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What's Holding OpenOffice Back?

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Why doesn't free trump expensive?

Every Microsoft product has a free, open source counterpart created by dedicated HostMySite.com: Managed Dedicated Linux Hosting + 24x7 Service & Support programmers who loathe everything the company stands for. The free stuff is darn good. Yet companies and individuals continue to buy billions of dollars worth of Microsoft products.

To be fair, Microsoft software is sometimes better than the competition's. But quality isn't the only factor: The company has spent years digging moats around its castle, building digital walls to keep other vendors out and users in. One of the biggest factors is its control over proprietary data formats.

Most folks see data formats as an inside-baseball issue, because they work in all-Microsoft organizations where incompatibilities are rare. The only hangup, in that case, comes when Microsoft releases new software (Office 2007 being the latest example). Invariably, the data format's been upgraded as well.

Compatibility Issues

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