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  • This is common logic (Score:2, Interesting)

    by barries (2159) on 2003.04.23 10:21 (#19374)
    I have several for-profit and nonprofit clients that feel exactly the same way. It's partly about lock-in (@required_software is only supported on Windows), partly about interoperability (I need to exchange MS documents with other divisions/companies/people), partly about familiarity (I know Windows/Word/Excel/etc) and partly about acheiving economies of scale (I only need to send my people to one training classes, I only need one person on pager duty, I can hire consultants more easily, etc). Oh, and then there's the fact that there are no OSS office tools that really work well enough yet for the average office worker. Nothing has yet matched the speed, stability, and usability of MSOffice's most common functions, let alone the larger number of infrequent but in use features (like tables, etc). Yes OSS has alternatives, but they aren't nearly as mature; it would be surprising if they were after the much smaller amounts of calandar time, developer manhours, and user feedback they've had.

    Naively, I thought my NPOs would be interested in OSS ("Linux" in their minds, primarily) for cost reasons. Not so: they get big breaks from MS and sometimes even sets of free licenses.

    The for-profit people, some of whom are keenly aware of OSS availability and its possible benefits, need to keep streamlined and not get distracted from their busniness goals; they must avoid the overhead and riskiness of trying to marshall disparate semicompatible systems and applications. And often there is a groundswell of OSS lovin' going on amongst the rank and file so training and expertise isn't really the issue; it's maintaining efficiency and focus.

    These are not the organizations for whom cutting from 50 NT admins to 10 Unix admins might be cost effective (if you overlook all the user retraining for the non-admins), these are representatives of the huge number of small and medium size organizations that absolutely cannot afford the increased TCO of OSS software. Yes the TCO might be lower if they didn't already have/know/interoperate-with MS products, but that's not the real world.

    I would positively love to push/pull/help my clients towards OSS, but there are very few for whom it actually makes sense. Even I end up having to use MSOffice event to read some clients' documents, OpenOffice is just not compatible enough with it. It is getting much, much better, but I can't cut over to it all the way, I launch it about 20% of the time instead of using Word, but I cannot author or edit in it without frequently ruining the .doc file in one way or another. Word's file formats are such a piece of crap that it'll be stunning when we really get other apps to reliably work with them.

    Sigh. Enough negativity for one day. Back to work...