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MS Office 2007 is an Opportunity for OpenOffice

Microsoft’s decision to radically alter the user interface for its next revision of MS Office, 2007, is an opportunity for OpenOffice to capture more marketshare.

If it really is true that training users to deal with minor UI changes is such a big deal (as criticisms over the move from MS Office to OpenOffice generally claim), then we are soon approaching a point where the swich from MS Office pre-2007 to OpenOffice.org 2 will be smaller and less disruptive than a switch from MS Office pre-2007 to MS Office 2007. In addition, it will cost nothing to pilot OOo, whereas even getting a few copies of MS Office 2007 to test in a workplace will cost big bucks.

eWeek covers this issue in Office 2007: Users Wary of Changes.

A strategy becoming more common is to provide OOo to users who will be content with it, and only use MS Office in the few places where its cost can be justified: “An increasing number of enterprises are also looking at who on their staff actually needs suites like Office 2007 and who could be well-served by alternatives such as Sun Microsystems’ branded StarOffice and the OpenOffice.org Project’s free OpenOffice.org distribution, according to Kyle McNabb, an analyst with Forrester Research.”

Similarly, The Times (UK) reports on the growing trend for home users to run FOSS applications.

“Once the preserve of geeks, open source has gone public in the past year, to the extent that programs such as Firefox have become household names. When a minor update for this browser was released last December, it was immediately downloaded 10m times, helping to double its annual market share to 10%, the researcher Net Applications reports.

And Firefox is no one-off phenomenon: 40m people have downloaded OpenOffice, an open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. I use OpenOffice at home, and Ive found that it reads almost all Microsoft Word documents, says Wayne Lee. Ive had no problems at all, and neither have my kids.

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