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MS Thinks OOo is 10 Years Behind 736

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the one-office-to-rule-them-all dept.
greengrass writes "In a recent interview with IT Wire, general manager of business strategy for the Information Worker Group at Microsoft, Alan Yates expressed the opinion that Open Office is at the same level that MS office was around 10 years ago. Supposedly only suitable for the single desktop, isolated user. After all, it doesn't even have an e-mail client!"
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MS Thinks OOo is 10 Years Behind

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:39AM (#14856340)
    *monocle pops out*
  • Perhaps it is... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:40AM (#14856341)
    Here I am, still using Office 97 because it does everything I need. Perhaps next year I'll be able to upgrade to OO.o. :)
    • by Angostura (703910) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:48AM (#14856368)
      Precisely; it is remarkable the number of people who hanker back to the Word or indeed Wordperfect of the mid 90's. This was a time before feeping creaturitis had led to a situation where the user could spend several minutes navigating menus looking for a particular function.

      Sadly, if I were to be brutally honest, I would say that this is one area where OO.o really isn't 10 years behind MS Office, it is jam-packed with seldom used functions, that however is the price of getting involved in a tick-box war with MS Office (which open office really has to).
      • Re:Perhaps it is... (Score:5, Informative)

        by CSMastermind (847625) <freight_train10@hotmail.com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:04AM (#14856410)
        Maybe you should try Abiword. www.abisource.com It's an open source and simple word processor. I have three office products installed on this computer. Word Perfect came with it when I got it, I downloaded Open Office, and I bought Microsoft Office 2003. Still whenever I just need a word processor I pop open abiword. It works great.
        • Re:Perhaps it is... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by TheGhostOfDerrida (953992) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:38AM (#14856507)
          I don't mean to come across as too obnoxious here, but as far as any word processors go, my only need for one is writing papers for school. For that, I just use notepad, and apply a basic CSS2 print layout to the file. Then I go back and make whatever minor layout adjustments I need for the paper, depending on the class. This helps me avoid dealing with all that stupid paperclip crap and whatnot that I had to put up with in Word. And I have MSOffice 03 on this box, but I never use it. There isn't a single function in Word that I (notice I said I, meaning me, not everybody else) would use that I can't already have (and have more control over) by just writing the whole thing up the same as I would a web page. I don't use a spell-checker, because I can, fro teh most prat, spel pretty good on my pwn. It doesn't take any significant amount of time longer, and there is an added convenience: If I forget to bring the printout with me (it happens a lot), most of my professors will accept a scrap of paper with a url on it, knowing I'm good for it. With that, the page is styled for both web display (in case they want to save the paper, and my current uni does employ an unusual number of ex-hippies compared to others I've attended), print, and, if any of them have bothered to try, it's also styled with an aural ss that sounds as much like me as mechanically possible (get it? a play on the idiom "as humanly possible"? a joke...), because I was bored enough to write it in.
          I realize that this solution probably won't fly for everyone, or even most people, but if you really want a stripped-down, quick-and-easy, useless-menu-devoid word processing experience, and you happen to be up on web standards, there isn't much you can't do with notepad.
          • by hummassa (157160) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:51AM (#14856539) Homepage Journal
            It does everything you want, makes Wonderful(TM) papers, all absolutely without any effort. I'm using it for almost everything those days.
        • Re:Perhaps it is... (Score:5, Informative)

          by Chemicalscum (525689) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:51AM (#14857014) Journal
          Abiword has one great feature on Linux, it works with images on the X-clipboard which Openoffice 2.0 doesn't (I know it works with the clipboard fully in Windows). I am a research chemist and I incorporate 2D chemical structures my documents. I can copy a structure drawing from Marvisnsketch and Jmoldraw (both cross platform Java apps) or Xdrawchem (a QT app whose Windows version is called Windrawchem) and they paste pefectly into Abiword, while with OOo I have to save them as files and then import them.

          I now generally use Abiword as my main WP on Linux, at least for first drafts.

