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Microsoft

States Filing Alternate Remedy Proposal for MS Anti-Trust Case 420

Posted by michael
from the on-hemmed-in-ground-resort-to-stratagem dept.
cbull writes: "News.com reports that 9 states and the District of Columbia will be filing an alternate remedy proposal in the Microsoft case later today. This would close some of the loopholes, better define middleware, require Microsoft to continue Office development for Macintosh and to develop a version of Office for Linux, among other things." There's also a Cringely column about the case. Somehow the phrase "Microsoft Office for Linux" has gotten people all fired up. Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

States Filing Alternate Remedy Proposal for MS Anti-Trust Case

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  • by wo1verin3 (473094) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:28PM (#2673146) Homepage
    Why would we force them to make a product for Linux? We know it won't be open source, how will this help the community, a community built on ideals which Microsoft doesn't share.
    • And their (lack of) sale figures from the crippled version of Office for Linux would probably be used to show that Linux is a flop and that Open Source is really all about 'piracy' and getting things for free.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      But if it persuades more of those in the corporate world to move to Linux, this might end up helping to destroy the MS hegemony, while we concentrate on developing an alternative to Office that is acceptable to them.
    • by epepke (462220) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:37PM (#2673221)

      is that Microsoft would have to sell, by auction, a minimum of three licenses to enable third parties to produce versions for other operating systems "such as Linux."

      It does not mean that Microsoft has to produce a Linux version. Nor does it mean that the third parties have to produce a Linux version. What it means is that at least three companies will have the right to produce a version of Office for whatever other environment they want to.

      • by bwalling (195998) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:08PM (#2673443) Homepage
        I think this is a key point, because MS would deliberately submarine the project. They would release a buggy, crippled product and blame the platform. MS carries a lot of weight with public opinion, so that would just end up being bad for whatever platform they did that to.
      • I suspect you won't be able to release those products GPL, however. So it would be less useful than other elements of Linux. Not bad, just less useful.
    • they broke the law, they lose their freedom to do what they wish.

      Development of a Linux port will cost them time and money. Having to develop for their enemy would be a bitter pill for him to swallow.
    • Microsoft Office for Linux - A means to an end?

      Seeing an authentic MS Office on Linux would jump an important hurdle impeding wide-spread rollouts of Desktop Linux.

      OpenOffice (as good as it is) won't make large scale gains in the 'Enterprise' because it will take more than Free Software ideals for the massive MS Office massive user-base to migrate to a Linux platform.

      I'm sure many IT Directors are looking for alternatives to MicroSoft's new 'software-rental' purchasing. Many know linux is a solid desktop OS, unfortunately that's when reality hits. Not having true MS Office means:

      - MS Access client apps will need to be rewritten (hundreds lurk in my company)
      - Any Visual Basic code and Macros will need to be redeveloped
      - Retrain hundreds/thousands of end-users
      - Train all new employees (When's the last time an applicant listed StarOffice as a skill?)

      I believe MS Office on Linux could lead to widescale Linux OS adoption in the corporate world, and wouldn't that be the first half of the battle won? By that tme I'm sure OpenOffice will be tough to beat.

      /uberman tossing in his $0.02
    • by FFFish (7567) on Friday December 07, 2001 @08:07PM (#2673822) Homepage
      "How will this help the community"?!?

      Tell me how it will *hurt* the community!

      You end up with the one application that keeps everyone tied to Windows. Julee down in clerical doesn't give a rat's ass what OS she's using: she doesn't use an OS, she uses software applications -- namely, Word and Excel.

      This means the boss can swing to Linux without having to retrain her. His investment in her skills, which have taken years to develop, aren't going to get thrown out the window. By gosh, maybe he'll be a little amenable to switching to Linux now!

      Quit trying to be isolationist. That's the game Microsoft plays. Play bigger: encourage everyone to come to Linux.
    • Screw MS Office for Linux. Just make them publish the specs to their file formats and the brilliant geeks in the community will beat Office to a pulp in a matter of months.

      Imagine StarOffice with all the features of MS Office AND compatable files?

      Imagine emacs reading a Word file.

      My little mind boggles....
  • by webword (82711) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:31PM (#2673163) Homepage
  • go here [ccianet.org]

    This could have some real teeth in it and is not riddled with the loopholes that plague the M$/DoJ crafted settlement
  • Office for Linux (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?

    YES!! Gawd, don't be such a dumbass. Corporate buyers (remember them? the ones who buy millions of PCs a year?) have STANDARDIZED on Microsoft Office for all their documents. Availability of Office for Linux would very substantially accelerate deployment of Linux desktops in business locations, which is precisely why Micros~1 hasn't done it! Forcing them to develop it would be a damn good idea.

  • StarOffice and OpenOffice are simply not there at the moment. But I have at least one client who would switch *today* if there was a verstion of MS Office that just worked right. And several others who would follow them. So while I don't yes it would help the desktop market a lot. Of course the other thing I wish we had was a *good* terminal server client for Linux...
  • by pyite69 (463042)

    Apparently they are also suggesting that Microsoft should
    open source Internet Explorer.

    It would be nice to have IE on Linux. I wonder what kind of
    issues this would raise w.r.t. Windows Media and ActiveX...
    • The source for iexplore.exe is simple.

      #include <windows.h>
      #include <mshtlml.h>

      int main(void)
      {
      IWebBrowser2 *ie;
      pfnClassFactory ClassFactory;
      HMODULE mshtml;

      CoInitialise();
      mshtml=LoadLibrary("mshtml.dll");
      ClassFactory=GetProcAddress(mshtml,"Factory");

      ie=ClassFactory();

      ie->Initialise();
      ie->Go();
      ie->Release();

      return(0);
      }

      All the web browser stuff is shared components - it's used by the help system and other things.
      But it's not integrated with the O/S, and don't you forget it!
    • This is actually a fairly decent idea. I don't think it has a whelk's chance in a supernova of actually happening, but it's still a good idea.

