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Microsoft Businesses Software

Scottish Police Revert to Microsoft Office 699

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the back-on-the-crack dept.
LordGuha writes "The Central Scotland Policy is removing StarOffice and replacing it with Microsoft Office citing lower maintenance and running costs and greater integration with other departments. According to the article StarOffice was implemented in 2000 when the department was low in cash but lately have estimated that the Microsoft software would cost no more and lead to greater efficiencies."
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Scottish Police Revert to Microsoft Office

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  • by nokilli (759129) on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:49AM (#13302493)
    The other 95% were using Microsoft Office. So that answers why they were having so much trouble with StarOffice. They weren't. They were having trouble working with everybody else using Microsoft Office.

    You know, it's crazy giving cops tools like Microsoft Office or StarOffice in the first place. 99.99% of people who use word processors don't get past the part where you hit keys and watch text appear on the screen. Oh yeah, and open and save documents. That's all they ever do.

    I'd bet real money that the textarea element in a browser like Firefox provides all the text-editing functionality that these people need, especially if you add spell correct via JavaScript. Hit submit and there's your save function, to a central server that can be accessed from any department. Click a link and there's your file open functionality. Amazing!

    You can even do forms! LOL

    Why aren't they using a system like this? Because some idiot somewhere equates more-expensive with easier-to-use. It's the oldest story in IT, and it's always a tragedy.
    --
    Why didn't you know? [tinyurl.com]
    • by Ithika (703697) on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:57AM (#13302529) Homepage
      Yeah, I can't stand the fact that everyone feels the need to use hugely overblown packages to do everything. Your idea seems pretty elegant, and with a bit of regexp-ing could probably be seamlessly integrated with a TeX-based system too for beautiful output. And the coppers wouldn't even have to look outside their browsers.
      • You even have your choice of a wide variety of WYSIWYG web editors [geniisoft.com] if you need formatting capability. You could probably put together a pretty powerful web-based office suite.
      • by mr_gerbik (122036) on Friday August 12, 2005 @01:01PM (#13305045)
        Yeah, I can't stand the fact that everyone feels the need to use hugely overblown packages to do everything. Your idea seems pretty elegant, and with a bit of regexp-ing could probably be seamlessly integrated with a TeX-based system too for beautiful output. ...

          You even have your choice of a wide variety of WYSIWYG web editors [geniisoft.com] if you need formatting capability.


        Two comments deep and you have already gone from a simple text editor to a big piece of bloated software...
    • Just install vi for Windows and teach them the importance of :q!, dd, :set ts=3 and other commands.
    • So that answers why they were having so much trouble with StarOffice
      That, and the fact that StarOffice simply isn't that great. Sure, it's cool that its free and all, but its demands for CPU and memory are at least as bad as MSOffice.
      • people forget why word had a hard time beating wordperfect. because everyone knew wordperfect and didn't want to relearn a new product (back in the dos days). office tookover because they had a much nicer interface when windows came out and wordperfect still stayed in dos land. star/openoffice is going to need to tote 100% compatability with word and give a word compatability chart to explain how to do the same tasks in SO/OO. until this happens, no one (average joe) is going to want to sit down and fig
      • by goombah99 (560566) on Friday August 12, 2005 @10:58AM (#13303932)
        Exactly. MS word may be dull, unispired, and poorly designed with layers of complexity. But it does its job well and is not hard to use. Star office is slow, has an clumsy layout. is unattractive, and is even more complex.

        I've tried it and hate it. It's why I use macs: linux office apps suck. My office mate is a dieshard roll-your-own linux user and has been using star office as long as it has been around. He still truggles with it's byzantine menus. My other office mate is also a pure linux user and he gave up on it. He only uses TeX. He found remebering laTex is actually a lot easier and more consistent and powerful than remembering the star-office menu confusion.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      So that answers why they were having so much trouble with StarOffice

      No it doesn't answer the question. In all business cases, supporting two competing, parallel systems is going to cost you more, regardless of what they are. Add to the mix that MS Office is the defacto standard for office docs and you can see that it's easy to make the decision to do away with StarOffice, no matter how well it stands up on its own.

      As for the comments about being able to do a police desk job using a textarea in a browser?
      • by Doctor_Jest (688315) * on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:26AM (#13302676)
        No, actually, according to the article, the deployment of "solutions" (read: applets and things) in StarOffice, optimized for Open Source software, was causing problems of accessibility in other departments. According to the article:

        "It was also more difficult to configure the open-source software so that police officers could access their files from any police station."

