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Why You Should Choose MS Office Over OO.org 1393

Posted by timothy
from the looks-like-a-handy-checklist-to-me dept.
sander writes "As noted on linxfr.org, Microsoft has published a competitive guide on OpenOffice.org 1.1 vs Microsoft Office. Some of the weirder things they claim in it is that by choosing MS Office over OpenOffice.org one is protected from the threat of viruses. But the giant seems to be sweating -- and with a good reason."
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Why You Should Choose MS Office Over OO.org

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  • some stuff (Score:5, Informative)

    by frazzydee (731240) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:22PM (#8671407)
    For anybody who doesn't have software to read .pdf files (or for anybody who doesn't want to download the pdf file), here [216.239.41.104] is a link to the HTML version of the above mentioned on the above link [microsoft.com].
    also, here is a translation of the link to linuxfr.org [google.com]. Slashdot should have posted another link to the english version- i don't think the majority of /. readers can read french fluently.
    OpenOffice does not have a dedicated development or support rteam.Consequently,if bugs go unresolved,users have the option to resolve problems by scouring through numerous community sites and chat rooms.
    is it just me, or is microsoft the one who we usually hear about leaving bugs unresolved for months? [eeye.com]
    • Unresolved bugs. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NeoBeans (591740) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:26PM (#8671465) Homepage Journal
      That is one of the things that stuck out to me... Given the longstanding bugs in Windows, and the lack of support to end-users when bugs do occur, I'd say this is a case of the pot calling the stainless steel pan black.
      • by Drathus (152223) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:49PM (#8671884)
        ...

        But stainless steel is silv... Oh.
      • by Doesn't_Comment_Code (692510) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @05:10PM (#8672200)
        I'm torn...

        I can't decide which is worse:
        groping through Knowledge Base documents and being put on hold for hours calling Microsoft

        OR

        reading outdated man pages then being cussed out by an experience, yet socially inept user, for asking a question on a discussion board

        When it all comes down to it (MS or OO), I just end up entering the error message into Google anyway.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#8671467)
      Slashdot should have posted another link to the english version- i don't think the majority of /. readers can read french fluently.

      From what I've seen round here, the English version would be no more useful than a version in Klingon.
    • Re:some stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Kourino (206616) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:34PM (#8671624) Homepage
      Man, you know, the funny thing is that the one thing you pick on them for is true. Yes, even GPL'd software can have unresolved bugs sitting for months. Hell, go to the OO.o bug tracker and you can find entries from 2002 if you look for two minutes.

      This isn't to pick on OO.o - writing bug-free software is manageable, but not necessarily easy, especially for something that big. But no, Microsoft isn't the only one who leaves bugs unresolved for months. If you're going to debunk this, I'd start somewhere else.
      • Re:some stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Leomania (137289) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:47PM (#8671828) Homepage
        Hell, go to the OO.o bug tracker and you can find entries from 2002 if you look for two minutes.

        Exactly... you can't go and find what unresolved bugs there are for any Microsoft product, can you? No, that's proprietary information, my friend, and you and I are not worthy to view it -- whether we're MS customers or not. What a beautiful example of OSS in action, and a strong alternate point to their argument.

        - Leo
        • by Stephen Samuel (106962) <.samuel. .at. .bcgreen.com.> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @06:00PM (#8672967) Homepage Journal
          I've told this story many times:

          A friend of mine worked for a rather large company and his users were having problems with excel corrupting files in a wierd, almost viral, way.

          His Microsoft account rep kept on telling him that the problem must be with something that he was doing, because nobody else seemed to be having that problem.

          Then my friend found out that someone at another company was having the same problem, and my friend had the following conversation with his MS account rep:

          friend: I was talking to Mr. X at Ycorp the other day and, ...
          MS: Oh yeah, Mr. X. I talk to him all the time.. YCorp is one of my accounts, you know...
          friend: Ah, then you'll know that, for the last couple of months, he's having the same problem with excel that I've been having!.
          MS: <guilty silence>.
          One thing that you rarely get in the Open Source world is people lying about the existence of a bug.
      • Re:some stuff (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jhoger (519683) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:49PM (#8671866) Homepage
        > writing bug-free software is manageable

        Oh, you just admitted you aren't a programmer.

        All software of any reasonable complexity has bugs. Period. Process can help but it will never prevent 100% of bugs.

        There are bugs in FOSS. There are bugs in proprietary software.

