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Microsoft Software

Microsoft FUD Machine Aims at OpenOffice.org 693

Posted by michael
from the head-shot dept.
Roblimo writes "If you're using Microsoft Office and considering a switch to (free) OpenOffice.org, Microsoft would like you to read their Open Office Competitive Guide first, in which they tell you how much better/faster/cheaper MS Office is than OOo. Taran Rampepersad, an IT consultant in Trinidad, believes this "Competitive Guide" is nothing but FUD, so he wrote a detailed rebuttal to it -- and released his article under the FDL so you can feel free to republish his piece or share it with anyone you like, however you like." A followup to this story. Newsforge and Slashdot are both part of OSDN.
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Microsoft FUD Machine Aims at OpenOffice.org

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  • by The Ape With No Name (213531) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:00PM (#8691832) Homepage
    and my MS Office-using (on a Mac even) advisor is sixpence none the wiser. Total FUD.
    • by 13Echo (209846) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:31PM (#8692062) Homepage Journal
      Speaking of Macs. Did anyone else notice that the PDF was made with:

      Creator: QuarkXPress(tm) 4.11
      Producer: Acrobat Distiller 4.05 for Macintosh

      Yay for MS Office!
    • Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Zeinfeld (263942) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:36PM (#8692406) Homepage
      and my MS Office-using (on a Mac even) advisor is sixpence none the wiser. Total FUD.

      The points are aimed at people who actually buy software. The fact that you can write a thesis without using word is not a great surprise. I wrote mine using LaTeX.

      The marketting points look reasonable enough to me, OpenOffice does not do everything that Word or Office does, it does provide a clone of the core functionality. But what happened to open source being innovation and Microsoft being only able to copy? Is there anything that OpenOffice does that is new?

      When the VA Linux puts these stories up on slashdot they do so with all the objectivity of a Congressional hit squad. When it comes to Microsoft the editorial line at VA Linux is even less objective than Matt Drudge. At least Slate tells us that it is owned by Microsoft before they comment on stories that affect their employer, heck Slate even bites the hand that feeds it. But not Slashdot, there they stay on message even more comically than a Whitehouse press spokesperson.

      Is this the most important tech story going on in the world? I don't think so. The editorial diet today has been pretty thin, recycled stories published a week ago on the BBC, the fascinating news that Mozilla Foxtrot is going to allow the users to choose the name for themselves. Well whoop-de-do, Internet Explorer went through that phase roung about release 3.0, you could download a tool that would let you brand it any way you chose, stupid icon and everything. I used to annoy my Netscape friends by running a version that announced itself as Netscape Navigator complete with N icon. The sometimes took quarter of an hour or more before they realized they were having their chain yanked.

      I still think the Wired story on how to get casual sex via bluetooth [wired.com] was more interesting. Oh and that virginity auction [bbc.co.uk] in the UK. Or how about Boeing being about to launch high speed internet service [wired.com] via WiFi on planes next month?

      Sure the latest discovery of some perfidious Microsoft marketting litterature was desperately more important and interesting. Does it tell us anything new we did not know before?

      • Re:Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:5, Informative)

        by neko9 (743554) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:13PM (#8692617)
        Is there anything that OpenOffice does that is new?

        why yes - it opens corrupted office documents and saves documents directly to pdf. for me thats priceless.
      • Re:Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:5, Informative)

        by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:28PM (#8692731)
        OOo can export any of its documents to PDF, MS Office can not do that by itself. OOo can also export its presentations to Macromedia Flash(tm) which makes it very easy to put it out to a web page somewhere to share. You just click the Flash presentation to go to the next slide. Again, MS Office cannot do that. Those two features are very useful to me. Plus the format for OOo is open so I will always be able to read my documents with out paying the MS Tax. Not to mention that I can keep all my important docs as PDF by exporting them from OOo and not have to worry about some proprietary format going away after the support period has expired.
    • by ccoakley (128878) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:38PM (#8692416) Homepage
      What features in OOo are you using? I actually gave up on office a while ago (except at work, where my employer paid for the license). At home and at school, I work almost exclusively in OO. That said, I must admit that excel is superior to OO's spreadsheet tool. I frequently generate data to be graphed as line graphs or bar graphs. A line graph with 3 columns of 2000 data points takes slightly less than forever to generate in OO, and it generates very fast in excel. Similarly, When producing bar graphs, it is often convenient to have descriptive (read: longer than 4 characters) labels on the X-axis. This feature is horribly broken in OO. Try it. You have a choice of truncating long names (90 degree rotation doesn't extend the graph properly) or having the text print out in ugly vertical columns with horizontal lettering). It's as if the OO team never use their own graphing tools. (yeah, I know, stop bitching and pitch in and help...)

      I think Open Office is a very good tool. I like the fact that it prints to pdf. Most of the interface is extremely easy to use. However, the product is not as polished as Office in many respects.

      Lacking an access work-alike is also a detriment. Further, I am surprised they don't mention Project. I know many people who (unfortunately) think of their information in project as more important than information coming from the working team. "Project says we are half done! That means we'll be able to move our release up a week!" *shudder*

      I admit that the advertising from microsoft criticizing that OO doesn't come with an email client is a bit off base--I would claim that not including Outlook is a security feature :).
      • by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:52PM (#8692922)
        It's as if the OO team never use their own graphing tools. (yeah, I know, stop bitching and pitch in and help...)
        Actually, that is what you _should_ do. That doesn't mean you have to program anything. Feedback can be more important then someone handing you code. For example, I write programs for a fortune 500 company. None of the application I write have any features that I personally need since they are for the corporate workers. The only way I know if something is good or sucks is if I get feedback. The programs evolve based on that feedback. Tell the OOo guys how slow Calc is at certain tasks or about the long descriptive labels, feedback from users like you is what will make OOo better.
    • by MoneyT (548795) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:38PM (#8693571) Journal
      I've found Office tends to handle things worse than OO. I use OO on my mac to write up lab reports, but usualy print from the school computers (to save money on ink) so I have ot export to an office format, but everytime I open it in word, I have to go through and fix all of the images and diagrams and charts because office fucks them all up. It's gotten to the point where it's faster to export as a PDF and print it that way.
  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:00PM (#8691835)
    It's the job of Microsoft's marketing people to come up with literature that says their programs are better than anything else out there.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:09PM (#8691900)
      A couple of things to note about Microsoft's
      fud:

      1) It's not in Word format. Why not?
      Not everyone can afford Microsoft Office,
      although everyone can afford Open Office.