        It, like you said, costs "more" to implement parallel solutions in certain instances simply because while supporting both, it's never easiest to take into consideration making things play nice together.

        It's always "I want to use feature X", but product Y doesn't support feature X. So they return to products that support feature X, rather than doing a little homework and providing a solution that works best for all the systems. Deploying a mixed network is always more difficult, but it isn't impossible, and with a little effort, could be more efficient and better in the long run for everyone by removing Microsoft's stranglehold on the vertical monopoly. (like their stifling hold on "Office" standards.)

        I would rather have none of the features I don't need and the ability to use my files and documents how I see fit, rather than allowing Microsoft to dictate what I can and cannot do with my own data. Text files may be something Johnny Windows users don't like because it doesn't have "pretty fonts" and such, but you can bet long after Microsoft is dead, those text files will still be accessible. And since this whole thing is about complying with some sort of "Freedom of Information Act of 2002", I'd have thought it better to look long-term rather than going back to Microsoft without the lube. Honestly, can anyone name a "feature" of Microsoft Office that is so grand, living without it will bring the world to a halt? Well, let's just say one that couldn't be duplicated with a little bit of effort using open standards and free software. (Convenience is a curse sometimes...)

        It sounds as though Microsoft's "solution" is simply "well, the other folks are doing it..." And no matter who you are, that's never the ideal solution....

        And yes, as an engineer, I detest Office. So take what I say with that bias in mind.

    • Clearly you don't have enough experience in User Support.

      Of course, any adept Tech Support person will tell you that one of the first things any n00b user will do is find the "Large Text" and "Cool Comic Sans Mode" buttons.
    • *Sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:18AM (#13302636)
      First time I've ever posted here, and I really knew what to expect from this thread, but I had to say this.

      We all automatically assume that the police organization doesn't know what it's doing, doesn't know how to perform cost-benefit analysis, and all are just a bunch of non-tech-savvy pawns. They made the switch to OpenOffice *5* years ago. You don't think that's enough time to give something a shot and evaluate it? You don't think that's enough time to see how much something is going to cost or impact your organization? You don't think that they had people working on it and trying to honestly switch to OSS? Unless you work there, I think your post is way out of line (as well as a lot of others in this thread).

      I'm not a Microsoft apologist, but why can't you see past your own point of view? OSS isn't better just because it's free or because it's not Microsoft. Sheesh. Give these people some credit for at least trying something new.
      • Re:*Sigh* (Score:5, Insightful)

        by nokilli (759129) on Friday August 12, 2005 @09:02AM (#13302949)
        I'm not disputing the accuracy of their cost-benefit analysis.

        I'm simply pointing out that the reason they reached this conclusion wasn't because they were using StarOffice, but because everybody else was using Microsoft Office.

        The costs were in getting StarOffice to work with Microsoft Office. The article makes it sound like it's the fault of StarOffice. It isn't. It's Microsoft who throws up the barriers to prevent OSS from working with their software, not the other way around.

        If everybody else were using StarOffice, no way would they be switching to Microsoft Office.
        --
        Why didn't you know? [tinyurl.com]
    • You know, it's crazy giving cops tools like Microsoft Office or StarOffice in the first place. 99.99% of people who use word processors don't get past the part where you hit keys and watch text appear on the screen. Oh yeah, and open and save documents. That's all they ever do.

      So, if I understand you correctly: yesterday, when they were using Star Office (officially), they were the paragons of forward thinking. Today, they are knuckle draggers who dont even need computers, probably, as most of them are

      • by scribblej (195445) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:57AM (#13302913)
        Well, I'm your typical slashdotter, about 30 and a professional programmer. I just say that to say this: I've never read, heard, or seen a concept that couldn't be expressed in simple text typed into notepad. Furthermore, I'm pretty certain the vast majority of things I've read (think advertising) could benefit from some less "features."

        I really don't understand why a police officer -- or anyone else for that matter -- would require more than the grandparent poster suggests. Rather than just making assertions ("You're arrogant and you have zero clue") why not educate us. Why do they need more? What, specifically, would they need? What idea is there that cannot be expressed in text?

        How does a blind person see a font?

        • by wwphx (225607) on Friday August 12, 2005 @10:26AM (#13303656) Homepage
          I spent 9 years working in IT for one of the top 10 police departments in the USA. I mainly did database development and administration, network administration, user support.

          There's really not enough information in the fine article to draw a lot of the conclusions being put forth.