        Now then, what's the difference? Well, with a proprietary vendor you can spend hours/weeks with tech support trying to move up through 1st, 2nd, till you get to 3rd level where you might be able to convince someone there is a bug. And then do you think that engineer is going roll out the red carpet, whip up a build and send it over to my house? No... I'm just another user with just another problem, and he might give me a workaround, but likely I will be waiting for the next release like everyone else. It's my only choice. Now if I'm a megacorp paying real money for lots of licenses I might be able to get that red carpet. But I'm not.

        Now with FOSS I have options. I can get onto IRC or I can file a public bug report. For bad bugs, these are likely to be fixed right away. If it is decided its invalid for some reason I will get a response from an actual engineer saying why they closed the bug. If I don't get satisfaction well, I have the source. If I have the ability I can fix it myself. Or else I could contract someone else to do it. And then I'll probably give the patch back to the project if they want it.

        There's a huge difference there. It's about power to get done what you need to. FOSS gives that to the user.
      • Bugs from 2002 (Score:5, Informative)

        by overshoot (39700) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:59PM (#8672021)
        Man, you know, the funny thing is that the one thing you pick on them for is true. Yes, even GPL'd software can have unresolved bugs sitting for months. Hell, go to the OO.o bug tracker and you can find entries from 2002 if you look for two minutes.

        Sure you can. One of those is mine, in fact: OO.o doesn't have an overbar (opposite of underline) font attribute for text. Really a problem for doing technical documentation, but to date nobody has wanted to bother with it. Including me, as it happens; if it were important enough to $EMPLOYER we'd have added it already.

        Of course, MSOffice doesn't have overbar either. Wonder what it would take for $EMPLOYER to enhance MSWord?

    • Re:some stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cshark (673578) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:35PM (#8671638)
      Seems like one of their big arguments is that there is no database client. I thought openoffice had a database client, am I wrong?
      • Re:some stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

        by motorsabbath (243336) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:52PM (#8671930) Homepage
        Not really. It has a data front-end that can be plugged into a backend database, but nothing as self-contained as Access. This is about the only valid complaint about a "lacking" office app in the OSS world. For the small office there's nothing like Access.

        Don't get me wrong, I haven't used M$ Office since college 5 years ago (it was crap then and still is) but there is nothing like Access in the OSS world. Yet. There are some excellent front ends to e.g. pgsql/mysql/etc. but nothing Ma & Pa Kettle's General Store can fire up w/o being a DB admin. Is there?

        BTW, that bit about OO users being more susceptible to viruses is really funny - it made my day.
    • Re: unresolved bugs? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hafree (307412) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:35PM (#8671643) Homepage
      Back in 1995, Microsoft Word had a problem with auto-page numbering in the footer of documents that affected the page numbers as well as the font used if changed from the default 12pt Times Roman. 9 years later, this exact same bug remains.
    • Support Team (Score:5, Informative)

      by althalus (520424) <{moc.tun-gul} {ta} {todhsals}> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:35PM (#8671648) Homepage
      Actually, besides the already helpful OO.org developers, Novell has recently announced at brainshare that they will be giving full support for OO. From developers, to sales and user support. Not just for the linux part, but full OO support. Not a bad thing to have for those just getting into open source, or companies that need the assurances.
  • Fallacies (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FractusMan (711004) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:22PM (#8671409)
    Fascinating use of "facts" and "logic" going on here. Let me start with this one: "...Basic feature functionality that enables content authoring is only one small aspect of what a small business needs. Businesses need to:..."

    Well, that's a great argument. No, it isn't. The opening line was, "Open Office is good enough. I only need basic functionality." And Microsoft's response is, "No, you don't! You need more than that!" Well, thanks. I'm glad you know what we need more than we do.

    Another argument they make is "User support such as training (OpenOffice UI, although similar in many ways to Office, is not the same and users may require 'retraining')."

    Well, that's also swell! I'm glad Microsoft has assumed that we'd need retraining, because obviously everyone was originally trained using MS Office. I'm glad they assume that. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. So what about everyone who hasn't had training in either?

    I'll leave the rest of the fallacies to more experienced users than myself.

    • Re:Fallacies (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SoTuA (683507) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:29PM (#8671528)
      I would have expected them to say MSOffice has lower TCO or higher ROI than OOo, at least trumpet "Office is better". But no, all we get is "Don't you DARE switch from MSOffice or ALL THIS will happen to you!".

      Ah, Microsoft is feeling the heat the free software community is lighting under their asses.

      Got any of that "Ronson Fast Lite" left?

    • by (1)down (749897) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:31PM (#8671569)
      WHY open office can't format Office Documents correctly.
    • Re:Fallacies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ayaress (662020) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:34PM (#8671621) Journal
      After a couple years using WordPerfect, it took me about an hour (during which I still managed to get things done) to get used to MS Works. It was maybe 15 minutes (during which I managed to get work done, again) to get used to MS Office. OO took me a couple hours (and again, I still typed up a term paper in that time).