      IE has some real strengths when compared to Moz and the others... such as a fairly intellegent 'quickload' preloading mode that both Moz and Staroffice are trying to emulate, activex plugin archetecture, which is actually a pretty ideal environment for browser plugins (not applets), and all the microsoft specific html 'extensions' like Favicon and page transitions which the other projects haven't emulated because of their Microsoftness.

      If these features were really OSS'd it in a Free manner, all the other OSS browser projects would benefit greatly.
    • Between Mozilla, Konqueror, and Galeon I just don't see much value in having IE on Linux. Now forcing IE to be standards compliant would be much more significant.
  • by archen (447353)
    I'll agree that as a monopoly MS should have to play fair in the OS field (allowing competing products and such), but it strikes me as downright wrong to make MS develop Linux versions of a product.

    Not that I think it would matter since Open/Star Office would own them in that area anyway, as most Linux users are not the sort of people that like to pay hundreds of dollars for a closed source which probably wouldn't work very well anyway. (remember MS doesn't have the advantage in controlling the system from the ground up).
  • by fleener (140714) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:32PM (#2673183)
    Start using "Office for Linux" and you buy into the sinister upgrade cycle. Your computer will never be fast enough for the latest version of Office.
    • Considering my wife runs Office 2000 on an old K6 233Mhz PC with Win/98 -- and the speed is fine -- you are just spreading more Microsoft FUD.

      Maybe you should actually know what you're talking about before posting.

        • Considering my wife runs Office 2000 on an old K6 233Mhz PC with Win/98 -- and the speed is fine -- you are just spreading more Microsoft FUD.

        Considering that Office 2000 is now more than 2 and 1/2 years old, back when a K6-233 wasn't that slow of a machine, your wife's experiences really don't count for much.

        Besides, Microsoft FUD is what Microsoft does to convince you that you really don't want to use (Lotus, Wordperfect, OS/2, Linux, pick one). If the poster was spreading FUD it was anti-Microsoft FUD.

        Maybe you should be more careful before posting.

      • Silly rabbit... I know a hoard of people running Pentiums w/16 or 32MB RAM because they literally cannot afford anything greater (and in fact their PCs were donated to them). Office 95 runs OK and Office 97 is bearable if you've never seen a modern computer and thus don't realize you have crud. But of course you don't need Office 97 unless you want to export to HTML.

        Office 2000 is absurd and later renditions are just even more bloated. Hell, I have a P3 800Mhz and I run Office 97 because it loads a second or two faster. So take your FUD claims elsewhere.

        Linux is a godsend for people stuck on older PCs if they have a techie to help them.
  • by Azog (20907) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:33PM (#2673187) Homepage
    I'd rather have Microsoft be forced to completely specify the Microsoft file formats for Office applications.

    That way, Star Office, KOffice, Gnumeric, and the rest can get the import filters 100% correct.

    That's really where Microsoft's monopoly is - many businesses would happily switch to Linux if they could be 100% sure that they could still reliably read and edit the thousands of documents they have already created.
    • by Rick the Red (307103) <Rick DOT The DOT Red AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:47PM (#2673305) Journal
      I don't want "Office for Linux" either. I want "Office for UNIX," able to run on Linux or BSD* or Solaris or HP/UX or Irix or...

      If that means they have to distribute source that we then compile for our target OS/processor, so be it ;-)

      • by Tuzanor (125152) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:08PM (#2673450) Homepage
        Forcing MS to open source their software is not only niave, its stupid. First of all, MS office for Linux would probably do very poorly, not because it wouldn't be any good, but because most Linux users are avid Microsoft haters. They'll claim that now Microsoft is trying to invade Linux blah blah blah.

        What would be a good thing is porting it to Solaris and HP-UX. Those are 2 OSes that are used as a desktop a lot by businesses, especially ones that do a lot of CAD/CAM and engineering work. One of the reasons why Sun is doing the whole StarOffice thing is because, even with the sunPCI, a lot of people are forgoing thier Sun workstations for windows so they can have IE, Office, etc.

        • What would be a good thing is porting it to Solaris and HP-UX. Those are 2 OSes that are used as a desktop a lot by businesses
          That's why I said I wanted "Office for UNIX" not "Office for Linux".

    • I'd go a step or two further:

      Publish the API's for Exchange (Yes, Ximian has reversed it, but make this permament)

      Force them to open their modifications to LDAP and Kerberos in the server world. I-planet's LDAP, for example, works with Solaris, Win2k, etc, as does Novel's Edirectory. Does Active Directory? Of course not.

      The browser wars really are over, what is imporant now is to keep MS from leveraging their desktop monopoly into an eventual server/internet monopoly, where things like MS-LDAP, MS-Kerberos, MS-Mail, Windows Media, etc serve to tie one down to only one end to end solution. Theirs.
    • Open file formats are important, but I'd argue the more important feature is maturity. MS Office has been around a while, and for all the whining people do about MS in general, Office for the most part kicks a lot of ass and deserves it's seat at the top of the productivity suite kingdom.

      Alternative suites are no where near as mature, and I doubt they ever will be, given the fact that Office is MS's cash cow, and they'd be stupid to let it slip. I mean while the latest Office sports speech recognition/dictation, the "alternative" suites are just now getting spell checking! While Office is available in 35 languages, others are just now thinking about considering getting started [openoffice.org]. And I'm not even going to go into usability (how many open-source applications do you know of that have the resources to conduct and utilize novice useability tests?)

