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Companies Using MS Word "Out of Habit," Says Forrester 367

Posted by timothy
from the mostly-mythical-training-costs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A Forrester Research report has found that companies use Microsoft Word for word processing out of habit rather than necessity and are beginning to consider other alternatives as the Web has changed the way people create and share documents. The report, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Microsoft Word Love Story," by analyst Sheri McLeish, suggests that businesses may still be using Word because it is familiar to users or because they have a legacy investment in the application, not because it is the best option." Microsoft surely knows that some other options are creeping slowly into the view of even the most Word-centric users, though. User I dream about smoking writes "Microsoft is testing new capabilities for Office Live Workspace, its online adjunct to Microsoft Office, that will make it a closer rival to online application suites such as Google Docs. Microsoft will start beta testing an updated version of Live Workspace later this year that allows users to create and edit new documents online."
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Companies Using MS Word "Out of Habit," Says Forrester

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  • Googles playbook (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:13AM (#26415723)
    Google took a page right out of Microsoft's playbook by buying a company who was already working on web based doc writers, effectively beating Microsoft to the game.

    Personally I wouldn't trust important documents to stay on the web server. What happens when google goes belly up and starts shutting down their web servers? The bigger a company gets, the bigger they fall.
    • by Architect_sasyr (938685) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:20AM (#26415791)
      On the other end of the spectrum, I don't trust other companies to protect my data. At least when data is stolen off servers I control I know who is to blame.
      • by somersault (912633) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:29AM (#26415875) Homepage Journal

        At least when data is stolen off servers I control I know who is to blame.

        Employees who leave their workstations unattended and unlocked, or are too lax with their passwords? I doubt the weak link is often the actual administrator in charge of virtual security..

        • by deemen (1316945) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:45AM (#26415991)

          I doubt the weak link is often the actual administrator in charge of virtual security..

          Surely not, but the fact that Google is now hosting business services [google.com], they are quickly becoming the information sink of the universe. They have a history of easily folding to law enforcement, which makes me uneasy about hosting corporate stuff online. I just don't like all the big brother business, and while I use GMail for personal stuff, I wouldn't start trusting Google with sensitive documents, memos etc.

          Web based tools have another huge problem. You're at Google's mercy for upgrades, feature changes etc. Does anyone remember the crap they started with the iGoogle sidebar [informationweek.com]? That sort of stuff quickly discourages corporate clients.

          • Re:Googles playbook (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:52AM (#26416055)
            Have to agree! It surprises me given that Google do (or did) sell application servers for search, they didn't do the same with their Apps suite; I'm sure loads of corporates would be happy to purchase their own box with support.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by bberens (965711)
              I'm quite certain if someone big enough (like a GE) requested such a thing that Google would provide it. Until then, it's a great and probably welcome cost saver for mom-and-pops.
          • Re:Googles playbook (Score:5, Informative)

            by Shamenaught (1341295) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:09AM (#26416229)
            Can I just add a [citation needed] to that "history of easily folding to law enforcement" statement? Last time I checked, they fought harder than Yahoo or Microsoft when they were subpoenaed for search data [nytimes.com].
            • by deemen (1316945) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:01AM (#26416887)

              Good link. I think it just proves that you can't trust the competitors to defend your personal information either.

              In the end, no one will defend your important documents more than you will, and that's why I doubt Google Docs will ever gain much market share in the enterprise sector until the day they allow it to be hosted on the intranet (like they do for their corporate search service).