      2) Microsoft office doesn't export to pdf.
      A third party app is required --- unless
      of course you open the word document
      in Open Office 1.1 and export it as pdf.

      3) The fud was written in Quark express on a
      Mac --- looks like Microsoft doesn't use its
      own tools.

      4) Had they written it in Word format, folks
      who couldn't afford Microsoft Office would have
      to download open office so they could
      use open office to view a word document
      telling them why they shouldn't use
      open office to view word documents.
      • by mingot (665080) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:12PM (#8692607)
        There are these things they call "marketing firms". You send them a money bag and they produce the other things knows as "marketing materials". When you send these "marketing firms" what a discription of what you want them to product the tool used to make it is usually not dictated.

        And you'll notice that even though they don't use MS product they STILL didn't use the open source solution. What a bunch of mass market end user common deniminator mickysoft dumbfuckoids, eh? 'Course they got that bag of money and will probably get laid tonight.
    • by leonbrooks (8043) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:32PM (#8692761) Homepage
      They did very poorly at that.
      • deployment: no difference except that with OOo it has to be redone less often.
      • data migration: necessary for both systems, more of a problem with OOo. MS-Access is only a part of MS Office Professional though, which does raise the cost for the MS side.
      • doc/macro conversion: doc conversion is a problem for both sides, as I can testify from personal experience. Anyone who uses MS Office macros for anything but the simplest automation tasks (ie, easy to rewrite if needed) will get what they deserve sooner or later.
      • training: OOo is indeed not the same as MSO, and is in some ways much easier to learn from scratch since in many areas it is more consistent (e.g. format char/par/page all in same menu in order).
      • carefully not faced by MS - cost: the cost of MS Office professional can cover a lot of evils, and in the vast majority of cases none of the above points will be relevant.
      • interoperability: OOo is actually better in many ways at transacting with older MS Offices than the newer MSO versions are.
      • viruses: hah! Seriously, I have never seen a virus from OOo, I have seen countless thousands from MSO. Experience suggests that MSO is far more susceptible to virus attack. If MS argues that it's more the platform's fault than the office suite... well, give us MS Office for Linux, and we'll test that theory out for you, eh? (-:
      • CRM: not relevant
      • Accounting data: not relevant
      • Personal portrayal of business: not relevant
      • Cost effective: OOo wins... this whole section kind of reads like MS ran out of ideas.
      • Limited compatibility: true, and MS wins that basic point, but most users will never notice the difference. The sub-point about not supporting a database client is false. I use OOo as a PostgreSQL client [kandalaya.org] regularly.
      • integration with other tools: is more than good enough for 99% of users, and total integration carries some disadvantages as well, particularly in the areas of security and component choice. OOo allows considerable customisation of component choice, and integrates reasonably well with (for example) FireFox and ThunderBird. FireFox is just night-and-day more useful than Internet Explorer, particularly after you've clicked down a few of the extensions.
      • tailoring: OOo and anything you're likely to integration with it totally ace MS Office in terms of direct customisability and external file manipulation.
      • support: OOo documentation is still behind the curve, but community support is already significantly better than MSOs and accelerating
      • faster work: if you do your studies without subjects already accustomed to your favoured office suite, the results come out quite differently.
      • seamless exchange: is a myth. I regularly use OOo to enable document exchange between MSO users who have otherwise failed to exchange at all, let alone seamlessly.
      • office/windows deployment: is slower than rolling out entire offices with an automated network install, which would include OOo as a matter of course. Updates are a simple matter of dropping the .rpm files (or .pkg etc) into the office's update cache. Leading, of course, to cost savings well beyond the licence price for the team not using the MS products.
      • security: OOo provides many of the same security features as MSO, but some of them are not needed for OOo
      • investment: you can invest yourself into OOo, something not seriously possible with MSO. You can also take or leave each piece, each level of integration as you will, not being forced to submerge yourself in a meta-platform unless you wish to.
      • misc items from the trailing blurb: most of these are "features" not of MSO but of Outlook.
      • MSO's XML sucks: the non-Pro version strips out everything useful, the Pro
      • straight face (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cgenman (325138) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:59PM (#8693331) Homepage
        It's amazing that Microsoft is still saying with a straight face that you can call their support line and get help. Admittedly half of that statement is true, but not the half that matters to most businesses. Microsoft's ineptitude on the phone is legendary. Their developer's site is nice and quite useful, but that's not going to help the average clueless Joe who wants to know why Office is reformatting all of his documents with the tagline "0wn3d by PH3rN4nd0!," or keeps crashing with the words "missing vsdl95.dll." They charge ludicrous hourly rates to provide the kind of tech support a jr. high school student would consider incompetent. Come to think of it, I sense an opportunity to revitialize our schools...

        Furthermore, their document reads like a argument against closed protocols. "If you leave us, you leave your data. You leave your database. You leave your correspondences. You can't leave us. You're ours." If your file cabinet supplier came to you and told you that your business histories and documents would be shredded if you ever thought about leaving, you would consider it blackmail and would find a new supplier right away, threats be damned. Why do we take this as a viable argument in the computer world?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:03PM (#8691845)
    I've never understood why a lot of authors pepper their articles with redundant links. I mean, look how many links to www.openoffice.org are in that article -- it's crazy, especially when considering what this program is called (ie a website in itself!).

    Otherwise, very good rebuttal.
    • by GoatEnigma (586728) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:12PM (#8692287) Homepage
      Really? I thought it was quite a poor rebuttal actually. First of all, the author's personal bias is completely obvious in the fact that the article linked every occurence of the word "OpenOffice" to OO.o, and there isn't a single link to Microsoft.

      Statement's like this are totally, well, retarded:
      *Training: OpenOffice is, for the most part, the same as Microsoft Office XP for a user, but there are things that they will need to learn how to do differently. All things being equal, if a company's staff need formal training for OpenOffice, then they probably need it for every new version of Microsoft Office. Therefore there is a cost on both sides, and they are at least equal.

      So, the whole paragraph is an assumption to start off with. But it is also contradictory and misleading: "but there are things that they will need to learn how to do differently. All things being equal,", for example.

      And the next paragraph:
      Therefore, this is a valid point and would be part of a migration cost, yet one has to wonder at how complex such macros would be in a SMB.

      Um... many companies base their entire inventory tracking and accounting systems on complex macro programs. (Not a good idea in my opinion, but hey, what can we do).

