So I’m surfing the Internet when I run across an article that catches my eye, in which the author is asking why we continue to use Microsoft Office when Open Office is free.  Hmm…………….interesting. So I think about myself and what I use. You guessed it. I’m a Microsoft Office slave. But the question is why?

First I have tried Open Office and found it, for a lack of a better description, lacking. Not because Open Office is not a good software product. Overall it is. But Microsoft Office is an extremely polished software product. It is like comparing a Lexus to a Toyota. Both cars will get you where you want to go, it is just that the Lexus will get you there in a more comfortable environment. If that makes any sense at all.

According to the article, is states:

Most folks see data formats as an inside-baseball issue, because they work in all-Microsoft organizations where incompatibilities are rare. The only hangup, in that case, comes when Microsoft releases new software (Office 2007 being the latest example). Invariably, the data format’s been upgraded as well.

The new software reads your old files, but your old software can’t read the new files. There are workarounds, but the only sensible thing is for an organization to upgrade all at once. And an organization can’t wait too long to upgrade if it has to share files with other entities that have upgraded.

As for competitive software, it fares even worse, because Microsoft doesn’t release the details of its proprietary data formats to the developers of programs like OpenOffice. If the developers want their wares to read Microsoft files, they have to reverse-engineer the format.

This works to varying degrees. Simple word processing documents translate pretty well. Complex spreadsheets, with macros and formulas, may not translate at all or contain errors that aren’t obvious. About the time the competition has figured out all the ins and outs of translation, surprise, it’s time for another format upgrade.

So here is a question for you. Have you switched to Open Office? If so, how is it working for you.

Comments welcome.