          In our shop there are, largely speaking, two sides to IT: the mainframe (now super mini) side that contained all the criminal information, and the micro side, used mainly for administrative support. The mobile data terminals and the computers used by most of the sworn population connected to the mainframe. They used pre-designed screens for storing and retrieving information. The support staff used various Office products to provide various services, up to and including reports summarizing criminal data.

          But keep in mind that we were a gov't agency. We had to have file interop with the rest of the City, and County, and State, and Feds. We had more severe budget restrictions than most private sector had to deal with. Try not having a pool of money for training for the future year, it isn't fun. When I needed training for a new product, I had to wait for my department head to be out of town and the bureau manager asked me how a project was going. I told him I needed training, he got funds taken out of equipment maintenance to send me to Atlanta for a week. This is not a slush fund, this was money to be used for maintaining the mainframe, fortunately there was some unused funds.

          As a rule, if money isn't allocated, it isn't spent. And that is a hard and fast rule.

          For the criminal side, they had standards that were dictated by the FBI and the National Criminal Information System. Everything has to be coded in specific ways. Trust me, you DO NOT want to see the information schema! It is not correctly normalized and nothing can be done about it because THEY DON'T CONTROL IT. They had to work around those problems as best they could.

          The basic problem is that you don't have a dozen Java programmers and a dozen C++ programmers sitting around just waiting to solve every little problem. We had three network administrators supporting 15+ sites. We had five developers (on the administrative side) for a total micro staff of maybe 15 or so when I left supporting over 2000 officers and another 1800 or so civilian, not including physical networking support (cabling, PC installation and hardware support).

          Saying "all you need is a web applet to do X, Y, Z" is disingenuous. It will never be that simple. Until you've lived in police IT for more than 5 years, you won't have a clue what their overall requirements are and you're making assumptions that don't translate. Their data must ultimately fit legally-mandated forms. That's taken care of by tight data restrictions on the criminal side. On the administrative side, by using Office, you have a mobile work force of people who can move back and forth between various other City departments, assuming they can pass the background investigation.

          You're talking an insanely complex system and set of requirements that have grown out of old technology over decades and decades of modification.

          Yes, it's a MS shop. Started with 3Com 3+Share file servers, went to Lan Manager, now NT Server. Desktops went from Dos to Windows to Win2K and now probably XP. Apps went from Word, Multiplan, DataFlex to Office and SQL Server. There are non-MS technologies both in the server room and on the desktop, but the only place you'll see *nix is on specific apps, such as the Automated Fingerprint Identification System which started out on an RS/6000, I have no idea what it's on, it was not in my realm.

          I like *nix, huge pluses over MS servers. But OO/SO just isn't there. The IT requirements for interoperability with so many other departments both in the City and at other layers of gov't are too vast to take a critical area and make it less than 100% compatible with the rest of the infrastructure is bad. I make no claim to have a clue how Scotl
      • To suggest that a police force needs nothing more than a simple text editor is supreme arrogance.

        One of the major reasons cited for going back to MS was that MS was supplying the whole force with an application to "comply with Freedom of Information requests". This sounds to me like a database. Obviously, (well, to me) starting with Word files, MS is going to have the best shot at doing this at all, not to mention they will subsiduse it to make the whole deal sweet.

        However, if you thought WHY the police

    • I'd bet real money that the textarea element in a browser like Firefox provides all the text-editing functionality that these people need
      There's no chance - people need decent tools to wirte text.hhhhhhhhhxp:w:q!
    • by ednopantz (467288) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:37AM (#13302752)
      RTFA.

      The problems were document portability AND integration with other users. This is there MS cleans up and where OSS falls down completely. How many integrated OSS packages are there that play nicely? (See Info Week this week for some beginnings). Ten years since debut, even something as simple as LAMP is still a PITA to set up and configure. Where is the OSS answer to Exchange??

      I just saw a demo of MS SBA and let me say I'm glad I'm not Quicken. It does all the usual Quicken stuff, but leverages the Office suite to do it all better. Integrating multiple tools: That is where their advantage lies.

      Maybe, just maybe, 90% of the market isn't completely wrong. Maybe the most successful company in history makes products that are slightly better than what amateurs put together in their spare time. Maybe packages that come from one organization (or are bought from their creators and Borg-ed) beat those cobbled together from the efforts thousands of volunteers, occassionally undrwritten by consulting firms out to make system so hard to configure you need to pay for consultants to do everything. Just a suggestion from someone who talks to real users guys.

