I read a statement which set off a chain of thinking. This was in the January issue of Intelligent Enterprise in a story on Microsoft. The statement: “Lest we forget, humble Excel is still the world’s best known BI tool.” BI refers to Business Intelligence.
We may argue about Windows and Microsoft’s monopoly there, but the real strength comes from MS Office. Word and Excel taken together have become the defacto reading and writing environments for many of us. Excel in fact has become not just an analyser for numbers, but anything to do with tables.
So, if we hope to create an alternative Linux-based desktop, we have to leverage OpenOffice, but diminish its usage. The advantage of OpenOffice, besides its open source, is the transparence in file formats. So, we can use OpenOffice and its components as “Lego blocks” in different applications.
For example, for blogs, instead of every blog application creating its own writing environment, why not just use OpenOffice as a web service? Similarly, for representing accounting information, use OpenOffice’s spreadsheet as the presentation and manipulation application. Build software around OpenOffice rather than trying to chip away at it.