Thursday, November 03, 2005

Online MS Office? WHERE??

Slashdot, Znet, and a few other places, have all been mentioning Microsoft's plan to make their Office suite available online, free and cross-platform. They even mention the preview of it, at


I looked. I saw a pathetically uninspird portal with RSS feeds and bookmark support. And nothing else. Not even an "Office coming soon" message.

Mind you, that was in Firefox. So I took a look with IE. Aside from the lack of a "Firefox support coming soon" message, no difference.

How is this a preview??

A cynic might say MS were desperate to get publicity for their new "portal with absolutely nothing innovative, or even interesting" so they thought they'd say "with Office support planned" to generate lots of headlines about something that would otherwise pass unnoticed.

But I'm not a cynic, of course, so I won't ;o)

But on the subject of MS. . .

There's also been a story about a lack of respect for OSS developers on Windows. Now, I use numerous OSS projects on Windows, such as Firefox, and am very grateful for them, so I was puzzled enough to read more.

And the difference is, he's talking about OSS that only runs on Windows. Apparently, they get no respect.

Well. . . At the risk of sounding cold-hearted: Really, what else do you expect?

If you're a Free or Open Source Software advocate, you'll use a free OS - BSD, Linux, or whatever. You won't use Windows, so why would you be interested in an open source Windows-only product? It's not like you can use it.

The only people such a project is any good for is Windows users. Who are self-evidently not interested in open source. Typical Windows users equate "free software" with "shareware" - essentially, software that's hobbled, limited, or just not worthwhile enough to pay money for.

Neither group is going to react to "Here is some free software for Windows" in a terribly positive way. No matter how good/worthwhile the software might be, the first impression is always going to be "So what?"

That's a handicap that such software was always going to have. OSS that runs on an OSS OS has a huge niche. Closed software that runs on Windows has a huge niche. OSS that runs on Windows is not going to interest either niche.

If this takes you by surprise, you really didn't think very hard about it before you started, did you?


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