      If you're using Windows, do me a favor: using IE, find a web page with a table in it, highlight the table, copy it, and paste it into Word or Excel. See what happens? The contents are interpreted correctly, and a Table appears in Word, and the contents of the table appear in seperate cells in Excel. Now ask yourself if that's anywhere near a possibility in ANY "alternative" office suite.

      Open file formats or not, I'd be happy with Office for linux, as I'm tired of having to settle for immature, poorly designed suites.
      • Maybe you don't know better, it depends on what you compare it with. I have to use Office every day at work (for years now) and I keep hating it. Compared to LaTeX and/or Framemaker my productivity is much less.

        Creating structured documents with Word (including versioning, diffs between documents etc) is a hell compared to some other solutions.
    • Why not do both? Even if you open up the file formats, that doesn't necessarily mean that Gnumeric, KOffice and StarOffice are going start implementing everything identically. Each program will still have its own sets of features and functions and whatnot. However, they will store everything in the same container format. It would still be possible to save a complex spreadsheet under Gnumeric or StarCalc and not have it work in KSpread since KSpread is still a bit lacking. Likewise, there are still a couple things I can do in Excel that Gnumeric hasn't quite mastered yet.

      That being said, I'd like to see a version of Office for Linux and I'd like to see the file formats opened up. This would take nothing away from the quality or usability of Office. I hear the OS X version is actually better than the PC version.
    • Absolutely! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by RelliK (4466) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:14PM (#2673495)
      Microsoft's monopoly is propped up by incompatible file formats and protocols. Take away their ability to make incompatible files/protocols, and suddenly their monopoly power vanishes. *That* is what will stimulate competition as everyone would be able to compete on a level playing field. There are two problems with this approach though: first, what are the odds that government officials have any clue? OK, that was a rhetorical question. Next, how do you ensure that Microsoft released all the specs and that they don't make suble incompatible changes in the future? That's a tricky one, and Microsoft can always plead ignorance (they attempted to pull that off at the trial).

      Now what effects will the release of MS Office for Linux have? It seems like a good idea: since most businesses are standardized on MS Office, it will speed the adoption of Linux on the desktop. (This, BTW, seems to be the only major obstacle). So, in the short run it's a good thing... except for one little problem: does anyone doubt that the Linux version of MS Office, if it is ever released, would be so crippled as to make it virtually useless? Or that Microsoft would find some other way to tie their customers to Windows? Microsoft could easily say "we coplied with the ruling" while blaming everything on Linux. So much for that.

      Now what are the long term effects of this? If the scenario I described above plays out, then none whatsoever: MS Office for Linux will die a horrible death and we are back to square one. But now suppose MS Office for Linux is a success. Then corporations accelerate the adoption of Linux on the desktop; sooner or later, Linux becomes a viable choice for home PCs too and OEMs start bundling it, etc. Great! The windows monopoly is broken... but the office monopoly is perpetuated. And who know what other effects this may have. I suppose one monopoly is better than two, but it is nowhere near the ideal state.
  • Do we? (Score:4, Funny)

    by technos (73414) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:33PM (#2673188) Homepage Journal
    Yes!

    Staroffice may be okay, Wordperfect acceptable, and VIM popular, but until a 100% office replacement exists, most places are going to continue to snub Linux as an alternative on the desktop.

    Besides, I like Office. MS may have had mega-crappy OS's, but Office always worked right.
    • Unless you're forgetting about Outlook being the bringer of death to millions of people, and word macros rooting you're clients machine, sure I'll think you're not a complete doofus for thinking like a PHB. The reason Linux is still an alternative for the desktop? Administration and Training. If MS had not been a monopoly, the ratio of a professional linux support staff to MCSE's would be on the level.
      • The worst an Outlook virus could do on Linux is take out the account of the user who clicked on the attachment.

        Oh, and clog the email servers.
    • Re:Do we? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jeffrey Baker (6191)
      Most places are going to snub an office replacement because most places -- by which I assume you mean most businesses -- will also continue to exist in a stagnant past, drifting in the doldrums of mismanagement in a sea of flickering flourescent lights or foul coffee, without a breath of wind to blow their wayward enterprises into the waters of success.

      The truth is this: there is very little business value added by Microsoft Office. Word is a very substandard document editor which focuses on layout over content, and at the same time is almost useless for layout. Powerpoint can only be used to create presentations to waste company time at tedious meetings. "Management Plan: Part A" can definitely be drawn on a chalk board faster than it can be written in powerpoint. Access should not be used to store any data your business actually needs, which implies that your business doesn't need Access. Excel is the sole component of Office that does anything useful. This is probably the best spreadsheet for financial and scientific applications out there, and has been since the first release on the MacOS Back in the Day. Too bad it is now bundled with all that other tripe.

      My point: a "100% office replacement" really means a replacement for Excel in any business where the management retains frontal lobe function.

      • Word is a very substandard document editor which focuses on layout over content, and at the same time is almost useless for layout.

        If you wanted content-only, assuming no formatting, there are text-only tools such as Notepad for the job. Truth is, layout is just as important as content nowadays with catchy visual designs being crucial.

        Powerpoint can only be used to create presentations to waste company time at tedious meetings. "Management Plan: Part A" can definitely be drawn on a chalk board faster than it can be written in powerpoint.