      • by Bert64 (520050) <bert@@@slashdot...firenzee...com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:36AM (#14856500) Homepage
        Perhaps openoffice should gain a configuration tool, like the "make menuconfig" of linux and the ability to load features as modules...

        That way, you could build a minimalist version and add the features you want, while leaving off what you don't.. It would be very usefull for secure environments too, where support for such things as macros will need to be removed.
        • Re:Perhaps it is... (Score:3, Informative)

          by MoogMan (442253)
          This is a bad idea for anyone who doesn't compile from source (And for Ooo, I'm sure that's the majority!), but you do have the right idea.

          A better idea would be a clear distinction between the main programs, and a plugin. I'm not sure if they've done it however, because I'm a vim+LaTeX guy (cue jokes).

          Package openoffice-base, openoffice-writer, openoffice-calc, etc. etc. seperately, and then e.g. openoffice-commonplugins as an add-on package. All the rest could be seperated.

          I believe Debian/Ubuntu does thi
    • by Spacejock (727523) on Monday March 06, 2006 @06:50AM (#14856668) Homepage
      I still use Office 97 too. I've seen the 'future' of user interfaces as Virtual CD went from a slick version 5 to a nightmare version 7 with draggable everything, self-hiding menus and other crap. The program works fine, don't get me wrong, but the user interface has is akin to one of those sliding puzzles thanks to .net offering programmers these neato whizzo coolio tools which are actually really, really annoying for the end user. Just give me plain old drop down menus and window panes which stay where they're supposed to be.
      Problem is, more and more apps are leaping into the same style of user interface, and they're driving me nuts.
  • by LiquidCoooled (634315) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:43AM (#14856347) Homepage Journal
    Better contact OO.org and demand a refund.
  • by castlec (546341) <castlec@@@yahoo...com> on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:43AM (#14856349)
    because Microsoft hasn't added much in so long.
    • by sg_oneill (159032) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:08AM (#14856421)
      Well, I'm just going to fire up my MS Word and use its native PDF generation and native support for mysql backends.

      oh wait....

      I hate to break it to microsoft, with the glaring exception of a decent crossplatform exchange/outlook replacement, frankly I consider MS Office legacy at best.
      • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Monday March 06, 2006 @06:46AM (#14856657)
        If you want a decent cross-platform Exchange/Outlook replacement, try porting Exim4, Fetchmail and Evolution to Windows.

        Seriously. Unix already had a blinding mail system before Windows ever existed. Exim is an MTA, also known as an SMTP daemon, which is to say that it does exactly what sendmail does {look that up elsewhere}; but it has a slightly nicer config file syntax than sendmail {note, I am biased: sendmail's unwieldy configuration was what drove me to try exim in the first place}. Evolution can use the native unix mailbox system instead of a POP3 server {which is no more than an alternative interface to native unix mailboxes on a remote machine} and a local MTA {an SMTP server is just an SMTP server.} Exim can be configured to look up other people's POP3 servers and deliver direct to them, as though it were a real unix mail server on the internet; or funnel all your mail through one SMTP server as though it were Outlook Express. Fetchmail is a POP3 client which grabs your mail from some remote system and puts it in your mailbox on the local system, so it integrates tightly.
        • Now all you're missing is calendaring, the task list, and a whole host of other features I can't remember. The only one I care about is the calendaring, though.

          I'm currently using Debian Testing on my development machine at work [slashdot.org], but I still have to have a second Windows machine for Outlook's calendar functions. (Yes, I know that Evolution has an Exchange connector, but it appears to be broken in Debian Testing. There's a bug report filed against it - hopefully it'll get fixed soonish and I can start c

  • big deal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:43AM (#14856351)
    bob hearn claims [mit.edu] that microsoft office is 13 years behind clarisworks.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:44AM (#14856356)
    Now i understand why slashdot users tend to promote openoffice.org... :-)

