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Microsoft FUD

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Richard M Stallman has an editorial over at NewsForge that encourages people to ignore MS Word attachments and ask for the file in an open format like HTML or PDF. Since the basis for this is Stallman’s belief that all software should be free, I can understand his point of view, but his editorial resorts to fearmongering.

Stallman says, "And because Microsoft changes the Word file format with each release, its users are locked into a system that compels them to buy each upgrade whether they want a change or not." That’s simply not true. There have been times when Word’s DOC file format has changed to accept new features, but I can save a copy of a document with Word XP and open it in Word 97 (two versions back) without problems.

Stallman also says, "Someone I know was unable to apply for a job because resumes had to be Word files." A company is going to hire the most qualified candidate for the position. If the candidate can’t figure out how to go to Kinko’s or the library and make a Word copy of his resume, then perhaps his problem solving abilities aren’t up to the company’s standards.

And finally, Stalman says, "There is free software now that can read some subset of Word documents. The format is secret... We can’t expect these programs to be perfect." What utter nonsense. I create some pretty complex Word documents, and so far, I’ve never had a problem opening them with StarOffice. Sometimes the formatting isn’t exactly what I intended, but it’s close enough.

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