Friday, February 16, 2007

OpenOffice.org/StarOffice market penetration only 0.3% ?

I saw this in an Arstechnica article. I have used OpenOffice.org to write 3 of my last 4 books. OpenOffice.org does everything that I need for a variety of writing tasks (although I also like to use Latex) so I doubt that it lacks features that many businesses need. The integration of Microsoft Office with services like SharePoint may be compelling for some businesses, but even so, I would expect many businesses to look at the compelling cost savings with OpenOffice.org - free! Most people learn to use OpenOffice.org very quickly so re-training business costs should be low. Even businesses that want to stick with Microsoft Windows as their standard desktop should seriously look at saving some real money and switch from Microsoft Office.

I also believe that Microsoft's new Open XML format is flawed because of backward compatibility with many old Microsoft products and possibly with binary attachments that are difficult to process in 3rd party software. I have watched Microsoft's business model of customer lock in and standards non-compliance for too many years to not have natural suspicions about Open XML. The standards specification for Open XML is now 6,000 pages - a high level of complexity and a barrier for use by 3rd party developers until there are robust free libraries for processing Open XML.

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