I hear the argument everyday. That somehow, any open source project must not be very good because it does not cost anything to use it. Well, allow me to poke some holes into that theory, generally made by people who have yet to ween themselves from closed source dependency. First off, not everything in the open source world is without a profit making system. Google and Mozilla for instance, have manged to do fairly well using open source licenses. They ‘give away’ their product or service, yet seem to manage to pay the bills somehow…
My advice is to stop taking advice regarding open source from those using closed source operating systems. There, I said it, let’s move on. While they can certainly provide their opinion on such matters, more often than not it’s generalized, biased and not based on long term use of the product being criticized.
Consider listening to someone who has not only freed himself from the closed source OS, but done so without any animosity or purist hatred for those who create awesome closed source applications. I use plenty of closed source products on my Linux box. After all, it’s about the ability of the software, not starting a flame war regarding which ‘type’ of software is best for whom.
And finally, when I hear people say that Open Office is not all that great, I really wish these folks would bother to actually explain why it’s not all that great for them. Because guess what kids, for 99% of you out there, it will more than do everything you would ever need and it has a price point of nothing. The only thing I felt could use improvement was the presentation software, as Microsoft’s does offer handy templates pre-installed. That and a resource to find more. This is a valid argument, not ‘Open Office’ sucks with no explanation given. It’s a backhanded remark and deserves to be clarified when people make it.
Then there was a the verbal tussle I had with someone awhile back over Scribus vs MS Publisher. Publisher is a strong publishing program. The downside to it is that if you have docs made in Publisher 2002 and are trying to edit them in Publisher 2000, forget it. At the time, the person I was discussing this with had said that this was do to the fact that software cannot time travel, supporting formats from the future. As he finished that statement, I asked him to say this again slowly, only this time really listen to what he was saying. It was at this moment he caught the stupidity behind the statement and became flustered. “Not everything can be backwards compatible!” This guy honestly felt that upgrading should not be driven so much by new functionality, but due to compatibility. Care to guess where this person worked? Not for Microsoft, but for a company that made really poor software that ran on their OS.
I would like to conclude this in saying that both Microsoft and the companies that work with them have had some fantastic successes in the past. But to sit there and tell me that certain open source products that run on the Windows OS are ‘not as good’ because of their price point; well, need I point to some of the fantastic Freeware titles out there? I rest my case…