You know what? This article is dead-on, 100% right. Period.
Like it or not, M$ Word is the standard format for word processing. It is in use in 95% (or more) of all offices. Even RedHat admits to using it. Wordperect comes in a very distant second and StarOffice hardly registers at all. My industry, consulting engineering, is pretty much 100% MS Office plus AutoCAD on Windows. My recent Rant post about Word and Excel being required by a certain State Agency for electronic report submission is yet another example. Once upon a time, most scientific journals required article submission in LaTeX. Now they except Word. The word, it seems, is Word.
Now then, I will state, for the record, that I rather like M$ Excel. I use it all the time at work and find it to a top notch program and an indespisible tool for data processing and tabulation. I like Excel and consider it to be one of M$'s best products.
And this is the source of much agony on my part. On the one hand, I hate to admit that, yes, I need Word and Excel. That's really not even an option, that's just the way it is. If I try to promote or push alternatives, I am wasting my time, energy and breath. Better to just buckle down an learn how to use them as best as I can because, as much as I hate to admit it, Word and Excel are the standards now. As stated in the article, that is just way it is and no amount of bitching or whinning is going to change that. I can sign praises of LyX or XML or LaTeX all day, but in the end, 90% of what I write is in Word and the rest may as well be.
StarOffice (and now OpenOffice.org) gives us darn good compatibility. I have always had good luck with StarOffice 5.2 and, recently, with OpenOffice.org. My two gripes are the speed (both are s-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-w) and the fonts- God, the fonts in OpenOffice.org are butt-ugly. And, darn it all, there are times, more often than not, where I really consider going back to Windows 98SE and Office97, just so that I can use Word and Excel. And that is not a thought that I like.
What I think is that OpenOffice.org (and/or StarOffice) needs to do is to become really, really good, both in looks and performence. It needs to do the same things that M$ Office does that people actually use. It needs to flawlessly open and save files in M$ format. And then it needs to add some cool and useful stuff that makes it more desireable than M$ Office. It already has the better price. In short, it needs to first become as good as M$ Office, and then it needs to become better than M$ Office.
But, really, the majority of "desktops" out there are unlikely to change to Linux.