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LinuxPlanet: The StartX Files: Word to the Wise: Wrapping Up and Picking a Winner

Nov 30, 2001, 12:51 (4 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)
"Over and over during this Word to the Wise mini-series, I have made direct comparisons between the word processor applications I looked at and how they interact with and compare to Microsoft Word. Many readers called me on this, raising accusations of shill on their own. My response has always been the same: for better or worse, Word has become regarded as the gold standard for word processors--particularly in the business world. For any word processor to have a hope of pulling customers away from Word, such applications are going to have to at least be the equal of Word in terms of features. Stability, speed, and open standards are all going to be secondary to feature set. This is not necessarily the Right Thing, but it is the reality of a working in a capitalist market, where people always want to get more for their money.

This is not a happy concept for devotees of Linux and Open Source to embrace. In a perfect world, people would judge a product based on its overall quality and its lack of proprietary standards. In such a world, Linux and its application set would fare much better than they are today.

Instead, we live in a world where a (fictional) product like GNUWrite would be fast, small, stable, and free but hardly anyone would buy it because (non-fictional) products like Word can come up to potential GNUWrite customers and say things like, "yes, GNUWrite is fast, small, stable, and free, but can it create an index?" That's a good question, these potential customers think, especially after Microsoft makes the ability to create an index the most important thing in the world. The customers go back to the GNUWrite developers and put the indexing question to them."

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