Arnaud’s Open blog

Opinions on open source and standards

A sign of changing times

My lawyer made my day this morning. Not just because he does a great job, I’m used to that and that’s why he’s my lawyer. The reason he made my day today is because the document he just sent me is in ODF. :-)

We’re talking about a small office of three lawyers with a couple of assistants in the South of France. For several years he’s been sending me all his documents in MS Word format. I’m not sure what made him change but it’s not because I told him to do so. I don’t think I ever mentioned anything about ODF to him or his staff.

In any case, no matter what the actual reason for the change is, I find it uplifting. The fact that such people, who are not part of the industry and not versed into the whole document format debate, are getting equipped with software such as OpenOffice and start using ODF is a clear sign of change.

The type of documents they produce in that office, as in many other offices if not most I’m sure, is just pure text with a little formatting. They really have no reason to keep buying licenses for MS Office for this.

I think it is this type of grassroot movement that will make the difference in the end.

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June 3, 2008 - Posted by | standards | ,

8 Comments »

  1. I think it’s a circulation.

    Back in the early 1980’s, when Microsoft Word and Lotus WordPro were under development, they were competing for shares of the ‘disabled dollar’ … US Government spending, related to the Americans With Disabilities Act, to make ‘computer-based productivity’ accessible to all.

    So we have spent a while with ‘everybody’ paying for the benefit of ‘the disabled’. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s only the same as requiring businesses to provide ramps for wheelchairs. But it is ‘socialising the costs and privatising the benefits’, which tends to cause those who the costs fall upon to seek alternatives. And to collaborate in that search.

    Now, with OpenOffice.org, IBM Lotus Symphony, and the rest of the no-charge office productivity suites, an increasing segment of the population don’t need to support the ‘few'; things split, the market for Lotus SmartSuite shrinks, and its price rises.

    It’s possible that your law firm has a good IBM salesman, and has been sold a Lotus Notes system. That will do ODF too; and instead of paying technology dollars to Microsoft, they will be paying technology dollars to IBM. Such is commercial competition.

    What of Microsoft Office, then ? Has Microsoft Office 2003 saturated its market, like IBM Lotus SmartSuite has ? Should anyone who wants Microsoft Office go look for pre-owned ones going cheap at flea-markets around the world, just like you have to do for IBM Selectric Typewriters and IBM Personal Computers nowadays ?

    Comment by Chris Ward | June 3, 2008 | Reply

  2. For what it’s worth, from the content of the file, which I unzipped, it appears to have been generated with OpenOffice.

    Comment by Arnaud Le Hors | June 4, 2008 | Reply

  3. Whatever the application, it was application-independent, and that’s what’s important.

    Comment by Roy Schestowitz | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  4. Indeed Roy!

    Comment by Arnaud Le Hors | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  5. […] other uplifting news, watch this short story. My lawyer made my day this morning. Not just because he does a great job, I’m used to that and […]

    Pingback by Boycott Novell » Breaking: Slovakia Chooses ODF and Other Open Standards | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  6. […] blogger discussing how his lawyer used the Open Document Format instead of .doc: The type of documents they produce in that [law] office, as in many other offices if not most I’m sure, is just pure text with a little formatting. They really have no reason to keep buying licenses for MS Office for this. […]

    Pingback by Luis Villa’s Blog / observation on my office and the dominance of Word | June 5, 2008 | Reply

  7. Good, hope it continues, and Roy = right. It just needs to be non-proprietary, period. Off subject a bit but also bank with Wamu, their website is web standards compliant or so it seems, since both Opera and Firefox work with it in exactly the same way. MS and other companies trying to proprietize the internet is pretty sickening too, but so is any proprietary pushing which happens in virtually every industry. Consumers beware.

    Comment by Yfrwlf | June 6, 2008 | Reply

  8. Excellent news. As someone who hopes working in law in the near future, it’s good to see that it’s not longer the bulwark of reaction ;-) as in, Word Perfect :-)

    Comment by David | June 25, 2008 | Reply


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