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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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.

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