        Uh, no, not at the meeting it can't. Sure, PowerPoint presentations may take a while to make, but after it's made, it can be presented instantly. Plus, going back to my former argument, visuals are half the battle, content is the other. Slide show applications such as PowerPoint play a great role in persuading bosses in decisions, among many other uses. Besides, I'll take a presentation with PowerPoint over a PHB speech any day.

        Access should not be used to store any data your business actually needs, which implies that your business doesn't need Access.

        Access doesn't need to store the data. It can interact with the data, connecting to remote SQL servers provided that you install the proper ODBC drivers.

        Excel is the sole component of Office that does anything useful. This is probably the best spreadsheet for financial and scientific applications out there

        I agree that it's useful, but I still think Word and Outlook are tied in my book for most useful. I rarely use Excel, whereas the former are used daily.

        Too bad it is now bundled with all that other tripe.

        No, no it's not. You may certainly purchase it separately [amazon.com].

        Anyway, besides the aforementioned, FrontPage is kind of useless, being that I don't particularly care for its WYSIWYG features, except its stellar handling of tables.
        Visio is another superb program and really has a number of uses for designing physical layouts of rooms, computer networks, buildings. Hell, I even saw a segment on TV a while back about police using Visio to reconstruct car accident scenes.

        Also, look for the Office XP SP1 which will be released next week to fix all of your Outlook (and other) bugs.

        • Re:Do we? (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Jeffrey Baker (6191)
          ...visuals are half the battle, content is the other.

          I don't buy that. Content is everything. If you have no content and great visuals, you don't have 1/2 a presentation, you have nothing. Powerpoint is horrible, even for presentations. The display medium is usually a projection, and that means typically an 800x600 distorted trapezodioal projection on a distant wall. Further, Powerpoint encourages you to waste what little precious space you have to work with. Logos, patterns, colored polygons, and bullets use space and add nothing. Here's a mockup PowerPoint slide:

          Management Plan:

          • * Execute Global Synergy
          • * Synergize Global Execution
          • * Globalize Synergistic Executives

          Damn, that was useful. Can we go over it again?

          Next thing: Powerpoint leaves no traces. You can't take it with you unless the presenter prints it out, which is an insult to the information carrying ability of paper. You can't refer to something that used to be projected up on a wall but now isn't. Often, the presentation itself is of little use if the presenter isn't speaking any more.

          A lot of businesses would do themselves a favor by getting rid of Powerpoint. A really well executed 1-page paper handout can carry enough information to accompany an hour-long presentation or class. Computer printouts are 1200dpi. 2400dpi offset printing is considered low tech. If you print a chart at 1200dpi someone might actually be able to make sense of it.

          Some businesses are clued into this already. 3M has a worldwide effort to burn powerpoint at the stake. Other large companies are watching. If I were an executive, I'd fire any and all employees who invited me to a powerpoint presentation. It doesn't doesn't respect the intelligence or the value of the time of the victim ...er... audience.

          Here's an exercise. Go to google. Search for powerpoint presentations. Find one that's really great. One that is really informative and beautiful. Then come back here and post the URL.

  • NO..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Archfeld (6757) <treboreel@live.com> on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:34PM (#2673191) Journal
    but what would be nice was FILE TYPE standards for say 5 years. Give someone else a chance to break into the market. With 5 years lead time a big enough customer base would develop to make M$ think twice about arbitrarily changing it and forcing upgrade, there-by losing LOTS of customers.
    • but what would be nice was FILE TYPE standards for say 5 years.

      That basically equates to "no major new features for 5 years". I don't think even the DOJ is gullible enough to think that's a realistic idea.

      • Re:NO..... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pthisis (27352)
        He didn't say "the same file standard". They could add new features as long as they document the file format for them openly.
  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bert Peers (120166) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:34PM (#2673193) Homepage
    So they have a monopoly on Windows, and for punishment, they should really be able to extend that monopoly to other OSes ?


    Interesting.


    I suppose the judges' next call will be that DeCSS should really be available on Windows, and be able to decrypt the latest WMF too.

  • by JimRay (6620) <jimray@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:34PM (#2673194) Homepage
    Rather than force Microsoft to develop bloated software for linux, which will probably only work with a single distribution anyway, why not force them to open their file formats? Projects like OpenOffice [openoffice.org] and AppleWorks [apple.com] could then really compete. MS wouldn't have quite the same stranglehold that they currently enjoy with opened file formats. This would include, of course, Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and interchange capabilities with Outlook. I suppose you could add Access into that, but it's such worthless crap anyway, why bother?

    And make them open every aspect of the file formats, not just make them compatible. My understanding is that the way things currently are, most non-MS Office Suites can still read MOST MS office files, but not ALL MS Office files, which keeps a lot of shops from converting. Especially those that rely on specialized macros and whatnot.
  • open file formats (Score:2, Redundant)

    by BigGar' (411008)
    What we really want is M$ to open their Office file formats so other programs can read and write MS files with ease. Fully publishing their OS API's would help a lot also. These two things available as a free download to anyone that wants them would go a long way to helping out.
  • Office for Linux, Yeah I think its called open office. Look at what microsoft did to java, now imagine the incompatiblites and compromises the MS install would be to the kernal. I like the shipping java with XP deal though, however WTF is a special master? Sounds like the DOJ likes playing S&M with MS XP.
  • Off course, you need MS Office for Linux. You need it as much as you need an HTML browser.
    Not so long ago, our HR department asked for a copy of my resume. Boycotting Micro$oft as usual, I sent it in PDF and PS format... They couldn't read it of course and had no idea what to do with my files.
    My resume had been created through StarOffice, but I was not going to tell them to download StarOffice when they were not even able to visit Adobe's web site and download Acrobat Reader. I eventually sent them a RTF version and all worked well. But I can't start to imagine them sending me a RTF version of any document they create. Without a doubt, they (and others) will always send me native Word document, inconsciously assuming that MS Office is oblivious. That's why I/we need MS Office for Linux.
    • As someone elsewhere said, what we need is the details of the format so that other software can use it. I'd much rather have Star/OpenOffice be able to use MS format documents than have to use Office to work on them. Especially if Explorer for Solaris is any indication of their ability to write software for other platforms...
    • Let me just say this.
      RTF, for the Office user is a huge pain in the ass.
      It works, mind you, but opening a document in RTF takes significantly longer than the native Word format - in Word.
      It's just the way it is. Who knows if MS is doing a straight translation from RTF to Word for rendering, or if there's a bunch of intentional timer loops in there to slow it down and encourage people to stick to .doc?
  • Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?

