The VAR Guy

January 11, 2008

2 Min Read
Dumping Open Source for Microsoft Office

Brace yourself for a rare event: The VAR Guy is about to eat crow. Last fall, he dumped Microsoft Office for an open source suite. Now, he’s making the leap back into Microsoft’s arms. What went wrong with our resident blogger’s open source experiment? Here’s the scoop.

Rewind to October. The VAR Guy suffered from a nasty Microsoft Office bug on Mac OS X. The bug slowed down his Mac Book Pro, froze applications and made the system unusable. He was fed up with Bill Gates and Company. So he sought alternatives and prepared to Delete Microsoft Office Forever!

OpenOffice, that sweet open source suite, seemed like a logical choice. The VAR Guy already runs OpenOffice on his Ubuntu Linux PC from Dell — and he loves the suite. But OpenOffice isn’t very mature on Mac OS X. (Here’s a look at the development schedule.)

So he went looking elsewhere for options. NeoOffice — another flavor of OpenOffice for the Mac OS X — was a promising option. So The VAR Guy tried it … and liked it.

Losing Faith

Still, he gradually found shortcomings with the NeoOffice suite. For starters, NeoOffice just didn’t feel fully polished. Sure, it’s better than a basic package like Microsoft Works but it felt less polished than Microsoft Office. Second, The VAR Guy kept having brain freezes when he tried to work in revision mode. He just couldn’t figure it out.

Now, the final and most annoying problem: NeoOffice doesn’t have an email/calendaring system. So, The VAR Guy had to look for additional software. He tried the Thunderbird open source email client. And he moved to Google’s online Calendar to maintain his schedule. But leaping back and forth between email (the default pipeline for scheduling meetings) and an online calendar (the place for managing a meeting schedule) became a pain after a few weeks.

So now you know about The VAR Guy’s pain. And the answer to that suffering — a Microsoft Office CD — was sitting on a bookshelf a few feet from his desk. He finally gave into temptation and reinstalled Office 2004 for the Mac earlier today.

You know what? The VAR Guy has to admit: It’s a pretty darn good software suite. Now if only Microsoft would get around to fixing Vista… …

And a closing note to you open source fans out there: NeoOffice is a nice choice if you simply need a productivity suite. But once you throw in email and calendaring, all bets are off.

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