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Date: November 1st, 2006
Article by: Teejay Rosene (Article Contributor)
Edited by: Nathan Glentworth (Owner / Head Editor)
Product website: OPEN OFFICE
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cont'd....


Nonetheless, there is a major hurdle that these products face, and it is in communicating to the average Joe and Jane Consumer that these products exist, and more importantly, that these products are legitimate. A positive boon for open-source software is the fact that as of late Firefox has been gaining popularity, in part because it has been shown that the product provides better security for web browsing—this, of course, adds legitimacy to open-source software. As for OpenOffice and AVG Free, however, the average consumer does not know what these products are, where to find them, or that they provide a better safer, more secure computing environment. For these products to take off a strategy must be devised that includes something a little more than word-of-mouth.



I have a textbook case to illustrate my point: the mother of one of my friends purchased Microsoft Office 2003 Teacher Edition (which is a stripped down version) for around $200 plus tax. Her rationale? She wanted to ensure that her three children, who attend university, had the proper tools to do their work on the five computers they have in their home. In this case, success at school equalled having a Microsoft product on these computers, so she paid the steep price. She wasn't aware that there was an alternative to Microsoft. Interestingly, her rationale is no different from many of the computer users around the world: the average person thinks Microsoft is computers, hence paying the outlandish fee of $200 for a product that won't even be used a quarter of the time—and can still include technical headaches. For these individuals, the idea of having something available for free is foreign. There must be a catch, they say, which is the way of thinking that has been ingrained into their psyche as a legitimate concern . Indeed, why would anyone want to give their product away for free?


At one time I used to think this way; I can sympathise. I remember finding out about Firefox and having a lot of trepidation and inner debate before actually taking the plunge and downloading the browser to give it a try; with so much being made about viruses, spyware and malware, not wanting to download anything sketchy was a legitimate concern of mine. At least when you purchase a product like Microsoft Office, Norton Anti virus, or some other highly-priced item, someone can be held accountable: you are paying for a quality product, after all. Sadly, however, that is actually not true. Has anyone ever called technical support for any of these products? You better have your credit card ready. And even then the support you receive may not resolve the problem. So in actuality what you are actually paying for when you buy these over-priced products is mental apathy, a state of mind that's been branded into you for many years that runs along the lines of, “ Well, I paid a high price for the product; it'll be easy to use...I paid a high price for the product; I'll be safe.” That, friends and neighbours, is the result of many years of good marketing.


Now I'm not saying that consumers should just download anything they stumble upon. That would be unwise. Although there are many quality products available, there are still many genuine threats out there, and these threats are growing every day. Just look at the websites offering free stuff to do just about anything for your computer—and then actually install the crap they promised to remove . This is deplorable behaviour. But there are also the many quality products , like OpenOffice . org, AVG Free and Firefox.


So just how does one differentiate between a good product and something that is not? How does one choose? For starters, a little bit of research can go a long way. Doing a search on the web for Product X—the blogs, the review sites (like Tweaknews.net!)—will certainly uncover whether or not a product is a threat. But sometimes people just don't have the time to really go in depth. The companies, therefore, should also spend a little money on advertising, to get people familiar and comfortable with open-source software and the open-source philosophy. It's hard for people to get comfortable with something that is not familiar. But when a product does become familiar, it can be like a comfort blanket, something that someone will actually want to be around . The only difference with open source-based software is that this particular comfort blanket does not come with a hefty price. It fact, it doesn't come with a price at all. Average Joe and Jane Computer User will certainly benefit from this; the combined savings when a user chooses OpenOffice and AVG Free is well over $500. That's smart.


If you have any questions about this free office suite, feel free to post them in our forums HERE.

 

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