Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tech Tuesday: Microsoft Scare Tactics

So last week Microsoft released a video to rag on some of their competitors. Primarily OpenOffice.org (now the LibreOffice project) but they took the opportunity to attack all Open Source software. I'd like to take this opportunity to call BS.

Microsoft makes this big sweeping claim that Open Source software will cost more in the long run. They cite some person who had apparently experienced a 30% in support required to keep the software working once it "broke."

First off, software doesn't "break". 99% of the time it's PEBKAC. The software doesn't just fail randomly, usually you just aren't aware how the software works. Switching software suites is always going to take some getting used to. Think of it this way, you save in the short term since it's free software. In the intermediate you may required extra IT support while you get used to the new software, then after that it's less expensive. Every year when the next version of Office suites comes out, you again do not have to pay while all the people who PAID for Office XP will be out there paying AGAIN for Office 2007 or 2010. So again, Microsoft says who's going to fix broken software? Have you ever spoken to a Microsoft developer and had them rush an update out for you? No. You wait until the next version hits shelves so you can send them more money.

Later on Microsoft quotes some teacher who says that she gives students worse grades just because HER Microsoft Word doesn't read the formatting well!!!! Well, not only is that just downright scary that someone would punish students who don't want to pay Microsoft, but it's Microsoft deflecting the issue.

OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice, Lotus Symphony and others all use a single Open file format. Microsoft is free to implement this format in Microsoft Office if they wish to improve compatibility between other suites. It's a totally open format. Microsoft chooses not to do this because they would rather corner the competitors out of the market and feed you stories like that of the teacher I mentioned. These other competitors do their best to support the file formats that Microsoft uses but these are not nearly as open or as easily supported. This is especially true since Microsoft can change these formats without any notice (did anyone find they couldn't edit .docx files in their old versions of Microsoft Office? Planned Obsolescene?). The open document formats that are used by the three suites I mentioned are always published and all developers are aware if there are any changes. Microsoft is basically telling you that, despite the fact that they charge you for their software, they can't even read any other file formats for you! And it's Open Source Software's fault that Office sucks too much to read them!

You can probably tell that I'm pretty passionate about this. I've been an OpenOffice.org user for years but I'm switching to LibreOffice now due to some political reasons (More info here).

Now in the rest of the video it's really more of the same. Microsoft making claims about how people don't know how to use the software. For everyone else out there, it's basically the same as any Microsoft product before 2007. Download it and give it a shot! Hey, it's free! You have nothing to lose!

1 comment:

  1. Wow that's totally bizarre propaganda - too bad they can't use their creative/ad dollars for better development