Friday, October 08, 2004

You Can Trust Us, We're From Microsoft

One of my colleagues came into my office this morning and informed me that we had a problem, a really big problem. He has been working on a multi-multi-million dollar proposal for months. The proposal was written over the course of months using Microsoft Word. He came in this morning to pull it up and... the file was corrupted. Microsoft Word could no longer read the file that it itself had created last night. In a sudden sweat, he tried opening up the backup which Microsoft Word had created. No dice.

No previous version had been saved off.

Thus was the equivalent of two years' revenue about to disappear down the bit bucket never to be seen again.

In desperation, nay panic, he sent the apparently corrupted file to me, in hopes that OpenOffice could open the binary file and save the day. Accordingly I clicked on the file and directed that it be read with OpenOffice. Nothing happened at first, then OpenOffice came up with one of those messed up windows that indicates that the program isn't working, and then suddenly it opened up the file. I saved it off in RTF format for my colleague and the proposal is in the hands of the customer.

This anecdote should give serious pause to everybody who runs a business based entirely on using Microsoft Office. Knowing as we all do the low quality of Microsoft software, does it really make sense to have all of the business's documents dependent on this one buggy program? A program like OpenOffice which writes out its data in a publically available format which can be read by any editor, not just OpenOffice itself, seems vastly preferable.

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