Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Standing on the ledge - to Office or not to Office

As you are moving from Windows to Linux on the desktop, you will have to cross the most difficult bridges of all: Office applications. Or productivity tools. In short you have to ask yourself, "To MSOffice or not to MSOffice, that is the question." It is entirely possible to keep MSOffice and use Linux, despite what purists say. I, for one, is still married to MSOffice, still and I'll explain why at the end.
Coming back to the question at hand, your options are :
  1. OpenOffice - an alternative application suite. It can read and save files into MSOffice file formats. The best part about it is that it also runs on Windows. So as you are moving people across, you can have them using OpenOffice on Windows and later on Linux. However, this endeavor is so large, it in itself is as a daunting a task as moving people into Linux. The true reason you should have people moving across is that most people do not use all of MSOffices features all the time. They simple can't. If they do clerical work, moving across is a cinch. But if they are advanced users, it will be as painful as a root canal minus the pain killers. Heck, I have some problems with alignment when moving from OpenOffice in Win to OpenOffice in Linux. If you share files out side the company, it then gets really troublesome.
  2. Cross Over office - A commercial tool that allows you to install and use MSOffice (plus some other Windows applications) on Linux. Like driving on the other lane when the road is empty. It simply works. Well, almost all. You see, what they didn't tell you is that there is a reason why MSOffice is on Windows only. It is just because it uses low-level software calls. I have heard that one of the reason the Windows on Alpha was dropped because it couldn't run MSOffice very well. Some version of Office actually replaced OS files during installation. What other application would do that? So the result is that the major MSOffice applications work fine but some fringe and not-so-fringe applications can be tripped up (e.g. Clipart Manager).
  3. Like above, Office over Wine - Wine, which is not a Windows Emulator, is designed to run Windows applications on Linux by fooling the application into thinking that it is on Windows, but not. In fact, CrossOver Office is partly Wine. So, why use CrossOver when you can get wine for free. Let's just say that I like my hair too much as this age of my life.
So to sum up, there area three questions you need to ask, the acid test:
1. Do you use Macros? Do things pop out and ask you stuff when you open a template or document? If not, then you answer is most likely no.
2. Do you use outlines or the outlining feature in MSWord? If you are asking, "Wha-?", then your answer would be no.
3. Do you have MS Access databases that you use regularly? Thing about conversion is that MSAccess files are not part of the deal.

If you answered yes to any of the above, go Crossover Office. If not, then you are a prime candidate for switching over from MSOffice to OpenOffice. You will save a ton of money later, especially as you grown and add PCs and realize you don't have to pay for another MSOffice license.
Oh, BTW, I don't use Macros but I love the outlining feature so much, it is a deal breaker.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Recently Popular