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Adrian Try’s “Using a Different Office”

November 10th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Adrian Try has launched a new blog, Using a Different Office, to document his experiences with new office suite options, particularly focused on and Google Docs.

On using both OOo and Google Docs, Try describes his typical use pattern:

“At this point in time there is definitely a place for both installed and online office suites. I use both and Google Docs on a daily basis.

“Whenever I am creating a document that will ultimately be printed, I tend to use Especially if the formatting is tricky or complicated…

“I use Google mainly for documents that are for information and reference. Its excellent search is very suitable for finding information stored in reference documents. I also use it for documents that are going to be used in email newsletters, web pages and blog posts (like this one). And I definitely use Google Docs whenever I want to collaborate with others on a document. I think this is Google Docs’ greatest strength.

“I often move the information I have been storing for reference into for consolidating, formatting and printing. I find by doing this I am helping me develop the valuable habit of separating content from formatting.”

In another interesting anecdote, Try describes how he migrated a small business from Microsoft Office to in one day without any advanced planning. It was a risky approach, but he was constrained when he learned the company already was running more copies of MS Office than they owned in licenses, and the management wanted to resolve that issue pronto:

“Despite the uncertainty of using unfamiliar software, and being thrown in the deep end, the staff handled the change well. Much better than I expected. On the second day one of the staff had a question about something that worked a little differently. The question was easily answered, and there were no more questions. Some staff preferred some of the differences.”

ODF Templates from IBM

November 6th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

IBM’s Lotus Symphony was developed based on’s codebase and uses the same ODF (OpenDocument Format) as its standard file format.

To help users create attractive documents, IBM has released a number of ODF file templates for things like schedules, invoices, budgets, memos, letters and presentations. While promoted on Symphony’s website, these standard ODF files can be used in any compatible software suite, including, NeoOffice, KOffice and many others.

Download and enjoy!

Ubuntu Linux’s 8 Million Users

November 5th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Estimating the usage of most open source programs is difficult, if not impossible. However, it’s important to try to understand the size of the userbase and what their greatest needs are. reports that Ubuntu Linux has 8 million active users:

“In terms of numbers we’re very confident this is an 8 million plus user base of active users,” Chris Kenyon, director of business development at Canonical told “That is a hard thing to count and there are lots of issues about methodology for counting but I have seen nothing that sheds doubts on that.”

Ubuntu and Canonical are also healthy and growing in terms of their developer communities:

“There are other key metrics that Canonical is keen to point out, among them is their growing headcount of contributors and staff. Kenyon claimed that the number of people that are actually contributing lines of code continues to grow.

“We now have over 400 active contributors,” Kenyon said. “That’s on top of our own internal development team that is now at 120 plus developers.”

OOo: 5 Million Downloads in Two Weeks

November 4th, 2008 Benjamin Horst

After reaching the 3 million mark in its first week, 3.0 exceeded 5 million downloads after two weeks, announces Meall Dubh.

5,290,166 to be exact. 83.8% of them for Windows, with a very strong showing for Mac and Linux (despite the fact that most Linux users get OOo from the built-in package managers, and lots of Mac users already run NeoOffice).

Another week has elapsed since these numbers were collected, so it will be interesting to see where the weekly download plateau ultimately settles.

A Post-Windows World

November 3rd, 2008 Benjamin Horst

Fortune Magazine’s Big Tech blog predicts the coming decline of Windows in “PC makers move closer to a post-Windows world“:

“In January, Hewlett-Packard will introduce a glossy black mini-laptop at retail for a mere $379. When it does, it will become the first major computer maker this decade (besides Apple, of course) to push a non-Windows PC in stores… This Linux-based version of the HP Mini 1000 will not slay Microsoft Windows. But it will add to a growing sense that the iconic operating system’s best days are behind it.”

Author Jon Fortt credits the “Windows Vista flop,” Apple’s enormous growth, competitors in the smartphone market and mini-laptops (“netbooks”) for breaking open major cracks in the Microsoft fortress. Specifically regarding netbooks, Fortt writes, “more than 35% of today’s mini-laptops run a non-Windows operating system,” which means this new fast-growing market segment will probably never come under the thumb of Microsoft. HP sees it as an opportunity to develop its own brand, instead of just the brands of others that make processors and operating systems, putting them in a better longterm position in the market.

“This is the part of the Windows Vista backlash that really matters,” said IDC analyst Richard Shim, who had recently seen HP’s Linux mini-laptop.”

A newly competitive marketplace for operating systems will bring out much more rapid innovation (look to the smartphone industry for a precedent), lower prices and more opportunity for new startups and existing companies to grow. I expect it also to boost open source, as a great way to quickly implement new products and services.