      Yes, people require retraining to use a word processor they aren't familiar with, but it's not like you have to send them off to boot camp for nine weeks.
    • Re:Fallacies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peterpi (585134) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:47PM (#8671829)
      "I'm glad Microsoft has assumed that we'd need retraining, because obviously everyone was originally trained using MS Office."

      Well, that the truth isn't it? For every slashdot headline about some school, college or course teaching some 'other' Office suite, there's hundreds teaching MS Office. Even if they had no training at all, Microsoft Office is what most people have had prior expeirence of, so some readjustment will be required.

      I agree that for computer literate users the move would go unnoticed, and so MS' argument is a bit weak, but so much of Office (Word in particular) is learnt parrot fashion. For the person who thinks Word is the computer, retraining would be required.... but not too much! :)

    • Re:Fallacies (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EtherMonkey (705611) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @05:24PM (#8672456)

      ARGUMENT: License cost is only a small part of the total cost of ownership.

      FACT: License cost is a significant part of the cost at $369-479 per PC (per CDW.com) for MS-Office 2003 Standard/Professional.

      ARGUMENT: Installation and deployment costs

      FACT: Many of the same methods used to deploy MS-Office work equally well, or better with Open Office. There are no software keys or other serial numbers to deal with in Open Office. You do not need to invest time and money into administering software licenses, audit trails and license compliance reports with Open Office. You do not need to worry about entering 25-digit CDKey codes on each PC or performing Microsoft Product Activation. You do not need a Microsoft Passport or the risk of associated unintentional information disclosure to use Open Office.

      ARGUMENT: Existing MS-Office users will need retraining to use Open Office.

      FACT: Like the retraining necessary when MS-Office 95 users were forced to move to MS-Office 97? And again to MS-Office 2000? And again to XP/2002? And, though to a lesser extent, again to 2003?

      What happens when students, either due to school policy or an individual effort to save money, grow up using Open Office instead of Microsoft office? Won't this argument then get turned on its head?

      ARGUMENT: Open Office does not have an email client, so customers may incur cost to get one.

      FACT: Netscape? Mozilla? Pheonix? Eudora? Pegasus Mail? Outlook Express? Need I go on?

      ARGUMENT: Businesses need to exchange documents with other businesses.

      FACT: HTML and PDF are the two most widely used formats for sharing documents with other businesses, and both are natively written and read in Open Office, without the need to spend $200 more on Acrobat Writer. Microsoft's argument exposes their belief that they should and do monopolize the office productivity marketplace, or else how could they argue that MS-Office format files are more portable than PDF or HTML?

      ARGUMENT: Ensure their mission-critical data is protected from virus attack.

      FACT: Like those pesky office macro viruses? Or the dozens of exploits for Outlook? Or the fact that VBScript does not properly implement sandbox security? And since when is Microsoft so concerned about viruses? Hell, they used to include antivirus software at no additional charge with Windows 3.x. We now pay 4x more for Windows and Microsoft REMOVED the antivirus features from the OS!

      ARGUMENT: Microsoft ... providing [support] resources where, when and how you need them. OpenOffice users have to search the web for answers.

      FACT: I see no difference between searching Microsoft's website and newsgroups for answers than searching OpenOffice.org's, except that in Microsoft's case I get anectdotal answers (this worked for me) or (I learned this trick at work), whereas with OpenOffice, there's a chance I can talk to someone who KNOWS THE SOURCE CODE.

      Of course, I can pay Microsoft for support if I really need it. After spending $125 I usually have to wait on hold for over an hour to speak with someone with an accent so bad that I have to get everything spelled to understand the answer.

      ARGUMENT: MS-Office documents may not open properly in Open Office and visa-versa.

      FACT: Isn't this Microsoft's fault? After all, they are the ones that keep changing their applications to make interoperability more and more difficult with each release.

  • good logic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pvt_medic (715692) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:24PM (#8671437)
    Some of the weirder things they claim in it is that by choosing MS Office over OpenOffice.org one is protected from the threat of viruses

    yes because i get all sort of virus alerts about new security threats for open office.
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:25PM (#8671439)
    The path is:
    /partner/salesmarketing/opensource/discguides

    Disc stands for "disinformation campaign"
  • One of the things I find most interesting about this guide is how much it focuses not on how MS-Office is better but on the many inconveniences you will suffer by switching away from it. They focus on the pains of data migration, macros, and training. And to the question "What if OpenOffice has all the features I need" they don't attempt to refute the claim, they point to all the pain you will feel when MS-Office users start sending their "full-featured" documents to people who only have OpenOffice. MS-Office was feature-complete as of Office 95, everything else is not simply window dressing, it's down-right irritating

  • by KingReuben (707879) <spambox@@@endarus...com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:26PM (#8671460) Homepage
    Inch by lonely inch, the Open Source Movement/Linux/whateveryouwannacallit matures and grows more powerful.

