Microsoft Office vs Open Office

Apparently OpenOffice has awakened the sleeping giant, because Microsoft has finally come around to realizing that OpenOffice is a very viable competitor to it’s Office suite.

I am by no means anti-Microsoft – I work with and am a fan of .Net products. I think Windows 7 is a great operating system and .Net 4.0 is awesome – but I’m also a fan of open source products.

What I find disturbing about the marketing hype spewing from Microsoft is that they’re downright wrong. They talk about ‘familiarity’ with the software. I for one couldn’t find the print menu, much less the print button in Office 2010 and I know I wasn’t the only one. What’s really disturbing is that I’m a Windows power user. I mean – shit – I develop software to run on Windows. The new UI is much improved and was necessary for survival of Office in the long run, but it is by no means familiar.

On the OpenOffice side, I’m a fan. Although I tend to use Google Documents for all my needs – for those times when it can’t satisfy the requirement, I quickly look to OpenOffice – neglecting the fact that I have legitimate copies of MS Office laying around somewhere. Why? Because it works – and it’s free. Although, coming from a Microsoft background, familiarity with it can be weird at times as well. Looking for those options that I’ve become accustomed to just ‘being there’ aren’t. As a result, I’ll end up looking to the Google Box for a solution.

Overall though, it’s a welcome change to see that Microsoft has finally started to realize that the open source community has been ahead of the curve for quite a few years and will actually provide competition. We’ve seen this a lot lately in the development world with the push MS has made for code testing, code sharing (codeplex), and even package managers. Although it still has a long ways to go, it’s going to have to adjust, and attempt to do it quickly before people start jumping from the MS ship and realizing there are other options out there. Free options nonetheless.