      I'm not going to go on but the article is not exactly something I would use as a reference... even for a grade 5 project. The whole article is saying nothing but "well, yeah but I think", and is obviously heavily anti-microsoft. It's what is known as "junk science".

      • by lone_marauder (642787) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:03PM (#8692524)
        Um... many companies base their entire inventory tracking and accounting systems on complex macro programs. (Not a good idea in my opinion, but hey, what can we do).

        So the assumption that using Word's macro engine as an integrated business database application suite is inadvisable (as opposed to a screaming train wreck) is sound, but assuming that there aren't significant user training issues isn't?

        It amazes me that you would consider anyone stupid enough to use Word macros as an application platform to be capable of retaining sufficient knowledge for product familiarity to be an issue. I wouldn't trust such a group of users to retain the knowledge not to beat themselves to death with sticks, regardless of their experience with sticks. Whether they were made of pine or oak wouldn't make much difference. I would count on a daily expense overhead of a human at the help desk whose job it is to stop fatal self-beatings.
      • by timmyf2371 (586051) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:33PM (#8692772)
        First of all, the author's personal bias is completely obvious in the fact that the article linked every occurence of the word "OpenOffice" to OO.o, and there isn't a single link to Microsoft.

        I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed the bias against Microsoft - if the headline is going to make claims about the Microsoft "FUD Machine", they should include reference to the OO.org FUD Machine also.

        A few choice quotes:

        'Windows (98, NT, 2000, XP) - Pentium-compatible PC,64 MB RAM, 130 MB HD'.

        Clear winner: OpenOffice.

        If you're happy with your office suite running at a snail's pace then yes, OpenOffice is the clear winner. At least Microsoft are honest when recommending a Pentium 3 class processor as a requirement.

        * Email client: Microsoft notes that OpenOffice lacks an email client. This, however, would take us to Mozilla, which is a standalone web browser with more features than Internet Explorer (such as tabbed browsing), and is much more secure than Microsoft Outlook as a default.

        Mozilla is a brilliant web browser (I use Firefox myself rather than the Mozilla suite), however MS Outlook 2003 seems to be more secure than the Mozilla e-mail client. The author makes reference to security, however security is all down to the individual user. By default, Outlook blocks users from opening any attachments whereas Mozilla doesn't - which e-mail client is most at risk from an e-mail borne virus?

        *Limited Compatibility: Microsoft properly asserts that OpenOffice is not 100% compatible with their product. Microsoft, however, has apparently decided not to support the OpenOffice formats either, for which they have no excuse: the standards for OpenOffice documents are publicly available, whereas Microsoft makes it a habit to sue people for reverse engineering their own formats. Richard Stallman wrote about this in 2002.

        Office Suite manufacturers should, in my opinion, get their act together and start making their applications compatible with each other. The author quite clearly shows a bias against Microsoft here by stating that they have no excuse for supporting the OpenOffice formats. IIRC, Microsoft Office has been around for quite a bit longer than OpenOffice, and has become a standard in its' own right.

        Yes, I like the idea of open source software and I have been known to use it myself. The article written here, is quite clearly biased unfavourably against Microsoft - if this had been the opposite way round, there would've been uproar on slashdot. The headline describes is as an MS FUD Machine - this unfortunately is inaccurate. It's an OpenOffice FUD Machine which is aiming at Microsoft.

        • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:01PM (#8692979)
          I agree with some of what you say, though I think your tone goes too far in the other direction. However, this is just wrong:


          Office Suite manufacturers should, in my opinion, get their act together and start making their applications compatible with each other. The author quite clearly shows a bias against Microsoft here by stating that they have no excuse for supporting the OpenOffice formats. IIRC, Microsoft Office has been around for quite a bit longer than OpenOffice, and has become a standard in its' own right.


          You do realize that Open Office does publish specifications and standards for interacting with their documents, and Microsoft does not, right? Microsoft desperately wants to claim "we're using XML, so it's all 'open'", but in reality their XML "standards" are loaded with chunks of GUIDs and unparseable binary data in undocumented formats that require embedded use of other proprietary Microsoft components to access. It's insanely unfair to point a finger at OpenOffice here when they have made every effort to embrace openness and enable compatibility with MS Office at the same time and Microsoft has made every effort to keep their formats closed, make PR noise about opening their formats, and thereby reinforce their effective monopoly on office software.
      • by leonbrooks (8043) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:17PM (#8693452) Homepage
        many companies base their entire inventory tracking and accounting systems on complex macro programs.

        Perhaps it would be more accurate to say "based" rather than "base". I know of two companies which went bankrupt because their macro-based accounting practices buggered things up.

        One company found that the macros were stuffing things up when their biggest customer complained. Auditors were called in and found that the macros had overcharged for some things (some of them by an order of magnitude) and silently failed to charge for others. When the dust settled, the company had to pay back some humungous amout of money (millions, I think) and they survived that, but then a macro virus went through their business like a bushfire [ee.oulu.fi] through spinifex [picknowl.com.au] and they suddenly discovered that their backup procedures really were as bad as the auditors had claimed. My little Linux gateway box was still faithfully doing its thing when the auctioneers came and took it away with the rest of the office equipment and furniture about three months later.

        The other company rolled out a new version of MS Windows and MS Office, then discovered on Monday that the new MS Office broke their macros. In the time it took them to fix their macros, they nearly went out of business too. They contract out their accounting, now, and use stylesheets and templates to replace their macros for other stuff. If they hadn't done, the poor (absent) error-checking in the macros would have sent them bust as well. Technically, they did go bankrupt but the authorities took note of the reasons for it and let them keep trading for a month or two until their considerable cash flow had dragged them past the danger zone.

        On a similar note, my book-keepers [book-keepi...ork.com.au] make a specialty of rescuing businesses from DIY accounting packages like MYOB. The businesses using them don't understand how the programs work. They enter data, they get regular reports, and not only are the reports wrong because the data's wrong (or in the wrong place), but they aren't able to meaningfully interpret even the wrong results. BKN take their data and paperwork and return reports which are not only rigorously correct but also meaningful in a business sense. On top of this, things like tax forms get submitted correctly and on time, which averts the fines and other cost associated with getting that wrong.

        The moral of the story is that there are some things which bodging past is difficult and dangerous for, and "bodgy" pretty much defines a typical set of MS Office macros.