    And M$ says they won't release a new version for (what was it?) three years? Five?

    Meanwhile the opensource coders and fans continue whittling away in the trenches, refining their dreams and ever more gradually making MS look pretty damned bad and ugly.

    I think of where Linux distros are today compared to 5 years ago -- and I think about where they will be 5 years ahead!!

    It's a beautiful thing!
  • PDF (Score:5, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:26PM (#8671462)
    "Microsoft Office vs OpenOffice" document, published by Microsoft in ... PDF format.

    Amusing...
  • by MissP (728641) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:26PM (#8671463)
    Hmmm. If Microsoft considers OpenOffice a sufficiently mature product that it warrants a comparison, then I guess it is time for me to compare.
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KoopaTroopa (549540) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:26PM (#8671464) Homepage
    Many of the same people who could possibly be swayed by this probably haven't heard of OpenOffice.org anyway. This is free publicity.

    I can't imagine anyone seriously basing their purchasing decisions off of such a document, although I'm sure someone here has an acquaintance who can disappoint my small amount of faith in humanity.

  • hmmm.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrscorpio (265337) <twoheadedboy AT stonepool DOT com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#8671469)
    And yet the comparison document is in a format that can't be read by MS Office, but CAN by OpenOffice.org...not a great idea :)

    Chris
  • by JohnGrahamCumming (684871) * <slashdot@nosPam.jgc.org> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#8671471) Homepage Journal
    Of course Microsoft would create this document using their own products, naturally, they are the big proponent of the "Eat Your Own Dog Food" methodology.

    So why then when I click on Document Properties on this PDF do I see?

    Creator: QuarkXpress 4.11
    Producer: Acrobat Distiller 4.05 for Macintosh

    Bill: while you're transferring this over to Microsoft Publisher perhaps you'd like to fix the typo on page 1: "rteam".

    John.
  • Clippy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by dswensen (252552) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#8671472) Homepage
    "B-but, Open Office doesn't have Clippy, the helpful paper clip. Or a wizard. Or a little Microsoft logo that tells you when you're writing a letter (because obviously, you don't know). We even have a helpful little puppy! You like puppies, don't you? Everybody likes puppies! Fine, go ahead and use Open Office, puppy killer!"
  • Step 3 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:27PM (#8671483)
    first, they ignore you
    then, they laugh at you
    then, they fight you <-- you are here
    then you win

    Will step 4 happen? Stay tuned.

  • by Sexual Ass Gerbil (728400) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:28PM (#8671495) Homepage Journal
    1. Never mention the name of your competitor.

    Once a company names their competitors in marketing literature, you know the company is losing ground. Or so the marketers say. I'm not sure if I believe it though
  • by DR SoB (749180) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8671530) Journal
    After reading this, it looks like they are marketing OO!! I mean, sure it doesn't have Clippy and all (more features) and it doesn't have an email client (umm, do we really need another anyways?), but personally, I _hate_ Clippy.

    Why didn't they put the "System Requirements" of Office? I mean, if it's a comparison shouldn't you put some sort of "comparison" information somewhere? That alone would show that OO is multi-platform, a HUGE benefit for most business..

    The open-source community should be using this paper to hype OO, IMHO it does a great job!
  • by L-Train8 (70991) <Matthew_HawkNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8671533) Homepage Journal
    This quote made me stop:
    I only need basic features. OpenOffice is good enough."
    In today's networked, highly collaborative world, businesses do not operate in a vacuum; basic feature functionality that enables content authoring is only one small aspect of what a small business needs.


    It reminded me of an incident that happened several years ago. I was working at a company with close ties to Microsoft when the "I Love You" virus struck. Both Microsoft and our company were hit hard by it. A couple days after the messy cleanup, I sent a Word doc to a Microsoft employee. It was a form we used often and it had a macro that allowed the recipient to fill in some check boxes.