    Interesting that he mentions OOo as suitable for single desktop, isolated users.. Isn't that a huge part of the MS office userbase he's talking about? Email client? Outlook express is for free, isn't it? :-)
    • by maxwell demon (590494) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:49AM (#14856372) Journal
      As is Mozilla Thunderbird.
  • by Sven The Space Monke (669560) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:44AM (#14856357)
    Yeah, right about the time of Office 97 is where I thought to myself "Hmm... how much more could I ever use in an office suite?". Since then, MS hasn't been able to introduce a single feature into Office that hasn't made me wonder why I should care. Mind you, I really never used Office 97, since Office 6 was pretty much good enough for me. Now, it's all OOo, since it's easier to find binary installers for OOo than my old Office 6 floppies.
    • by 1u3hr (530656) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:14AM (#14856438)
      MS hasn't been able to introduce a single feature into Office that hasn't made me wonder why I should care.

      Multi-lingual support is better, especially Chinese and such using Unicode fonts. That may well not be a critical feature for many readers here though.

    • Wrong (Score:5, Funny)

      by Clueless Nick (883532) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:20AM (#14856453) Journal
      With MS Office you have at least evolved to the stage of dinosaurs. OO.o doesn't even consider you to be a lifeform, does it? Show me an advertising campaign that proves otherwise.

      -clueless
  • Its all relative (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mgv (198488) * <Nospam.01.slash2 ... g ['man' in gap]> on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:45AM (#14856361) Homepage Journal
    Well,

    If you want a word processor, then you wouldn't need care alot about the last 9 years of development (Office 97 had a pretty good WP).

    If you do presentations, then Office is a few years behind Keynote, at least as far as slick graphics goes (and what is presentation software for if not to look slick?)

    Its about getting the base function good enough ... if you want the best, you wouldn't use powerpoint anyway. But for alot of people, powerpoint is good enough. Trouble is, OO is getting good enough too
    • Re:Its all relative (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NitsujTPU (19263)
      I think that it goes without saying that Keynote is clearly on top on the presentation software front. Keynote makes PowerPoint look downright clunky. Unfortunately, OOo's presenter software looks clunky by relation to PowerPoint.

      I wish that there were KeyNote for Linux, or an open source presentation package that was half as cool. I've even thought of starting such a project once I get a moment free from school.
  • by zyte (896988) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:46AM (#14856362)
    that this company has around 60,000 employees. no shit some of them are going to say stupid crap, who cares?
  • They're right. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nastyphil (111738) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:47AM (#14856365)
    All the big changes to MS Office are orientated around collaboration and integration with MS's looming strike at the middleware market. OOo doesn't do this.

    Yet.
  • by dotslashdot (694478) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:48AM (#14856367)
    Nor does it come with an embedded flight simulator like Excel does. Sooo 1990s!
  • by SeaFox (739806) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:51AM (#14856378)
    Apple Computer thinks Microsoft is five years behind.
  • by Unsus (901072) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:51AM (#14856379)
    Yes, OOo is certainly missing all the ground-breaking word processing technologies that emerged within the last 10 years. Honestly, both OOo and MSOffice have nothing on notepad, which sadly starts-up and runs faster than both of them.
  • by erlando (88533) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:51AM (#14856382) Homepage
    I think we just slashdotted .au ... :-)
  • by jimicus (737525) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:51AM (#14856383)
    Article is already /.'ed, but I'm not sure I grasp the problem with OO.o being behind Microsoft Office.

    Here in the UK, MS has been running ads with people wearing dinosaur heads making comments like:

        "I'm either here for the 11:00 meeting on the 12th or the 12:00 meeting on the 11th"

          - Microsoft Office has evolved. Have you?

    The thing I don't understand is that all the "problems" the ads show haven't actually existed since around Office '97. A simple PDA with Outlook integration (which has existed for... oooh, some time now) would solve the problem above, for instance. The only reason I've heard anyone in business give for upgrading for years is "we're receiving a lot of email attachments in the new format".

