it comes to technology. I am always on the “bleeding edge”. I liked MS Office – it worked well, was reasonably stable, and I knew everything about it.

But after a couple of weeks of consistent use I realized it wasn’t really that different at all. I just didn’t like the change. Most of the buttons look the same, 9 out of 10 tools are in the same place. It really turned out to be a pretty easy switch, with just a few frustrating moments.

Around the office, as we bought new Window’s machines, we elected to skip the $400 price tag that came with MS Office and instead installed Star Office for all of $70. (Star Office is one of many available productivity packages available that use ODF, Open Document Format. Many ODF programs are free – like OpenOffice.org) And with MS Office 2007 just released I’m sure glad we’ve been making this change.

It seems that numerous large enterprises, states and even world governments have made this same choice. Not simply due to cost (my motivator), but due to compatibility. They don’t want to be married to Microsoft it seems. They want a choice. You see, ODF format Office Suites are built on open standards, not proprietary formats like MS Office. Open Standards = Interoperability.

Adopting ODF supporting applications in your business or service means you are not required to purchase an application from a single vendor in order to share and communicate your document data. You now have a choice.

IBM has chosen to switch to Open Document Format. Most of the European Union has switched to ODF. Massachusetts has switched and many other states have legislation pending – it looks like many will follow suit.

The benefits to switching are numerous, the drawbacks are few and far between. And as far as I can see there are only two factors keeping businesses from switching to ODF: 1) fear 2) uncertainty.

Further reading / resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument_adoption
http://www-5.ibm.com/de/pressroom/presseinfos/2006/05/04_3.html
http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/originalContent/0,289142,sid19_gci1187534,00.html
http://www-128.ibm.com/developerworks/xml/library/x-think15/
http://www-03.ibm.com/developerworks/blogs/page/BobSutor?entry=open_document_format_for_office
http://www-142.ibm.com/software/workplace/products/product5.nsf/wdocs/wmcodf

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From → Microsoft, OpenOffice

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