    I got a nasty reply from the microsoft employee about how it was irresponsible to send word docs with macros in this time of virus vulnerability. Since then, I have used as few of the gimmicky features that MS Office supplies. They don't add much to your documents, and they set you up for virus and incompatibility problems. Only using basic features isn't something you should settle for, it is a good rule to follow to avoid lots of nasty problems.
  • by bratgrrl (197603) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8671535)
    M$ is right about one thing- migration is the most painful and expensive part. Unlike using M$ products, though, the pain stops afterwards.
  • by richmaine (128733) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8671540)
    I was amused by the claim that OO was inferior because "if bugs [in OO] go unresolved, users have the option to resolve problems by...".

    This apparently contrasts with MS Office, where if bugs go unresolved, users do not have any options.

    Ok. I knew that, but I'm surprised that MS raised it as a point. :-)
  • by daveo0331 (469843) * on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8671545) Homepage Journal
    We've already discussed most of what's in this document. For example:

    3. "OpenOffice 1.1 is an open source alternative." OpenOffice does not have a dedicated development or support team. Consequently, if bugs go unresolved, users have the option to resolve problems by scouring through numerous community sites and chat rooms.

    MS has been saying things like this about OSS for years. Of course they don't mention what your options are if a bug in MS Office goes unresolved.
  • by Ayaress (662020) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:30PM (#8671546) Journal
    Too expensive, no useful additions in years.

    I'm still using Office 97 on my Windows computer. It cost me about $70 when I got it, and it's functionally identical to the Office 2000 and Office XP that my university and workplace use. The additions in the last several iterations of Office have been of only niche usefullness, and you can usually get something to do that with 97 anyway.

    At least with OO, I'm not asked to pay another $150 every year or two just to get a new font, or a new text overlay effect that I could do with the old one anyway.
  • Support? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cabingirl (671963) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:31PM (#8671564)
    OpenOffice does not have a dedicated development or support team. Consequently, if bugs go unresolved, users have the option to resolve problems by scouring through numerous community sites and chat rooms.

    I guess they've never tried to resolve an MS issue as a lowly home user, slogging through the MS "knowledge base". I usually end up Googling for answers to my MS Office questions.

  • by jfengel (409917) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:32PM (#8671585) Homepage Journal
    I just bought a new computer and chose to skip getting MS Office on it, so I have been experimenting with OO.

    My results so far: in general, I prefer MS Office. Perhaps it's just because I'm more familiar with its eccentricities, but I find many things about OO annoying.

    I can't map functions to ALT keys, and the relatively simply "switch to style X" involves setting up a macro before I can bind it to a key.

    It took me a long time to get section numbering right. Eventually it did work, but the vast array of options confused me and tweaking them introduced subtle problems of their own.

    OO doesn't have book-style figure layout. (Neither does MSO.) Drawing is not easy, and not well integrated.

    This is not an evaluation; this is just the list of things I wanted to do on day one that pissed me off. MS Office has its own problems, and many of those persist for version after version. But the devil I know is better than the devil I don't when all I want to do is get some work done.

    I assume OO.o will get better, and I'm going to keep using OO.o to see what happens as I get more familiar with it. I sure can't beat the price.
    • by aralin (107264) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @05:59PM (#8672952)

      Hmm, I made my wife compare the two office suites and then asked her which ones is better. And she said flat out that MS Office is better and more convenient to her as well since she used to use it at work.

      Then I told her that she can either pay $500 and I will install MS Office for her or she can have OpenOffice for free. Guess what? She opted for OpenOffice and bunch of shoes and dresses :)

      I'd say, the OpenOffice is definitely ready for market.

  • by S3D (745318) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:32PM (#8671589)
    customer may incur a
    licensing cost associated with buyng an e-mail application
    Hmm, is Mozilla still free ?
    • by Zathrus (232140) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:48PM (#8671853) Homepage
      Hmm, is Mozilla still free ?

      Yup.

      Now, let me know when Mozilla will do calendar, appointment book, task list, and email integration.

      And before you flame me as a troll - I use Firefox at home and work and Thunderbird at home. Work requires I use Outlook, and it's because of those features that it has value. I don't find its email capabilities particularly wonderful by themselves, not to mention the slew of virus vulnerabilities (but that's ok, because we paid for, at a considerable expense, a mail server virus scanner). Despite the drawbacks there is very little that is actually competitive with Outlook/Exchange. And most of the alternatives (Notes, for example) suck even more. Yes, there are some OSS solutions out there as well, but they're not up to the same level in functionality as Outlook/Exchange. And that's a pretty sad statement.
  • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:33PM (#8671617) Homepage
    The golden rule...he who has the gold rules.

    If someone is giving you money (employer or client) and they demand that you give them Office files (.doc, .xls, .mdb), you have to be able to provide them. They don't want to hear "well .rtf blah blah conversion blah". They use Office and they're giving you money, so they call the shots. An internal debate between open-source principals and cash is a short one.

