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Doug's Mailbag: Sticking with Office

A reader points out why enterprises feeling the economic pinch may not abandon their old versions of Office for a free alternative:

I don't care what Forrester Research says, no company large enough to be called an "enterprise" is going to switch to OpenOffice to save a few bucks. Further, few small businesses who haven't already switched to OpenOffice to reduce licensing costs are going to switch in the middle of a recession (actually, a sluggish recovery from a recession) just because they can. It is cheaper to keep the MS Office they have over making their employees adjust to an alternative (free or not).

In the end, almost everybody without an enterprise license agreement with Microsoft is going to buy a new copy of Office only when they replace their computers. And when they do replace their computers, the incremental cost of Microsoft Office is relatively small compare to trying to maintain two different "Office-like" products -- at least not as long as Microsoft Office offers compatibility modes so their older products work with their newer ones.

When the economy gets tough, management will use the computers they already have (with the version of MS Office they already have). They will not dump their MS Windows 2003 in order to switch to the latest version of OpenOffice because it won't really save them anything to do so.

Now, a small business that is buying computers for the first time might opt for OpenOffice instead of MS Office, but that represents only a small portion of the businesses -- and certainly not enough of them to constitute a "squeeze" on Microsoft.
-Marc

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 09/15/2010 at 1:18 PM


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