Janome plunges into OpenOffice

Sewing machine giant Janome has joined the slim ranks of adventurous Australian companies that have boldly ventured into the uncharted waters of an open source office suite.

Janome has migrated some of its PCs away from Microsoft Office in favour of the free OpenOffice.org office suite saving the company around $8000 in licence fees, according to IT administrator Scott Langford.

After hearing about OpenOffice.org from a colleague, Langford downloaded version 1.0.2 of the office suite and installed it on 10 of the 30 PCs running Microsoft Windows.

"Wherever possible I’ve eliminated Microsoft Office as it’s pretty hard to justify around $900 a pop," Langford said. "In the beginning it was tough to get users to convert but once they get used to it they are fine.”

Langford did a software audit 12 months ago and found that some PCs were using Microsoft Office for just word processing and basic spreadsheet work thus allowing him to “give OpenOffice a go”.

“For the migration I simply uninstalled Microsoft Office and then installed OpenOffice which was straightforward,” he said.

“Not much retraining was involved; the hardest part was getting users to save their documents in Word and Excel format for compatibility. Other than that everything is going fine and the users have totally embraced the program.”

Langford said he has not yet needed any commercial support nor the free support offered by the OpenOffice.org mailing lists.

While he has authority to replace the remaining Microsoft Office installations with OpenOffice.org, it may not be soon due to user preferences, he said.

“It would be nice to be running OpenOffice exclusively, but this is unlikely due to some users requiring the functionality of Microsoft Office,” he said. “I like to give users choice as some prefer to use Microsoft Office.”

That said, Langford will continue migrating depreciated versions of Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.

“With free upgrades there is no need to move away from OpenOffice and since all the value is added to the business I don’t think we will,” he said.

“Apart from a few colour and highlighting issues in documents, I can’t see any drawbacks.”

Although Janome’s Australian operations are small, it has some 60 per cent of the domestic sewing machine market. Internationally, the company has offices in eight countries and more than 3000 employees.

“The word of our savings has not spread to Janome internationally,” he said. “I am testing out the response over a period of time first before notifying them of the ‘benefits’. For me, I personally want to be sure that the software can do the job before recommending it to other subsidiaries - which at this stage I am just about ready to do.”

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