OOoFf! is a boxed software package that is now available, which contains the
Microsoft-compatible office suite OpenOffice.org, 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
OpenOffice.org 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
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) OpenOffice.org and Firefox are cross-platform.
If a user gets comfortable using OpenOffice.org and Firefox
on a Microsoft
operating system, then they will be right at home on Linspire, because
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 OpenOffice.org looks
and feels similar in either MS Windows or Linux. We have been big
backers of Mozilla and OpenOffice.org, 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
4) Reduces likelihood of locked Microsoft Office formats.
Thanks to Sun and the StarOffice team (which does engineering for OOo),
OpenOffice.org 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 OpenOffice.org 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
watch for OOoFf! at a retailer near you, or order OOoFf! as a holiday
for someone who's tired of Microsoft software. There's an introductory
price of $29.95 with free express shipping.
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