  • meh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vlion (653369) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:03PM (#8691853) Journal
    I read that document actually. In short, it shows the disadvantages of OO: which there are- and then it shows the advantages of MS.O. It only goes head to head with OO on one point, the point of integration with the Outlook suite. Unfortunately, MS makes the assumption that we want more than a write-clone and a basic spreadsheet.MS believes in the extreme abundance of features. I don't care for gazillions of features, myself. I want essentially Write from Win 3.1. Anything more tends to be utterly unused. Spreadsheets need to have math functions, coloring, some decent copy functions, and a decent grapher.(Excel ain't a great grapher) Anyway, it is mostly FUD.
    • Re:meh (Score:3, Interesting)

      MS makes the assumption that we want more than a write-clone and a basic spreadsheet.MS believes in the extreme abundance of features. I don't care for gazillions of features, myself. I want essentially Write from Win 3.1. Anything more tends to be utterly unused.

      When writing text, write will do but for doing layout? not at all.

      You can go 2 ways there:

      1. Use seperate layout software (alternatives exist for almost every plaform)
      2. Use a program that allows doing layout together with content.

      When you don'

    • Re:meh (Score:5, Funny)

      by commodoresloat (172735) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#8692038)
      I read that document actually.

      Then your commentary is not relevant here.

  • by the_twisted_pair (741815) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:05PM (#8691870)
    It appears you are contemplating jumping $hip. Do you wish to:

    [ ] believe our obfuscation of your choices?
    [ ] wait until you don't have any choices?
    [x] make your own mind up?
  • by Realistic_Dragon (655151) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#8691871) Homepage
    When Microsoft is sued out of existance by China, the EU and Asia for anicompetative practice there will still be support for Open Office.
  • by alokeb (764754) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#8691873)
    Given how many times MS has talked about cross-compatibility of Office one has to wonder why that document itself is PDF???
  • Unconvincing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brejc8 (223089) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#8691875) Homepage Journal
    OpenOffice does not have an e-mail client, so customers may incur a licensing cost associated with buying an e-mail application.
    Why don't you use this 'free' software?
    Because it doesn't come with an email client!
    Why don't you use a 'free' email client?
    Because it doesn't come with a web browser!
    Why don't you use a 'free' web browser...

    Ensure that their mission-critical information is adequately protected from virus attack.
    Over the last month I have been sent over 20 virus infected MS office files. I hardly think this argument could possibly hold up.

    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.
    As opposed to what? Finding out you have a bug in your software and waiting till the next version or patch two years down the line? OOo is bad because thee is a community of people happy to help you.

    All in all its pretty pathetic. I doubt the person who wrote it was convinced.
    • Re:Unconvincing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Prof. Pi (199260) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:37PM (#8692093)
      Over the last month I have been sent over 20 virus infected MS office files. I hardly think this argument could possibly hold up.

      Not for us, but for the PHB's.

      Microsoft has so dominated the mindshare of so many users that they think their experiences with MS systems are representative of all experiences with computers. I've heard so many people go around spewing drivel like, "Computers are inherently unreliable and prone to crashing," or "Computers are inherently insecure and prone to viruses." All they've known is MS software, so they can't conceive of anything better.

      So if MS says OO is less secure, the clueless may think: All computers are inherently insecure. So viruses will infect all systems to the same degree, though makers can try to stem the tide through heroic efforts. Microsoft is doing the best it can to keep, and they have lots of resources. Some group of volunteers couldn't possibly do any better. Gosh, I'd hate to think of how many viruses are in this OO software.

      What we need to do is keep reminding users that there are lots of better systems out there, and viruses are primarily due to flawed design.

      Most MS users remind me of a talk I heard by an ex-Soviet dissident in the 80's. He said that growing up poor in the USSR, he still assumed things must be worse in the USA, and he imagined a "typical" American boy his age, living on the edge of starvation under an oppressive regime. He was genuinely happy to be living under Stalin, where things sucked but not as bad as anywhere else.

    • Re:Unconvincing (Score:3, Informative)

      Actually OO.org *does* have dedicated support.

      If a business or pesrson wishes they can get support from Sun's Star Office [newsforge.com] team

  • by platipusrc (595850) <erchambers@gmail.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#8691877) Homepage
    (4) Seamless Data Exchange: Microsoft claims seamless data exchange within Microsoft Office - but it's only between people using Microsoft products. OpenOffice allows people who use a variety of operating systems and data formats to interact with each other. Microsoft Office does not.

    Often it's not even possible to use Office formats between versions. Try to edit an MS Office 2003 file on a system that's using MS Office '97.
    • by CdBee (742846) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:18PM (#8691960)
      You can download the Office Resource Kit to install Office 2003 file formats on older versions of Office. It's my belief that Office 97 is included.

      This is free software from Microsoft, available on the Office website.
  • by Jedi_Knyghte (763576) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#8691878)
    I'm no fan of MS (I'm browsing from FireFox within Linux), but he gives short shrift to the problem of macro/VBA conversion. The fact of the matter is that the documentation on the OO API absolutely stinks, and any business with a substantial investment in its current automation would have to think not once, not twice, but long and hard about the costs of conversion.
    • This just a comment, no trolling. I promise.

      It just seems that for an office suite people would want to edit documents. Write text, read text. I don't really see the benifit in creating macros. Or if one insists in creating macros, I don't see the point in giving the macro ability to get outside of its sandbox. Oh well. Granted, I've never worked in a Fortune 500 company, so I really don't have any idea what they might use macros for. Oh well.

      • No trolling taken, I assure you.

        I've used macros more in spreadsheets than in text documents, for automating those pain-in-the-rear repetitive tasks, or for setting a sheet up so that a person without great computer skills can get something done without understanding how the spreadsheet works.

        Macros in text files are useful for those automation functions that Bill's marketing minions didn't need but that make your life easier (such as including the full path name of the file in the footer).

  • by nemaispuke (624303) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:10PM (#8691905)

    I don't know if any of you read SysAdmin or Dr. Dobbs Journal (I get both) and the Microsof tFUD machine doesn't stop at OpenOffice. In my latest issue of SysAdmin was a pack containing a 180 day time crippled copy of Windows Server 2003 and a "Learning Resource" CD.

    I went through part of the CD before I raised the "bullshit flag" over the following:

    1. Poor Plug and Play support based on Solaris 2.6 and an equally ancient version of Linux. Did not mention HP-UX, IRIX, or AIX.

