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Migrating from MS to open source: Avoiding legal issues

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My organization wants to switch some of its desktops to OpenOffice.org and keep some desktops on MS Word. Can Microsoft penalize us in any way for doing that? What's the best way to avoid legal issues when making the switch from an MS app to an open source app? There are two ways that Microsoft could attempt to penalize you in this circumstance. The first is by increasing their prices and the second is by making tech support more difficult...

to obtain. Frankly, neither should be tolerated and, if sufficiently egregious, could be characterized as the kind of anti-competitive behavior that various state attorneys general might want to discover.

Avoiding legal issues in the migration from MS to open source involves, among other things:

  • Making sure that the open source provider is competent to do what you need it to do
  • Making sure that they are insured against any infringement claims
  • Getting them to detail for you the extent to which they can interface successfully with MS and making sure they achieve the promised results
  • Understanding the source of the OpenOffice that will be installed and any modifications that have been made
  • Understanding the license accompanying the applications
  • Understanding in advance the differences between OpenOffice and the MS Office Suite so that there are no surprises later
A more exhaustive list would take time and ought to be developed on a case-by-case basis.
This was first published in August 2003

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