One of the contributors on ZDNet is a teacher, and was asking the question (rhetorically) why schools can’t use things like GoogleDocs, instead of the Microsoft Office applications.

I immediately put forth the notion that GoogleDocs, though probably fine for many home users, would be questionable with the bandwidth limitations that might occur, especially if the school in question was a Comcast customer (they count every byte it seems). I suggested, instead, that the school should have a robust localized file server, for the collaboration he stated that was necessary, and use one of the open source packages that are available. There is Open Office, Oxygen Office Professional ( a beefed up Open Office, although not updated as frequently, it is possible to get much of the differentials, and add to OO), and the IBM-branded Symphony.

Until recently, it was possible to get Sun Office from Google, as part of the GooglePack, but no more – that is a mistake – both by Sun and Google.

Later, after my response online, I was thinking that with the economy being what it is, and Microsoft product warranties being what they are, all governmental agencies should be using open source software. Now, I’ll stop short of advocating a change to Linux, that would be too drastic, as the public has not had enough exposure to that operating system.  But applications? Oh yes, enthusiastically yes!

With the latest revision of Open Office, there is no need for 99.2% of the public to have more utility. The only jobs I can think of that require more are writers, composing books, and legal secretaries, needing pleading papers. The software has gotten that good!

Those who object to this cost savings, on grounds other than utility, use the support provided as the reason to use Microsoft products. To those, I think it must be pointed out that Microsoft only provides 90 days of support without a support contract, and that the cost of the support is so horrendously overpriced that it would allow a small support staff to be used, still including savings overall. Others state that there is a time component involved. I have been involved with Microsoft support and found their timeliness to be less a factor than one might think. Again, that small support staff could be looking for a solution on the internet for quite a while before the Microsoft support would come back with answers.

I think this is such a good idea that I’ll be writing my Congressional representatives after I finish here. The number of dollars saved over time can certainly be put to use to help save water, conserve energy, and all the other things we are asked to do these days.

I have never met a man so ignorant that I couldn’t learn something from him.Galileo Galilei