John-Thomas Richards asks Do We Still Need Microsoft?. His response:
Years ago Microsoft made a marketing decision to bundle together its desktop productivity software in a new product called Microsoft Office…With each successive release of Office, and Word in particular, Microsoft changed the file formats, making it especially difficult for competitors to write filters to make their software work with Microsoft’s. Thus, compatibility with Office required running Office and running Office required running Windows. This is no longer the case.
In January, 2002, OpenOffice.org release OpenOffice 1.0. The developers improved upon the already impressive compatibility with Microsoft Office. I have personally used OpenOffice and StarOffice for everything from simple memoranda to complex loan amortization spreadsheets and was able to use the files in Microsoft Office. I, like many others, have discovered that compatibility with Microsoft Office no longer requires Microsoft software – including Windows, because OpenOffice runs on Windows and Linux. Barring specialty hardware or software that will only run in a Windows environment, the average corporate desktop user simply does not need to run Microsoft Windows. Thus it is that Microsoft’s grip on the desktop has been broken.
Given the license fees (including a forced subscription with XP) for Microsoft software, the never ending flood of viruses spread via Outlook, and the ever dangerous remote exploits, businesses have begun to look elsewhere for their desktop computing environment. Linux, with OpenOffice and/or StarOffice, is set to take over the corporate market. There is no longer a compelling reason to run Microsoft software. The reasons for running Linux are just getting better.
I agree. The combination of the open source alternatives (Evolution, OpenOffice and Mozilla) is now more than good enough. A Digital Dashboard to aggregate information and applications together is what is needed next on the desktop. In fact, if one think about it, there really has been no desktop innovation over the past decade other than the various Windows releases. Much of the innovation has been directed on the Web. This is where the Digital Dashboard can make a big difference.