    -B
  • Little anecdote... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dimensio (311070) <darkstar@NOsPAM.iglou.com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:37PM (#8671681)
    I work in a US spinoff of a Japanese chemical company. As such, there are times when users here have to deal with documents from Japan, complete with Japanese fonts.

    A rather nice lady reported a problem with an Excel document that contained Japanese fonts. The characters in the spreadsheet were appearing as squares rather than the proper Japanese characters. Naturally, this appeared to be a fonts problem, so my first attempt at a fix was to install the Japanese language set. Unfortunately, this didn't work, as the document STILL had nothing but squares where the Japanese characters should have been.

    It looked as though it was a versioning issue. It looked like a document created with Japanese character with Excel 95 (the document seemed to have been created with that) could NOT display the characters properly in Excel 2000. I couldn't find any method of getting the document to show up properly in Excel 2000, and the solution seemed to be to install Excel 95, because that was the only application that would show the characters properly.

    Then I remembered OpenOffice.

    I didn't know if it would work, but I downloaded and installed OO 1.1. I opened the Japanese document, and to my surprise, I was greeted with the spreadsheet just as it should have appeared, complete with the Japanese characters. Not content to leave it at just that, I re-saved the document from within OpenOffice, then I opened it with Excel 2000. Lo and behold, the document appeared correctly! The only way that I could get a document created in Excel 95 to show up properly in Excel 2000 was with Open Office.

    Needless to say, I related the solution to the network admin who had assigned me the task, recommending that OpenOffice be considered as an alternative or replacement to MS Office.
  • by Skapare (16644) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:38PM (#8671687) Homepage

    Microsoft Office has no threat of viral infection. That's because viral infection is very real. Hell, they ought to remove all doubt and just ship Microsoft Office pre-infected.

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:38PM (#8671698)
    From an email that went through the marketing offices of Microsoft headquarters:
    Ten reasons
    you should choose Microsoft Office Deluxe Professional Edition over OpenOffice.org:
    1. It makes us more money.
    Ok, so we're still about nine reasons short... Someone needs to conjure them up. -Bill.
    Make of it what you will...
  • Have to Laugh (Score:5, Informative)

    by GMFTatsujin (239569) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:40PM (#8671722) Homepage
    From the PDF:
    Question the "free" argument... License cost makes up only a small portion of the total cost of ownership. More significant costs include: Installation and deployment,
    Data migration and testing (especially if customer uses Access databases)

    My emphasis, there. And I couldn't agree more. Handling issues of inaccessable Access databases is incredibly important, and is notorious for chewing up helpdesk hours.

    Especially when Office 2000 broke Access compatibility with 98 databases, and forced everyone to upgrade (or to not touch the database with Access2000 so that those who had not yet upgraded could still get to their data).

    OfficeXP did the same thing to 2000 databases - all it took was one XP user to touch the database, and all the 2000 users would suddenly be out of the loop. I fully expect Access2k3 to be the same way.

    So yes, consider those Access databases as a major component of the cost of data migration. When one version of Access touches the database, be ready to install and deploy that same version to all your other clients, because with Access, you migrate your data whether you're ready to or not. And you pay every year for the privilige! Hooray!
  • Oh? (Score:5, Funny)

    by pair-a-noyd (594371) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:47PM (#8671836)
    Some of the weirder things they claim in it is that by choosing MS Office over OpenOffice.org one is protected from the threat of viruses

    Bill, give Darl his crack pipe back...

  • by aduzik (705453) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @04:52PM (#8671926) Homepage
    Is anyone else here tired of MS whipping out the ol' TCO everytime an open source product kicks their product's ass?

    From the article:
    License cost makes up only a small portion of the total cost of ownership

    We all remember Microsoft's skewed Windows .NET Server/Linux comparison and how they creatively invented numbers to show how expensive Linux was in TCO. Funny that they never factored in the billions of dollars companies lose due to security flaws that enable breakins and data theft, macro viruses and exploits of other features they think you can't live without, and lost time/effort/work from programs/OSes that crash. That will raise your TCO, won't it?

    So Microsoft, QUIT IT with the TCO argument. None of us are buying it, and subsequently, none of us are buying your stuff.

  • XML (Score:5, Informative)

    by Quila (201335) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @05:02PM (#8672074)
    I love it. They touted Office's lip service to XML as an advantage, forgetting that OO's internal file format is pure XML with an open published DTD. A decent programmer can make software to read and repurpose an OO document with 100% accuracy.