      I have to admit I loved seeing this article, knowing the howls of shock and indignation that would soon come from the slashbots.
      • LAMP is still a PITA to set up and configure

        http://www.apachefriends.org/en/xampp.html [apachefriends.org]

        Where is the OSS answer to Exchange??

        http://www.scalix.com/ [scalix.com]

      • by Fujisawa Sensei (207127) on Friday August 12, 2005 @09:27AM (#13303137) Journal
        Maybe the most successful company in history makes products that are slightly better than what amateurs put together in their spare time.

        What makes you think we're amateurs? I think you should check some of the OS MLs out there. Apache Xerces had full time engineers from Sun and IBM working on the project as their job. Other project are the same.

      • Can't you MS apologists find some another choice of words in your anti OSS diatribes. Ever since Balmer first uttered the words "cobbled together" to describe open source, these words have been repeatedly used in MS propaganda ever since. Let's face it; MS products are also cobbled together by paid lackeys that hate their jobs. Does that make you feel any better.
      • Ten years since debut, even something as simple as LAMP is still a PITA to set up and configure. Where is the OSS answer to Exchange??

        First, I assume you were not drawing a comparison between Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP and Exchange.

        Second, what is the PITA? If you don't want to know how the software works, don't install it manually. Just type: "yum install apache mysql php-mysql" and you'll have a generic semi-secure LAMP system. After you do that, making it secure and customizing it is just as much a PITA a
  • by sYn pHrEAk (526867) on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:50AM (#13302501) Homepage Journal
    In other news, math skills of Scottish police reported to be at an all time low.
    • by doublem (118724)
      Oh, don't be such a prat.

      Yes, yes, your has been modded funny, but I'd like to make a few points.

      The police department in question needs to exchange data with other departments. These departments are largely using Microsoft Office.

      "They only need a text editor with spell check" claims are, to be kind, absurd and ignorant. At the very least they most likely have a host of templates for document creation. I've had some experience with what happens when documents get mangled by changes to the underlying tem
  • by Sodki (621717) on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:51AM (#13302506)
    It should be said that the quality of that version of StarOffice isn't what we can have now with OpenOffice.org or the new StarOffice.
  • by Paul Crowley (837) on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:54AM (#13302515) Homepage Journal
    The key question is, did their temporary move put enough pressure on Microsoft to get them a cheaper deal for Office? In which case, it's worth moving to OpenOffice even if you intend to move back...
  • Corrections (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:54AM (#13302518)
    Firstly, it's Central Scotland Police, ie the police in the Central region, not all.
    Secondly, they are migrating nearly *everything* back to MS. TheRegister have a better description here http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/11/ms_lochs_d own_police/ [theregister.co.uk]
    complete with anglo-saxon mispronunciation joke ;-)
    It's a shame, but maybe they are right. It's not easy to pay enough for good linux/unix admins on public sector wages.
    • Re:Corrections (Score:2, Informative)

      by AliasTheRoot (171859)
      They made a good choice.

      I am a Linux/Unix admin professionaly and I recently went from OpenOffice back to MS-Office.

      The cost of "free" software is too damn high when you cant share documents properly. My CV kept causing everyone elses Word to crash, thats a cost I couldn't afford to pay as a jobseeker.
      • Re:Corrections (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cahiha (873942)
        I am a Linux/Unix admin professionaly and I recently went from OpenOffice back to MS-Office. [...] My CV kept causing everyone elses Word to crash, thats a cost I couldn't afford to pay as a jobseeker.

        Professional Linux/UNIX admins would send their resume in PDF, ASCII, or HTML format. Furthermore, no company minimally concerned about security would open resumes sent to them in DOC format because of security concerns. And if a company insists on something they can open in Word, you can always send them RT
        • Re:Corrections (Score:4, Insightful)

          by maw (25860) on Friday August 12, 2005 @01:35PM (#13305389) Journal
          You sound like someone who's never had to look for a job.
        • Word Resumes ONLY! (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drewzhrodague (606182)
          Very frustrating for me as a UNIX admin, and user. ALL, and let me put that in bold, ALL recruiters and HR people will only handle .doc resumes. Not a single recruiter or HR person I have ever dealt with (in 10 years) would accept a PDF, ASCII, or other formatted document. I find that fucking retarded, but it's something that we have to deal with if we want to eat.

