Making the transition from MSOffice to Star Office: A month long experiment

Now that I am working independently, I no longer have access to software through UC Berkeley. This has interesting repurcussions for one’s work life: I bounght my own laptop, an IBM T30 which I already love. Alas, it did not come bundled with any software. After a few hours spent searching online vendors for MS Office at a reasonable price, I decided to take the plunge and try to wean myself off Microsoft. It helped that I have been earlier involved in a usability study where we compared MS Office and Star Office, and found them to be pretty similar in terms of the user experience. For shelving out $75.95, you get the complete Star Office (Word Processor, Spreadsheet, Presentation Software etc.).

For the next month, I am going to track my transition to StarOffice. At the end of the month, I will wither decide that I can put up with StarOffice or I will admit to being trapped within the Microsoft world. (Note, I do use other MS products, e.g., Win2k Pro and quite like it). An Office Suite is important enough to me that ultimately I am not willing to loose productivity, even if it means paying the exorbitant fees charged by Microsoft. The specific issues that concenr me are: Will I be able to collaborate with colleagues who use Microsoft Office? Will I be able to use the StarCalc to do some basic statistics? I have been a power user for many office applications for many years. Can I make this transition and not loose productivity significantly?

Or will I at the end of the month be yearning for the familiarity of Microsoft and be willing to put the dollars down to remain an MS Office user?

We will know on 10/19/02.

DAY ONE: Installation and getting it to work:

9/19/02 1.00 p.m. Downloaded and installed StarOffice. Installation was a breeze. The total folder is about 180 MB’s. I believe that’s a lot smaller than the MS Office folder I had on my previous machine. It did give me one error. Claimed it was not able to install the Adabas D database engine. Did not give me the reason why. Suggested I try again. A visit to the StarOffice website did not give me any clues how to rectify this situation. Maybe I will need to install the application again if I actually need this Adabas.

2.00 p.m. The first thing I noticed was that StarOffice is more integrated than MS Office. When you create a document in StarOffice, then you have the choice of a text file/ spreadsheet/ html document etc. Also seems like StarOffice provides telnet and ftp functionality. Will try to use this next time I need it. Another observation about StarOffice is that does not seem as bloated an application as MS Office. Does not take five seconds to open a word file that it. (I should mention that my new computer has a faster chip and more ram than the old one, so this observation might be biased.

2 thoughts on “Making the transition from MSOffice to Star Office: A month long experiment

  1. I am looking at using Star Office 6.0 as an alternative to MS Office.

    We run our accounting system on MS Access and use word to type faxes and exel to do basic spreadsheets.

    How did your experiment turn out & do you think that for some of our non-power users could they use Star Office instead of MS office.

    I would of course set up their machines and help them with the transition.

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Blair Milliken

    Englewood, Fl

  2. Brian,
    I just posted an update on the STarOffice experiment on the weblog. (look for the most recent entry).

    My general take is that for light weight usage, there is really no reason to spend the extra for MS office. So if you are using Word for just typing faxes etc., then you should be able to shift to StarOffice without problems.

    Let me know if you have any specific questions.

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