Small businesses need to find ways to save money in all areas of their business, and one way this can be accomplished is to examine its IT needs. In most cases, open source software can replace more expensive, paid software, with just as much productivity.
Open source software follows a simple concept of group collaboration. Volunteers with expertise in different IT areas contribute their time to create a product that is distributed for free. In a lot of cases, the quality and flexibility of the finished product is often better than commercial versions.
For office productivity software the premier paid software is Microsoft Office, however the arguments are being made that the open source software Open Office is as good, if not better than it’s paid competitor. Open Office includes a word processor; spreadsheet; presentation software; a database engine; and a calculator for good measure; Venturebeat.com offers a side by side comparison of the major features
For the purpose of argument, let’s examine the pros of Open Office and how it can be a better fit for small businesses.
The first reason is the cost of the software. Being an open source product, Open Office is free to download and install, while Microsoft Office rings in at $499 for the professional version.
Compatibility is also a consideration, and the advantage goes to Open Office. While Microsoft Office runs on a Windows based image, Open Office can run in Windows, Mac OSX, Linux, Unix and other alternative operating systems.
Updates on open source software are also a cost savings. While updates to software like Office often end up in an upgrade, updates to Open Office are constant, and free. This also leads to a level of stability that even some commercial products don’t have.
Access to experts also makes Open Office a great choice. If there is an extension you would like, chances are that someone has already designed one. The huge amount of volunteers that work on this program ensures quality and stability. According to OpenOffice.org, which is owned by Apache, volunteers update and write documentation, fix bugs, code new features, and anything else that would need to be done on a software project.
Finally, the ease-of-use of the software makes Open Office a great alternative. The software is designed with an easy to understand interface, and it can read and write every major competitors format. This flexibility enhances the productivity of the software. According to Linux Journal, it is the most stable in the Linux environment.
For ease of use, cost, stability, the ability to open any format, the free updates, and the huge community of volunteers who put their time into it, Open Office is one way for businesses to save money on software, and is a perfect fit for the budget minded business owner.