I recently had the experience to see the world of Linux in action and it was NOT a pretty site. I had the pleasure of working with an organization who did not use Microsoft software but only open source (primarily Linux) based software.
All the material they sent me for what we were working on was in PDF (for presentations) or plain text – what a world to live in. The only reason they finally sent me a Microsoft Power Point (at the last minute) presentation was to ensure I could display their presentations in a suitable manner.
Later on I was working with one of the staunchest proponents of open source, for this same project, and using his notebook to run “business standard” Power Point presentations. He was using the free Open Office software suite and could not run the Power Point presentation 100% properly.
Why am I telling you all of this?
As the debate rages about Open Source vs Proprietary Software (which is a code name for Microsoft for the most part) always remember what environment you business is working in.
When you give clients, colleagues, partners or employees a CD with something you have created – can they use it? When they give you the same – can you use it? If you are NOT going to use Microsoft Windows based technologies, which are business standard, but using technology not used by most businesses, you’ll find that you will have a number of times wherein you will not be able to fully interact with others.
If you work on a document in a free word processor software it might not be 100% compatible with Microsoft Word and vs versa. If you are NOT running Microsoft Windows but some other operating system, can you be sure that you can comfortably work in a business setting that is mostly Microsoft centric on the desktop.
As I write this, I think of the many fine Linux (Open Source) and Windows software companies that compete with Microsoft. Unfortunately for them – in two areas you have no choice but to use Microsoft software. The operating system (Windows) and Office Suites.
Corel Word Perfect Office is a VERY viable alternative to Microsoft Office, and Word Perfect will do near perfect conversions of Word documents. However, overall, for now your choices of ensuring 100% compatibility with other businesses is quite limited.
As businesses use more and more hosted applications and the language of documents turns from Word to HTML – the need for proprietary software is LESS and LESS. As more of our work is done via a web browser the need for Microsoft only software – operating system or Office Suite is quickly decreasing. But until we reach the tipping point….stick with what everyone else is using.
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