For Most Of Us …
There are some people and some situations where office suite users are depending on specific functionality of one particular vendor's product. But for most of us that use the product, nearly any office suite will do the job, if the interface is familiar enough for the user.
I was talking to someone today that has the trial version of Microsoft Office 2007 on his brand new computer. He uses Excel for almost everything, but he doesn't use formulas or scripting very often. Instead, he uses spreadsheets the way some of us used to use graph paper: as a way to enforce a particular visual format on a body of text. This is usually helpful when you have a list to display:
- telephone list (name, title, dept., number/extension, mobile)
- staff list (much the same information as above, plus location, assignment/project/account, special skills, supervisor's name, and so on)
- computer list (hostname, assigned user, static addressing information, operating system & version, and so on)
- approved software list (vendor name, application name, version, system requirements, number of licenses total/used/available)
- time sheets (list of days & hours worked during a pay period)
- manual inventory list (items that should be on hand, with space to write in the quantities of those items that are actually in the building)
- address list for a mail merge
- list of potential contacts
Interestingly, nearly every spreadsheet application is suitable for use in these situations. It does not have to be Excel. It can be OpenOffice.org (OOo) Calc. It can be Sun's StarOffice Calc. It can be Corel's Quattro Pro.
Today's conversation was sparked because he is approaching the end of the trial period, but the purchasing function isn't working for him. I first thought of offering to help walk him through it, but then I thought that his best bet would be to install OOo and remove the OOXML-infested Microsoft product from his system. After I demonstrated the use of OOo Calc on one of his lists, he is definitely interested in giving it a try.
I think this same principle applies to word processing documents, in most cases.
I believe that this method, person-to-person, without pressure, will continue to nibble away at the share of Microsoft's product.
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