    Office for Linux wouldn't be for the hardcore anti-Microsoft /. reading "GUIs are for losers" old-school Linux geek, it would be for the people who want an alternative to Windows that runs on the same hardware and can still run Office. These are the people who aren't running Linux but would be inclined to switch if Office were available for it. Not all Linux enhancements (I use the term loosely) are designed to appeal to current users...

  • by JMZero (449047) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:39PM (#2673242) Homepage
    Here's an interesting article on Reason [reason.com] on antitrust workings through the ages. It gives me sort of a different perspective on MS's antitrust woes.

    I think the solution to the MS problem is to regulate their real problem behavior. Don't let them do illegal things. Don't let them sign crazy exclusive deals. Don't let them control (down to a single icon) exactly what's installed on a machine.

    Making MS release Office for Linux is a step down the wrong road. And what do you do when it's crappy? Force them to make it better?
  • by lysurgon (126252)
    What would be really nice would be if they could force M$ to release their file type definitions (or *cough* adopt some open standard). This would allow existing office/productivity software (e.g. Abiword, GNUmbers) to easily interoperate with Word, Excel, et al.

    This would let me work with clients who are M$ based much easier than I do now.
  • 1. Dont run as root.
    2. Dont run suid
    3. Run Tripwire before installing, since theres no way you are gonna get to compile it yourself, and no way you're gonna get to untar the binary distributions.
    4. chroot(1) if you feel really paranoid.

    I think this would be a good thing, since I could leave MS (the operating system) forever, and at the same time, it would be a fairly humbling punishment for MS, forcing Linux into their own shop, and forcing them to devote resources to it.

    • by BrookHarty (9119) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:58PM (#2673362) Homepage Journal
      Well if Office did come out for Linux..

      1. It would only run as root.
      2. You couldnt disable Clippy.
      3. Word documents would be saved with extensions ".upgrade_to_windows"
      4. NET extenstions would be automatically installed.
      5. Visios linux box icon would look like a toaster
      6. Spell checker would spell Linux as linux, and Open Source as "Pirated Software"
      7. Eastereggs in office would have the BSDeality logo.
      8. Office update would keep popping up, update "Microsoft Linux service pack #6805" for download.
      9. MSN messenger would be required with a passport account.
      10. Kernels would have to insert a new module that allows blue screens.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:41PM (#2673256) Homepage Journal
    For that matter, as someone who is (primarily) a Mac user, I don't even want it for Mac, though I can see how it has some business value (convincing PHB's that the Mac is a "real" computer, etc.) Cringely is right -- the settlement is a sham, and even with the states' proposed changes, it's still pretty toothless. The real problem, unfortunately, is that there is no conduct remedy that will do a damned bit of good. Breakup is the only solution ...

    ... and since that's not going to happen, my next preferred remedy would be one something like the one Steve Jobs is asking for: a big cash fine (not a "donation" to schools designed to ensure that future generations of developers will use all Microsoft all the time). But the proposed $1 billion is nothing, pocket change for Bill Gates. Make it $10 billion per year for ten years, and you're maybe talking about real money.

    Where should the money go? Although my first impulse is to say "to Microsoft's competitors and/or to free software," I don't think that's quite right in the long run, because it puts the government in the position of deciding who's worthy. Better, I think, would be to parcel the money out for public math and comp. sci. education according to some simple, objective formula (primary/secondary schools get money based on the number of students in the district, colleges get it based on the current size of their math and CS departments, say.)

    Is this ideal? No, because Microsoft will still be there, as one company. But it will seriously limit their ability to crush innovation in the industry for a decade (by which time things will no doubt have changed in all kinds of ways) and produce a generation of well-educated computer scientists, and hopefully be politically acceptable to all sides.
    • Seriously, MS isn't all shit and vomit. I've used MS Office for Mac for 15 years now (currently using 98) and I am still very happy with it! Since it's not "integrated" with the OS the virus problems are much less common, and it still works quite well (once you turn Dancing Banana Junior 9000 off). Why not make it available for Linux? It might actually make a few people happy, and you certainly don't have to use it if you don't want to.
      • [shrug] To each his own. I still use WordPerfect 3.5e on my Mac simply because I think it's the best werp I've ever seen, on any platform. Office (any version) feels slow and clunky to me. For spreadsheets, I use AppleWorks; and all my database work is Web-based, using a PHP front end to MySQL. I know a lot of Mac users do like Office, but while I wouldn't describe it as "shit and vomit" (which is, in fact, an accurate description of any version of Windows) I personally don't understand why it's so popular.
  • ...at a time.
    If MS makes a Linux version of Office, getting linux on the desktop become easier. As we gain momentum in the battle, the ability to create a competitive Office product become easier.
    I would be even happier if the had to make all the Office component open source for 10 years, but this will help just as well.
    They clearly understand how MS is using Office to become entrenched in the work place, then leverage that into forced upgrades.
    now if they would do the same thing for Direct X, MS would Have to start putting out quality products which would allow market forces to decide where the money goes.
  • Damn straight, they'll distribute their own version of linux to work with Linux MS Office.
    $700 for the package!
  • Think savings of $300 or more PER PC with hundreds or thousands PC's. Not chump change is it? Because the thing is that Office, NOT WINDOWS, is the environment of the typical office drone. As long as the apps stay the same who cares what the OS is.

