Open Source

Something strange happened on the way to Office 2003

I have

recently had the pleasure (obligation) to help two family members' purchase and

setup new personal computers. Besides the usual clean up of all the extraneous

software that ships with a new PC these days (no thank you AOL, MSN, EarthLink,

etc.), I was asked if I can install Word, Excel, Outlook or a combination of


My response

was what were you using before and where are the disks, we'll just install it

again. Both times the answer has been along the lines of, "I don't have them" or worse

yet, "I don't know what I was using - it was Word I think." Rather

than go through the hassle of explaining that Microsoft Office 2003 actually

costs a significant amount of money I decided to download and install Open


This is a

change for me, because I have been using MS Office in some form since there was

an Office 1995. I have avoided Open Office for my novice family members out of

the fear that change is more trouble then making them spend $200 or more for a

Microsoft version of an Office Suite. But the more I looked at it, the less wary I

became. For most every-day uses, Open Office works just as well as anything


I am

beginning to think that I will not spend money on the next version of Microsoft

Office. There just doesn't seem to be a reason I should spend money on it. I

know many TechRepublic members have already come to that inclusion, but I

wonder how long before institutional buyers reach the same conclusion. Is that

the sound of a cash cow drying up?


Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to,, and TechRepublic.

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