          Don't believe me? I have documented my job search [zhrodague.net]. The best is when they send a blank email with a .doc attachment of the job description. That
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:55AM (#13302521)
    Central Scotland Police are, as the article states, one of eight forces in Scotland. They also cover a relatively small area and employ "about 1000 officers" - compared with 7500 for the largest Scottish Police force, Strathclyde Police.
  • by polysylabic psudonym (820466) on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:56AM (#13302522) Journal
    I work as a software designer for an Australian government department. They use the same sort of excuses for sticking with MS. In that case at least, it's lies. They stick with MS because it's executives that make the decisions and they get information from only two sources: MS sales staff and noisy linux zealots from within their own staff.

    The zealots come off as zealots and are thus dismissed as having nothing useful to say.

    The MS sales staff have "consultant" in their job title and are thus deigned (by the senior execs) to be experts on all things computerish.

    Of course to those of us who grok operating environments and who don't grok executives and consultants see said executives as fools and their reasons as invalid.

    Oh well.
    • Ouch. The MS sales staff have "must sell MS products" in their job description and should thus be considered even less trustworthy than the zealots, when it comes to choosing software vendors.
      If your executives don't get that, they deserve to be called PHBs.
    • by hey! (33014) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:52AM (#13302874) Homepage Journal
      Having worn both hats, geek and suit, I have to say you can't make this kind of decision purely on technical OR non-technical criteria. You have to use all your knowledge to do what's best for the organization.

      Personally, I'd have taken this deal if I were the IT director, and I'm borderline Linux zealot. You take Ceasars salt, you do Ceasars bidding -- and if crucifiction doesn't appela to you, you look after his interests. MS offered them a deal that's a no-brainer. Just do the math.

      They have about 1000 officers plus support staff. Don't know how many licenses this is but MS offered them a package deal at £60,000, which divided by the staff works out to £60/body/year. So it's as close to free beer as makes no difference, especially if this saves a staff position a year dealing with the fact nearly everyone else uses MS. Let's say that financially, it's the same as getting the software for free.

      Add to this that the deal includes software they need to comply with legal requirements, software they estimate they'd have paid £100,000 to build custom, and now they're far ahead. It's the same old story, fortunately less common today than a few years ago: the app I need isn't available on Linux. In a couple of years when the deal runs out, the free alternatives will have closed the gap more, either forcing the market price of MS software down, or making it even more feasible to switch over if that really makes sense.

      From MS's standpoint, this is very smart move. This deal is exactly what I'd have offered. MS wasn't making any dough from these guys anyways, an since its marginal cost for duplicating the software is nil, the limitation on dropping their price is that they don't want to encourage people to switch just to get the deal. That level is probably close to zero at this point in time: for most organizations, the TCO savings of F/OSS isn't attractive enough to switch once the you factor in sunk costs, conversion/training costs, and short term opportunity costs.

      So, MS walks away with 60K in their pocket per year, which is not much but it is better than zero. They also get the priceless publicity of a high profile organization going F/OSS and giving up.

      It's a natural and, unfortunately, effective competitive strategy in a business where the marginal cost of a product is zero. I expect that as Linux and OpenOffice get better and better we'll be hearing a lot more stories like this.
  • by domipheus (751857) * on Friday August 12, 2005 @07:56AM (#13302523)
    .. this costs less, is well be cause of this:

    TIME = MONEY * 3

    In this sort of situation, the extra time it takes to convert documents to different formats, and keep those formats updated, totally outweighs the point of moving systems in the first place.

    This should be a lesson to organisations, if you want to go open source; do it right - and change all systems at once.
  • Hmmmmm... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DanielNS84 (847393)
    I'm reminded of the "E-Learning" system at Best Buy...I think if they switched to Open Office and had a short but mandatory training module before they started working with it on how to use and convert any applicable proprietary formats to be compatible with all the Microsoft things they could save money on licensing. Unless Microsoft drops their prices WAY down for corporate customers they have plenty of money to implement an OSS solution and integrate it to be just as easy to use.
  • You know there are tons of Microsoft money and lots of people who's sole job it is to convince governments that $400 worth of software is cheaper than free right?

    And then we have the whole chicken|egg problem: staroffice is expensive to maintain because you have all those perky support calls from people that try to make it work with MSOffice... so what does the Socttish government do? they add more MS Office to integrate better, instead of adding more Staroffice or Open Office (or any other open-standards b
    • You know there are tons of Microsoft money and lots of people who's sole job it is to convince governments that $400 worth of software is cheaper than free right?

