Kevin Shalla wrote:
> I'm thinking that the two main challenges are
> Interoperability with Microsoft users - there will always be a need to work
> this way
StarOffice (SO) integrates quite well into an MS Office environment.
File import is very good. Not perfect, but very good. And remember, SO
and OpenOffice (OO) does not equal "Linux". SO/OO is just as happy
running under Windows 98/NT/2K/XP as Linux (or Solaris.) There is even
a MacOS X port of OpenOffice in late beta.
Note that SO/OO does not support VisualBasic scripts or VB macros. In
my opinion, this is actually a Good Thing - full immunity to all those
macro viruses!! Of course, if you rely heavily on VB macros conversion
will be harder as you will need to convert to SO/OO's BASIC scripting
and macro language.
> Selling a clear end-user benefit to the change - end users don't care about
> costs or security, and will try to make a conversion fail if there's no
> benefit to them.
True, but it's hard to argue with the $0.00 price tag of SO and OO.
Perhaps if users understood that the tens of thousands of dollars spent
on MS site licensing each year could be put to much better use for other
academic initiatives they would start to care about the costs. And any
user that doesn't care about security should have a real close look at
your institution's Acceptable Use policy....
Perhaps I'm just living in a fantasy world, but an Office suite is an
Office suite. It's just a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation
package. For 99% of our users, SO/OO is just as functional as MS
Office, for free, with no danger from the hundreds of VB macro viruses
out in the wild.
Why not reserve MS Office for the small percentage of users who must use
VB scripting or some other MS proprietary feature.....and make them pay
for the license to run it. You'll be surprised how fast the free
alternative becomes "good enough" for their needs. :-)
> Does the above open source solution require any retraining on the user
> interface, or is it the same as Windows / Macintosh?
Admittedly I am not an MS Office "power user", but I found the move to
StarOffice to be quite painless. The StarOffice 6.0 interface and menus
are very close to MS Office, and the things that aren't in exactly the
same place can be found and utilized with about 10 minutes of
That said, opening MS Office file in StarOffice is not 100%. It's close
- very close - but there are times when complex Word Documents do not
format exactly the same as in "real" MS Office. Often times it is
simply a difference in the display font, but other times (nested Word
tables for example) the document just doesn't format correctly.
Of course, the root of the problem is that MS has a closed, proprietary
file format that they change any time they see fit. In fact, formatting
is often broken even between different versions of MS Office ;-).
Unfortunately alternative office suites like Star/OpenOffice,
WordPerfect, etc. are fighting an uphill battle against MS's secret file
format. Interestingly, StarOffice files saved in MS Word format load
perfectly into MS Office, so the compatibility works great in that
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