    Thanks a lot though. I'll be fantisizing about never seeing WinNT/9x/ME at work all weekend long now... /sigh
  • Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?

    More than anything, I'd like to see an alternative/stable desktop OS. Running a popular, fat, bloated application on Linux that people love (for better or worse) and are familiar with would help Linux desktop adoption immensely.
  • Personally, I am happy using Gnumeric and Abiword, but I do not do particularly heavy-duty work (some might argue that Office is also unsuitable for such work) . And regardless of how capable open-source programs are, corporations are generally conservative in adopting new software; by using Office, they avoid the problems with file type conversions and the occasional missing capability.

    Last summer, I was supervising the installation of GNU/Linux in a previously all-Windows shop (a certain simulation software they used required Linux). To the people who ran the simulations they ended up giving two computers, one for Windows and one for Linux. This was not the original nor the ideal plan, but Outlook is necessary to interface with MS Exchange mail servers (particularly calendars and address books), and MS Office is necessary to share files effectively with other Office users. While office alternatives on Linux are certainly viable and I personally would not need MS Office for Linux, management policies and practical realities make it a necessity for Linux to gain further inroads at corporations.
  • Id rather see exchange transport opened up, and a linux client for exchange. This is the only piece missing in open office suite.

    BTW, I wouldnt mind seeing directx opened up also, so more games could be ported to linux.
  • if the Linux version of Office would be as good as the Windows / Macintosh version.

    I have a sneaking suspicion that it would not be. Then again, I've always been more fond of Office for MacOS than Office for Windows. I know plenty of users who claim that Office for Mac is pretty darned good. I'm inclined to say that MS Software for the Mac is pretty good overall. Even Outlook Express for Mac is liveable.

    That being said, MS is bad. M-kay? Long live vi / emacs and LaTeX (don't want /. thinking I'm going soft).

    -Peter
  • As others have already pointed out, having a Linux port of Microsoft Office would not be a particularly good idea. Not only would there be no guarantee that Microsoft produces a bug-free port of Office (remember Caldera's accusations [maxframe.com] that MS deliberately made Windows crash on DR-DOS?), it would also only help Microsoft perpetuate its monopoly on closed standards and proprietary software.

    Unfortunately, the Open Source Movement has shot itself in the foot by providing lots of alternative office solutions with non-interchangable file formats. One of the most well documented formats seems to be Open Office's new XML-based one. If Open Source Advocates agreed on a single format, then Microsoft could either be forced to use this format, or to provide filters. Without such an agreement, the only thing that can be asked for are 100% specifications of all Office formats, now and in the future -- this will be harder to verify since there would be no open source reference implementation.

    One of the biggest threats to open source is open source itself. The fragmentation of different solutions makes migration hard or impossible.

  • I think these lawyers are smoking crack... the newest "solution" is to have m$ extend its reach to other popular platforms? Great! I don't get it... nor do I find the idea of "Office for Linux" pleasant to think about.
  • by KidSock (150684) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:56PM (#2673353)
    Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?

    I heard that when they ported IE to Solaris that it required all sorts of crazy Win support stuff. I don't know about you but I'm not going to put an AUTOEXEC.BAT file on my Linux box.
  • by ocip (200888) on Friday December 07, 2001 @06:58PM (#2673364) Homepage
    Office for Linux would be interesting. Of course, it wouldn't be open. Likely, Microsoft would pick one distribution on which it will officially support Office for Linux (RedHat?). With RH's crazy compiler, the binaries wouldn't be very portable, either. So, instead of porting Office to Linux, why don't they open the details about how the files are constructed?

    Microsoft could be forced to not only open the details for Office documents, but why not Windows Media documents too? They could open details about protocols for Back Office, MSN Messenger, etc. Basically, make the files their software creates, and the protocols their software uses, open. This could make the life of writing new, better, open software that is compatible with the files/protocols more feature complete.
  • by thrillbert (146343) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:00PM (#2673374) Homepage
    Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?

    In one hand this is a good idea. It would make their OS dominance go bye-bye if people actually had a choice of platforms to run the office suite.

    On the other hand, do we really want to create new libraries proprietary to M$ under Linux that would allow the RandomCrashTime(), ScrewUpTheFormat() and CloseProgramIfNotSavedIn15Minutes() calls?

    And I'm sure they would require us to reboot after every save of the documents.

    ---
    If I had a funny sig, it would be here...
  • It's good that 9 of them are filing against MS but what about the other 41? Are they for or against MS? If they are Pro-MS then 9 states is just a joke.
  • MS Office for Linux (Score:2, Interesting)

    by BigBir3d (454486)
    There is only one really good/important reason to want it.

    Expand the number of potential desktop users of Linux.

    If MS Office is available, that is one less "hurdle" for Linux to overcome to become a widely accepted standard (in terms of the general uninformed public).

    The goal should be to have at least three choices without hindering anyones compatability:

    1. Linux
    2. Mac
    3. Windows
  • Do we want that? Probably Wine is the only possible approach to a full port, but then the real "magic" of office is the integration the rest of the system and the DLLs.