              For small businesses it might be an interesting solution though. I think most people don't know much about security in general (not just computers), so hosting things on a Google server might be better than on your spyware ridden home office computer.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by umghhh (965931)

            It is correct that you should be wary about placing all documents on-line on machines that you do not control and that may lie in jurisdiction other than the one under which your company operates.
            Few other worries would be - availability of service and capability - especially the capability of service is something which makes users that want a bit more complicated documents go elsewhere. This said I can imagine a lot of companies and private people using the service either because they do not know better or

          • Re:Googles playbook (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Kamokazi (1080091) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:33AM (#26417373)

            You pretty much summed it up for me too. Aside from security risks, Google has complete control and if something gets changed there isn't much you can do about it. There's also the issue of downtime. After one of the first big RIM/BlackBerry outages, we switched to WinMo devices that connect directly into our Exchange server. Our uptime was better than RIM's last year...kind of pathetic, really. I don't want to put our word processor in the same situation.

            Going into the other point of this article, there is another big (maybe the biggest) reason people stick with Word...it's part of the Office *SUITE*. While Word is pretty easily replaced with OO.o Writer, Calc and Impress are not Excel and Powerpoint...they are shy just a few too many features. And if you have Exchange, Outlook is pretty much mandatory. It's cheaper to buy the Office suite than it is to buy Excel, Powerpoint, and Outlook separately. So you may as well use Word, since you will have it anyway.

            • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @02:57PM (#26420793) Journal

              While what you say is true, what I have been hearing from my SOHO and SMB customers is that they are sticking to older versions, even going so far as to go out and buy more copies of Office 2K3 off the net rather than switch. Why? Because of the damned ribbon! If MSFT wanted to make such a radical change then there should have been the option of going back to the "old style" if the user so chose. Not doing so was a BIG mistake IMHO.

              I have customers that have been using MS Office since the days of Office 97, some even earlier. They are so familiar with that interface they can "pop" the icon for what they want without ever even looking up. For users that have that kind of memorization(which I am finding out from OS repair is a LOT of users) switching around the locations of buttons is like a giant STOP sign. I watched it myself with little Velma at the insurance company I do repair and upgrade work for.

              Little Velma could be talking at you and "pop" the icons for the features she needed without even looking up. She could crank out business letters and Excel sheets for customers like nobodies business. When I went there to add a printer to their network the owner was fuming how they had been "picked" as part of the pilot program for Office 2K7(they were formally on Office 2K3) and boy was she pissed. She said "You know how fast Velma and Lisa are. Go out there and look!" and sure enough, she was right. Little Velma would type for a little bit and then stop and stare at the screen, trying to figure out which button she wanted. Then when she couldn't find it she would have to call up the help and scroll through that for awhile. Pretty much threw the brakes on her productivity.

              So if you want to know what is hurting MSFT, it isn't the competition, it is MSFT. IMHO they have lost their way and are floundering from one idea to the next trying to sustain the '90s growth they enjoyed which frankly ain't never coming back. They went from a company that made boring but usable business software and OSes to this giant multimedia mess that just screams "We can be as hip as Apple and as cool as Google! Yes we can! Quit laughing at me!" which is why my customers are hanging onto XP and Office 2K3 like a starving man hanging onto the last box of Fig Newtons. They need to fire Ballmer, bring back Allchin(and Darth Gates if they have to) and go back to making boring but familiar backwards compatible business OSes. Because mark my words. If they stay on the road that they have been following with Vista and 2K7, and remove the quicklaunch and taskbar for some Apple Dock ripoff, then Win7 will go down just as hard as Vista. Because if you are going to have to learn a new interface and buy all new gear, why not just go ahead and switch to Apple, which lasts longer, or Linux which has many distros with the XP interface?

          • Re:Googles playbook (Score:5, Informative)

            by QuantumRiff (120817) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:53AM (#26417719)

            They have a history of easily folding to law enforcement, which makes me uneasy about hosting corporate stuff online.

            Actually, I remember google being the ONLY web search company that stood up to the DOJ when they wanted all search data from a random sampling of users. The DOJ was arguing the constitutionality of some "think of the children" legislation about blocking on the internet...

      • by yttrstein (891553)
        Yes, how very elite of you. In my experience, the vast majority of people who roll the way you do have no idea what the hell they're doing, but they appear to in public forums.

        Which is really whats important.

