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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 platipusrc (595850) <erchambers@gmail.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:07PM (#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 nemaispuke (624303) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:10PM (#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!
  • Re:Hardware (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kyouryuu (685884) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:15PM (#8691936) Homepage
    It's pretty simple though. Microsoft Office "cheats" in the same way OpenOffice does. The difference is that MS Office is more discreet about it. OpenOffice generally comes up quickly if you have the quick launcher client running in the taskbar. Parts of the OO suite are preloaded and ready to launch at the press of that icon. MS Office is the same way, but its quick launcher is transparently running in the background with no fanfare.

    Take that away and you'll see that the initial loading speeds are somewhat comparable.

  • by CdBee (742846) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:18PM (#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 platipusrc (595850) <erchambers@gmail.com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:21PM (#8691985) Homepage
    I just mentioned that because, at least for MS Word, there don't appear to be many or any improvements to the file formats, just changes to break compatibility so that you will have to upgrade to keep up with people sending you documents from a newer version of MS's Office software.
  • by Hi_2k (567317) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:22PM (#8691997) Journal
    ... With an XML format, as OO.o uses, it's fairly easy to ignore features that your current version of the program cannot interpret. Just ignore the tags that appear to be meaningless. Set up a special "Errors" section that takes note of lines of XML that arent readable, and you're gold. As I remember, OO.o supports the former, though I'm not sure about the latter.
  • Database client (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:34PM (#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 Mr. No Skills (591753) <lskywalker AT hotmail DOT com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:36PM (#8692082) Journal
    Actually, its not a press release. Its a document sent to Microsoft partners (solution providers) with the speaking points to use when dealing with a customer asking about Open Office. They also have documents like this for Linux, Sun, and many other competing products. I get a box full of them each month, and some times they come attached to Dr. Dobb's Journal and other publications.

    I think everyone expects Microsoft to promote their products. And most of the comments seem to be undie-bind-free (at least as of my reading). The only thing that is really interesting is that the argument against Open Office is relatively thin, as the other link shows, and could be the same argument against upgrading from Office to a new version of Office.

    But, I'm over it. I switched a few weeks ago and don't spend a whole lot of time thinking about Microsoft products anymore.
  • Re:Unconvincing (Score:3, Informative)

    by spurious cowherd (104353) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:40PM (#8692113)
    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 saden1 (581102) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @08:56PM (#8692199)
    MS's take is that quite a lot of developers vist slashdot and they'd be stupid not to advertise here. Personally I don't care about thier product because I really think there are alternatives out there for most jobs. The real targets of their ads are those with purchasing power in their organization. My company has had the enterprise licese with them since 1998 so MS must be doing something right. The PHBs are in their pockets.
  • by Richard_at_work (517087) * <richardprice.gmail@com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:04PM (#8692241)

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

    Just a minor nitpick, but one of the main reasons i use Terminal Services on windows and VNC on X desktops is the ability to disconnect and leave applications running, and return to them at a later date. Im under the impression that you cannot do this cleanly with X. Remote X definately is more useful for exporting individual applications, rather than an entire desktop.

  • PDF (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:05PM (#8692247)
    Word doesn't produce pdf files because thats not really a word processor format, its a cross-platform display format. They are making it a .pdf format so that the majority of their target audience (linux users) can read it. More linux users probably have xpdf or native acrobat reader installed than open office.
  • Re:meh (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mnemia (218659) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:07PM (#8692263)
    Excel's graphing is nowhere near on a par with something like Matlab. It just lacks the features and flexibility needed for real scientific usage, though it might be acceptable for more basic usage like sales graphs, etc...but its chief advantage is that it is easy for dumb people to learn how to use it. On features it loses, IMHO.
  • by Mnemia (218659) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:13PM (#8692291)

    I'd call your logic suspect as well.

    MS is NOT just saying that Microsoft Office is the best office suite available. They are specifically comparing the two products and making some very misleading statements in the process.

    Not all software vendors go out of their way to attack and discredit all their competition like Microsoft does. I think they are kinda legendary for that sort of thing, in fact.

    I don't think people are personally offended by this kind of thing so much as that they offended at MS's overall pattern of behavior. They have always been a vicious, ruthless company willing to lie, cheat, and crush all that stands in their way.