    A limited port is probably preferable, more than the just the file formats, but less than VB-scriptable (so to speak). Desktop acceptance of Linux is the goal here. Not the full integration of Office with the system, but the ability to share the space.

  • Noooooo... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pinkpineapple (173261)
    That's not a good idea [having MS developing Linux software]. Let's open the file format fro MS office to help beneficiate other products like Star Office or better Open Office and forbid the beast to change and hide things under to break the competition.

    No flame here but... I heard from some people that when a top product marketing guy at Microsoft was asked to justify for the fact that IE didn't support Java in its browser under MacOS X very well (an understatement as it was buggy as hell. The support was turned on officially months after IE and OS X shipped and today, it's still broken for many applets), his reply was that Microsoft had assigned "CLASS C" engineers to do the task. Can you imagine what the level of the programmers assigned to developing Office on Linux would be and what the quality delivered would look like? And who do you think would benefit from the end result? It's like asking the German army during WWII to fight Nazism. Who's the moron who came up with this idea again?

    PPA
  • Do you really want a version of Office for Linux? Really?

    Nope. I really don't want it for Windows. Wouldn't this make the problem worse?

    MS makes OfficeNix[tm] then it crashes millions of servers everywhere. Then it's linux's fault. Wouldn't that help to broaden their powers anyways? Help them convert people?

    I just installed Star Office for Windows, and I love it.

    Why not solve everyone's problem and develop a Windows Layer for Linux? Basically WINE but once loaded you could run anything windoze, DirectX games, office, etc. This would keep their code secret and let everyone run Red Alert 2 [my fav] while using a REAL OS.

    Plus, they could still charge 100 bucks a pop!
  • Office file formats are a good start, but what really is needed are descriptions for integrating mail clients with exchange, and all undocumented microsoft protocols and formats. How about an Open Source Integration Document, listing how support for all microsoft products can integrated into open source software? Now that would be competition!
  • I don't know why so many people get hung up over the MS Office Linux compatiblity. Frankly, the word processor, as a concept, is archaic and slowly on its way out. The spreadsheet is still useful because of its interactivity and power to visualize data. Presentation programs are only good for large scale meetings / lectures, and a waste otherwise. Open Source should be about creating NEW solutions, not repeating what has worked in the past. It's the old inefficient companies, gummed up with worn out management, that insist on keeping with the status quo. People aren't taking advantage of Open Source software for what it excels most at: flexibility and easy innovation. Today's typical office computer environment consists of a bunch of desktops running an Office suite, a mailbox-oriented communications suite, and a handful of clunky database apps to fit sundry needs. Each desktop is a seperate environment with it's own local storage and configuration. A server sits in the back room to pass around documents and coordinate messanging services. This philosophy of design is decrepit, inefficient, costly, and often frustrating, both for users and admins. It's time for some fresh thinking and Open Source is the wide open door. Imagine, instead, an office where every desktop may be used by any user and never needs specific software installation or maintenance. Yes, it's the network-centric model of powerful servers and thinner, diskless clients. But the technology exists to do it the right way this time--cheaply, easily, and effectively. Take that as a base and branch. Once this base is set, the possibilities are endless. A mostly paperless office. A powerful, highly-tuned intrannet system that lets employees truly manage all available data smoothly. Abstracted tasks and many times the automation in use today. Every company is a little different. But that's a good thing. It means there's a huge market for Open Source consulting and in-house programming services.
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:33PM (#2673627) Homepage Journal
    I suggest we rub Bill Gates in butter and give him a spanking.
  • by IGnatius T Foobar (4328) on Friday December 07, 2001 @07:36PM (#2673643) Homepage Journal
    I for one would welcome MS Office for Linux. There's absolutely no way I'd use it myself, but think of the possibilities:
    • Serve up MS Office to X-based thin clients, without the need for Terminal Server licensing and/or Citrix licensing, both which consume huge amounts of money.
    • Users of MS Office for Linux are using Linux!!! Office on Linux is one step away from Microsoft.
    • Finally, and I think this is important ... people would use it, and as a result it would force Microsoft to realize that Linux has desktop potential. Even if they wanted to kill the product later on, they wouldn't be able to do it easily, because the bean counters would say "Hey, this product is selling very well, why stop it?"
    Remember, with no platform advantage, Microsoft has to play fair in the Linux world. Let them come. Let them play on the level playing field. The sooner this happens, the sooner the world can abandon Windows.
  • by Natak (199859) on Friday December 07, 2001 @08:56PM (#2674058)
    But what the states are asking for is lame. Come-on, I'm from Utah, Utah is only thinking of Novell and WordPerfect, Cali is only worried about Sun, and Oracle. I think the states have the right intentions, but they are asking for the wrong things for the wrong reasons.

    First off Java for Windows? I've never had so much fun watching the windows sun fight over the last few years. First Sun makes Java, then Windows supports it, then MS extends it in a stupid way to support COM, then Sun bitches and says its platform dependant and take away their logo (Its just the logo Sun can bitch about, I mean anyone can make a piece of windows software that can do anything, but if you want the Windows logo on your box you have to do it MS's way, same thing with Java). So MS says they will take the logo off the box. Sun still bitches, so MS stops making Java. Then Sun starts making stupid platform dependant API's for Java themselves (same thing they got upset at MS for doing. The API I'm talking about there is the first gen of the 3d api). So let me get this straight, if MS makes a new Java API, they are just trying to ruin it, but if Sun does the same thing they are just adding features? Then Sun says they don't want MS to do any Java. MS says fine and sticks to just supporting one old version. Then Sun says then need an updated SDK. MS finally says, you know what we just will not even include Java period, too much hassle. Now Sun is bitching because Java is not included in Windows. Man this shit is funny. Now 9 States want to force the government to include Java. Guys its just a stupid download, my hell. MS may be likened to an greedy, sneaky asshole, but Sun is like a 4 year old kid who doesn't know what he wants.

