In the movie "Dad", there is a scene in which old Jake Tremont, thinking about the past, shares the following words with his grown-up son, John: "The world has changed....you wouldn't believe how the world has changed". John, some time later, repeats exactly the same sentences to his son, Billy, amazed at the generation gap between him, a professional in his forties, and his teenage son.
I was thinking about that movie today when I tried to access one of the administrative web pages of the university where I work. Do you still remember that world in which people thought that there was ONLY ONE operating system? Two at most (Vista and XP)? Do you remember when all documents where exchanged using a proprietary format that, one good day, was arbitrarily changed and this act generated confusion when users couldn't open documents?
Well, when I started using Linux, practically NO ONE knew of the existence of the .odt format. Professors, students, and administrative staff were all mindless zombies who would send documents in proprietary formats assuming that the person receiving the information was going to able to open those letters, memos, essays, you name it. This is no longer the case: in two years, people have realized that they have to think about the receiving end, so they are using .pdf and compatibility mode to exchange their documents.
This might not not seem like a great change, however, as I got to the administrative page looking for some forms, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw that they are offering two links: one for the traditional .doc format and another for .odt. In some of the links, the downloads for .odt exceed those of .doc files.
I had heard of the university plans to dump Microsoft Office in favor of open alternatives, but I personally did not have high expectations. Today I saw it: now they are not taking for granted that you use Word and you are satisfied with it.
Microsoft, for its part, needs to change some of its stances concerning open source if it wants to remain a big player in this new world that we see everyday. FUD campaigns are not working; users are gradually opening their eyes to see that they are suffering from the abusive policies of a company that lies to them. Some of them have already seen Linux computers which make their own Windows 7 PCs look like outdated dinosaurs that offer them the same problems found in computers a decade ago.
Steve Ballmer is delusional if he thinks that young people, those mobile phone-thumbing individuals, belong to the recalcitrant, almost extinct user base that yells "Windows or nothing!"
Bill Gates knew that the success of Windows depended on the ignorance of computer users. However, the world has changed, Billy... You wouldn't believe how the world has changed...