    Anyone with knowledge of both can blow away most of these arguments. However, some do have merit in certain circumstances.
  • by soullessbastard (596494) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @05:48PM (#8672816) Homepage Journal
    Counter to what the competitive points claim, Sun provides fee based support [sun.com] for the top-tier platforms (Linux-x86, Solaris, Win32) for OpenOffice.org, not just for StarOffice. It's right in the "Commercial Support and Training" portion of the OOo support homepage [openoffice.org] next to the Sun logo. There are also some other firms and independent consultants listed. Gee, not only can you get paid support from Sun, but price around your support needs as well! You'd think that if MS is trying to sell Office with support as a major bullet point they could at least have given the webpage a look!

    While I can't speak for other places, on trinity [neooffice.org] where I host and answer OOo OS X support forums there's usually a Mac OOo expert answering questions within one day of asking. There are non-programmers who volunteer their time to help new people with installation, deployment, how-tos, etc. It seems unfair to belittle one-on-one expert help just because it's done for free :)

    ed
  • Gems... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by seanellis (302682) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @05:48PM (#8672820) Homepage Journal

    There are over 300 million users of Office worldwide who can seamlessly exchange documents without concerns for loss of data or formatting errors.

    As anyone who has tried to open an Office 2000 document in Office 97, this is blatantly untrue.

    License cost makes up only a small portion of the total cost of ownership.

    Indeed. For MS products, the cost of constant forced upgrades, security problems, antivirus tools, e-mail scanners, etc. represent a serious additional cost.

    OpenOffice UI, although similar in many ways to Office, is not the same and users may require "retraining"

    Indeed, this is true. But at least they had the decency to put "retraining" in quotes. The vast majority of commonly used functions will be at a user's fingertips within minutes of loading OpenOffice. The rest are no more different than from one version of Office to the next. My wife is not at all technical, was trained on MS Office, and hardly noticed the difference when switching to Open Office.

    OpenOffice does not have a dedicated development or support rteam. Consequently, if bugs go unresolved, users have the option to resolve problems by scouring through numerous community sites and chat rooms.

    Note the "if" in that sentence. Note also the number of defects open in MS Office. Note also the excellent reputation of MS support.

    businesses do not operate in a vacuum; basic feature functionality that enables content authoring is only one small aspect of what a small business needs.

    Businesses indeed do not operate in a vacuum. I presume that this is why the document is in PDF format - so everyone can read it. Compare and contrast the ease of creating PDF documents in MS Word and in Open Office.

    I could go on, but my righteous indignation circuits are all burned out. EUR500M? Should have been the full EUR5G.

  • by argent (18001) <peter.slashdot@2006@taronga@com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @06:20PM (#8673278) Homepage Journal
    1. The costs of converting from Microsoft Office to other platforms is not an advantage for Microsoft Office over the long term. If you use Microsoft Office you will be faced with that conversion cost over and over again, every time you have need to use an alternative. If you use a tool based on open standards your data will remain accessible from other applications as time goes on. It's like the guy at the garage says when you put off repairs, "Pay now or pay later"...

    Of course Microsoft's response would be that you will never have to migrate from Microsoft Office. Permit me to express a little skepticism: every few years we go through another forced upgrade and conversion as a new version of Microsoft Office comes on the scene. Not only is this a cost of Office, it's a regularly recurring one.

    1 1/2. Open office doesn't have a mail client. This is an advantage: the mail client Microsoft provides is inherently insecure. By merging Internet Explorer with Windows Explorer they imposed on every application in the system the responsibility of parsing and evaluating the names associated with objects to try and guess whether they're trusted (and can be allowed to do things like read and write files) or not. Any application that uses the MSHTML control and related APIs, anyway. Like outlook...

    2. There's actually a cost to features: the more features in your software, the more complex it is, and the more dependent the data you produce with that software is on the particular version. See point 1.

    2 1/2. If you're not running Outlook, you've done more to prevent yourself from getting infected with a virus than anything you can do with Microsoft's help. Then you can go on and turn off the RPC service, the personal web publishing services, and with each step leave viruses further behind...

    3. When we were installing our first Windows NT domain, I was unsure some of the setup. I called Microsoft three times before I got someone who was willing to provide an answer to one question, and it turned out to be the wrong one. Our network was basically down, and when i called Microsoft for help they told me I had used up our free support calls and could I provide a credit card number so I could pat them to fix the problem they'd caused. I went ballistic, my boss went ballistic, and a week later we got an apologetic call from someone at microsoft and some kind of free support contract... but in the meantime "numerous community sites and chat rooms" had fixed things for me.