    2. The only way to have a remote desktop similar to Terminal Services was to use VNC, what about a remote X session?

    Microsoft would not get in so much trouble over this stuff if they simply told the truth. Or are they expecting Linux and Unix admins and developers to "jump ship" for some crippleware (not including "Windows Services for Unix" which Microsoft had to Interix to develop!
  • by oldosadmin (759103) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:15PM (#8691929) Homepage
    First of all, it's OpenOffice.org, not Open Office (trademark issues).

    Secondly, even though I am a participant on the Marketing list for OOo, I must say that the disk space comparison between OOo and MSO is unfair. MSO comes with fonts + clipart, which OOo lacks. Maybe SO vs. MSO would've been more fair. (we want our products to win through honesty, not FUD).

  • by Datasage (214357) <Datasage@thNETBS ... ey.com minus bsd> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:15PM (#8691931) Homepage Journal
    Im in the middle on this debate, But i have a preference for open office if it can be used. Which is not true in all cases.

    If a buiness is already using MS Office, the is reason to switch is if the buiness grows and they would need more MS office licences while the cost for migrating is cheap.

    Alot of people dont upgrade office. A place i used to work at was still using office 97. There is simply no reason to upgrade to office 2k or XP.

    For my personal use, i see enough value in office to make it worth purchasing, but for the time being im only using windows. (Could change in the future)
  • My mental monologue. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bagel2ooo (106312) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:17PM (#8691946)
    Reading some of the more key points with OO it reminded me of some of the reasons that I am such a big fan of OSS and the OS movement. With these open (or at least more open than MS and the like) standards it gives a good feeling that you are in control of your data and the documents, etc. you create. When I would use a tool such as MS Office I would feel that I'm making the document for it or as a kind of expansion of it rather than as a self-created work for me. This sent a tinge of concern through me for quite some time. I know it is probably silly for me to feel a sense of liberation and it's really not anything I can describe properly. I guess I just enjoy the freedom permissible by using a standard that is not owned and controlled by an entity that has little to no desire for openness. With quality suites like OO I feel that once users get this feeling that they are in control of their own works - or at least more-so then they were - they will make the migration which will only bring futher support to the OSS community.
  • by paleck (10298) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:19PM (#8691968) Homepage
    *Support: Microsoft says that there is no dedicated team for the OpenOffice suite. What Microsoft fails to realize is that the 'dedicated team' are mainly the users; OpenOffice has a community whereas Microsoft users have support groups.

    The first thing I thought when it mentioned the Microsoft users having support groups was group therapy such as AA or ones for Depression!
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:20PM (#8691973) Homepage
    FYI I FSCKed up my PC on RH9 (I take full responsibility, thus PEBKAC) but DLed MDK and installed OO.o and now I say STFU to MS FUD. YMMV though.

    OO.o is better TCO and ROI. If you use MS (including IE), you'll need to visit NAI or get AVG ASAP or your machine will be DOA.
  • by AtariAmarok (451306) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:21PM (#8691983)
    Top 10 Microsoft FUD tactics attacking Open Office:
    10. "War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Open is Closed"
    9. Chalk-drawn penguins all over New York sidewalks. It worked for IBM (?)
    8. Fake COMDEX "OpenOffice" booth set up by Microsoft, featuring Tubgirl as the hostess.
    7. Lobbying for "Star Trek 11" film featuring Gates as the leader of the Good Borg.
    6. "If you use Open Office, none of the locks in your office building will work any more. Believe me"
    5. "If you use Open Office, and if you maintain an erection
    more than 4 hours, consult your physician immediately to avoid sponteneous genital implosion"
    4. Spreading rumors of Michael Jackson about to sign promotial deal with Open Office folks.
    3. Armies of Clippy's seem training with assault weapons in wilderness camps in Idaho.
    2. Microsoft claims that OpenOffice smells funny.
    1. Planned series of commercials featuring Goatse image with voice-over saying "Open Office, Open Orifice".
  • by ejaw5 (570071) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:22PM (#8691995)
    "third party studies show that competitive office suites retain only 75% accuracy (data and formatting) when receiving documents from Office users..."

    Well, who's fault is it for using proprietary file formats in attempt to lock everyone else out of the market?

    I wonder if MS Office 2003 will correctly open a document created in OpenOffice.org.
  • What about size? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SinaSa (709393) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:24PM (#8692005) Homepage
    This might sound like flamebait, but I havn't read either article so I'd just like to post my own 1 point rebuttal.

    You can't download MS Office legally.

    I rest my case.
  • Made with... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by krray (605395) * on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:27PM (#8692025)
    Microsoft's *PDF* (why wouldn't they put it out in .DOC virus format?) was made with QuarkXPress 4.11 with the Acrobat distiller 4.05 for *Macintosh*.

    The sad thing is I can't even agree with Microsoft on THAT one. Acrobat didn't go OS.X until 5.05 I believe so this was created on a Mac using OS 9. At least they go HALF of it right.

    I'll be keeping my Mac. Can't wait for the NATIVE version of OO to emerge. 2006 - bah. It'll beat Longhorn to market though. That's even sadder.

    Microsoft: a rich pathetic company.
  • by Yaa 101 (664725) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:31PM (#8692058) Journal
    Promoting OO to my clients to become...
    As i have small clients, they are not dependent on macro's.
    Only big companies or very specialized companies get dependend on macro's or better said, the bugs and propriarity rules in the macro system.
    All others can change without problem...

    MS is becomming predictable in spreading FUD where it hurts them in the market...
    A bit like the bully that get's kicked in the head by the new kid that is not impressed with the bully.
  • Database client (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:34PM (#8692071)
    Open Office provides no database client support.

    In OpenOffice if you hit F4 or go to view -> Data Sources you are able to connect to any number of database types via JDBC or ODBC.

    I have used this for projects at work with great success, it works in both 1.0 and 1.1.

    Obviously the author did not spend too much time on research into what OpenOffice actually can do.
  • by dj245 (732906) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:39PM (#8692111) Homepage
    It looks like you're writing a FUD rebuttal! Would you like help?

    *Create a ready-made step-by-step logical argument using a template?
    *Use a series of prompts to develop a funny and ironic takedown?
    *Develop a detailed plan on how to attack the opponent in a fiery flamepost?
    *Pretend to write a logical arument but instead write your own version of FUD with linux references thrown in for karma bonus?
    *Just write the rebuttal.

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:43PM (#8692130)
    Since the article is released under this cool license, we should rip it to shreds and rewrite it, pointing to specific examples, empirical evidence, and good solid references. Some good words from businesses that successfully use OOo should be included as well.