        Me, I keep my data safe in such a way that it doesn't matter whether it's in some insecure "cloud", or on a truecrypted thumb drive.

        The stuff that needs it that is. The other thing I've noticed about your ilk is that almost without exception, you don't have the sort of data in which no one would have
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      While the Google Docs suite is pretty limited, I managed to stay on it and a few other odd web services exclusively for thirty days without many problems. It just takes some (pretty serious) change in your work-flow. There are also some real advantages over local work. The OS is Dead [blogspot.com].

      • by TheKidWho (705796)
        The day google docs supports data acquisition hardware is the day I'll give it a though.

        Besides, creating graphs on google docs is rather annoying. Also I don't happen to be on a networked connection 24/7, what do I do when I need to work on my documents and the internet is down or not available?
        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by TheKidWho (705796)
          When I said "though", I ment "thought"
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Trashman (3003)

          Google Docs supports an offline mode. You will likely need to install the Gears plugin for your browser to enable this.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:43AM (#26417551)

        It just takes some (pretty serious) change in your work-flow.

        Ding ding!

        It required you, someone who we can safely assume is fairly techie (or you wouldn't be posting to /.) to make some serious changes in your work-flow.

        Multiply those changes by everyone in the organisation and throw in re-building existing business process which expect Word documents and you now know how come it takes something pretty huge to make an organisation radically change the day to day operations of their business.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ice Tiger (10883)

        I just read your blog on your experiment and one of the most striking things I noticed about online vs local install was the incredible pace of innovation. The feeling I got was that whilst living online is probably just about doable now, in a year or two local installs might seem quaint.

        When online application release cycles are measured in days vs years for typical Microsoft applications then the sense of being left behind could become a factor moving away from desktop apps.

    • Server issues (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Saint Fnordius (456567) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:44AM (#26415979) Homepage Journal

      On the whole subject of collaborative document editing, I think this is the real kicker. Many companies block Google's tools since that would mean storing company info outside of the company. Add to this the "beta" caveat that Google carries, and Google no longer considers itself liable if competitors get access to the info. After all, they did tell you it was buggy and all...

      Are we really moving back to a server/terminal mentality? More importantly, is it a good thing that we are adding traffic to do tasks that were done with local media? I think corporations like the idea of collaborative editing, but they would prefer it of everything stayed behind their firewalls and on their own server's drives.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Daengbo (523424)

        I'm really pretty tired of the "Beta" card sysadmins keep pulling out WRT Google. I demand a link that proves that the corporate version (i.e. the paid-for version) of Google Docs is a beta. I have looked. I haven't found it. You apparently know something that I don't. Pony up the proof.

        • Well, I'm not a sysadmin meself, just a lowly webmonkey. So relax. I'm just quoting what the IT types say to me whenever I inquire about it.

          Besides, I personally prefer Pages for formatted texts, and TextWrangler for editing raw texts. I'd rather keep the copies of my data on physical media, so I can access it without net access, personally.

      • Putting a "beta" label on a product doesn't, by itself, relieve you of legal liability. That language goes in the terms of use that no one ever reads. In the end, your liability is whatever the courts say it is when you are sued.

    • Re:Googles playbook (Score:4, Informative)

      by DSmith1974 (987812) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:01AM (#26416151)

      Personally I wouldn't trust important documents to stay on the web server. What happens when google goes belly up and starts shutting down their web servers?

      You are aware that all Google Docs can be backed up locally with Google Gears and also converted into a number of popular formats?

      • by TheKidWho (705796)
        Can I also work on the files locally when not networked to the internet?
        • Re:Googles playbook (Score:4, Informative)

          by DSmith1974 (987812) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:28AM (#26416431)
          Yes you can, Gears will sync the two whenever the link becomes available again - meaning you can edit your docs on the plane, bus, with or without connectivity, etc.
    • Personally I wouldn't trust important documents to stay on the web server. What happens when google goes belly up and starts shutting down their web servers? The bigger a company gets, the bigger they fall.