    4. Microsoft offers limited compatibility with Open Office is what I think they meant to say. As for macros and dynamic links and the like, well, see point 1 and point 2 1/2, remember when macro viruses were the worst problem out there? They haven't gone away, they've just been overshadowed by the flood of "cross zone exploits".
  • by rjamestaylor (117847) <rjamestaylor@gmail.com> on Thursday March 25, 2004 @06:27PM (#8673394) Homepage Journal
    OOo is good. Good enough that I use it myself and install it on executives' PCs instead of MS Office w/ PowerPoint. It isn't as polished as MS Office; this is true. But it isn't "finished" yet, either.

    Anyway, the real killer feature of OOo is lack of concerns over license compliance (for users, I mean, not developers; but that's an interesting distinction to need to make considering that license compliance with MS Office unambiguously refers to end-users). In a reasonably sizeable corporate office software license compliance is enough of a concern to have created a burgeoning market for compliance tracking and auditing tools.

    In fact, I believe you'll soon have a new executive level CxO designation: CLO -- Chief Licensing Officer. This person's job is to oversee the department in charge not of installation, acquisition, maintenance, training, selection of software but merely of adhering to license terms. The impetus will be to avoid draconian (or has it progressed to Machevellian yet?) BSA audits carried out by warrant-holding sherrifs. Think I'm kidding?

    With Open Source there are many benefits. One that cannot be denied is the total elimination of license management and compliance. This is true on both sides of the software equation -- producers and users. Imagine how much better MS Office would be if MSFT didn't have its brightest minds inventing ways to stop the software from working (XP Activation being only the latest incarnation; now you know the great advantage OOo has over MS Office -- it doesn't have to delay waiting for the Activation team to finish its work.) Anyone who's had to track licenses for a large installation knows the headache on the user side.

    Remember, one violation per the BSA's standard (i.e., not just the "license" but the original invoice is also required to establish that you are not a THIEVING PIRATE!) can cost you not only a year's worth of milk money (up to $150,000 or more) but also your freedom (up to 5 years in the federal pokey with Bubba, the federal poker) [constructionweblinks.com]. That's a big price to pay for making an "extra" copy of MS Office for Mr. Jones' take-home laptop, isn't it? With proprietary software it doesn't take much to ruin your day.

    Don't forget to add the potential for fines and/or prison as well as the overhead needed to maintain license compliance records to avoid them into the TCO equation.

  • by jeddak (12628) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @06:53PM (#8673712)
    I'm ready to switch. OpenOffice doesn't have all the wonderful nifty features that MS Office has, and I'm tired of explaining my use of this obscure piece of software to my friends and family...

    So. Tell me - where do I buy MS Office for FreeBSD?

    No?

    Linux?

    Solaris?

    Oh.
  • by Trillian_Angel (542729) on Thursday March 25, 2004 @07:03PM (#8673817) Homepage
    On the whole, when I first read the pdf on the microsoft site, I was actually rather impressed. For the most part, it was civil. Not what we'd all like, but relatively civil.

    It was *almost* truthful for the most part... not entirely, but *almost*... ... and it is probably the best advertising OO.o has had. With this established, there are a few key points I think I would make about this arguement.

    In the #OpenOffice.org channel on IRC, I was asked what I thought about the article, and the impact it has on OpenOffice.org as a whole. All in all, I thought its great for OOo. As long as we don't get into a petty pissing fight with MS Office, that is. Then someone was throwing around the idea that we should have a pointer article tossed back as a response to Microsofts little publication. I only replied "Why bother?" No matter what route we took with a reply, I think it would do more harm than good. The only thing I could think of as a reply would be a nice polite response to some of the false comments in the article.

    There are a few ways where this advertising could hurt OpenOffice.org, but that would realistically only effect the crowds that would never switch even if their existances depended on it. I know a few people like that that live and breath the harddrive space Microsoft uses.

    In cases like that, OpenOffice.org just might not be the better alternative, as they would be very stuck in their ways. I would like to think we would rather have 10 very satisifed users than 20... 10 of which would do nothing but complain about this problem or that problem, and do little if anything to help resolve the issue.

    But, OO.o still has quite a ways to go. While I love it and use it for all of my writing, there are still a few things that need fixed and improved upon. But, I've decided to join the project and help make it happen when I have a little more time.. which should be in about a month when my current projects settle down. But, that is what I find so beautiful about the OO.o project. If I don't like something, I can dig on in and help fix it.

    If MS Office offered that flexibility, I would have been enticed in joining the team. But, as it did not and never will, I'll be stuck in my ways and keep supporting OO.o ;)

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