OpenOffice.org Still Kicking
Reports to contrary, the launch of Microsoft Office 2010 doesn't mean that OpenOffice.org is dead — or even wounded.
ZDNet's Christopher Dawson says that users are going to choose the lumbering monstrosity that is Microsoft Office, or opt for Google Docs or another online suite. According to Dawson:
If someone needs a desktop office suite (and I mean they don't just think they need one, but actually need to do things that can't be done with Google Apps), then they aren't going to be satisfied with OpenOffice. I don't blame them, actually. Given my choice of Office 2007/2010 or OpenOffice, I'd pick Office. It's polished, it's easy, and it's powerful.
I'll give Dawson powerful, and I suppose polished, but I'm unwilling to cede "easy," though I don't claim OpenOffice.org is easier than Office. Aside from that, you'll find a fairly large gulf in features between Google Docs and OpenOffice.org. Google Docs isn't quite ready to assume the mantle just yet. Some people simply prefer a desktop suite. Many users will think twice, or three times, before depending solely on applications "in the cloud" with their data. And some users actually do care about open source, though admittedly not a huge number.
Also, there's the little matter of cost. This might be less visible in the educational environment with special pricing, but Microsoft Office isn't cheap — and free often beats cheap anyway.
One thing that Dawson's post does point out, though, is that OpenOffice.org does need to distinguish itself in some way. If Dawson's view of OpenOffice.org is widely held, it means that many just see it as a not-quite-as-good Microsoft Office substitute, and with nothing to really recommend it on its own. It would be good to see OpenOffice.org recommended in its own right rather than just as an Office substitute.
But OpenOffice.org isn't going anywhere. If anything, I suspect it's going to be getting some extra attention from Oracle and may be getting closer to Microsoft Office. It's going to be a few more years before Web office suites take over entirely, anyway. Applications rarely just up and "die," it takes a while for users to change habits.