- I received a tremendous amount of positive feedback on my arguments that it is indeed viable to migrate users from Windows to Linux on the desktop. But there were a number of objections. As I had expected, almost all centered on a commitment to Microsoft Office.
These objections usually suffered from one or more of the following problems: starting with a stacked deck, fortune-telling, lack of information, or just a blind commitment to Microsoft Outlook.
Many readers started their objections with the premise that migrating to Linux would mean giving up Microsoft Office and running 100% native Linux applications. There are a variety of tools you can use to run Windows applications on Linux, but for the sake of argument, I'd like to accept this premise: Total commitment to Linux is really the best way to go in the long run.
Then I heard from several readers who predicted that Linux will never be successful on the desktop until it has a native application that reads and writes Microsoft Word and Excel documents perfectly. I'm tempted to respond by arguing about "perfect compatibility." Native Linux programs such as OpenOffice, StarOffice, Applixware, Gnumeric, and others do a darned good job of reading and writing Microsoft documents and spreadsheets. They are not perfect, but they certainly do well enough to allow Linux users to trade files with most Microsoft Office users.
But what bothers me most about this prediction of Linux's future is that it ignores the past. Once upon a time, WordPerfect was the most popular word processor, Lotus 1-2-3 the most popular spreadsheet, and dBase the most popular database. It wasn't easy, but companies migrated to Microsoft Office despite the challenges because at first it saved them money. Well, most Linux office suites are free. Put on your thinking caps, folks.
Some readers said their organisations can't function without Microsoft Outlook. It seems to me the opposite would be true. Just last week I received an onslaught of copies of the SirCam email virus. This virus grabs a document from your hard drive, attaches the virus to it, and emails it to everyone in your address book. Because the attachment appears to be a document, many people choose to view it. They see potentially confidential information while instructing their own systems to infect and send out one of their own documents.
Even I want to be able to view a Microsoft Office document attached to an email. What many Windows users may not realise is that there are several safe methods to view attached Word documents using Linux e-mail programs. Indeed, if I wanted to, I could read all the SirCam email virus documents I received and do so without risk.
For more information on how to view Word documents in Linux, click here.