If the University is only using MS Word as a standalone word processor, MS Excel as a standalone spreadsheet, MS PowerPoint as a standalone presentation package, etc., while ignoring the integrated
capabilities of MS Outlook, Exchange (and their associated tools) then it's likely we're not getting full benefit from the licensing cost of the Microsoft product set - and might find it more
economical to switch to open source alternatives for students and staff.
At the University of Calgary we're interested to know (i) the continuing costs of acquiring, evaluating, integrating, and supporting the open source alternatives, as well as (ii) their abilities to
provide very high levels of "office productivity" (which will be sorely needed in the down-sized administrative areas we'll face shortly).
To me "office productivity" must include fully *integrated* e-calendaring, task management, document/record management, workflow, document exchange, etc., as well as e-mail (and perhaps telephony
integration), etc. We think we can get that integration and its associated productivity from the licensed MS products. My question is: can I get it more cheaply in total by integrating the various
open source components ourselves?
In a sense I want to compare the costs/benefits of "outsourcing" (i.e., my MS Office licensing) v. "insourcing" (i.e., the open source alternatives) since only the code is free for open source
products - integration, implementation, and support (plus conversion and training) must still be provided.
[Open source products that don't offer this kind of "office productivity" might be be fine for some students - although we might be presumptuous to assume they couldn't benefit from those kind of
J. Morven Wilson
Director of Information Technologies
University of Calgary
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