Maybe Its Time for a Change

We've heard the acronym/motto kiss: keep it simple, stupid. Buried in that philosophy is another maxim of the IT manager: If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Weve heard the acronym/motto kiss: keep it simple, stupid. Buried in that philosophy is another maxim of the IT manager: If it aint broke, dont fix it. For administrators and end users alike, living by these credos can mean enduring things like the instability of Windows 9x and the annoying Microsoft Office mate Clippy (now deceased) and avoiding such complicated tasks as upgrading platforms or switching apps—until its absolutely necessary.

That time may be upon us. In a time of great change, changing your computing infrastructure may seem too expensive, unnecessary or, at best, a low priority. Consider, however, that such change may be just what you need. Microsoft has made some of these decisions easy with its new restrictive licensing plans and aggressive marketing for Windows XP and Office XP. It insists we need change, and many IT managers are accommodating the company in ways Redmond may not appreciate.

As eWeek Senior Editor Peter Galli has reported over the past several weeks, many IT administrators are either not planning to upgrade to the new Microsoft products or looking to switch to less expensive products—a direct result of the licensing plans, they said.

If new software is needed, but not the costs or headaches of dealing with the new Microsoft licenses, some are taking renewed looks at Linux and Suns StarOffice desktop productivity suite. Sun notes that users downloaded the latest beta of StarOffice in record numbers since it debuted earlier this month.

An investment in StarOffice may be preferable compared with acquiring yet another version of Office. For one, StarOffice is free; for another, its faster and lighter than before. Microsoft cannot make claims in either of these areas. For kicks, StarOffice supports native Office file formats.

If enough users respond to StarOffice or other alternatives, the signs of change cant be ignored. Theres a long way before StarOffice shows as even a blip against Office XP, but many IT managers are discovering that the more reasons Microsoft gives for upgrading, the more upgrading away from Microsoft products makes sense.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...