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Chris Stephens (Vice President - Operations)

Open Source Software

Written on March 21, 2013 by Chris Stephens
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What if I told you that you could get a car, brand new, for free?

You would say it was probably junk...or a joke. But, this thing is real, people have spent hundreds, if not thousands of hours, building it and it's absolutely free. BUT there is a catch.

Ahhh, now the hoax is uncovered.  What is the catch?

There is no power antenna. Or rear view camera. Or heated seats. Aaaand the seats in the 3rd row are not power sliding. But other than that the basics are all there. Seat belts? Check. Power windows & locks? Check. Moon roof? Check. Stereo? Check. STEERING WHEEL?!?! Check.

I bet you would say that is a rockin' deal!  And you would be right; especially when talking about open source software.

When I came here to Puget Systems I was living on a software island. I had STRONG preferences for productivity software. If I had something to write it was done on Word. If I needed to talk about what I wrote I used PowerPoint. Email outside of Outlook seemed like the backside of Mars, totally unknown to me. What do you mean there is no Exchange server?!?!?! How can I possibly live without it? In a word: easy.

It all started when I decided that my computer at home needed to give MS Office 2007 the boot and I would need to upgrade to Office 365. Not being that excited to fork out $100 bucks a year (we paid a one time $100 last time, thanks to my oldest son being a live-at-home college student) I did what any of us would do: I grumbled at my monitor.

See, I get subscriptions for content, such as Netflix, Hulu or Spotify, but, I don’t entirely see the value when it comes to basic Office-type tools.  I will rent a movie from Amazon Instant, but I am not going to “subscribe” to my set of screwdrivers. Also, in my opinion, subscriptions are no excuse for a continual onslaught of patches. Even my coffee pot came with a warranty to fix it if it breaks. I mean Office, in my opinion, is a GREAT piece of software. The interconnected programs are getting a bit bloated (who really uses OneNote or Journal?) but overall I was a very happy customer, and still am with the software I already own. But, the idea of paying a subscription for what I consider to be the most basic of computing tools gave an opening to to the competition.

Now to make a long story short LibreOffice is the preferred choice of my office neighbor, Daniel. Microsoft Office (especially 2010) is a better program, no doubt. It has all the bells and whistles, so much so that I couldn't possibly come close to telling you all of the features at your disposal. But, for exactly 100% cheaper I can get about 90-95% of the way and THAT is an incredible deal. Some may disagree about my assessment in how far the free stuff gets me but remember: I am talking about features that people actually use.

I also want to be clear: free is not what did it for me. I am willing to pay. I understand great products cost money, trust me I get it, I work at Puget Systems.

So after internal debate I went through the steps of uninstalling Office and loading up LibreOffice, which is a piece of software that can be installed by Puget for no extra charge with your order.

So far, so good.

I miss a couple of features and if Microsoft releases a version of the basic Office Suite on the old pay model I *might* jump back. But my appreciation for Open Source software has grown. It challenges the status quo by pushing providers that charge for their products to deliver exceptional value. In that, I think, there is value for all of us.
 

Tags: open source, Office Libre, Microsoft, Office
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