      You download a copy, and keep it stored on your own system. A competitor will normally gladly import the data from your old service to theirs. If it is a paid service make sure your contract has a data export clause/feature.

      Predicting problems in the future doesn't make you smart. Being able to solve thos

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:17AM (#26415759)

    I am against huge monopolies controlling everything we do on our computers with their close sourced spy crapware. Down with the G$$G-borg! Fight for Microsoft! Up with freedom!

    Microsoft Word is an amazingly innovative and capable program. It does everything I need with an intuitive interface that even your grandmother could use, but is l33t enough for the geekiest power user. Plus, it's free! All power to Microsoft, fight the evil corporate empires!!!!

  • MS has had online capability for years now where multiple people can open and edit documents at the same time. It was just over the corporate network.

  • The way I write (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Threni (635302)

    I'd like to confirm that the internet has not changed the way I write word documents. It's still a mouse and keyboard for me. I don't tend to share documents that much - I email them and that's that. I'd imagine this is true of most Word users, or at least, most Word documents.

  • Wow (Score:5, Funny)

    by somersault (912633) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:23AM (#26415817) Homepage Journal

    analyst Sheri McLeish, suggests that businesses may still be using [insert-any-application-here] because it is familiar to users or because they have a legacy investment in the application, not because it is the best option

    What an amazing insight! Who would have suspected such a thing?

    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

      by Samschnooks (1415697) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:30AM (#26416461)
      Shhhhhh!

      I work for a large international IT research firm and I just comb Slashdot, filtering for only +5 comments, and then plagiarize what I see and put it in my report.

      The sucky part is, when I first started, I forgot to filter out the "+5 Funny" comments. So, in my reports, you'd see "In Soviet Russia, Ms Word You!" and "Imagine a Beowulf cluster of MS Word" and so on. I got fired from my first job. But I got it down now.

  • by mbone (558574) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:24AM (#26415821)

    I always feel I am fighting it to get it to do what I want. If I wanted to fight computers, I would buy computer games.

    • by nschubach (922175) on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:25AM (#26417251) Journal

      Apparently it's not just Word. I've been having that experience with Windows 7 since the beta was released. I installed it in VirtualBox and have spent the last two days trying to find a way to:

      • Remove the "Organize" bar
      • Remove the back/forward/location/search bar that's attached to all windows (I think this was in Vista as well, but I skipped Vista)
      • Show services in the list of executables running so I can see at a glance how much CPU/Memory they are using
      • Add lines back to the tree view
      • Keep the plus/minus icons from disappearing in the tree view
      • Remove the "All Programs" and subsequent "search" list in the Start Menu
      • Avoid Library foldering methods
      • Essentially make it like Windows 2000 used to be. Easy, simple, minimal, and out of your way.

      I also despise the Ribbon the more I work with it. Luckily my work hasn't upgraded to the latest Office yet and are still using Office 2003.

  • Any company has a large number of existing documents. To switch to a different file-incompatible program would be silly; the cost of converting would far exceed any possible savings, not to mention the IT cost of changing every user simultaneously.

    If OpenOffice/etc. are guaranteed 100% compatible with Word documents, they aren't promoting that fact very well. If they aren't compatible, they're not serious competition.
    • by OneSmartFellow (716217) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:37AM (#26415933)
      ... 100% compatible ...

      Shee-yit, Word isn't 100% compatbile with Word documents ! I frequently need to 'repair' Word 2007 documents before I can re-open them. This of course begs the question, if Word can repair it, why doesn't it just open it ? This question is left as an exercise for the reader.
    • by Mojo66 (1131579) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:39AM (#26415953)
      Not only compatibility to own existing documents, but also when exchanging documents with other businesses, especially documents that need to be edited. From my experience in a scientific environment, those who don't use Latex use Word, primarily because they are lazy, but often also because out of necessity when multiple authors are writing up a paper for example. The quintessence is, neither Windows nor Word is Microsoft's cash cow, but the .doc format.
    • Any company has a large number of existing documents. To switch to a different file-incompatible program would be silly; the cost of converting would far exceed any possible savings, not to mention the IT cost of changing every user simultaneously.

