October 10, 2005 spout

Open Office is a real” thing

I use my family as a litmus test of when things are real” or not. None of them have technology backgrounds or training, so if something is real to them, it’s real. For example, it was my grandmother that asked whether she need Windows 95 (she didn’t have a computer, mind you). I head from my folks about spyware and phish attacks. And now, my sister-in-law asked me if she should be upgrading her Windows ME machine to OpenOffice.

Of course, OpenOffice isn’t an OS, but as far as she knows, MS Office is her current OS, so maybe OpenOffice is what she needs.

I believe that it’s in her best interest for me to steer her away from unsupported OSS software unless I want to become her tech support liaison (difficult, since I’ve never used OpenOffice). Also, she’s looking for something that will function with little or no problems,” which I can’t claim of any software, free or not.

Still, it makes you wonder if these OSS guys could really make a credible play for the desktop. Obviously, they’re not going to produce Office 12 or Windows Vista anytime soon, but they’re nipping at our heels pretty credibly if they can attract the attention of the secular members of my family. How much longer before OSS becomes good enough” for most uses and the latest thing you buy from actual software vendors is just fancier? In fact, how many actual software vendors do we really have left anyway?