    I would argue that, this being the case, OpenOffice doesn't need to get "on a par with Office $NEXTVERSION". It just needs Office '97 equivalence and good import/export filters.
    • by illtud (115152) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:28AM (#14856482)
      Here in the UK, MS has been running ads with people wearing dinosaur heads making comments like:

              "I'm either here for the 11:00 meeting on the 12th or the 12:00 meeting on the 11th"

                  - Microsoft Office has evolved. Have you?

      The thing I don't understand is that all the "problems" the ads show haven't actually existed since around Office '97.


      Exactly, because it's Office '97 that new Office (what's it even called now?) is competing against. If you look at some of those adverts, it even has a dinosaur saying "We've got Office 97, is that good enough?" and the other replies "not nearly!". People have been saying for a while that MS's biggest competitor are their own old products, well now we see MS 'fessing up to that. Googling around you find bloggers and commentators annoyed and insulted by the ads. I don't think they're a great idea.
    • by bentcd (690786) <bcd@pvv.org> on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:28AM (#14856484) Homepage
      We get the same ad campaign in Norway, and I find the message conveyed amusing to say the least. What Microsoft is actually telling us is "if you're still using our software, you're such a dinosaur". Added to the implicit insult directed at their existing customer base, I don't quite see what good they think this campaign might be doing them :-)
    • The "dinosaur" adverts aren't slagging off OpenOffice.org -- they're slagging off older versions of Microsoft Office.

      When you buy a car, one day the engine or the transmission will wear out. When you buy a VCR, one day the rubber tyre on the idler wheel will wear out. When you buy a steam iron, one day the water passages will clog up irretrievably with limescale. When you buy a microwave oven, one day the magnetron will fail. You get the idea: real, physical appliances wear out with use. To some ext
  • Snarky Response (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) * on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:53AM (#14856388)
    This is really just a duplicate of comments posted so far, so feel free to mod it as such, but I can't help thinking if someone said this to me the snarky response is:

    "Say, haven't you been having trouble convincing people to upgrade ever sicne Office 97? Does that mean OO is just one year away from being a software package everyone will feel comfortable with and have no need of new features, right about the time you totally change the interface for the newest Office and require offices to retrain workers?"
  • by WWWWolf (2428) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:55AM (#14856397) Homepage

    I'll take a word processor from 10 years ago any day over any new word processors, thank you very much.

    Back when I first got to PC world in early 1990s, we had some great word processors that were good for word processing. You wrote stuff. If you wanted it printed, you carried it to that Mac person with who did those "DTP" things. People realized the word processors sucked at typesetting. They were tools you used to produce ASCII files with for someone else to process properly.

    While modern word processors try to be the ultimate solutions to all electronic communications. Microsoft wants Office users to be able to do everything - and only succeeds at users being able to do some tasks at some level. Want to write a little bit? Can do. Want to typeset? We suck. Want to add tons of numbers up? Can do. Want to do something a bit more complex with numerical data? Not that easy or flexible, come to think of it.

    I'm not saying OpenOffice.org is much closer to Microsoft's utopia though.

    My point is, I've written some stuff all of my life. I can sit in front of my Commodore 64 and be productive, dammit, all I need is disk space. I don't care if Microsoft comes up with new features. Word processing was finished 10 years ago. All you stack on top of that is glitter.

    The only reason I'm not going back to WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS are that I think OpenOffice.org's style-definition stuff is niftier, OpenDocument rocks when you think of the future, and thirdly, I don't think I can find an easy way to get a proper license with the means available. Plus WP's file manager UI is kind of crappy.

  • by DrXym (126579) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:57AM (#14856399)
    Evolution and Thunderbird have the potential to render Outlook obsolete. Evolution has the Exchange support and calendaring but no XP version. Thunderbird is cross-platform but Exchange support and Calendaring are ongoing.

    If both upped things up a notch we could be in a position by the end of the year of having not one but two enterprise level cross platform email clients, both of which would work pretty well from Open Office.

    Anyway, I reckon that Microsoft have realised that Outlook is pretty superfluous for most people. Windows Vista (finally) comes with a calendar app which would be sufficient for most people. Or perhaps they haven't - Vista does seem to be lifting a lot of features from Mac OS X.