      Your existing office suite isn't going to magically stop working.

      And the IT cost of changing every user simultaneously is one you pay every few years with Office *anyway*.

      • Your existing office suite isn't going to magically stop working.

        It will once the activation server goes down. See all the problems with broken "purchased" tracks from DRM music stores. It also will once new copies of the non-free operating system for which the existing office suite was designed are no longer available, or when newly purchased hardware no longer comes with drivers for the operating system for which the existing office suite was designed.

        And the IT cost of changing every user simultaneously is one you pay every few years with Office *anyway*.

        But at least Access 2007 can run Access+VBA applications designed for previous versions of Access. OpenOffice.org Base

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dougisfunny (1200171)

      If they aren't compatible, they're not serious competition.

      If they aren't compatible? Do you mean "if OOo is 0% compatible" or "if OOo is not 100% compatible" as there is a rather large difference between the two. Saying that you must be either 100% compatible or 0% seems like a false dichotomy.

      It seems to me if it were an acceptable level of compatible (say 99/100 documents) that might be serious competition depending on the company.

    • by Talar (1245824) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:57AM (#26416105)
      And this is of course why you should avoid getting locked in with a proprietary file format in the first place.
  • by Zerth (26112) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:34AM (#26415913)

    The first time the file serving cloud takes a nosedive, everyone will scream and run away.

    Sure, Microsoft already eats files on a regular basis, but not in a coordinated mini-apocalypse.
    And yes, Google Docs could do(has done) that too, but people aren't yet using it on the same scale. (Plus it is in beta, ha-ha, not their fault)

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Daengbo (523424)

      Strangely, my paid-for Google Docs account doesn't say "Beta" anywhere. I guess it must be only the free version that's beta. Shock! No other company does that. ::rollseyes::

    • by yttrstein (891553)
      No one ran away when Gmail was losing thousands of users at a time, irrecoverably. No one ran away when .mac (now .me) blew up for almost four months. And no one ran away when Microsoft started sucking (round about 1983).

      No one will run away. Not even people who say people will run away, will run away.
  • Same thing in education too. I tried SO hard to move people from Microsoft Office to Open Office, but even though it worked fine with office docs, in the end people felt comfortable with MS Office. The only way that would change is through a policy change and when your administration doesnt care about what they spend money on and whats better, why the hell would they sign off on such a change.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually, Microsoft Office (especially Powerpoint, but also Excel and Word) are "better" than Open Office. There are readily available training materials. In fact, if you've got certain classes of Microsoft licensing, you can get the on-demand online training for your entire organization for next to nothing. And the integrations with 3rd party applications are a key feature. It doesn't matter if Open Office does 95% of what Microsoft Office does, if those key connectors that important departments or divisio

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hitmark (640295)

      its faster to teach someone to use a specific program then to teach someone a generic way of thinking that can be applied again and again...

      think of the modern education system as programming biological robots and one get a nice mental image of what both government and big biz wants us to be...

      • by Vellmont (569020)


        its faster to teach someone to use a specific program then to teach someone a generic way of thinking that can be applied again and again...

        This is true, but software is different from other areas in that the method of doing something is constantly in flux. There's also an enormous amount of software that anyone will encounter over their lifetime. So much that you can't possibly teach each program individually. People wind up learning the conventions used through osmosis anyway.

        It may be easier to teach

    • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:02AM (#26416163) Homepage

      I found that recompiling OO.o (it's a major BITCH! to do BTW)

      and changing things to say "word" and "excel" and the icons... in other words faking it to be the office suite was enough to fool a large swath of the office to believe they were using microsoft word and excel. just a different "version". we called it a service pack upgrade and swallowed it whole.

