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Will it work with Office?

Our business department purchased new books last summer to teach productivity software and accounting courses based around Microsoft Office. Most of the teachers, both in and out of the business department, have grown accustomed to Office 2007, although a significant chunk can at least use OpenOffice to open up student files when they forget to save in Office format at home.
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Our business department purchased new books last summer to teach productivity software and accounting courses based around Microsoft Office. Most of the teachers, both in and out of the business department, have grown accustomed to Office 2007, although a significant chunk can at least use OpenOffice to open up student files when they forget to save in Office format at home.

However, as we look to roll out new teacher computers this summer, many are thinking about Macs and Linux-based ultraportables, but are concerned about compatibility. Now if I ruled the world, I wouldn't bother licensing Office on any new Macs or PCs. As far as I'm concerned, OpenOffice and NeoOffice are really outstanding and we should see full-blown OOXML support in OpenOffice by the fall.

For those teachers going with the Linux ultraportable option, that's going to be their only choice, although they can launch an RDP session if they need to. This minority doesn't care as long as they can get online and produce documents (really the point of the ultraportables anyway).

However, most of the other teachers, whether leaning towards Mac or PC, are fairly wedded to Office. Although I use NeoOffice almost exclusively, I have to admit that Office 2007 and 2008 are two products out of Redmond that I genuinely like. Microsoft has also finally nailed the Mac/PC compatibility, so collaboration with students and other teachers will be transparent. Licensing costs aren't extraordinary, but for the $50-odd dollars per seat, I could also buy some extra RAM or bump the speed on the processors.

So what should I do? Do I implement significant training and try to convince teachers that OpenOffice is the way to go or do I give them what they want and bite the licensing? I'm leaning towards the latter; it's not as if Office 2007/2008 is a bad product. On the contrary, it's quite good. I'm cheap, though, as my wife will tell you, and I struggle sending the district's money to Washington state when great alternatives are just a download away.

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