The church administrator’s job is a hard, and often thankless one. Often the task is assigned to someone who’s already working in a full-time function at the church, such as the youth pastor. Worse, yet, they have the unenviable task of being having to provide caviar service on a beans-n-franks budget. So the last thing they want to hear is that Microsoft Corp. is doing all sorts of fun things with their pricing and licensing structure for their Office product. Stuff that makes your already tight budget go OUCH!
Well help may be on the way in a product known as the OpenOffice.org
suite of software. Both an Open Sores product and a project, OpenOffice.org
runs on multiple platforms. It includes the essential desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, and drawing program (hmmm … no email or calendar program?). It also sports an interface that should be familiar to “similar” office suites. Of course, the real acid test is their claims of transparently working with with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office. They say the magic number is 90% … I for one hope so!
Now mind you, I’m not some anti-Microsoft hating zealot like those found over at /. In fact, I’ve got some very nice things to say about .NET in the near future. However, the $400+ price tag and anti-piracy measures associated MS Office, along with the expense of an operating system and hardware to support it, makes the MS approach an exorbitantly expensive solution for a church needing to support 2 or 4 workstations. It may even make dealing with any OpenOffice.org incombatibilities or anomolies worthwhle. If not for a church, at least for the seminary student or missionary.
So I’ve got this old Pentium II/266mmx. I’m about to make it my Linux development machine. I think though on one partition I’m going to install Lycoris and OpenOffice.org and see if I can’t make my church administrator’s day by walking into their office and suggestiong a solution that may save them as much as 1000 bucks per PC. And if not that, I’ve always had this dream of a study center for the teens – this indeed would be a way around Microsoft’s spin regarding the use of donated machines (e.g. naked PCs). We’ll see …
In the meantime, here’s a bit more press on the topic, ironically via MSNBC.