      You don't need an MS salesrep to convince the people that have to write their operational budget that day-to-day living with an application for which you can't hire reasonably priced local support, or for which interaction with another large user base engaged in (literally) mission critical activities is no bargain. Inertia plays a role, here. I
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:04AM (#13302568)
    If they can talk the frugal out a Scotsman.

    /part Scot, the stereotype is well deserved

  • I don't understand (Score:2, Insightful)

    by suezz (804747)
    why it is up to openoffice to try to read microsoft's documents. you know its a free download go get it and install it so you can read the people's documents that are created in openoffice.

    openoffice uses open standards for file saving and microsoft doesn't - this isn't rocket science people. just run them side by side until you totally switch to open office.
    • My company uses MS Office. On my own I installed OpenOffice and have tried to use it. I have found it to be a pain. I find myself opening .docs and .xls with word and excel instead of OO. Mainly because OO is slow. It seems to take OO 5 to 10 times as long to open a .doc file as Word. I'm sure there are reasons for this. Also, the formatting, menus and bothersome popups to save the document in the open format (which maybe you can turn off) do nothing but slow down work.

      If I'm having frustrations w
  • how dare you... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bvdbos (724595)
    ...post this on /.

    It's like swearing in the church (as we in Holland use to call it). Actually, in my company I've made the same calculation. I use some program's which only work with MS Office and it would cost me more to have them rewritten then to buy the 10 licenses for ms-office. Also, the employees would have to learn openoffice/staroffice which is easily done, but the time it will take to give support for questions like "how do I change my stylesheet", "how does this work..." etc will cost me even
  • Did anyone read TFA (Score:5, Informative)

    by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:11AM (#13302600) Homepage
    Central Scotland Police has signed a three-year deal with Microsoft that will see the force standardise on Microsoft Server 2003 and Windows XP (SP2). The deal was struck under the Office of Government Commerce's (OGC) agreement with Microsoft to offer preferential rates for public sector organisations, and will cost the force less than £60,000 per year. 60000 pounds = +/- 60 pounds/workplace = +/- 108 USD It is not because they could not read the other documents, it is because MS offered them W2k3 + Office2k3 for a mere 100 dollars! Where can I get their software that cheap?
    • by Jarnis (266190) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:45AM (#13302816)
      You need to be a large organization, and threaten to move to OSS (or have already done so).

      Then you get a killer deal - for a few years. Let's see 3 years from now what the yearly cost is after that. Maybe 200$/seat. Or more. But hey, at that point people calculate that moving (back) to OSS is (slightly) more expensive than paying MS again for another contract.

      Free/cheap samples or initial contracts are nice way to milk a customer to max later on. MS can think long-term - they are willing to dump some short-term profits for long term wins. They'll milk the difference back over the next 10-15 years - probably several times over.
    • Where can I get their software that cheap?

      On any warez site!

  • by MECC (8478) *
    Good news for any 'hacker' they're thinking of tracking down.


    "Suddenly, all information on the suspect disappeared from their computer systems..."

  • that would go from the current license costs for StarOffice to zero of OpenOffice, while still remaining mostly compatible with M$Office. besides, i'm pretty sure they're running an obsolete version of StarOffice from 2000...

    cops definetely don't know math nor IT.
  • Obviously he meant to say "lead to greater deficiencies" not efficiencies!
  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:20AM (#13302646)
    There are still some major problems for Star Office.

    First it normally defaultly saves in Star Office Format not MS Word format, yes this is an easy change but people when they are done just hit the save Icon and they are done, they don't want to go threw tens of choices and find the document that everyone else uses.

    Second Individuals has invested time in MS Office. From those High School Computer Class to College Classes, CS101. The education system for computers are so dumb that they teach people how to use Microsoft Word but not a Word Processor. So almost everyone who enters the Work field know Office.

    Third Speed. Open Office has had a speed problem from day 1. Yea Office isn't a speed daemon but it is fast where the users feel it is important, boot up and typing and saving.

    Forth Interface. Open Office is setup with a good interface for Linux but not for Windows or Mac. This is actually very important to know the OS you are porting to and follow the OS's Interface guidelines. If you don't the application looks 3rd party and just doesn't feel right.

    Fifth Work Flow. Open Offices goal is to create all the functionality and compatibility of Office but it forgot to get the work flow. Watch a non technical person use Office and you will see that their ways of solving problems may surprise you. They avoid using Style Sheets and just go for the Font Drop Down, except for hitting tab they will use the space and they never ever use hot keys for anything. The menus are off limit to them (The same with the windows start button) If they don't see it it must be an advanced feature that they shouldn't use.

