IBM will soon start contributing code to Open Office software, which is good news for those of us looking for decent word processing software not produced by Microsoft. Word processing software is a brutal market to break into. Microsoft makes a substantial portion of its profits off its office Suite, and it will defend it unto death. Some analysts argue the whole point of preserving the Windows monopoly is to ensure the Office monopoly. Consider, even as MacOS X is loosenign the operating system stranglehold, most Mac users still run Word.
When I purchased my new Mac a few months ago, I tried to go Microsoft free for a while. I used Thunderbird, Firefox, and Google Calendar. But for word processing I was stuck. Google Docs is nice, but you have to be on-line to use it, and it’s kind of slow. Most of the really slender text editors I found lack key features, like basic formatting or real-time word count. I downloaded Open Office, but found it slow to load, hard to use, and still lacking crucial features.
Now enter IBM. Perhaps the contributions of professional programmers to streamline the volunteer work done by the Open Office community can create a real choice in the word processing world.