  • Re:meh (Score:3, Informative)

    by passthecrackpipe (598773) * <passthecrackpipe ... m minus language> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:23PM (#8692339)
    You know, this whole "users only use 10% of features, but they are all a different 10%" line gets whipped out every single time MSOffice is discussed, and it is such bullshit. First of all, the average information worker users about 35% of the functionality of an office suite. They may not actually *think* of using it, but most still use them. Most of this functionality is either handed down to them through the use of well designed and implemented corporate templates, or it is locked into some vicious Excel Macro that Bob on the 12th floor made once, and now everybody uses, but nobody knows how it really works. And Bob *did* get hit by that bus last year. Anyhow, your average cubicle-farm inhabitant uses 35% functionality. Real Research(tm) shows that, dependinig on a bunch of variables, such as nature of business, usage of macro's, user attitude, change resistance and some others, between 78% to 97% of the information-worker population can be switched over to OpenOffice.org, no problemo. The rest need to stay on MSOffice for a variety of reasons (complex macro's that are to expensive to switch, Access lock-in, etc). As a rule, task-workers can switch wholesale.

    You know what the real kicker is: even in a worst-case scenario, where you can only move 55% or 60% of your users to OOo it is still worth it Some dumbass somewhere decrees that you can only run one Office suite, because it is not economical to do otherwise. Bullshit. Maybe so if your choices are limited to using proprietary software only, but Open source software changes that - the value of you data liberation screws up most TCO models, and the fact that is is low-cost really offsets a lot here.

    anyway, point I am trying to make is that this whole 10% stuff is crap. Don't believe the hype.
  • Re:Hardware (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:37PM (#8692415)
    Umm... no. I have MS Office installed on this computer, and there are no processes related to MS Office running. The reason MS Office is faster starting up is that MS's programmers have been smart about optimizing their binaries, moving the stuff to initially draw the window up front.

    Granted, doing such optimizations is boring work. That's probably why it has not been done so aggressively in OO yet.
  • by stefanlasiewski (63134) * <slashdot@stefa n c o .com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:43PM (#8692439) Homepage Journal
    If a company stepped forward to support OO and guarantee compatibility, we will pay them the licensing fees.

    Sun offers a version of OpenOffice called Star Office [sun.com]. They offer support [support-central.de].

    OO/Star Office documents are definately compatable with MS Word, but I'm not sure that anyone can guarentee 100% compatability with MS Word, because Microsoft keeps the Office formats a secret.
  • by stef49 (223595) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @09:51PM (#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 csirac (574795) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:06PM (#8692549) Homepage
    Try gnumeric (http://www.gnome.org/projects/gnumeric/), xmgrace (http://plasma-gate.weizmann.ac.il/Grace/), gnuplot (http://www.gnuplot.info/) or scigraphica (http://scigraphica.sourceforge.net/).

    Office Suite spreadsheets just don't cut it for doing complex graphs.

    I've used all of the above tools and I've found:
    . gnumeric isn't much better than excel but may be better than scalc
    . gnuplot is quite powerful but is command-line/script driven
    . xmgrace is nifty - does most things I need, with instant results
    . scigraphica had potential, but development has stagnated and has terrible instability/bugs.

    As for project, there is MrProject (http://mrproject.codefactory.se/) [aka "planner", according to my Gnome applications menu] which despite being awkward/unintuitive does everything I could ask from it.

    For databases, OpenOffice can apparently do it for you if you can wire up ODBC properly. Also, you could use Borland Kylix under linux but that's proprietry; I understand there is a MS Access-style FOSS project for creating database apps there somewhere as well.

    - Paul
  • Re:Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:5, Informative)

    by neko9 (743554) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:13PM (#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 @10:28PM (#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 Imperator (17614) <<slashdot2> <at> <omershenker.net>> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:29PM (#8692741)
    I think KDE does this now, though I'm not sure if you have to use KDM. There's no inherent limitation in X11.
  • by leonbrooks (8043) <SentByMSBlast-No ... .brooks.fdns.net> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:32PM (#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
  • Not entirely true (Score:4, Informative)

    by bangular (736791) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @10:46PM (#8692869)
    Xmove is supposed to be able to do exactly that.
  • by Chordonblue (585047) on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:01PM (#8692974) Journal
    I'm a big supporter of OOo here at Linden Hall but I gotta tell you that this is the suckiest thing about Open/StarOffice.

    This has been an issue since day uno and I can't figure out why they haven't prioritized this - especially in light of the fact that Sun is using the code to go head to head against MS! Sure, the install process will be completely changed in V. 2.0, but that's at least a YEAR AWAY!

    As it is, I have to use a script and a reg hack to make StarOffice work for all users in my labs without foolishness. I can kind of understand why Sun may not want it to work with Terminal Services - they require you to call them if you want to install it on a term server (unbelievable in itself); but not supporting multiple users in XP HOME??!! WTF??!! This is the sort of thing MS can pick on because it's totally true.

    Installation issues should be fixed ASAP!

