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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" 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.

As of 2004, the estimated business adoption of OpenOffice stood then at perhaps 20%.

By now it would perhaps be about 30%. OpenOffice has been downloaded 28 million times, and yet just one download can potentially be installed on thousands of computers within any given organisation.

There are many, many times more ODF format documents on the web than there are .docx documents on the web.

Several governments and other organisations around the world have already mandated, for reasons of sovreignity over their own data, that the open, multiple-vendor and future-proof ODF format be used over the legacy binary lock-in formats of Microsoft.

Where you claim that organisations aren't likely to install OpenOffice along-side MS Office ... you give absolutely no reason why they wouldn't. After all, doing so gets the organisation more functionality and compatibility for free.

As far as "learning which documents are opened in which application" ... have you never heard of document type association? Any IT department would set the .od* documents to be associated with OpenOffice, and the .do*, .xl* etc documents would be associated with MS Office. In fact, just installing both OpenOffice and MS Office (in either order) would do just that by default. Double-clicking on a file would result in it automatically opening in the correct application.

If you are worried about workgroup collaboration, then simply installing something format-agnostic like Alfresco on the server instead of Sharepoint would remove the MS-format "exclusivity" of Sharepoint and allow workers to collaborate using either OpenOffice or MS Office formats.

Sorry to break it to you, but I don't believe you MS apologists have anywhere near the irreplaceable "standard" in MS Office that you think you have.

Edited 2009-01-18 09:51 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 4

Dave_K Member since:

My main point is that it doesn't matter if some organisations switch to OpenOffice. We'd still need to keep on buying Office so that we can deal with documents from those who don't. It wouldn't save us any money, so what advantage is there to us in bothering with OpenOffice at all?

At the moment 95% of the documents we receive are in MS formats, with the odd PDF. So far I've never seen a ODF file in the wild or spoken to anyone who's even heard of OpenOffice. Maybe that'll change eventually, but for the foreseeable future MS Office will be the standard.

As for the issue of dealing with different document formats, you're correct that it isn't a problem if users doubleclick files. But in my experience a lot of users keep Word/Excel open full screen, and use the open dialog to select the documents they want. Obviously that would cause problems if they were dealing with a mix of file formats.

Even if they were trained not to do that, file associations wouldn't help them decide which document formats are to be sent to other organisations. As it is now they just save in the default format in MS Office and know that it'll be acceptable everywhere else.

In my experience most people don't know anything at all about file formats, or even know exactly what software they're using. For example, before we upgraded to Office 2007, we obviously had a lot of trouble with documents sent from earlier upgraders. Trying to get them to send documents in a format supported by our software was like trying to get blood from a stone. The users just didn't know what I was talking about; I had to walk them through every stage of selecting the different format.

Expecting people like that to easily understand and accept a switch to OpenOffice, saving some documents in different formats, seems very naive.

Reply Parent Score: 2