Interesting times for OpenOffice

Interesting times for OpenOffice

Summary: In troubled economic times the attractions of free software become increasingly obvious, and even for die-hard users of Microsoft Office, the prospect of upgrading to Office 2010 in Q1 next year may prove too much to contemplate. After all, Office 2007 essentially rearranged the deckchairs with the ribbon interface didn't it?

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In troubled economic times the attractions of free software become increasingly obvious, and even for die-hard users of Microsoft Office, the prospect of upgrading to Office 2010 in Q1 next year may prove too much to contemplate. After all, Office 2007 essentially rearranged the deckchairs with the ribbon interface didn't it?

There have always been alternative, free, office suites — OpenOffice.org (OOo) chief among them. OOo may not have all the features of Microsoft Office, but it's plenty functional enough for the majority of mainstream users, many of whom will have been exposed to it in the last 18 months via software bundles on netbooks.

As operating costs in large organisations — particularly in the public sector — are squeezed ever tighter, we may see more migration stories. Closer to home (for us in media-land), The Guardian recently abandoned the Mac version of MS Office in favour of OpenOffice — no small beer at 1,000+ seats.

So it'll be interesting to see how Oracle digests the OpenOffice portion of its recent Sun-sized meal. The database giant certainly has plenty of new fish to fry, but a new stick with which to poke Microsoft must surely be tempting. Perhaps an online version of the suite, to counter Microsoft's moves in this direction, for example? The next year or so should prove interesting.

Topic: Reviews

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Charles has been in tech publishing since the late 1980s, starting with Reed's Practical Computing, then moving to Ziff-Davis to help launch the UK version of PC Magazine in 1992. ZDNet came looking for a Reviews Editor in 2000, and he's been here ever since.

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  • Interesting times for OpenOffice

    If Oracle retains its wits, it will realise that while OpenOffice.org may not be a large revenue generator, in the right hands (perhaps Oracle's and IBM's), it is a tool with which to kick out one of the legs underpinning Microsoft's three-legged revenue model.

    Microsoft's two great franchises (Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office) deliver almost all its profit. They are the two sturdiest 'legs' of the business. Any serious competitor (Oracle, IBM) should be using every means at their disposal in attacking these. By diminishing either of these franchises, you diminish Microsoft as a competitive threat, in a very dramatic way.

    As it so happens, both IBM (through Lotus Symphony) and now Oracle (through their acquisition of OpenOffice.org), have weapons with which to undermine Microsoft Office.

    Note, it's not necessary to shift the whole market to OpenOffice.org. All that's needed is to reach enough of a critical mass (say 30%) to ensure that there is not a reflexive association of "office suite", with "Microsoft Office", and to ensure that newer versions of Microsoft Office document formats cannot automatically be assumed to be viably sent to correspondents. This breaks the hegemony nexus that Microsoft Office has had in the industry since 1994.
    conz-fd600
  • Interesting times for OpenOffice

    "ensure that newer versions of Microsoft Office document formats cannot automatically be assumed to be viably sent to correspondents."

    IBM & Oracle don't need to worry about this strand in their tactics - Microsoft seem to handling it fine all by themselves
    filthylooker