Some people get sniffy about OpenOffice.org, calling it mickey mouse in comparison to the “serious” and “grown-up” Microsoft Office. That may have been a vaguely plausible jibe for version 1, but I've found version 2 to be incredibly fast and powerful – it really does everything I need in an office suite, and it does it well. And yet OpenOffice.org rarely gets the respect it deserves.
Maybe that's going to change soon – at least on the continent:
If we look at OpenOffice.org, the three markets where the open source office suite is competing most successfully with Microsoft Office are probably Germany, France and Italy, followed by other European markets like Spain and the Netherlands. In Italy, where I have the updated numbers, we are hitting today - maybe while I’m writing this post - one million downloads since January 1st, 2008 (over 350.000 since the announcement of OOo 2.4 in late March). Although we don’t have Microsoft figures for Office 2007, we estimate a maximum of 1.8 million licenses sold in 2008.
I already know the reply: “You can’t compare licenses with downloads…”. Of course, gentlemen, but do you really think that one million downloads in slightly over one hundred days (at an average of over 9,200 downloads per day) still equals to a few thousands users? Do you really think that a small bunch of people, just the same small bunch of people, can get all these downloads? Come on, we’ve other stuff to do. Please, be realistic. We’re eating your pie, quickly. We’re hungry.
These are serious numbers, even if you need to reduce them by a factor to allow for overcounting. Alas, I fear that the numbers are not so good here in the UK, which for historical reasons has always been in thrall to Microsoft, in terms of operating systems, browser and, I suspect, office apps. Maybe we'll learn to be as wise as our continental cousins one day. Meanwhile, if you haven't already done so, do try OpenOffice.org 2.4 – you won't regret it.