Landing : Athabascau University

An invitation to students to LIBERATE your documents

No one in the world should want to pay for MS Word when you can have a very credible integrated open-source software called "LibreOffice" ( for free.  This latest version of the original "StarOffice" begs the question - Why are people still using MS Office ?

There are only two major reasons I can find for why people are still using MS Office:

  1. Mind programming to stay with the status quo
  2. The Canadian government continues to provide tax deductions to companies for purchasing software (which means that those taxpayers who don't want MS Office are paying for those that do)... that also applies universally to other deductions...what is subtracted by one, must be added to another to sustain cash flow

Given the disincentive to change and the incentive not to change, it is likely that Canadian taxpayers will continue to pay for wasteful costs in software for a long time to come.  However, for students who wish to spend their money toward something more useful, they have a really good office product for their education called LibreOffice.  Students also have the power to change academia by demanding that institutions accept their files in Open Document Format (ODF).  Microsoft only externally recognizes ODF, while LibreOffice natively recognizes Microsoft Office formats.

Aside from the fact that Microsoft lost a lawsuit on a critical part of their XML document strategy, archiving office files into ODF is a much safer practice that guarantees accessibility into the future.  If you compare the inside files from ODF and MS Office, you will find that the ODF files are much cleaner, while the MS Office format is very messy.

So why are students not using LibreOffice?


PS. With all the money you saved using LibreOffice, it doesn't hurt to send a little donation their way to keep inspiring the programmers (assuming donations go to programming and not administrivia)


  • Hi Heather,

    You are absolutely right, you like it because you can afford MS Office.

    A key reason for having commercial software is that you can afford it (or have someone else pay for it).  This is why third world countries use open-source applications.  The business arguement for MS OFFICE has often been used as a status quo rationale - everyone in business is using it therefore so must I.  Based on my experience of working in the technology industry since 1979, the indoctrination of the enduser is part of the sale.  Indoctrination includes you "liking" the product to the point of being insulted if anyone suggest differently.  Having been at Microsoft University I can tell you first hand that the computer industry has some disturbing similarities to fascism.

    The psychology of liking a particular software is also interesting because there is a different design in operation of software depending on the programmer.  As a side note, the only office product that I have seen that truly was integrated for the masses was Appleworks, and unfortunately Apple has killed the code rather than open-source it, in lieu of a MAC Office clone - iWorks.

    C'est la vie!

    PS.  I don't endorse any hardware, software, or system - anyone who does is walking the plank.

    Steve Swettenham August 18, 2011 - 10:10am

  • Would you promote LibreOffice over OpenOffice? The latter's been around a while; it's a similar free office suite. See any noteworthy differences?

    Mark A. McCutcheon August 18, 2011 - 11:29am

  • Hi Mark,

    No contest - OpenOffice is dead.

    Many of the programmers left the Sun/Oracle fiasco and forked to LibreOffice.  Now that OpenOffice is under Apache it is more of a relic and nostalgic than the future.

    Apart from the aforementioned rant.... what you are seeing in open-source software is typical of life cycles and human resources changes.

    Redhat forked, Mambo forked, as is OpenOffice.

    Sadly solidarity and cohesion of the free stuff is not the same as commercial stuff, where share-holders control the stakes.  However, in a quantum reality open-source evolution is entertaining.

    If I were to give some 'free' advice to the OpenOffice/LibreOffice camps:

    Now that you have established an evolved version of the OpenOffice code, all the developers need to come together to focus their energies on producing the best Open-source  Office application possible under LibreOffice protection…. (after all even the icons look better in LibreOffice)

    I know it is hard to leave something you have been entrenched in but LibreOffice offers a fresh brand change, legal protection from future take-over, and an exciting opportunity to create an integrated suite of office tools for the world.


    C'est la vie!


    PS.  Would be fantastic if a rich Sheik donated a few million to LibreOffice to develop the code to the next level.

    Steve Swettenham August 18, 2011 - 12:33pm

  • Thanks for the update. Guess we'll see if LibreOffice proves tobe as "future-proof" as OpenOffice once claimed to be.

    Mark A. McCutcheon August 18, 2011 - 1:04pm

  • Hi Mark,

    The legal framework for open-source applications is messy, leaving me wondering what is really "open".  If you have heard of 'green washing' then I submit to you 'open washing'.  Currently, according to sources on the net, the Apache Foundation open-source license is incompatible with The Document Foundation.  This only serves to weaken the overall credibility of the 'open-source' office as a corporate solution.

    Having IBM standing behind OpenOffice should make for interesting times, as their Thinkpads downgraded to Lenova.  Not to mention the Lotus Office Suite of the past (while having great potential, just didn't have the 'business quo').

    Given the history of Linux flavours - more specifically Open Office flavours - OpenOffice, LibreOffice, NeoOffice...etc., this again will weaken credibility of one ring to rule them all.... ahem... one Office application for all.

    C'est la vie!

    Some surfrefs:

    Steve Swettenham August 19, 2011 - 2:25pm

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