Thought for the day:Open day at the Office

Research wizard Peet Morris gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.You know, I used to be well against the open...

Research wizard Peet Morris gives his personal take on the hot issue of the day.You know, I used to be well against the open source movement. Where would it lead - anarchy, flaky software, unmaintainable and unverifiable code?

Also, as a developer (of sorts) myself, I was worried that if I had some great new idea - and tried to make money from it - that it could be stolen by the open source lot and, through their bedsit hacking, my retirement plan would be effectively wiped out.

Well, I'm not sure whether all my worries (as to where it will lead) have disappeared, but I'm now much more of a fan. And I'll tell you why.

The other day I downloaded OpenOffice version 1 - this is the free (totally free) version of Sun's StarOffice, which is built on top of OpenOffice.

I expected to have either (a) fatal trouble installing it (probably a heart attack) or (b) an extremely bad "user experience". It was bound to be pretty sub-standard after all, surely.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth and I have scraped Microsoft Office off my hard drive.

Yes, it's not as programmable as MS Office is but, then again, I don't want to use it like that at home. All I want is a great word processor, spreadsheet, presentation builder, etc. - and I have all of that in OpenOffice. What's more - and I really can't get over this - it's completely free. For life! Bloody hell!

So, what will become of one Microsoft's biggest cash cows, then? Well, if I were Microsoft I'd be worried, especially now that it's changed its licensing model to one that is, apparently, "not popular" with users.

So, if you're not bothered about technical support - get OpenOffice. If you want technical support - and a few more features - get StarOffice. I'm sure you won't be disappointed.

What's your view?
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Peet Morris
has been a software developer since the 1970s. He is a D.Phil (PhD) student at Oxford University, where he's researching Software Engineering, Computational Linguistics and Computer Science.

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