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.