  • Re:PDF (Score:4, Informative)

    by darien (180561) <darien.gmail@com> on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:04PM (#8692992)
    Word doesn't produce pdf files because thats not really a word processor format

    Adobe Acrobat installs a virtual PDF printer so you can create PDFs from any application; and for Word in particular it goes so far as to add an "export to PDF" button right onto the toolbar. In other words, it is very easy to create PDFs from Word. I guess there must be some other reason why Word wasn't used for this task.
  • Re:PDF (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2004 @11:15PM (#8693074)
    Word doesn't produce pdf files because thats not really a word processor format

    Every single Mac OS X program that can print, can produce pfd-files.

    And that includes Microsoft Office X for Macintosh.
  • Re:Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:01AM (#8693337)
    On a Mac, every Carbon and Cocoa application can export to a PDF by itself. Just click Print, and then the "Save as PDF" button.
  • Re:PDF (Score:5, Informative)

    by nolife (233813) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:15AM (#8693439) Homepage Journal
    Adobe Acrobat

    Not to be confused with the Adobe Reader that just about everyone has.
    Every place that I have used or maintained Samba, I've also installed a network PDF printer for the client workstations to use (using this guide [linuxgazette.com] as a reference). Of course why stop there, you can also use the same concept descibed in the above link to install various printers like jpg, tiff (color and group 4 fax), and just about any other printer that gs can export to. These virtual printers make a great document converter for those people that you want to share stuff with that may not have the specific application to print or open the native file you may have to send them. Another advantage is printing confimations, receipts, web pages etc.. in electronic form instead of on paper.

    Substitute ps2pdf in the above linked guide to gs for other printers, examples below

    RGB color tiff at 300dpi:
    gs -sDEVICE=tiff24nc -r300x300

    Standard Group 4 Fax (tiff):
    gs -sDEVICE=tiffg4 -r100x100

    300dpi Jpeg:
    gs -sDEVICE=jpeg -r300x300

  • Re:meh (Score:4, Informative)

    by jrockway (229604) * <jon-nospam@jrock.us> on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:32AM (#8693547) Homepage Journal
    Here's the margin for learning LaTeX. Paste this into your document, change the name, date, title fields:

    \documentclass[12pt,letterpaper]{article}
    \usep ackage{doublespace}
    \usepackage{fullpage}
    \autho r{Jonathan Rockway}
    \date{27 March 2004}
    \title{test.tex}
    \begin{document}
    \begin{ singlespace}
    \maketitle
    \end{singlespace}

    Then type your document here, ending each paragraph with a blank line. If you need bold text (hint: you probably don't) use \textbf{bold phrase}. Use \emph{word} to emphasize a word. There, you're done. You have a beautiful document and all you did was type. Wow. Also don't forget to:

    \end{document}

    There. Run that thru LaTeX and see what you get. You'll like it.
  • Re:Rebuttal issue... (Score:3, Informative)

    by DunbarTheInept (764) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:58AM (#8693679) Homepage
    I installed OO on one place at work. Multiple people are using it from different workstations, no problem. But that's because I'm using an OS that was designed with that kind of usage pattern in mind from the beginning, not one for which it was an afterthought. Someone who wants to run OO on their workstation either runs it off of the shared NFS drive, or runs it through remote X-windows. This took no effort at all to set up. It just works by default.

    There was a problem with the install, though, that has nothing to do with network versus personal use - if you have a bad font file installed somewhere in your system, Open office's installer crashes becasue it tries to read all the fonts in the system with it's own font rendering library (instead of using the one in the windows server) before it gets to the last one in the path, which is the one it actually uses in the installer. If any of the truetype fonts are corrupt (which can happen if you got them from a download), it never gets far enough along to read the font it wants to use for installing.

    That's a huge problem, but it's been fixed in the open beta version, by giving the installer a fallback font to use that's ugly but guaranteed to work, when the font it wants to use is not working. (I would prefer a fix that just stops trying to use it's own font engine altogether and just uses the one that is in the x server, since they can all handle truetype fonts well now - and the only reason for OO having its own font renderer is now moot.)

  • by Foolhardy (664051) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [23htimsc]> on Sunday March 28, 2004 @02:20AM (#8693987)
    I ran some quick tests on my WS2k3 vm and came up with these numbers:
    Each session commits an additional 3.5MB of private memory plus 6.5MB for explorer, and 36k to the non-paged pool.
    Each connected session costs 2MB in the paged pool whereas each disconnected session costs 600K in the paged pool.
    I tracked kernel memory allocations: the 600-2000K session overhead in the paged pool goes almost exclusively to the win32 subsystem, which isn't suprising. The extra user memory is used by a seperate copy of csrss, winlogon, and the remote clipboard server, running in each session.
    I don't know how this compares to other OSs.