    Of course, since I'm coming up with this idea, I don't have to work hard to make it happen. Someone else do it for me. I'm busy typing up a report in vi.

    vi. Because friends don't let friends use emacs.

  • by shimmin (469139) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:44PM (#8692132) Journal
    The last two times I tried OpenOffice, I went back to MS Office. My experience was that many of the decisions that were made in the name of cross-platform compatibility hurt my ability to use the software productively. For example, many functions I was used to accessing through hotkeys in MS Office I found were available only through (rather deep) menu trees in Open Office. The one that caused me the most grief was "Fill down" in a spreadsheet being a menu-only function!

    Can someone say that things are better now, or do I still have to macro around such frustrations, or what?
    • by stef49 (223595) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:51PM (#8692469)
      Not a pb with OOo 1.1.1r3 on Linux.
      I almost never use OOo (or MS Office or any spreadsheet btw) but it took me less than 1m to find out how to define my own shortcut for fill down:

      (1) select menu "Tools>Configure"
      (2) select the tab "Keyboard"
      (3) select "Edit" as Category"
      (4) select "Fill down" as Function
      (5) select an unused Shortcut key in the list.
      (6) press the buttons "Modify" and "Ok"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:44PM (#8692136)
    Open Office: Cold-blooded Communist
    Microsoft Office: Compassionate Capitalist

    Open Office: Created by nerds living in their parent's basement.
    Microsoft Office: Created by techies in Microsoft's underground bunker.

    Open Office: Has naked code on prominant display.
    Microsoft Office: Code is decently compiled and hidden from prying eyes.

    Open Office: Bugs are reported loudly, increasing fear in users.
    Microsoft Office: Bugs are kept hidden from users, so only those who wish to exploit them need worry.

    Open Office: Terrorists and dictators can copy it whenever they want.
    Microsoft Office: Terrorists and dictators must spend their money purchasing licenses, decreasing the threat to the free world.

    Open Office: Uses GPL.
    Microsoft Office: Uses EULA, an acronym with 33% more letters.

    Open Office: Doesn't make any money for Microsoft.
    Microsoft Office: Makes lots of money for Microsoft.
  • Piracy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by i0wnzj005uck4 (603384) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:50PM (#8692163) Homepage

    The one thing I don't understand about Microsoft's stance is that people using OOo would obviously not be pirating copies of Office. This saves everyone time (searching for the crack) and money.

    That in mind, wouldn't using OOo for windows be preferable for Microsoft, when compared to someone pirating and sharing copies of their suite?

    Also, anyone using OOo is likely already using Mozilla or Thunderbird, which eradicates the whole e-mail issue (mentioned above). Free software users tend to fill holes in their library with... *gasp* more free software. Hell, I'm on a Mac running OS X and I've got more programs installed through Fink than I do of any other kind, our of habit.
  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:55PM (#8692192)
    In other news, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) today announced plans to release a new enterprise computing application, Microsoft FUD 2004 Enterprise Edition. By leveraging innovative technologies, content providers streamline compelling enterprise solutions.

    "Our plan is to automatically generate FUD, to lower the TCO of our marketing department, while simultaneously increasing ROI," said Steve Ballmer in an interview. "Currently, we are spending just too many billions on marketing, and some of those funds could instead be diverted to SCO, er, I mean, to our legal defense department, thereby increasing shareholder returns."

    The software is slated to appear in mid Q2 2004.

    Six years later...

    Microsoft stated that after years of delays, Microsoft FUD 2010 Constellation Edition will be released Real Soon Now (tm).

    All properties are the property of their respective owners.

  • by mnmn (145599) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @07:59PM (#8692214) Homepage
    I'm administering the IT of a small company that uses MS O, Access in some places, Lotus Suite and Lotus Notes. The articles points about Outlook therefore does not apply to us.

    We're still having trouble translating the old Lotus application documents to MS O. There are too many of them. For now, keeping Lotus Suite is cheaper than converting to MS O, while all new docs are Word-based. Trying to goto OO is therefore worsening the situation unless compatibility with MS O 2000 is guaranteed (minus Active X and Macros which we dont use).

    Hardware is also not an issue since all machines are Pentium3 with 256mb ram and win2k pro minimum.

    I tried OO a while ago, a few Word documents did not translate well, and it seemed too slow. At one point during testing it crashed on me. Since it was a while ago, I intend to try it again. However it will have to be very stable. It should also be noted that like PDF, MS Word documents are a bit of an industrial standard with everyone sending them in email attachments expecting you to be able to deal with them. This is another sticking point... can OO's compatibility be guaranteed with MS Word? I doubt the UI training will be an issue.

    So we cannot dare switch to OO, even to lower the TCO. If a company stepped forward to support OO and guarantee compatibility, we will pay them the licensing fees. For now we'll remain stuck with MS O and MS Windows. Some points in that document against OO are valid, and I must say that, although I'd prefer OO anyday.
  • by gfecyk (117430) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:34PM (#8692397) Homepage Journal
    My staff recommended including it in an XP distribution kit I'm puting together for a new promotion. I declined only because OO didn't work in XP as a limited user, and that it didn't support multiple users' settings.

    I realize OO's built from a common source code base that should work for multiple platforms, and such proprietary things as The Registry would be verbotten territory. That doesn't forgive the designers, though, who have access to per-user environment variables, per-user home directories and common areas to store information as defined in Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

    Of note:

    %userprofile% is the equivelant to $home. Store per-user settings here, or in %appdata% which is hidden normally (like .whatever files), but still set per-user.
    %allusersprofile% and %ProgramFiles% point to common areas that are at least read-only to all users.

    Minor programming changes to look for these environment variables would let OO be multi-user and secure on current and supported versions of Win32. How hard is that?
  • by vena (318873) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:52PM (#8692474)
    why do people keep reiterating the fact that this document was exported from Quark Express? is there a fundamental misunderstanding of what Word/Office is capable of or marketed as? This document is well laid out and visually designed in a way that not only is Word unable to do, but isn't expected to accomplish.

    MS knows the capabilities of their software and they haven't tried to position the Office suite in competition with Quark, InDesign, or other professional layout applications. you're comparing apples and oranges in this criticism and it comes off rather silly.
  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:54PM (#8692489)
    Office provides innovative security on three levels to protect your business environment, data and intellectual property:
    Application Threat: attachment blocking, anti-virus API, code signing
    Data Loss: Auto recovery and application recovery tool
    Data Access: Digital signatures and encryption, IRM, file access controls
    Yeah, MS Office + Outlook has been doing a fantastic job at blocking dangerous attachments, NOT automatically executing malicious scripts and NOT infecting machines simply by previewing emails. The tight integration of mail and word processor also helps ensure highly secure operation.