  • It doesn't matter (Score:4, Insightful)

    by artixlin (959153) on Monday March 06, 2006 @04:58AM (#14856402)
    It doesn't matter! Cause I only use 10% of the fundamental features of every office suite.
  • Eh (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NitsujTPU (19263) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:01AM (#14856406)
    Brutal, honest, truth. I'm not fond of OpenOffice.org

    It's ok. It's not as great as people say it is. Organizations that have the money for MS Office and want it, honestly, have a bit better product.

    I do most of my writing in LaTeX if it requires any formatting, and coding in gedit. I use Kile, though it's buggy as it gets, just for the completion feature.

    If I need a presentation, I use PowerPoint. I find the OOo presentation software to be a bit clunky. It'll open a PowerPoint presentation, but it doesn't look very good on the other side (this is stock Gentoo Linux... perhaps there are other bells and whistles).

    OOo seems to run slow and with a lot of overhead. The interface is a little clunky too.

    Now, I don't do much in MS office, but if I'm not using LaTeX, and have a Windows box with it installed handy, I'll usually use MS Office prior to using OOo. Usually, I'll use KWord if I need to open or write a doc. Honestly, the KDE presentation tool seems better than the OOo one, but PowerPoint still smokes those two.

    ThunderBird smokes Outlook, honestly... if it's compatible with your installation (I'm thinking university Kerberos auth still doesn't work). The guy is right about the lack of email integration, but, honestly, all that ever did was irritate me. It facilitates group writing... lovely.

    Most of my writing with multiple authors is handled via CVS, in LaTeX.

    For spreadsheets I use gnumeric.

    Plots and charts, gnuplot, which I think everyone on the planet uses.

    Did I miss some crucial thing that OOo does? It's a nice product and all, but, the truth is, it doesn't match the hype. Firefox probably made a big ripple for open source apps under windows, but Firefox is an awesome browser. Firefox offers a real improvement over IE.

    My Linux solution barely involves OOo. I think that I uninstalled it it a while ago so I wouldn't have to wait for Gentoo to emerge the update. I don't really think that the hype is justified, and I used StarOffice back in the day and everything. There's just, simply put, better stuff available.
    • Re:Eh (Score:5, Insightful)

      by seanellis (302682) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:17AM (#14856444) Homepage Journal
      You're probably right. But for me, there are three killer points about OOo:

      1. Price. There's no way I'm going to shelling out £100+ for something I use occasionally.
      2. Open Document Support. I am very wary about storing things in proprietary formats.
      3. It's not Microsoft. Well, I am a Slashdot reader, after all :-)

      For these, I'm prepared to stick with it; as others have said it's improving fast.
      • Re:Eh (Score:3, Interesting)

        by m50d (797211)
        I've got all of those with KOffice, and it performs a lot better. There may well be stuff it doesn't do that OO does, but they're features that aren't very used, at least to me, in exactly the same way as the stuff MS Office does that OO doesn't.
    • Re:Eh (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kjella (173770) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:45AM (#14856525) Homepage
      Plots and charts, gnuplot, which I think everyone on the planet uses.

      Finally! Proof of extraterrestrial life at last. What's the lag time like to your planet?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:03AM (#14856408)
    MS Office is ahead of OOo in alot of feilds. Modular design is one that comes to mind. But they fail to answer this:

    While MS Office is '10 years' ahead of OOo, why are you afraid to compete with it head on through Open Formats? I'm betting MS has the resources to still stay ahead for a long time in the future and pave new ways of thinking.

    The real answer I guess is that they find this to big a risk for their likings...
  • Isolated users? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suntac (252438) <[gro.tluclanimret] [ta] [srewuoL.nahoJ]> on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:06AM (#14856417) Homepage
    So looking from a Microsoft perspective open office is not as good as MS office because we do not have a e-mail client embedded, meaning that the entire open office is crap because of this?

