I’ve been working recently with some other teachers on the software tools to be loaded on student notebook computers for next year and in that process I was reminded again of Open Office, the multi-platform, multilingual office suite produced as part of an open-source project.
I was reading an article earlier this week about all the online applications becoming available (No More Hard Drive!), and maybe that will be the future if broadband access can become ubiquitous or if online/offline tools like Google Gears become commonplace.
In the meantime, Open Office is beginning to become a real and viable alternative to proprietorial software. Two years ago I couldn’t imagine a school dumping Microsoft for the vagaries of the open platform, but things are changing. I can imagine it now.
Like the Linux system itself (I installed Ubuntu on an old machine at home, but more about that some other time) the idea of open-source is appealing for more than the financial considerations, and the software has come a long way.
I’ve two daughters studying at university, one with an ACER laptop computer, the other with a glossy white Macbook that makes me jealous, and they’re BOTH using Open Office for all their university work and have been for some time. One rang me the other day saying that she couldn’t export a document into a word file for some reason, but I reminded her that Open Office also outputs to PDF, which worked fine. For them, researching and writing in undergraduate courses, Open Office is fine.
I don’t know whether I could live without OneNote on my computer, but I think I could do without some of the other gigantic applications that are perhaps the last and most monstrous evolutions of their previous selves. Do we need a meteorite to strike to realise that they’ve probably gone as far as they can go? I remember when the whole of Microsoft Word fitted on a 3.5 floppy disk, with room for a couple of documents as well! I’m not sure if Microsoft Office will become extinct but, like video stores and CD makers, perhaps making expensive, gigantic, proprietorial software is not a good market to be in about now?
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