Why Is Microsoft So Scared of OpenOffice?

Microsoft and its supporters have a long history of applying all kinds of FUD to any discussion of free and open source software. Whether it's Linux or other free alternatives to Microsoft's high-priced products, it seems no conversation can take place without the inevitable insinuations about higher total cost of ownership, lack of support, and other baseless fearmongering.

Such claims are, of course, nothing more than deliberately perpetuated myths designed to scare customers into Redmond's malware-infested arms, as I recently pointed out.

This week, however, we have a shining new example: A video on YouTube designed specifically to attack OpenOffice.org.

Could the sweat on Steve Ballmer's brow be any more evident?

Running Scared

It has been clear for some time now that free and open source software has Microsoft running scared. Last year, for instance, the company made plain the fact that it was worried about Linux's growing popularity and the detrimental effect that might have on the Windows empire.

And no wonder: Given the high prices, malware risks, and vendor lock-in associated with Microsoft's products, it has plenty to fear. Linux blows Windows away on both the desktop and the server--let's not even mention Microsoft's mobile track record--and open source productivity applications are apparently putting a serious dent in Microsoft's bottom line too.

Why else would the company bother to create this FUD-filled video? Titled "A Few Perspectives on OpenOffice.org," it features a series of "horror stories" from customers who tried the open productivity suite and purportedly suffered as a result.

‘Exorbitant Cost, Limited Support'

"We originally installed Linux-based PCs running OpenOffice to save money in the short term," an unseen voice begins. "But we quickly found that the exorbitant cost and limited availability of support left us worse off."

Such concerns, of course, play upon the fourth and eighth myths described in my recent post on the topic, and are straight out of Microsoft's standard playbook. They also fly in the face of the fact that OpenOffice.org has set download records on new releases, and likely accounts for about 10 percent of the overall office suite market today. I guess all those millions of users are just suffering in silence!

A Better Alternative

Today, of course, there's not just OpenOffice.org--which Oracle recently pledged to continue supporting--but also LibreOffice, as well as a number of other business productivity alternatives. Amid all the increasing competition, one glaring question emerges: If Microsoft Office is so superior, better-supported and cheaper, then why the desperate attack video?

The answer is simple: Microsoft's products aren't superior, better-supported or cheaper. They're flaw-ridden, vulnerable and expensive, and they lock your company into a future of more of the same. Isn't it time you tried something better?

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

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