Now that I am in college, I get to see first-hand what other students my age are using to get their work done. After just spending a few days here, I am already surprised by what I have seen. The first thing that surprised me is the fact that the Mac and PC mix is rather diverse. I expected the majority of students to be using Macs, but to my surprise, I found that many people bought the same laptop I did, a HP Pavilion notebook. Looks like the recession might have handed Microsoft a good deal. I also saw fewer netbooks than I expected, with only a few students in the larger classes using them. I probably write more on this in the future.
This month, the OpenOffice.org project under the leadership of Sun Microsystems (now part of Oracle) has entered the next stage of its user interface development for the purpose of updating the look of OpenOffice.org.
After looking at the prototype, a couple of things were rather clear to me. One, OpenOffice is again copying the Microsoft Office suite by using a ribbon-like interface. It is inverted when compared to Microsoft Office, and the Office “button” at the top of most Office 2007 programs is not there – yet I am sure.
More importantly, this shows that there is a rather large lack of creativity over at Sun. Why imitate when something better could be made? FLOSS advocates always talk about creating better, more intuitive software. This design only aids free software’s advocates who say open source software rips off other companies’ designs. Personally I am disappointed, although not surprised. The OpenOffice project has never been known for its great expanse of creativity.
I hope they can do better in future releases of the prototype. They desperately need to step away from the Microsoft Office design. Given, it gives them protection. Instead of having to forge their own path and create features compelling enough to compete with Microsoft Office, they just create something so similar people can say “It’s like MS Office, but it’s free.”