      It's mostly physiological with users. The same thing happens when you IE skin Firefox.

  • "The report, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Microsoft Word Love Story," by analyst Sheri McLeish, suggests that businesses may still be using Word because it is familiar to users or because they have a legacy investment in the application, not because it is the best option.""

    There's two other things as well. How well MS products integrate with each other and all the third-party software written for MS software.

  • Sheri McLeish, suggests that businesses may still be using Word because it is familiar to users or because they have a legacy investment in the application, not because it is the best option."

    Well yeah...

    How much do these people charge to provide such pearls of wisdom? And who'se paying?

    Pete Boyd

  • My company (large IT firm) blocks the use of google docs from anywhere within the corporate network. Just attempting to navigate to google docs generates a warning page about accessing a site that contravenes corporate policy, and that repeated "violations" will be logged and reported to management. Many's the time it would have been much more convenient to perform some collaborative task in google docs rather than routing a DOC all over the goddamned place via email attachment ... but it is not to be.
  • Should have been:

    "From the no shit! dept."

    --from the Grow A Pair dept.
  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday January 12, 2009 @09:56AM (#26416095) Journal

    How hard can it be to switch? This post will neither debate the advantages or disadvantages of word or wordprocessors. Just the latter... of users.

    Having recently had to interact with the "real world" and wordprocessor documents, I must say that I was astounded at the quality of output of wordprocessors. The main problem is that even technically capable people seem to refuse outright to make any effort to actually learn how to use a tool that they spend hours per day sitting in front of. They treat a wordprocessor as a typewriter with font effects and images.

    People still can't embed images properly. Either they're linked to some program which noone else has or a bitmap of a vector drawing so noone else can edit them. People still refuse to make even the most basic use of styles or cross referencing. It is absolutely astounding.

    People will happily put in HOURS per document on a daily basis, fiddlind around with font dialogs, instead of spending 1 our learning how to use styles, for instance.

    How hard can it be to switch? Users would go from not knowing how to use word to not knowing how to use openoffice.

    But it really does amaze me how people can use the same tool all day, every day for weeks at a time, or even more and still not know many of the most basic features. Sure people want to "get work done", but that is best achieved by becoming an expert in the tools of the trade. When was the last time you heard a carpenter refusing to learn how to use a power saw because he "needed to get work done"?

    • I think the answer to your last question is that Word is *not* perceived as a tool of the trade-- people need to communicate, not necessarily write long documents, and that's it. I know plenty of people who refuse to switch to office 2003 because the interface is so different that they don't want to spend the time to learn it, and to some extent, I get their point. They are just trying to communicate, and Word in their case is just a replacement for pen & paper, so why should they spend time learning an

    • by Detritus (11846)
      Part of it is that the documentation sucks, or doesn't even exist. The last time I bought a copy of Office, I received a box containing a CD and a license code. When did it become acceptable to deliver software with no documentation?
  • BS (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gx5000 (863863) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:01AM (#26416143)
    We will not be going on net for document creation... Get your heads out of the clouds and back to ground. The mere thought of being reliant on resources out of our control is insanity. The Bandwidth issue not withstanding, security and infrastructure concerns aside, this is folly and is meant to drive another INTERNET bubble of fools looking for the next big tech movement. Let's start talking about how better to organize what we have instead of watching repeats of William Shatner's Techwar ok ? Cripes.
  • Sore spot with me. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rindeee (530084) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:07AM (#26416207)

    This is timely in that I just had a 'run-in' of sorts regarding MS Word usage and its consideration as a standard. My son is in sixth grade and, of course, has to write about 2 papers a month in his English class. He had his first official type-written paper this past couple of weeks and since we have no Windows computers and no MS Office/Word at home (all Linux, Solaris and Mac OS), we could not comply with the teacher's requirement for using MS Word with a Times New Roman font. Instead I had my son use Google Documents (which is what he's used since he started typing papers of any sort) with a Verdana font. He ended up receiving a D on the paper for not following instructions. The school has a computer lab, with Windows and MS Office, but that lab is only available to him during his assigned lab hours or after school. If he wants to use it after school, I have to pay for "After School Care" program. This kind of nonsense infuriates me. It's as if he can only write a reasonable paper if done so using MS products. Anyway, I just wrote the teacher last evening regarding coming to an agreement on things so that he doesn't suffer due to the school's devotion to MS products (a recent change as the entire school used to be Linux/OOo/etc.).

