I received a bill from Microsoft for Office 365 in the amount of six dollars for one month. The emailed bill included a second item: they tried to bill 15 dollars per user for one month’s rent of Microsoft Office Professional. Its check box was checked by default — a Sleazy Salesmanship 101 “presumed close” tactic. I unchecked it to decline.
Microsoft Office has for years been their most profitable product. It’s under attack by Google Docs and OpenOffice — both available at no cost. (I use OpenOffice.) If you’re comfortable leasing your car, you may prefer renting rather than buying your software.
Microsoft would like to move most of its software products to the rental model as it assures them of a fairly predictable steady income stream each month. I’ll stick with OpenOffice instead.
John Dvorak in his recent article OpenOffice Gets IBM Boost reports that Oracle has spun off OpenOffice and that IBM is donating Lotus Symphony’s source code and some resources to the OpenOffice development effort.
This is great news! I plan to continue using OpenOffice. I have my OpenOffice Calc and Writer apps configured so that by default they save in Microsoft Office’s .DOC and .XLS file formats. My correspondents with Microsoft Office assume that I created the files in Microsoft Office. Sometimes I’m tempted to tell them that no, my office suite costs about $400 less than theirs. Long live OpenOffice!
Oracle is the leader in heavy-duty relational database systems. Sun Microsystems has overseen two popular software products: OpenOffice (an excellent free alternative to Microsoft Office); and MySQL, a relational database with over 6 million installations. Both OpenOffice and MySQL are open source products, meaning that for all practical purposes they are available to users at no cost. In practice, most organizations either purchase support contracts or hire IT staff to provide support. MySQL has won wide acceptance since its creation in 1996. Heavy-hitters Flickr, Facebook, Wikipedia, Google, Nokia, and YouTube are built upon MySQL database engines.
Wither MySQL? MySQL has steadily grown into a heavy-duty product that poses a potential threat to Oracle. The TCO (Total Cost of Ownership) of MySQL is about one-sixteenth of the TCO for Oracle: http://www.mysql.com/tcosavings/ I had feared that Oracle, if allowed by the US Department of Justice to control MySQL, would find a way to kill MySQL.
It appears that Monty’s moves — effectively forking the development of MySQL — will pull the rug out from under Oracle’s purchase of MySQL, should the DOJ approve the acquisition of MySQL by Oracle.
Wither OpenOffice? Release 3.1 of OpenOffice was just published a few weeks ago. I hope that its development continues. There’s no love lost between Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison and Microsoft’s chairman Bill Gates, so my hope is that Mr. Ellison will provide the resources necessary to keep OpenOffice a strong competitor to Microsoft Office.
Both futures look good The conclusion? If we’re lucky, both OpenOffice and MySQL will continue to thrive, despite Oracle’s purchase of Sun Microsystems.
Open Office, the free alternative to Microsoft Office, has just been updated to version 3. Its most attractive features for users of earlier versions of Open Office include (1) it can now read files in Microsoft Office 2007 format(!) and (2) it can directly create PDF files. It’s available in Linux, Windows, and Mac flavors. What’s not to like?