Linux/OpenOffice will never be fully compatible with Windows/Office

In my experience, the biggest obstacle to user conversion from Windows to Linux are the little incompatibilities that trip up users. Some of the incompatibilities may be minor. However, users can get frustrated even with minor issues when they occur often enough or during situations when they are important.

In order not to create unrealistic expectations, I often tell offices and people I advise on this matter that they should expect some incompatibilities and they should learn to work around them or to live with them. This is the price of freeing themselves from giant monopoly and the fear of raids from the software police.

How can I be so sure that Linux/OpenOffice will never be fully compatible with Windows/Office? Because incompatibilities work in Microsoft’s favor. In the past, Microsoft has taken advantage of these incompatibilities to eliminate competitors. IBM’s OS/2 was touted as a “better Windows than Windows, and a better DOS than DOS”, and many independent reviewers and users agreed. Incompatibilities, however, kept cropping up between OS/2 and newer versions of Windows, keeping users from switching to OS/2.

Even if, for the sake of argument, we assume that Linux/OpenOffice manage to become 100%-compatible today, you can be sure that Microsoft will soon release a newer version of their programs containing enough new incompatibilities to cause more problems among free software users.

Microsoft doesn’t take enough care to ensure that their own older versions are fully compatible with their newer versions, why would they do so with competition?

Expect Microsoft to make sure that Windows/Office will stay incompatible with Linux/OpenOffice.

If you want people to stick to free software, do not create unrealistic expectations about compatibility. Tell people upfront to expect incompatibilities, and to learn to work around them or to live with them.



  1. Posted November 5, 2008 at 11:47 pm | Permalink

    Спасибо большое!

  2. Roberto Verzola
    Posted November 6, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    The earlier comment was originally marked as spam by the software. Translated from Russian, it means, roughly, “Thanks a lot”. You’re welcome, LeX.

  3. Posted September 20, 2009 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    And why you have not cleaned the comment? Also I think the person did not use the program, and entered manually.
    On a theme.
    In Russia many choose Linux.
    In Linux it is possible to change almost all. It I to that that if something will not be pleasant to you it it is possible to change/replace / to clean/add. We will follow an example: it is not pleasant to Someone huge and full for it excesses desktop KDE. He at all does not like to work in desktop, and prefers window managers, in particular Fluxbox. Quickly, it is convenient and незагромождено things unnecessary it. And so it puts Fluxbox instead of KDE and all works. The graphic interface has absolutely exchanged. In Windows I so cannot make.
    But Microsoft always will be the first.
    Excuse, for use of the automatic translator.

  4. Roberto Verzola
    Posted September 20, 2009 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I agree with you. I’m a Linux/GNU user myself. I just work around the incompatibilities with Windows. There will always be some.

  5. msx
    Posted February 7, 2011 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    Totally agree and while this is one of the places where M$ puts it biggest bet that speak so bad about them that it is at same time a very negative propaganda.

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