    File access controls? Yeah, I'm sure that works great at the application layer (use your OS's damn filesystem for access rights). And encryption? MS Word passwords are trivial to break (search the Internet for password breaking tools). OpenOffice.org, on the other hand encrypts documents with Blowfish in CFB mode and SHA1 hashing for crypto-quality integrity checking. This is as good as using GPG in symmetric mode.
  • by Nice2Cats (557310) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:42PM (#8693596)
    I've been using OOo for about a year now, and it is beyond me why anybody would actually still pay how many hundred dollars it is for MS Office. It has done everything I have needed it to do, it hasn't crashed in the process, it works on every operating system I have, and it's for free. What more can you ask for?

    The only seriously annoying thing about OOo is that they have decided to postpone the Mac OS X version until kingdom come, and I have to fool around with 1.0 via Apple's X11 program. This is partially Apple's problem, too: If they had any sense, they'd get rid of AppleWorks and MS Office for X and push OOo.

    OOo, Mozilla Firefox [mozilla.org] and Mozilla Thunderbird put you in the wonderful situation of not having to give a damn about which operating system you use. This is terrible for Microsoft, of course, but great news for the rest of the world. We can now concentrate on fighting about other and far more important things -- like who makes the best chocolate bars, or who is the cutest witch on TV, or which sequal to the "Matrix" was the worst...

  • by HenryKoren (735064) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @03:13AM (#8694435) Homepage
    My entire office is running Office XP. We hired a new employee and sought to license an additional copy of Office XP for her.

    Of course, office "XP" is now so horribly outdated that it is impossible to find anywhere. We tried to find a cheap copy of it and were almost ripped off by an ebay scammer.

    We were reluctant to purchase office 2003 since she would then be the only one in the office running it. While the new version might be 100% compatible we wanted to keep our software consistent for all our people. Microsoft would probably prefer we buy all new licenses of office 2003 for everybody but after spending thousands on Office XP, which works great, we see no reason to upgrade.

    The retail price of a single license of Office has actually surpassed the cost of the computer hardware to run it on. Frustrated and sick end by our fruitless quest for office licenses, I decided to try OOo.

    Our new employee with her rudimentary skill level picked up OOo just fine. She had absolutely no complaints. OOo proved itself that it is a suitable replacement. So as our company grows, we will slowly migrate to OOo.

    I don't think any CTO's really listen to the Microsoft sponsored TCO studies. We know that the choice of MS is only due to its strangle hold on the desktop and the worker bee's perception of normalcy.

    Look for office licensing cost to drop as Microsoft comes to the realization that they can't exploit their monopoly power for all it's worth any more.
  • by gtshafted (580114) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @03:54AM (#8694544)
    Aestethics -PHBs are going to look at both documents. The one from MS is nicely colored and designed in terms of layout. The Open Source document is almost plain text in black and white - very boring.

    Guess which one be read?

  • by kris (824) <kris-slashdot@koehntopp.de> on Sunday March 28, 2004 @04:14AM (#8694594) Homepage
    Where I am working, I have a Suse Linux desktop, and can use a Microsoft Terminal Server should I need it. I could have had a Microsoft Windows desktop, if I chose so. People at work can use Microsoft Office or OOo.

    I am aggressively using OOo file formats in my daily communication. That is, all documents that I am sending are being sent out as sx? files, and if I am receiving MS office documents, I convert them to OOo anyway in order to work with them, and send them back in sx? formats. Usually, I include a customary copy of a PDF export with the document.

    This strategy works nicely. Almost all the people I work with now have OOo included in their installation. In fact, new machines in my workplace will soon include OOo as a standard installation, I hope. Some people are starting to send documents in sx? formats as I do.

    External communication is the next target. I will force our suppliers and partners to learn what OOo is and how to use it as well.

    This is how you establish a standard: Document it (OOo file formats are nicely documented) and then use brute force to publicize it.
  • by Oriumpor (446718) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @04:56AM (#8694702) Homepage Journal
    Number one:
    The easiest step towards securing your network is removing Outlook (Express, 2000, XP etc etc etc) Outlook is the number one target of viruses and the biggest headache ever.

    Number two:
    Access may be a good tool for personal usage but in my opinion it is the shittiest piece of hacked ass software ever. It's ubiquity has led to a mass of shitty databases with crappy little frontends prone to corruption and horrific DB management. Forcing direct client to SQL connections IMO is a good idea, less chance for some of that data horded in the Access frontend being sucked off a hapless user workstation and having the thousand or so customers info cached locally released on the web.

    Now, with that said my work uses a groupware package like Outlook+exchange that is faar less prone to attacks, with a good attachment blocking spam filter at our head end, we see basically 0 mail infections. (That and we remove outlook express/outlook from our automated installations so the users aren't happily installing and popping their personal mail either.)

    Number Three:
    The only other valid issue mentioned is the Word compatibility. This is really only an issue with the newest version of Office/Word, and I tend to save everything in PDF if it's leaving my hands anyways. With the trend of businesses holding off on office upgrades I see this issue nearly being void, nearly...

    The only concern the adoption of OO has is that newer systems will come solely with 2003 and the DRM bullshit. And the only way to fight it is to back HP 100% and start getting FLOSS pushed onto more vendors. Eventually OO will get pushed on EVERYTHING new as the default option. Ubiquity for free beats ubiquity for $$$ any day.

    I'm no zealot, but more power to the movement. [gnu.org]
  • Rebuttal... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Munra (580414) <slashdotNO@SPAMjonathanlove.co.uk> on Sunday March 28, 2004 @07:00AM (#8694961) Homepage
    While I use OpenOffice.org, instead of MS Office, I do think the author's argument is weak, in places.

    Data Migration and Testing: In migrating Microsoft Office documents to OpenOffice, some advanced formatting may be lost - and this is a problem, but it is unreasonable to demand this because of the fact that Microsoft does not make it's data formats public.

    It may be unfair to expect the OpenOffice.org team to get 100% compatibility with a closed source product but it isn't unreasonable to demand it. As far as a corporation/business relying on MS Office is concerned, they're not going to look at the alternative and say "Oh, well, it's hard for them to have all those features" and buy them out of sympathy. It certainly is reasonable to demand it.