    Open Office is good for techs but not for normal people
    • "go threw tens of choices" ... "Individuals has invested time in MS Office" ... "everyone who enters the Work field know Office" ... "Forth Interface" ... "Open Offices goal"

      A Sixth Problem: Spell-checking and grammar checking don't seem to work properly. :)
    • by crimoid (27373)
      "Open Office is good for techs but not for normal people"

      The 400+ grade school students who attend the school at which I work would disagree with you.

      Until very recently they were all using the MS Office suite. We wholesale converted them to OpenOffice and none of them skipped a beat.

      To them software is software, and OpenOffice was just as good as MS Office for their needs.
    • Okay, just to flip around the argument a bit...

      There are still some major problems for MS Office.

      First, it normally defaultly saves in The most current Office Format not something backwards compatible with old copies of Word, yes this is an easy change but people when they are done just hit the save Icon and they are done, they don't want to go through tens of choices and find the document that everyone else uses.

      Second, Individuals have invested time in older versions of MS Office. From those High School C
  • Of course, the Scots could have used OpenOffice for free, but a top official was quoted as saying "functionally, it's a superior product, but we just prefer the MS-style clipart".

    Can just imagine their posters "Wanted. Bank robber." And then it has a clipart pic of some guy in a stripey shirt holding a bag labelled "swag".
  • by Assmasher (456699) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:35AM (#13302733) Journal
    "and the need to interoperate more smoothly with other departments running Windows."

    Aka, dominance brings it own appeal.
  • by Morrigu (29432) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:36AM (#13302739) Homepage Journal
    I'll probably get strung up on a length of Cat5 by enraged slashdotters for writing this, but there's a reason why people who have used MS Office products tend to continue using them: they're well-designed, and they work well enough for most purposes. I'm not talking about accountants and actuaries who try to shoehorn Excel + VB macros into acting like a Real Programming Language for financial calculations, but the mere fact that you have fax templates, that you can copy and paste easily from one app to another, and that you can run a decent little database using Access if you want. That as a manager running an office, you can put "skilled with MS Office applications" in a job ad for a secretary and find someone who can at least click through menus and generate the documents you need. That the applications look professional and clean and they come with a support number for a company that will not go out of business anytime soon. That the company will at least attempt to help you fix your problems and whom you can blame if something goes horribly wrong. ("It's not my fault, it's that damn Microsoft app!" you say to your VP who's pissed at the monthly reports being late again.)

    OpenOffice is pretty good, and I use it exclusively on my work laptop running Ubuntu, but my choice in running Linux and other open-source applications is all about my freedom to use, redistribute and modify the application as I see fit, unencumbered by restrictive EULAs and software patents and all the baggage that goes along with shrink-wrapped commercial software. I'm willing to take the time and effort necessary to re-learn how to copy formulas instead of values in a spreadsheet app, where the default save locations live in the word processing app, and how to turn off the @#$(*! assistant. Most people don't care that much, and are willing to spend the money to use something they're familiar with and that is a de facto standard instead of taking the harder path. And don't get me wrong, it is harder to use even something as pretty and polished as Ubuntu + OpenOffice for a user familiar with Microsoft products, although it's a damn sight easier than it was 5 years ago.

    Most people are lazy, and want to get things done as simply as possible. Big software companies take advantage of that, both at a personal and a corporate level. There's a reason why Microsoft is the gigantic software behemoth that it is, and that's because it understands this and understands how to sell products to individuals and organizations. That doesn't mean that its software is technologically superior, or more fun to hack on, or more free to use; but it makes people buy more stuff from them.
  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Friday August 12, 2005 @08:55AM (#13302902) Homepage
    Why dinnae they switch to ScotsOffice? Microsoft, Open, whatever Office you use, if it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!
  • UK police use of IT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tim Ward (514198) on Friday August 12, 2005 @09:10AM (#13303009) Homepage
    You know, it's crazy giving cops tools like Microsoft Office or StarOffice in the first place. 99.99% of people who use word processors don't get past the part where you hit keys and watch text appear on the screen. Oh yeah, and open and save documents. That's all they ever do.

    You've spent how long exactly sitting in a UK police station watching policemen use computers? Your experience does not coincide with mine.
  • by miffo.swe (547642) <daniel.hedblomNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 12, 2005 @09:50AM (#13303325) Homepage Journal
    Apparantly the network was linuxservers at branch offices with MS Windows Desktops running StarOffice. To top it off expensive Sun servers running Staroffice stuff was in the mix. This was not what i would call a Linux migration in the first place! It was more of a Sun -> Microsoft migration.

