Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Jan 2009 08:45 UTC, submitted by stonyandcher
Features, Office Yesterday we ran a story on how educational institutions defaulting to Microsoft Office may stifle some people who do not own a copy of Office or Windows. A Forrester Research report now states the bloody obvious by claiming that organisations stick with Microsoft Word not out of necessity, but out of habit.
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Full MS Office compatibility is essential
by Dave_K on Sat 17th Jan 2009 11:08 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

I've worked for several charities and government organisations over the last decade. All of them receive numerous MS Office documents on a daily basis. MS Office is the package used by 99% of the other organisations that they deal with.

OpenOffice.org 3 does a fairly good job of opening MS Office documents most of the time, but it's far from being 100%. I've been trying it with some of the grant application forms, financial spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations that I've received in the last week or two. Quite a few of them did not open correctly, and there's no guarantee that the documents saved in OpenOffice will open perfectly in Word.

Sending messed up documents, or having to email back requesting documents in a different format, would waste time and make us look incompetent and unprofessional. It's all very well talking about standard formats like PDF, but most of the people I work with wouldn't even know what that was.

Don't get me wrong, it would be great if the charities I've worked for could save a bit of money by using free software, they're funded by donations and tax payer's money after all. But at the moment the costs of switching to OpenOffice are higher than the cost of MS Office licenses, and switching to Linux is downright unthinkable. I can't imagine Microsoft's dominance of office computing being shaken any time soon.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I've worked for several charities and government organisations over the last decade. All of them receive numerous MS Office documents on a daily basis. MS Office is the package used by 99% of the other organisations that they deal with.

OpenOffice.org 3 does a fairly good job of opening MS Office documents most of the time, but it's far from being 100%. I've been trying it with some of the grant application forms, financial spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations that I've received in the last week or two. Quite a few of them did not open correctly, and there's no guarantee that the documents saved in OpenOffice will open perfectly in Word.

Sending messed up documents, or having to email back requesting documents in a different format, would waste time and make us look incompetent and unprofessional. It's all very well talking about standard formats like PDF, but most of the people I work with wouldn't even know what that was.

Don't get me wrong, it would be great if the charities I've worked for could save a bit of money by using free software, they're funded by donations and tax payer's money after all. But at the moment the costs of switching to OpenOffice are higher than the cost of MS Office licenses, and switching to Linux is downright unthinkable. I can't imagine Microsoft's dominance of office computing being shaken any time soon.


The (government organisation) recipient of a lot of documents could always install both MS Office and OpenOffice at the same time. It would cost them nothing extra to install OpenOffice alongside MS Office.

That way, charities could spend nothing on OpenOffice, and send documents to government organisations, would could in turn open them with OpenOffice, whilst other parties could continue to send MS Office documents, which the government organisation could also open with MS Office.

There is no need to allow Microsoft to lock everyone in, and to give Microsoft a free, government-sponsored monopoly and hence a free ride.

In fact, I'm pretty certain that in most countries it is both unconstitutional and illegal for the government to spend public funds exclusively in the best interests of just one private company.

Edited 2009-01-17 11:56 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

The (government organisation) recipient of a lot of documents could always install both MS Office and OpenOffice at the same time. It would cost them nothing extra to install OpenOffice alongside MS Office.


They could potentially do that, but it isn't very likely to happen is it?

While all the documents we receive are in Microsoft's formats, and all the organisations we work with, whether government, commercial, or other charities expect us to use those formats, we'll keep on using them. It's just damage us if we tried to rock the boat.

Even if 50% of the other organisations were using OpenOffice, we'd still have to buy MS Office to deal with documents from those who don't. Some companies just wouldn't want to fix something that isn't broken, especially if they have loads of existing documents in use.

Having to deal with OpenOffice too would just make things more complicated. It'd mean that staff would have to be trained in dealing with the differences, learning which documents are opened in which application. They'd have to know which document formats were required for different companies, rather than saving everything in the default MS Office formats.

There are advantages to having a standard, even if it means that we're locked into paying a Microsoft tax.

Reply Parent Score: 2