    I still have the opinion you should not embed a e-mail application in open office as this is a mail application and has nothing to do with the things you do in a office application. The beauty of opensource projects is that the final application is build upon users input, not only code but also expectation. If, please read IF, there was a need for a e-mail application within open office the community would have made sure this was a building option.

    In my opinion is the fact nobody has implemented this evidence that there is no need for this in the open office user community. The moment it will be embedded it will be done because of users requesting this and start building this. Maybe Microsoft should pay some more attention on opensource to look what people are building if they have the freedom to do this themselves... and maybe Microsoft should find out that some of there products do not "completely" satisfy the needs of there users...

    Regards,
    Johan Louwers.
  • Which share... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tmk (712144) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:20AM (#14856454)
    ....of Desktop users does need more than an single user text processor? Three percent? Perhaps one?

    MS WORD is like MS Outlook, it might have very useful features, but 95 % of the users do not need them. They buy a PC and Word is included, whether they need it or not. And office solutions developed for huge enterprises are probably not the best choice for private desktops.
  • Missing the point (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:29AM (#14856486)
    The problem with (most) applications in an office suite is that most people don't ever really bother to learn it, or look into the feature set.

    I'd be rich if I received a penny every time I notice someone trying to align text by just typing enough spaces to get the text where they want it to go instead of using properly aligned tabs, or selecting text over and over to change a font while they should be using formatted styles, the list goes on to infinity.

    It's not that everyone only uses 10% of the feature set because that's all they need, it's because 10% of the feature set gets the job done decently enough to not want to bother learning about the other 90%.
    It's only when someone thinks "a word processor should be able to do X or Y" and they go looking how to accomplish it that they stumble across a new feature and then use it consistently whenever it's appropriate.

    Most of the comments I've seen so far indicate that all office application are just becoming too bloated and they stopped looking into them at version so and so but at the same time they show their ignorance about future versions. There has indeed been very little innovation for a long time, but if a new version can accomplish something in half the time it used to take you than that's a significant improvement by itself; the fact that people are set in their ways and will continue to use the wrong tools (eg features) for the job is a problem of education.
  • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vo0k (760020) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:36AM (#14856498) Journal
    OOo may be 10 years behind MSO, but MSO is 10 years ahead of whatever would most sophisticated users need.

    The answer is simple:
    Private users, small firms, medium-sized firms: OOo. Cost of ownership, fulfilling all needs.
    Big firms: MSO. OOo doesn't fulfill their needs, cost of custom solutions too big.
    Huge firms: Custom-modified OOo tailored to their needs. (after all, it's open source. You can't modify MSO because you don't have the sources.)

    So if OOo grabs 90% of the market and MSO retains the remaining 10%, I'm perfectly fine with it :)
    • Re:Well... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by matvei (568098) on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:52AM (#14856817)
      Huge firms: Custom-modified OOo tailored to their needs. (after all, it's open source. You can't modify MSO because you don't have the sources.)
      Last I heard [guardian.co.uk], the amount of user-contributed patches to OpenOffice.org was 0 (zero). There are very few people on this earth who are able to compile (let alone modify) a custom build of the monster that is OpenOffice.org. There is only one huge company modifying OpenOffice.org to their needs, and that's Sun.
  • 10 years ahead. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vo0k (760020) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:41AM (#14856516) Journal
    Well, some 15 years ago my phone number was 5933. By now it would be 0146268933 (after morphing through 215933, 265933, 6268933 and needing to notify everyone of the change.) 4 years ago I dumped the landline and got a cellphone, amongst all advantages (bills including) it has a shorter number.
    If the progress goes in wrong direction, time to change the baseline of the "progress" and move on to alternatives.
  • To be unpopular (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stewartj (525869) on Monday March 06, 2006 @05:47AM (#14856530) Homepage
    Well, this will probably be unpopular in this crowd, but I totally agree.

    I work for a large (85,000 people) multinational company, and we simply couldn't get by without the integrated features of Office. I spend all day editing Word docs, Excel spreadsheets and occasionally Powerpoint, and without the tight integration I'd be in a mess.