    • by HikingStick (878216) <z01riemer@hotmail . c om> on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:30AM (#26416465)
      If you don't get anywhere with the teacher, you should definately ask the school board to put the topic on your agenda. Formatting instructions should only go so far as to specify point size and font type (i.e., serif, sans-serif). If truly concerned about variances in font size or style, the teacher should distribute an example paragraph that shows the basic font style, line spacing, etc. Minor variances should only bother power-hungry, small-minded individuals who are concerned more about form than they are about substance.

      Now, if the students were submitting something for publication (some in-school publication that would not require electronic submission), I can see violating exact formatting specifications being a disqualifier, but that should be handled seperately than any grading that should be examining the student's writing, logic, grammar, and syntax, with only a fraction of points hinging on format.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jc42 (318812)

        If you don't get anywhere with the teacher, you should definately ask the school board to put the topic on your agenda.

        Or maybe you should point out that the teacher has required a name-brand file format and font that are proprietary, and you don't have a license for them. Suggest that if these are required, then the school should pay for your child's computer with license to use such proprietary products. Mention that if they refuse to pay for your child's computer, you know some lawyers that will help y

    • by reallocate (142797) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:32AM (#26416491)

      Mandating use of Word or any other commercial product for homework seems to me a form of economic discrimination. Lots of families still can't afford a PC, much less Office.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:36AM (#26416529)

      Doesn't Open Office support .doc files and Times New Roman font?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nine-times (778537)

      I understand your frustration, and if it were me, I would probably have called the teacher (calmly) to explain that we simply don't have MS Office, and ask her not to punish my child for that reason. If she wasn't responsive, I would take it up with the principle.

      On the other hand, it seems like things probably could have been handled better on your end. Did you know about this requirement ahead of time? You could have tried to contact the teacher at the time, or else sent your son in with a note explai

  • Excel (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dollargonzo (519030) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:07AM (#26416215) Homepage

    Although this might seem an unfair blow, trying to replace Word is probably considerably less important than trying to replace Excel. In finance, for example, everyone uses Excel out of habit (and due to a lack of a good replacement, too), but in many cases because replacements do not support the add-ons they are used to (e.g. Bloomberg add-ons), without which many would be useless.

    This is the exact same type of hurdle that Linux faces with support for hardware. Companies don't want to support it, and it's taken a really long time to write drivers. If Excel is replaced with a good alternative, I think Word would easily follow, even if the interface were radically different.

    Just a thought

  • by NeilTheStupidHead (963719) on Monday January 12, 2009 @10:57AM (#26416825) Journal
    I think that if anything will break users from their MS Office habits, the ribbon UI will. I found it very non-intuitive for a long time (10+ years) Office user. Frustrated with trying to get a hnadle on the UI, I finally switched over to OpenOffice and while it's *not quite* as feature rich as my old pre-ribbon MS Office, it's got a sufficiently similar UI that adapting took virtually no time at all.
  • by Bromskloss (750445) <auxiliary.addres ... NosPAm.gmail.com> on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:41AM (#26417513)
    That's a much better habit.
  • by samael (12612) * <Andrew@Ducker.org.uk> on Monday January 12, 2009 @11:44AM (#26417575) Homepage

    Word is mostly used for churning out throwaway documents. Excel is used for long term storage of data - and there's a _lot_ of VBA code out there pulling data out of ancient spreadsheets.

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