    OpenOffice does not use Visual Basic for Applications, but has a macro language of it's own. It should be noted that Microsoft's macros are also incompatible with those of OpenOffice. Therefore, this is a valid point and would be part of a migration cost, yet one has to wonder at how complex such macros would be in a SMB.

    Another poor argument: "Although ours is incompatible with yours, yours is also incompatible with ours!" For a company thinking of switching to OpenOffice.org from MS Office, the fact that OpenOffice.org won't work with their current macros could potentially be a massive deal (from my limited experience) - the fact that if they rewrote all their macros in OO.org's macro language they couldn't be used by MS Office is pretty much irrelevant.

    Training: OpenOffice is, for the most part, the same as Microsoft Office XP for a user, but there are things that they will need to learn how to do differently. All things being equal, if a company's staff need formal training for OpenOffice, then they probably need it for every new version of Microsoft Office. Therefore there is a cost on both sides, and they are at least equal.

    A cost on both sides does not make things "equal". Let us assume it costs a certain amount to learn a new application, but a bit less than that to learn a new version of application (for the sake of argument; I think we can agree it won't cost more). It's therefore cheaper to stick with MS Office and upgrade it occasionally, than to choose a new application.

    Email client: Microsoft notes that OpenOffice lacks an email client. This, however, would take us to Mozilla, which is a standalone web browser with more features than Internet Explorer (such as tabbed browsing), and is much more secure than Microsoft Outlook as a default.

    Poor argument since comparing email clients would be a whole new argument in itself.

    Support: Microsoft says that there is no dedicated team for the OpenOffice suite. What Microsoft fails to realize is that the 'dedicated team' are mainly the users; OpenOffice has a community whereas Microsoft users have support groups.

    Businesses do not want to have to search the internet and post to newsgroups, mailing lists and forums to find solutions. That's not to say those support methods are not very helpful but a business wants a dedicated team. This argument is like saying "Well, no, we don't have a tyre for your car but we do have some rubber, and a furnace [or whatever], so you can make a tyre yourself."

    I just think this rebuttal was a bit lame; it's looking at the original article from the wrong angle. Not that I think its sentiment (that OO.org is not inferior to MS Office) is wrong; I just think the article is poor.

    Manta
  • by DrXym (126579) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @07:23AM (#8695004)
    I've had MS Office in one form or another running on Windows for a number of years. When I bought a Dell in 2002 it shipped with an MS Works bundled with MS Word and some other miscellaneous MS packages.

    So rather than bother getting the latest MS Office just for the spreadsheet and the occasional slideshow I started to use OpenOffice more and more. Since 1.1 I haven't hit any brick wall in terms of functionality. It really does all I need to do for my home / work requirements. It also has some brilliant features of its own such as being able to print straight to PDF which is just awesome.

    I was pretty nervous of it to begin with, but now I don't know any reason to switch back to MS Office. I submit timesheets with OpenOffice, I write letters with OpenOffice. It works, it's free and MS is 450 out of pocket. Good riddance.

    Besides, MS Office seems to double in disk space with each release for a barely discernable functionality improvements. I suppose someone somewhere needs whatever that bloat is there to provide but I suspect most people don't. OpenOffice takes a mere fraction of the space and provides nearly the same functionality and certainly enough for mere mortals.

    Now I do have some criticisms. The first is the OpenOffice UI looks lousy. It looks like it was designed for Windows 95 and has never changed. Some of the icons are very confusing - maybe the Ximian ones should be used. And certain buttons such as the text colour / highlight dropdown buttons have a counter-unintuitive behaviour, where clicking on certain bits of the button make it popup but other parts don't. I'm assuming also that future versions will make use of theme engines that most OS's provide to ensure a native look & feel.

    Secondly, the OO people must recognize that nearly all of their 'business' is ex-MS Office users. The easiest way to spread the word about OO is to offer new users an experience (toolbars, menus and keybindings) that closely resembles MS Office but for free. This would also make OO considerably easier to pick up and use and could mean the difference between OO being dismissed entirely as too difficult and the user raving about it to all his / her friends.

    Finally I do miss outline mode in MS Word. Does OO have this functionality? I've searched and searched but have seen nothing like it. Now this would be a useful feature, especially for writing long documents.

  • by hacker (14635) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Sunday March 28, 2004 @08:57AM (#8695243)
    I did a talk at Linuxworld back in the beginning of last year (one of several I did that week at LWE), that focused on the business savings of using Free Software on Windows instead of the more-expensive Microsoft alternatives. The room was jam-packed, and ever spare bit of space was taken up by standees. Most of these people were IT managers and upper-management people.

    The cost savings are enormous. Think about the current Microsoft Office paradigm; $450/desktop at retail rates (slightly lower for volume purchases). Now, compare that to OpenOffice.org on the same Windows desktop at a cost of $0.00/desktop. Multiply that out over say... 3,000 desktops, for a medium-sized installation. Let's say that you have a volume price of $200/copy of Microsoft Office in this case. You just saved yourself $600,000 in just licensing costs , and just for one application . Multiply that out across many more Free Software applications that run on Windows natively. Do you think you could use a spare $600k to improve your business, or hire some more staff, or upgrade the existing computers, or buy new applications for your core business process? I bet you could.

    That's just for a small-to-medium sized business. Take a Pfizer Pharmaceutical for example... 70,000 desktops, most of them running Microsoft Office. If they get a nice cheap volume price of $100/copy of Microsoft Office vs. the $0.00/copy of Oo.org, they just saved $7,000,000 (yes, million) dollars by moving to Free Software on their existing Microsoft Windows desktops. $7 million dollars saved, in just licensing costs ! Yes, there are some advanced things that Oo.org doesn't do yet, but it will fit the needs of 90% or more of "office users".

    But wait, that's not all (insert catchy As-Seen-On-TV jingle). If you ever decide to switch your users to a Linux desktop, they can continue to use the same exact applications that they were used to on the Microsoft Windows desktop; i.e. OpenOffice.org in this example. There is zero training curve, downtime, or lack of productivity.

    Also, Oo.org provides MUCH more functionality, in terms of file formats, usability, interoperability, than the current Microsoft Office suite, and Oo.org is improving every single day in leaps and bounds. Is Microsoft Office improving this fast? Unlikely.

    The switch is a no-brainer, and you don't even have to run Linux to reap the benefits.

    (Note: I don't work for or endorse OpenOffice.org in any way, I just believe in Free Software very strongly, both as an author of Free Software, and an evangelist in the community)

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