    Even more astonoshing is the fact that Microsoft apparantly promised to help develop an application that according to the Scottish would cost £100.00!

    They only paid £60.000 for the licenses so i would say they got a VERY sweat deal on this. Can you get any cheaper than to get paid to use a product?

    Read this article for some facts:
    http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/08/11/HNscotti shpolice_1.html [infoworld.com]
  • by endeavour31 (640795) on Friday August 12, 2005 @10:01AM (#13303435)
    /. is really circling the drain regarding enlightned debate.

    It is so tiresome to see everybody screaming about OSS providing freedom to choose software tools - but it is only good when the choice is excersized in favour of Linux. The instant a choice is made to MS (god forbid) the hue and cry appears condemning those regressive bastards as idiots or dupes.

    Don't offer choice if you are pushing an agenda. It is their choice, they tried something different - and it did not work out for them. Lets stop getting the knickers in a twist simply because someone went against the /. orthodoxy.
    • by fmaxwell (249001) on Friday August 12, 2005 @11:01AM (#13303956) Homepage Journal
      It amazes me when open source fanatics are so arrogant as to suggest that anyone preferring a closed source product must either be stupid or receiving bribes from Microsoft. However, that's what happens any time that there's a Slashdot story where an organization chooses a Microsoft product over an open source product.

      I have both OpenOffice and Microsoft Office on my systems at home. I have found OpenOffice to be a really competent package that I heartily recommend to many home users. On the other hand, there are things about MS Office (such as the spreadsheet graphing capabilities) which are superior. I've also found the subtle formatting differences that cause widows, orphans, and page break problems when switching between the two packages. I can easily envision a department, agency, etc. regretting a switch to OpenOffice if they exchage documents with others using MS Office.
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Friday August 12, 2005 @10:32AM (#13303711) Homepage Journal
    This isn't really any big surprise. Microsoft Office became the defacto standard a long time ago, so not using Office automatically puts you out of step with the majority of businesses. Even if StarOffice and OpenOffice had 100% compatibility, they would still not be Microsoft Office. Whether by ethical means or not, Microsoft won the market, so until such time as PCs are no longer in use or we no longer need tools like Microsoft Office, competitors don't stand a chance no matter how good they are. Indeed, Windows itself is not the secret of Microsoft's power, that would be Office.
  • Man bites dog (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Jerry (6400) on Friday August 12, 2005 @11:49AM (#13304367)
    which is the reverse of normal events, ergo it makes the news. Dittos for the Scottish police wp change.

    Because so many people and businesses are converting to Linux and FOSS it's not news any more, so stories about that movment are rarely published anymore.

    ---
    per capita death rates of Americans in DC and LA are greater than American soldier combat deaths in Iraq, so when are we pulling out of DC or LA?
  • Not surprised at all (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rongage (237813) on Friday August 12, 2005 @11:50AM (#13304379)

    When you try to do something even mildly advanced in OOo (like using Avery Labels in Landscape instead of Portrait mode) or even something as simple as printing a #10 envelope, OOo often falls down, badly.

    When these issues are brought up to the developers (via their bug reporting system), the report is either ignored outright (in the case of the envelope printing) or the report is dismissed as a "feature enhancement" request and not a bug.

    Come on people, you can't ask people to submit bug reports only to ignore or dismiss those reports.

    I wouldn't be surprised at all to find out that this agency indeed had submitted bug reports and were summarily ignored and/or dismissed. Hint time folks: this tends to piss people off, especially decision makers!

  • by phorm (591458) on Friday August 12, 2005 @11:52AM (#13304394) Journal
    We've used several "office" applications here in schools and I must say this:

    Staroffice was terrible when we brought it in. Hard to use, with incompatability errors and a generally unpleasant interface. For quite awhile it propogated a mindset that anything that wasn't MS Office was frightening

    Openoffice.org [openoffice.org] on the other hand (and perhaps more modern StarOffice versions), is very nice, better interface, decent (and improving) compatability, etc. Kids picked up Impress faster that I have, and design some *very* kickass presentations with it. The built-in PDF export facility from the document editors is nice too...

    For those that prefer a slightly nicer interface than OO, depending on your version I've found quite a few people enjoyed Abiword [abiword.org] as a replacement for the just word component of office.

    Seriously, even as an OSS advocate I really disliked StarOffice, but there were/are better alternatives out there.

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