Friday, November 09, 2007

Open software, the software of the future

There couldn't have been a less appropriate time for me to reformat my computer than last week, yet I had to do it. All because of a virus that altered certain keys of my computer's registry. The result was not very pleasant: I lost tons of information (my bad, of course, I should have made backups long time ago) and I had to spend several hours reinstalling all the programs that were erased in the reformatting process, or at least those that I considered crucial to have installed immediately.

Microsoft Office was one of those crucial programs to install, because I was still working in a project that I had to deliver in the next couple of days. When I realized that, I looked for the installation CD right away. Where on Earth did I put it...?

Well, I had a hard time trying to remember where my Office installation CD was, but given the urgency that I had to have a word processor ready to go, I gave up searching for the CD and decided to act more creatively. Magically, while I was working on other installations in my computer, a balloon appeared in my screen. It invited me to download Office for free. Exactly the kind of solution I wished I had in that very instant!

The "free Office" happened to be a series of programs developed by Sun Microsystems, collectively named As soon as I started using its word processor, called Writer, I realized that the interface was very friendly and similar to the original Microsoft Word (excepting the 2007 version) and that the program was able to create very nice documents in an easy way as well. It was, in fact, pretty much like using the normal Word. The other two major programs included in the bundle (spreadsheet and presentation programs, named Math and Impress, respectively) seemed to be quite user friendly as well.

I normally don't trust this type of software, but after experiencing it myself I realized that open programs like that are not a bad idea. In fact, it is much more convenient to have open programs to install, than having to buy a CD and doing the traditional installation processes. I think that, even if open software was charged, it would still be more convenient (and less expensive) than having to buy installation CDs and store them in a shelf forever. Would you imagine how nice would it be to download Microsoft Excel directly to your computer by after paying a fee, without the need of buying the CD and installing other programs that you will never use (such as Microsoft Binder)? That's just beautiful. I am convinced that this approach will be the future of software... until better ideas come to the software creators' minds.


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