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Guideline for New Linux Administrators: Part VII
The popularity between Linux and Windows
In a large corporate environment, you may have little choice--they locked themselves by cheerful productions of non-portable forms, templates, visual basic-driven web pages and other MS Office-bound "tools". Perhaps a more adequate name for propriatory software would be "lock-in software"?
In a smaller environment, you can use OpenOffice.org suit (OO) that runs on Linux, MS Windows, Mac, Solaris (and more), with full file-level compatibility. It can be downloaded and installed for free (no restrictions whatsoever) so nobody should really complain about the file format (some control freaks still will). Just to make sure, OpenOffice can import and export MS Word and Excel documents of reasonable complexity very well. The native file format in OpenOffice is fundamentally much better than Microsofts (plus it is non-propriatory). Feature-by-feature, OpenOffice can do almost anything MS Office can, plus some extras. Depending on whom you ask, the ease of use varies between "50% more difficult" to "20% easier" (measured on a sample of experienced MS Office users). Very complex documents are best transfered as *.pdf, and OO can make them on the fly.
Some one says "MS Windows popularity insures that it is here to stay". This is likely true. Nintendo is probably also "here to stay." However, I like computing; therefore, I choose a computer with a powerful operating system, not a lowest-common-denominator piece designed for "everybody."
Linux is quite positively here-to-stay because of its open-source nature (Linux cannot possibly be put out-of-business). It is a standard selected for countless projects that are not going to go away, and some of them are quite "mission-critical." Try the International Space Station, for which Linux is the operating system (http://www2.linuxjournal.com/lj-issues/issue59/3024.html).
Plus, never underestimate the strength of the Linux community. Linux is "here to stay" at least for the computer avant-garde. Many Linuxers do not even want Linux to become very popular because they fear it could "dumb down" the elite Linux platform.[thanks networkdictionary]