How to break Microsoft's lock on applications

Steve Hamm

Lock in. It's the enemy of the corporate or government IT manager. Everybody wants to have alternatives so they're not dependent on a single tech supplier for a crucial set of applications. Yet, in the case of Microsoft Office, it's very difficult for customers to break away from their dependency on Microsoft. Sure, there are alternatives that do most of the important things that Office programs do. But so-called network effects (the interoperability of Office software programs being used by 400 million people) create an environment where, in many cases, it's just easier to pay up and stick with Office than to switch. There's a little crack in Microsoft's lock, however. It's called the Open Document Format. And that crack could get bigger in the coming months.

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