    UNIX is designed more with multi-user support in mind than Windows. Where a UNIX would have only one process to serve multiple users, Windows duplicates some of them. Still, the memory overhead I observe doesn't seem excessive. How third-party programs fare is another story though.(usage of shared libraries, memory, files...) Most apps make the gross assumption that there is only one user: at the console.
    (NOTE: I have never run an actual production terminal server, so it's possible I am missing something important.)
  • by carlmenezes (204187) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @02:48AM (#8694087) Homepage
    Regarding the speed issue, yes, right now OpenOffice does take really long to start. Now, let's use this as an example to illustrate the difference between the community model and the MS model...

    OOo is scheduled for some nice optimization and speed increases in version 2.0 (and some major overhaul of the code if I'm not mistaken)
    Office is actually getting SLOWER with new releases - only you don't notice it because when it comes out you have a faster computer! And good luck trying to direct the development of MS Office...
  • Re:Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:3, Informative)

    by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @02:53AM (#8694106) Homepage
    OOo can export any of its documents to PDF, MS Office can not do that by itself

    On the other hand, OOo needs to be able to export to PDF, so that you can print. On my Linux box at work, I didn't have the problems ESR ran into setting up CUPS, but OOo refuses to recognize that I have a printer available. Every other application I've tried can print with no problem, but not OOo. So, I have to save as PDF and print with any of the four PDF viewers I have (they all see the printer).

  • by PickyH3D (680158) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @03:33AM (#8694290)
    I doubt it's office screwing them up. It's probably a poor save function. After all, Office decides its own format so it's not like they CAN screw it up. Even if it's saved invalidly everytime, it's still the proper form. That's the beauty of being the originator. MS cannot help it if a group of people cannot figure it out, and furthermore, they don't care. They want and NEED you to spend money on their product, not download OO. That's why real businesses tick.
  • Re:Yaaaawwwwnnnn (Score:2, Informative)

    by krunk7 (748055) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @03:40AM (#8694324)
    $OPENOFFICE/spadmin


    Edit the default properties. You can pipe OpenOffice through any print daemon you want.....so if CUPS itself can print there is no reason OOo shouldn't print as well.

  • by ninjadroid (622900) <ninjadroid@gazuga. n e t> on Sunday March 28, 2004 @04:21AM (#8694453) Homepage

    You don't find it a bit twisted that VA Linux owns a site called Slashdot that posts articles that bashes competitors and calls it "tech news?"

    No, although I do find debate-by-interrogation to be a little perverse. I doubt you'd ever be happy with Slashdot's anti-MS tint, even if the site was funded by CmdrTaco's lottery winnings. The connection between Slashdot and OSDN is no secret, and if that perturbs you there are undoubtedly greener pastures over yon fence. Slashdot is mostly a community deal, and you're outnumbered. Deal.

    Imagine the outcry if some other company owned a site that called itself a news site and posted articles negative toward Linux. We'd hear endless rants from the zealots about how it's "biased."

    In essence, stupid people would do stupid stuff. No surprise there. Somewhat surprising that you don't see the connection between these zealots and Slashdot iconoclasts such as your self.

    On a more serious note, I've read your comments and journal, and I'm convinced that you've nailed the issue dead on. Slashdot is horrible, and I don't think there's any hope for it (at least, I got better things to do than try to fix it). I advise seeking an alternate news source for your daily fix.

  • by Monkey Overlord (746151) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @05:11AM (#8694580) Homepage
    Considering the number of comments mentioning MS Office's inability to save PDFs, it should be mentioned that only Windows version is crippled in this manner. MS Office v.X for Mac can save PDF files just fine. Just go File / Print and a the bottom of the print dialogue you'll see "Save as PDF". I love that feature as I always e-mail my documents in Word and PDF formats. While OO is a great piece of software it has many problems. Its word processer is generally on par with MS Word, but it's equivalent of MS Excel is not something to rave about.
  • by pe1chl (90186) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @05:44AM (#8694671)
    This has been a problem for us as well, but I have been able to fix it on Windows machines.

    It is possible to install OpenOffice.org as an administrative user, and then move the program menu items to "All Users".
    In that state, it is possible to share one OpenOffice installation amongst all users by making the "user" directory in the OpenOffice.org1.1.0 directory writable for everyone.

    The downside of this is that all users will share the same preferences, on the machine. So when someone else logs on he/she will get the preferences of the previous user, will see what documents (filenames) that user worked on, etc.