    Lets talk about the donation to the schools. I can see how Apple wants to bitch about it come on, half of their money comes from Schools, so if MS gives stuff to them for free, then why would then spend money on Apple? Apple will lose a nice percentage in sales.

    Now lets talk about a stripped down version of Windows. This is lame too. I've hated all of the strong arm crap MS did (and still does), but I've always supported their rights to includes features they wanted. Does anyone remember the lantastic days? MS had windows 3.0 and DOS out, no networking support. Lantastic finds a nice niche market selling networking addons. Then MS includes it in windows for workgroups. Now Lantastic wonders who the hell is going to buy their product if its build into windows. Good question, but networking should be in the OS. Now days we have the same damn thing going on, every feature MS puts in will question some 3rd party product. That's not going to change. Should a basic explorer come with the OS? I think so? Hell every Linux distro I've ever installed has included at least on browser, sometimes even more than one.

    As far as I can tell, all of these deal issues are meant to benefit other companies in other states. Nothing here is meant for the consumer. You can't tell me that the anti trust vision of everyone having to go to the store and buy 10 different products just to run a basic computer is in the consumers best interest. You can't tell me that schools getting free hardware and software is not in the consumers best interest. This case is no longer about consumers, it's about other businesses and their own self-interests. Could you image the press MS would get if it spent time trying to convince the government to make changes to Java? Or to Linux? Just so MS could be benefited.
  • by TandyMasterControl (136043) on Friday December 07, 2001 @09:29PM (#2674195) Homepage
    Like a lot of people , I think it would be better to have a 10 year requirement for MS to fully publish their document formats. Make that 15 years - if you want 5 years of partial compliance from Microsoft you'll have to budget another 5 years at least for their squirming, insolent footdragging and outright defiance.

    The bottomline in this country is that capital has completely captured the regulatory authority of government, and through its media ownership drastically undermined the legitimacy of government oversight with a Long March of corporate subsidized pro-elite ideology - now 20 years old at least. MS therefore can be guilty as hell and yet there is insufficient political will to enforce the laws regulating behavior of monopolies. The people have been told to disengage from these matters and for the most part they have. The legislators have been told not to bite the hand that feeds them and they have pulled out their own molars to avoid giving offense. Two judges so far have pretty much wrecked their careers trying to deal with MS like they would a normal defendant so the writing is on the wall for any future judge. They see the clout of the defendant, and like the Republican T. P. Jackson, they can see the ideological slant of the Court of Appeals above them: if MS can be let go on a technicality and they can be screwed in the process, that is what the Court of Appeals will do.

    Under a crony capitalism style of government, which we see perfected under Bush II meaningful regulation of monopolies is impossible. (Heck, cartels of energy firms are convened behind closed doors to draft administration "energy policy" and the Vice President goes so far as to openly defy an order from Congress to reveal who was present at these meetings!) At least you can't look for sincere effort from the Feds to obtain a restoration of free and fair markets, or anything like justice. The Dems largely lack the spine to piss off corporate benefactors although the party nominally supports antitrust regulation. It takes them too long to work up the determination to do something about flagrantly abusive monopolies. And trustbusting is just not a value that remotely squares with mainstream GOP politics anymore. It's not like they are hiding that fact either: as a presidential candidate, Bush declared his sympathies were completely with Microsoft on the day they were first "convicted" and his antitrust division chief, Charles James, publicly extolled the consumer benefits of the MS monopoly during the trial. Let's face this honestly and frankly: there can be no doubt about the ideological riptide that Justice must swim against now and for the next 3 years at least. There should also be no surprise that things have come to this sorry pass. The role of big money in elections has so far overshadowed mere votes that even a party committed to antitrust regulation can only manage to do a half assed job of it.

    So if there is a block of states litigating for something that somewhat reflects the fact that MS lost the antitrust case and was indeed judged to be a monopoly, illegally shielding its core market from competition and illegally leveraging that core monopoly to pursue monopolistic dominance in related markets, then you have to get behind whatever the states came up with as their alternative settlement proposal. This is the last hope folks, whether we think it's "ideal" or "flawed". There are simply no more options on your side and criticism is a luxury you can no longer afford. You can choose to let yourself be carried out by the riptide, or throw your strength in with those who are rowing back to shore, though at a slant.
    Judging whether MS Office for Linux is desirable you have to weigh it against the aboslutely certain alternative. There's no mystery about what that is anymore. The alternative is nothing. Under the Bush Asscroft regime and the settlement they agreed to with MS, there will be NOTHING in the court ordered remedies that even touches on the heart of the problem, which is the entwined OS and applications monopoly. So your choice is really between what these 9 states have proposed, hoping they can get it all, and on the other hand, a crony capitalism settlement, a legal forfeit, that amounts to a Federal imprimatur of approval upon the Microsoft Windows monopoly and essentially a GOVERNMENT GRANT of MONOPOLY, rather than any kind of remedy or punishment.

    Office for Linux (plus the required inclusion of Sun's JRE in Windows) is better than that submission and by a breathtakingly huge margin.
    (Just so no one says I am assuming too much, I know that a requirement that MS Office be ported to 3 other non-MS operating systems doesn't necessarily mean that Linux will be one of those.)

In Nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences. -- R.G. Ingersoll

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