Questions to Ask When

By Anne Chen  |  Posted 2005-10-24 Print this article Print

Considering a Microsoft Altnerative"> Questions to ask when considering a Microsoft Office alternative

Microsoft Office alternatives have the potential to reduce the amount of money an organization spends on software licenses and to broaden the hardware and software that can be used. Any such switch, however, requires careful investigation. Here are some issues to consider:

  • Will there be file-format compatibility? While the Microsoft Office alternatives eWEEK Labs has tested tend to do a good job of rendering and creating Microsoft Office-formatted documents, theres no substitute for testing with your own files and those of your partners. We suggest a pilot program to identify potential incompatibilities. Saving documents in a controlled and widely accessible format such as PDF is a good way to ensure that documents will render properly.

  • What will it cost? Even if you go with an Office alternative that is free, you must factor in the costs of retraining. These costs will depend on how closely your users are tied to Office-only features—all the alternatives weve tested feature the same core productivity functions as in Office, implemented in much the same way as in Office. Again, a pilot program is the best way to gauge the user disruption that a new suite might engender.

  • Does my organization stand to benefit from the cross-platform support Office alternatives offer? Applications such as tend to support more operating system platforms than Office does. An organization with a diverse platform base stands to benefit more from a suite migration than would a Windows-only shop.

  • Where will we turn for support? Before embarking on any sort of broad migration, audit your organizations office suite support needs to ensure that your IT staff and users will have the resources they require, whether from a vendor or from an open-source community.

    For reader response to this article, click here. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis about productivity and business solutions.

    As a senior writer for eWEEK Labs, Anne writes articles pertaining to IT professionals and the best practices for technology implementation. Anne covers the deployment issues and the business drivers related to technologies including databases, wireless, security and network operating systems. Anne joined eWeek in 1999 as a writer for eWeek's eBiz Strategies section before moving over to Labs in 2001. Prior to eWeek, she covered business and technology at the San Jose Mercury News and at the Contra Costa Times.

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