    I know how much of a mess, because 10 years ago O97 didn't have the Outlook integration, and I was forced to keep multiple copies of things on disk, and the review/formatting/comments stuff was really poor.

    I suspect that 90% of the folks here on /. only use office for assignments at college, and mostly because they're forced to. For folks like you, sure OO.o and O97 are more than sufficient. For the "Information Worker" that MS is targetting, they're no longer sufficient.

    Oh, and if you are at college writing your thesis, then I highly recommend using LaTeX instead like I did. In terms of typesetting and formatting Word doesn't even come close.
  • OpenOffice.org (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Monday March 06, 2006 @06:24AM (#14856610)
    OpenOffice.org is suffering precisely because it is attempting to play catch-up to Microsoft Office. The dogged insistence upon keeping the UI similar basically means duplicating one-for-one the same mistakes that Microsoft has already made.

    MS Office is a great lumbering beast. It has too many features that ordinary users -- the ones who do document layout using rows of spaces, type out tables of contents by hand and use spreadsheets as a substitute for databases -- are almost never going to use. It needs these features, because it is closed-source software sold for profit and every new version must have something that was absent from previous versions. {Software doesn't naturally wear out like cars or VCRs or steam irons, so alternative and possibly underhand methods are required to force users to replace old software with new versions.} The proliferation of "wizards" should already be sounding an alarm bell: if a task needs a "wizard" at all, then maybe, just maybe, some part of the user interface was badly designed in the first place. But the MS Office user interface is sacrosanct: if MS change it even slightly, then the alternatives will automatically become less unattractive {learning a new UI, vs learning a new UI and paying for the experience to boot}.

    If OOo is ever to do anything other than play second fiddle, then it needs to innovate -- do something Microsoft Office cannot do. If the devs are canny, they will introduce a really useful new feature which would be very difficult to implement in Microsoft Office. {Note, I am not above a little "exercise of reasonable force" in the course of achieving this}.

    I also think that my abovementioned pet peeves such as spaces-based layout are holding people back in ways they will never realise -- precisely because one of the things they are holding themselves back from, is understanding what they could be achieving. There needs to be a way to tell users "there is a better way to do this" -- and to figure out what they were trying to do, and do it properly. Preferably not by Clippit saying "It looks like you are trying to ....." Part of the problem is the ruler. In WordPerfect, you indicated tab stops and margins by typing a line of punctuation marks which represented the margins and left-, right- and fractional point-aligned tabs. The "ruler" metaphor was retained in the graphical word processors, but the ruler was moved to the top of the editing window. This avoids cluttering up the text with unprintables {basically good} but now each paragraph has its own tab settings {as it always had, since a ruler could be inserted anywhere} and it is not obvious how to apply tab and margin changes globally to a document {bad}. {I would suggest that a paragraph's own, private ruler should appear in the blank line which precedes the paragraph, with the global ruler above the editing window. But IANAUID.} In the WP days, it was relatively easy to deal with this once you had grasped the concept of the ruler: just block-select the "old" ruler {which behaved exactly as text in the "editing" ways, if not in the "printing" ways} and then block-insert it below the paragraph with the private ruler.

    It should also be borne in mind that OOo is no longer the only alternative to MS Office. KOffice is maturing rapidly, and has the advantage of having been Free Software from Day One -- there is no legacy closed-source codebase lurking in there to spoil things. As a part of the popular KDE desktop environment, it can easily find its way into many distributions. I have high hopes and great expectations for KOffice. Gnumeric and Abiword should not be discounted either -- they really fly on modern hardware, and Abiword can still hold its own on a Pentium 133.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:26AM (#14856732)
    I actually consider that Office 97 has every feature I needed, the next versions were actually full of worthless stuff, and Office XP has features that I can actually consider as hazards. I think making things on Office 97 is far more efficient that doing so in Office XP. So I am gonna take this MS announcement as an advertising for open office
  • by Artifex (18308) on Monday March 06, 2006 @07:51AM (#14856813) Journal
    They want their idea for "single monolithic software suite covering every possible activity" back.

