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Inter@ctive Week: The Microsoft-Free Office

May 29, 2000, 13:57 (9 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Randy Barrett, Connie Guglielmo, Charles Babcock)

"Throughout its decade-long antitrust skirmish with the U.S. government, Microsoft has fervently maintained it is not a monopoly - that there are numerous alternatives to its market-dominating Windows operating system, its Office suite of business applications, and its browser, e-mail and back-office technologies. But can you really run a business in today's high-tech, wired world without relying in some way on Microsoft technology? The answer, according to systems integrators, computer consultants and even Microsoft rivals, is a resounding yes - and no. Why the hedge? Because, they say, business realities are defined by the line between what's possible and what's practical."

"Though the company is correct in asserting that the software industry continues to crank out alternatives to Microsoft products, including its industry-dominating Windows operating system (OS) and Office suite of business applications, the "Microsoft-free" office remains more myth than reality - even among the company's competitors, the group most eager to break free of the software giant's hold."

"I view the non-Microsoft office as the Holy Grail of computing," said Mark Slosberg, vice president of e-business solutions at EpicEdge, a Sun Microsystems-authorized systems integrator that counts among its clients Chevron, Exxon, Federal Express and Monsanto. "Freeing yourself from Microsoft-based PCs on the desktop is difficult to do. It's not practical. Just try to find a non-Microsoft PC when you walk into a computer store today. It's not easy."

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