Originally Published: Monday, 20 September 1999 Author: Tori Wildstar
Published to: corp_features/General Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

A World Beyond Word

Are you afraid to try Linux because you've heard that, if you do, you will not be able to use your Office applications? Microsoft Office is considered a necessity in a very high percentage of today's workplaces...but is it a necessity in your office?

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Are you afraid to try Linux because you've heard that, if you do, you will not be able to use your Office applications?

I must admit that I have never owned a copy of Microsoft Office, but I do use it at work because it is what I am required to use. I have asked some people here why they "chose" MS Office. No one seems to know (beyond the fact that we need to do word processing). That scares me. Why would intelligent people purchase an expensive software package without really knowing why?

I'd venture a guess that it has something to do with marketing tactics. Ah, yes - the things we hear and read each day that cause us to do things we might not normally do if we really sat down and analyzed each situation. Falling prey to marketing tactics is human - especially in a world where technology simply evolves too quickly for people not completely immersed in the world of chipsets and widgets.

In the business world, it is unlikely to have a day go by without receiving a file created by one Microsoft Office application or another. This propagates the long-standing myth that Microsoft Office is a necessity for every office. Is it?

There are alternatives.

Have you ever searched for "Linux Office Applications" on any of the major search engines? What you find may surprise you. On one search, I turned up 22 applications written for Linux that could do what I needed at the time. Many of the names that came up in my search were very familiar to me.

Have you heard of Applix? They make a suite of products to suit your business needs. Applixware includes a word processor, a spreadsheet utility, presentation tools (which allow you to import to and export from PowerPoint), graphic tools, a mail client, document filters and more. Applix offers web-based and mailing list support. You also have the option to purchase a support package.

CorelWordPerfect 8 for Linux may be downloaded or purchased "in the box". The downloadable version includes a word processor, multi-language support, import/export filters, spreadsheet functions, email capabilities, and HTML exporting features. The retail version includes all of those and many additional features such as fonts, clipart, textures, and the Adobe Acrobat Reader. A retail server edition with advanced site license management software is also available. On May 19, 1999, Corel announced that downloads for WordPerfect8 had surpassed the one-million mark! More recently, Corel has announced that they will release their own distribution of Linux. It will be available alone or bundled with the WordPerfect Office for LINUX suite, which the company expects to release in early 2000 (http://linux.corel.com/news/august_10_1999.htm).

If you have been reading Linux news, you may recognize StarOffice. This office suite is now being distributed by Sun microsystems. According to the web site, StarOffice includes:

  • StarOffice Writer for word processing.
  • StarOffice Calc for creating spreadsheets.
  • StarOffice Impress for creating presentations.
  • StarOffice Draw and StarOffice Image for creating graphics.
  • StarOffice Schedule for managing calendars and to-do lists.
  • StarOffice Mail for handling e-mail.
  • StarOffice Base for access to databases.
  • StarOffice Discussion for reading Internet news.
  • StarOffice Math for devising complex formulas.
The suite is available for Linux -- but you may also wish to try it on Windows, OS/2, or Solaris SPARC/Intel platforms. This suite is being distributed for free (or $9.95 plus shipping and handling if you prefer to order the CD).

Those are just a few of the companies who have entered the world of Linux office software. I'm not saying that every application is identical in look, feel and function to Microsoft Office. You may need to make some changes and you may even find the Linux office application to be better than what you're used to. What I am suggesting is that there is really no harm in trying...or, at least, researching...the options. If you decide that Office is a necessity, at least you know what you are paying for.

Microsoft makes decent Office products -- but are they worth compromising your whole operating environment?

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