    To fix that, you need to make some simple changes to the installation that are similar to what a user install after a /net install does. But you can make these changes in a LOGON script.

    After installation, in the file %PROGRAMFILES%\OpenOffice.org1.1.0\program\bootstr ap.ini
    change these lines:
    Location=$SYSUSERCONFIG/sversion.ini
    and
    UserInstallation=${$Location:$Section:$ProductKey }

    In the file %USERPROFILE%\Application Data\sversion.ini (which will have to be created when it does not yet exist when a new user logs on) change this:
    OpenOffice.org 1.1.0=file:///C:/Documents%20and%20settings/Userna me/Appication%20Data/OpenOffice

    Copy the user directory from the %PROGRAMFILES%\OpenOffice.org1.1.0 to that location when it does not yet exist.

    Now the OpenOffice settings will be in the user profile and will roam to computers where this user logs on.

    After putting these actions in LOGON scripts, we now have automatic installation and roaming of user data with OpenOffice.org

    But I agree that this should be automatic, just as it is with Microsoft Office.
  • by cyborch (524661) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @06:06AM (#8694732) Homepage Journal

    but if MS office would run on Linux I would drop Windows like a red-headed step child

    You should have seen this comming from a mile away: ms office runs easily on linux [codeweavers.com].

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 28, 2004 @07:10AM (#8694875)
    I myself cannot drop Windows entirely until an open source office solution (such as OpenOffice) starts taking real market-share on the Windows side.

    Why; do you need to be in the "in crowd" of Office software? I must be missing something, because what does anybody else have to do with your choice of software? You can import and export those Microsoft Office files with OO.o, so what's really stopping you?

    Then, of course, there's that damn "how to train the users" problem.
    • Find out what the users actually do on a day to day basis
    • Create "Howto do x in OpenOffice" primer for each x the users need to know
    • Give the users copies of OO.o and the primers.

    I'm sure you didn't employ morons. They can handle it.
  • by gnu-generation-one (717590) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @08:20AM (#8695001) Homepage
    " support: OOo documentation is still behind the curve, but community support is already significantly better than MSOs and accelerating"

    I'll second this, saying: anyone who's read the users@openoffice.org support forum for a day or two will see a level of support that's unheard of for any other office suite. Every question asked* will get a well thought-out, timely, accurate, and useful answer, and it's so easily accessible that it just doesn't compare to phoning up a call center.

    * ok, there's occasionally something we'd call "ask stupid question, get stupid answer"

    The references to support forums in other languages whenever someone writes in russian or chinese indicates that foreign-language support is likely to be just as good also.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @08:23AM (#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 @09:57AM (#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)

  • by catscan2000 (211521) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @12:34PM (#8695989)
    OOo's FTP site has the 1.1 version for OS X, though I'm not quite sure why it's not on the main page.

    Download it at: http://www.binarycode.org/openoffice/contrib/MacOS X/ [binarycode.org] (or pretty much any other mirror listed on http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/ooo-osx_download s.html#download [openoffice.org])
  • by michael_cain (66650) on Sunday March 28, 2004 @02:24PM (#8696539) Journal
    Every time I've ever tried to lay out a long document in Word with figures and graphs, especially if they have captions, I've found myself wanting to pull my brain out through my nose with a pair of kitchen tongs. They fly all over the place and sometimes completely disappear. The only reliable way I've found is to write the whole thing and then put the pictures in at the end, which is incredibly annoying if you're writing a 20,000 word dissertation.

    Word has never been a suitable tool for writing academic-styled publications -- people manage to do it, but as you point out, it's a struggle. One principle reason is that the software does not support the concept of displays, floating displays in particular. Pick up almost any textbook on a technical subject, or look at journal articles, and they are full of floating displays. It's pretty easy to recognize typesetting software written by/for academics -- TeX and troff come to mind -- because they make it easy to handle floating displays. Add three paragraphs, delete four others in a different place, rearrange text, and the displays still come out intact, and in sane places.

    I have wondered for many years why MS has refused to incorporate a serious display capability into Word. Perhaps because it's hard to do in a WYSIWYG way -- until the software is doing the final page layout, the positions of the collection of floating displays is not precisely known.

  • by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Sunday March 28, 2004 @03:26PM (#8696857)
    Here is a good break down of MS's restrictive EULA [cpearson.com]. As you can read, it does not. There is ONE exception and that is for a laptop and MS Office. If you have two computers at home, you cannot put the same copy on both computers without violating your MS EULA, unless one computer is a desktop and the other is a laptop and ONLY the same person can use it. So that means you cannot put it on your desktop and use the same copy for your wifes laptop without violating the MS EULA.

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