% fortune -ae paul murphy

Office vs. Office

I've heard it thousands of times, and probably so have you: (Microsoft) Office is better than (name any competitor), but I wonder if it's true?

Personally, I don't believe so. Instead, I think we tend to like what we know and what we know throws barriers in the way of learning to like something else.

Take me, for example: I've always despised Microsoft Word as a glorified notepad for people who couldn't cope with either Word Perfect's blank page or the simplicity of systems in which editing and formatting are separated. That's probably because, rather than why, I use FrameMaker on documents intended for printing and vi with embeddd HTML to write stuff like these blogs.

Ultimately, of course, the whole issue comes down to defining the criteria for judgement. Is Microsoft Office better than OpenOffice? The criteria you use determine the answer.

For example, if you value file and data integration, open document standards, OS independence, cost, or document continuity you'll value Openoffice over Microsoft office.

On the other hand, if you value, umm, if you value, umm - you know, I can't think of anything to put here that's intrinsic to Microsoft Office; all I can think of is social compliance: prefering Microsoft Office because others prefer Microsoft office.

That's embarrasing, but you can help: specifically I'd like some help in developing a set of criteria on which reasonable people can reasonably agree -and then later on measuring both suites against it.

To me those criteria should be both broad and measureable: either in dollars (things like license and third party support costs), in terms of compliance (things like ODF compliance), or in terms of a strategic requirements checklist: (things like OS Diversity).

A function by function comparison would be great too - I know there are some attempts at this around and if you point me at the ones you like, I'll see if I can do a sensible synthesis.

And one other thing, too. A lot of Microsoft Office functions are dependent on the use of shared libraries and other OS facilities. This has pluses and minuses: for example there's a George Ou comparative benchmark opportunity here because the individual applications seem to start up faster. Unfortunately they also inherit their reliability and vulnerabilities from the OS -and that's the question I have for the Wintel people reading this: don't these dependencies turn the hassle of operating the Office applications in a Windows TPM-1.2 (Trusted Processing Module) environment into a charade? - and if you don't think so, can you tell me why not?

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.