I have been reading a lot of blogs concerning the future direction of GNOME. Here are my comments based on the needs of Government/Business.
Email: (Evolution): It's improved greatly in the last 5 years, but the area of focus should be calendaring. Rescheduling meetings and adding people to meeting should be easier and more feature complete. One of the biggest improvement areas in GNOME is printing. Success is measured by users by how well things print. The example below is a printout of an address book. I would say this could be improved greatly. :)
Office Productivity (OpenOffice) : OpenOffice is moving ahead quickly and meeting our needs. 3.0 is going to be really nice, and I'm looking forwarded to moving it live later this year. The Base module is coming along nicely, and starting to work as a drop-in replacement for Access. Improvement areas would be increased features to replicate some of the things done in Visio, and also a stronger project management package that reads/writes MS Project files.
Browsing (Firefox) : Except for really poorly designed sites, Firefox works well. One of the worst offenders of using proprietary technology unfortunately is the State of Florida. We are required to enter information and do research from several departments, and a lot of these pages won't work without Internet Explorer. 99.9% of our browing is handled on Linux. The only improvement area that I can think of is being able to print shockwave content. That support call comes up fairly often.
Specialized Applications: Our specialized applications (Fire, Police, Community Development) almost always end up running on Microsoft Windows. In this era of a desire for lower taxes, it amazes me that these vendors develop in a manner that is so expensive for agencies to buy software. The database and operating system choices they make are very expensive to deploy in terms of dollars, and staff resources. We need to really try and push development tools to software developers. One excellent vendor is ADG . Their runtime packages can be deployed fully on Linux, both on the backend and front end.
My thanks to everyone that works on the various open source projects. You have made my life much easier.
I went out on my SeaDoo on Tampa Bay recently and it produced a great wallpaper image. If you like it, use it.