Linked by David Adams on Thu 17th Jul 2008 00:00 UTC, submitted by snydeq
Features, Office InfoWorld's Curtis Franklin reviews the four leading contenders to supplant Microsoft Office in business and finds that, while Google Docs is not ready to take on the full mantle, OpenOffice and Zoho provide viable alternatives should IT endeavor to wean business off Office.
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Considerations not complete
by lelutin on Thu 17th Jul 2008 09:58 UTC
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Both articles lack a broader perspective.
The first one deals with feature-to-feature differences and the second one deals with some interesting features but without getting too deep into them.

First case: home users.
This case is quite simple. The choice rests on each person to switch or not. So features compared to uses made by the person come in a great deal. Also, questions of "ideals" like using open formats vs. closed formats should influence the choice. But in the end, it all comes to whether or not you will be able to be fully functional in a reasonable time with the alternative.

Second case: company-wide switch
This one is more touchy by the fact that the switch touches at the same time a whole bunch of people.
The question of switching office suite is one of systems administration and should be considering all that systems administrators should be considering.
First of all: what are the features missing in the alternative? hardcore users of the present suite might be frustrated by the lack of maturity of some features they were used to using which made their life easier, or the lack alltogether of very special features. Asking people to work 3x, 4x + more than before because of lacking features is not desirable.
Then, you have to consider the cost of formation _and_ the acceptance factor. People will be resisting any change and need to be convinced that the switch is necessary. Formations will have to be given, cutting down work hours and employees will have to get used to the new suite, which may take from two weeks to simple users to some months for frequent users.
The question of portability also comes to mind. For this, OOo is dealing pretty well at the application level (the application is able to run on many architectures) and also at the file format level (uses open file formats which can be read and written by any other applications).

From what I've seen, OpenOffice could be quite suitable for office use. But the impact on employees could be problematic.
If it is used from the start in a company, then acceptance will be less of an issue, but then if you make the choice of using an alternative, you have to use an alternative to the file formats and stick to it.
Acceptance of OOo should be easier for home users. For office use, a lot of preaching will have to be done. Preaching for people to try it in other contexts than directly for work and to give feedback so that it can improve to their hardcore office needs is the way to go.
But I'm a bit to optimistic sometimes, meh.. ;)

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