    I mean, really, modern operating systems know how to launch programs when you click contextually, via icon or URL or filename extension. The whole point is to let people create the best solutions to individual types of tasks, not one hulking thing that tries to do everything.

  • Sounds attractive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:12AM (#14856874)
    The best version of Word *ever* was Word 5.1a for the Mac. Simple. Stable. Unbloated.
  • by ggurley (958535) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:32AM (#14856942)
    Both Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org have their advantages and disadvantages. From an educational standpoint, however, OpenOffice.org has one key advantage that makes up for the lack of some features: its licensing.

    As a former educator, OpenOffice org was (and still is) a valuable learning tool. Because of its licensing, I have been able to distribute copies of the software to students who can't afford to buy a copy of Microsoft Office, even at Microsoft's educational pricing. This especially made a big difference to those who needed to complete assignments at home, but lived too far from school to return to the computer lab or whose jobs required them to work irregular hours. Because I was teaching the concepts of creating documents rather than learning a specific application by rote memory, the students were able to take what I taught them with OpenOffice.org and apply it to Microsoft Office or any other application they choose to use at home or at work.

    Those interested in reviewing the lessons I developed for use with OpenOffice.org 2.0 in an educational environment can download a free evaluation copy of my new book "A Conceptual Guide to OpenOffice.org 2.0" at http://www.conciseconceptsinc.com/ [conciseconceptsinc.com]
  • by dbIII (701233) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:50AM (#14857009)
    Outlook not so good.
  • by smchris (464899) on Monday March 06, 2006 @08:54AM (#14857032)
    Same thing with office suites. Some historical perspective.

    After a year of DisplayWrite 2 in the amber screen dark ages, virtually all my office work has been with WordPerfect. Over 10 years ago I was creating quick-and-dirty laser printed trifolds with WordPerfect containing stuff like complex, rotated clip-off forms. Virtually everything was a frame. Essentially DTP. And maintaining merges for mailing lists and formatted committee listings and the like via macros. 20 years ago, we were using delimited dbase output to WordPerfect template merges to run a summer school of over 2000 students.

    To me, Word has _always_ been crap. It shows it roots as a text editor. You can say "doh" but my conception, spoiled as I was with WordPerfect, was that the program should be a swiss army knife capable of everything from DTP to a rich macro programming language.

    As a clone of crap, I didn't expect much from OpenOffice.org -- and 1.0.0 would crash out fairly regularly on my linux so it fit my prejudices. But now I see my attitude was shaped by WordPerfect. Since Scribus is coming along nicely, I can use that for anything cool. Text is text. They are all good now. And Abiword usually does most of what I want if I know I'm just putting some text/columns/tables/graphics on paper.

    In a sense it is karma coming back on Microsoft. I once had a guy argue with me that having fewer features was Word's strength. However, by defining word processing as something simple and distinct from DTP they lowered the bar to where open source projects could reasonably hope to compete.

  • by Zero__Kelvin (151819) on Monday March 06, 2006 @10:59AM (#14857705) Homepage
    "After all, it doesn't even have an e-mail client!"

    ... and the Linux kernel is so far behind the Windows Kernel it doesn't even have a web browser!
  • Seems Legit..... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XMilkProject (935232) on Monday March 06, 2006 @11:04AM (#14857737) Homepage
    I know we are all OOo fanboys around here, I certainly am.... But the statement seems legitimate, OOo functionality is comparable to Office 97 and previous editions.

    I don't of course see a problem with this though. OOo is free, and 10 years ago office had effectively implemented all the important editing features I was looking for. So to have OOo do that, while being a bit more stable, is good by me.

    It is true OOo does not contain any of these new 'group-centric' features or frameworks. I must say though that i'm not convinced as of yet that this direction is one that will hold. And I'm very certain that it is not being used by the majority of Office users, and mostly only in large corporations. I do enjoy some of these features in the newer versions of Office, the xml/xsl capabilities and sharepoint integration, the web-service integration, etc... But they are not hugely important yet.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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