Sunday, April 16, 2006

OpenOffice Assessment: Pointless

I'm done with my OpenOffice test. Might not have even been two weeks. I just don't like OpenOffice. OO doesn't offer enough to compel me to switch. There's not one damn thing that's innovative about it, even though the open source zealots say that companies like Microsoft suppress innovation. All OpenOffice achieves is a 3rd rate copy of Microsoft Office.

In order to be even marginally compelling, OpenOffice has to mimic MS Office capabilities, menus, commands and file structure. Why? Because without MS Office mimcry, OpenOffice cannot attract acolytes merely by being free. There is better value in Office's GUI and it offers substantially better functionality than OpenOffice. Sun has tried to level the playing field by adding MS Office-compatible macros to StarOffice, the for-pay version of OpenOffice. But this betrays the notion that the power of Office lies in its scripting capabilities. While macros are certainly useful and cool, the better value in Office is its ability to integrate with SharePoint and SQL Server. The open source suites cannot begin to touch this functionality.

This means that OpenOffice only holds appeal for small businesses who do not yet appreciate the value of MS Office. However, at some point, as businesses grow beyond simple letters and spreadsheets, they will have to abandon OpenOffice for MS Office because the open source version cannot scale to the needs of a growing company. At some point in a company's growth path, integration with the Windows platform will actually mean something to the business because of the value that integration delivers. At that point, OpenOffice will be abandoned.

But this is only an issue for people who opt for OpenOffice due to the price. Most other consumers and business people are not going to want to deal with the subset of functionality, juvenille GUI and different methods of functionality. They will make the better decision and buy Office.

So, all I really got out of using OO is a reinforcement that ubiquity is indeed one of the most powerful -- if not the most powerful -- dynamics in the computing industry. Ubiquity drives standards, stability, norms and eliminates the risk associated with adopting less popular platforms.

So, it's time to press the button: