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Cracking the Monopoly Like A Walnut Using OOoFf!

Buy OOoFf!
OOoFf! is a boxed software package that is now available, which contains the Microsoft-compatible office suite, along with the Firefox browser from Mozilla. The double CD collection has software for MS Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers. To complement the online distribution success both products have achieved, we want to get OOoFf! onto every computer retailer's store shelves to make sure every computer user has a choice for Microsoft alternatives. Even though the majority of users are likely to use OOoFf! products on Microsoft Windows computers, I believe it's the best weapon to bring desktop Linux to the mass market. I first mentioned OOoFf! when I announced the upcoming 3rd Annual Desktop Linux Summit, which will have a half-day dedicated to issues and Mozilla/Firefox topics.

If we can match the technical quality of OOo and Ff (because both are solid products, as reviews reveal) with equally good marketing and distribution, then we can crack Microsoft's monopoly open like a walnut. I wanted to share some of my thinking about why OOoFf! is so critical to desktop Linux, and why we would invest Linspire resources in a product that will likely not be used on Linux.

1) and Firefox are cross-platform.

If a user gets comfortable using and Firefox on a Microsoft operating system, then they will be right at home on Linspire, because those programs are cross-platform (meaning they function identically on Microsoft Windows or Linux). Learning new software is part of the barrier that holds people back from switching to Linux. Cross-platform programs greatly reduce this barrier because looks and feels similar in either MS Windows or Linux. We have been big backers of Mozilla and, so seeing the rest of the world embrace these products is a promising trend for us.

2) Developer teams are combined.

There are many more developers for Microsoft Windows than Linux. But if the developers are working together on the most important software components of the operating system (browser, email and office suite), which will run equally well on both platforms, then despite the smaller number of Linux developers, Linux products will stay on par with Microsoft.

3) Ensures compatibility with the widest possible list of websites.

Web pages are supposed to be standard, but often times they are not. Certain websites use features only found in Internet Explorer or they don't test for compatibility with any other browser. The makers of these pages simply assume that everyone has Internet Explorer, meaning those pages may not work as well on Linux as they do on Microsoft Windows. However, as Mozilla/Firefox usage grows, websites are compelled to support this browser, in addition to Internet Explorer. When they support Firefox on Microsoft Windows, they are also supporting Firefox on Linux, since it uses the same code base. This should greatly reduce malfunctioning websites and alleviate letter writing campaigns from Linux users pleading for websites to support them.

4) Reduces likelihood of locked Microsoft Office formats.

Thanks to Sun and the StarOffice team (which does engineering for OOo), does a very good job of reading Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt), Excel (.xls) and Word (.doc) documents. Microsoft would like to cram users into a new format, under the guise of security, for future office versions. But if the population is large enough, then Microsoft will not have the power to force users to upgrade to Office ZP (or whatever the new version is), because too many OOo users will exist on the older formats.

When I started Linspire, the big criticism of desktop Linux was "there aren't any applications," and those criticisms were generally right. When we were called Lindows, we even worked on running Microsoft Windows programs to fill the void. But we abandoned that idea as native Linux products emerged. Since then, there's been nothing short of an explosion of desktop Linux software. OOoFf! is that and much more. It's the foundation upon which Microsoft's monopoly can be challenged. I hope you'll watch for OOoFf! at a retailer near you, or order OOoFf! as a holiday gift for someone who's tired of Microsoft software. There's an introductory price of $29.95 with free express shipping.

-- Michael

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