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OpenOffice.org 3.0 Wants to Compete with Outlook 464

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the don't-we-all dept.
jason writes "At the OpenOffice.org 2007 conference about a month ago there was a presentation on what to expect in the next major milestone for their Microsoft Office competitor. "The presentation mentions bundling Thunderbird with their Office Suite, and refers to it as an 'Outlook replacement.' This is all assuming that Thunderbird recently losing two of its main developers doesn't affect the decision, because I'm sure OpenOffice wants to ensure that Thunderbird will continue to progress before including it." This probably won't sway large corporations away from using Microsoft Office, but it could make it more intriguing for the smaller businesses that are looking to cut some costs."
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OpenOffice.org 3.0 Wants to Compete with Outlook

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  • Compete? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:20AM (#20973437)
    Because Outlook doesn't spread enough viruses as is?
  • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <SatanicpuppyNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:21AM (#20973443) Journal
    Jesus. How about they compete with Word first, eh? Calling Thunderbird an "Outlook Replacement" just shows they have no idea what people use Outlook for. Outlook Express replacement, sure.

    The great thing about Office is all the damn pieces work together. Excel is friendly with Access, Access is friendly with Word, Everything is friendly with Outlook. To beat Office, you have to have an Office suite that works like that. Not just all the pieces in one package.

    There is not one single thing in OO that doesn't have an OSS equivalent stand-alone application that is at least as good. Bundling a mail client with the rest of your apps doesn't suddenly make you competitive, especially when your whole user base could have already installed that mail client if they wanted it.

    There are OSS projects that are actually making a push toward doing the things that Outlook does (like Kontact [kde.org]). But Thunderbird is still lagging behind Evolution imho, and neither of them play all that great with any of the groupware servers out there, open or closed.

    I used to try and push OO on people, but I've completely lost faith in it. I keep thinking, maybe they'll get their crap together, but then they do stuff like this.
    • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:26AM (#20973493)
      I wish I had mod points left over...

      I know exactly how you feel. I used to use Office 2000 since about 1999. Since then I have been waiting for Open Office to serve as an Microsoft Office replacement. What happened? I upgraded to Office 2007 a month ago. I as well have given up on OO. Maybe one day, but then I will be ready for retirement and won't care.
    • by WED Fan (911325) <akahige&trashmail,net> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:40AM (#20973557) Homepage Journal

      How about a complete system?

      Open Office System would include:

      • Open Office Server
        • Exchange-like services
        • Office Collaborator - SharePoint killer
        • Calc Server - Spreadsheet Server
        • Office Project - Project Server
      • Word, Calc, Database, Outlook-killer, Presenter
      • Project

      And, all of this would be compatible with MS Office, down to a UI switch that would allow the user to choose the MS style interface.

      All of this would have MONO programmability for "macros". (Not the half-hearted programmability that MS offers, and sorry OO only pays lip service to.)

      You do all of that, my org MIGHT think of switching.

    • by niiler (716140) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:46AM (#20973595) Journal

      First, let me say that your experience with OO will depend on what you use it for. As I use it mostly for writing papers for publication in scientific journals, quick spreadsheet applications (usually for classroom illustrations), and for "powerpoint" presentations at conferences, it works just dandy for me.

      I do have to respond to your comment that "There is not one single thing in OO that doesn't have an OSS equivalent stand-alone application that is at least as good." I like the concepts of KOffice, and Gnome Office, but KOffice really isn't as functional as OO in any way, shape or form. It used to open faster than OO, but recently, OO has taken just three seconds from click to start on my computer, so I can't complain about that. Gnome Office is not integrated. Abiword is great for very small documents of limited functionality, but is no where near the abilities of swriter. Gnumeric is arguably equal with scalc, but then it doesn't have the same sort of interapplication communication with documents as scalc shares with swriter. As a long time simpress user, I have yet to find either a problem with it interoperating with powerpoint, or another opensource program that holds a candle to it.

      So to finish, you are probably right in that OpenOffice has a long way to go in matching every type of functionality as MS Office, but I still can't say it has any real competitors in the OSS world at the current time. [Note to KOffice users: I have seen quite an improvement in functionality over the last couple of years, but you all need another couple of Google Summers of Code to catch up. - No flames intended, it's just my humble opinion.]

      • by jkrise (535370)
        So to finish, you are probably right in that OpenOffice has a long way to go in matching every type of functionality as MS Office

        The problem I think, is that Open Office approaches things from the wrong end. Linux enjoys more success and prominence because it approached things from the server end, not the desktop end. MS OFfice is a bloated client application that uses bloated undocumented protocols to talk to bloated, buggy, undocumented server apps. Which server apps? Active (Craptive) Directory, Exchan
    • by NJVil (154697)
      Absolutely. If I had mod points today, I'd throw one your way.

      I have recommended OO to many of the students (especially the lower-income ones who cannot afford the Microsoft procetag) in the high school I teach in, and there have been a few adoptees. Most, however, complain of the lack of working features... sadly, perhaps the most trivial of which is the default save as .odt, which is unreadable by the school's myriad Word instances. Tables, fonts, and formatting also sometimes come out looking wrong. Ther
    • by rucs_hack (784150)
      Jesus. How about they compete with Word first, eh? Calling Thunderbird an "Outlook Replacement" just shows they have no idea what people use Outlook for. Outlook Express replacement, sure.

      To most people there is no difference, unless they work for big companies.

      The great thing about Office is all the damn pieces work together. Excel is friendly with Access, Access is friendly with Word, Everything is friendly with Outlook. To beat Office, you have to have an Office suite that works like that. Not just all t
      • by Alphager (957739) <florianhaas@nOSpaM.fsfe.org> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:05AM (#20973719) Homepage Journal

        Kontact is Linux only. While I wish many KDE apps would make it to the windows platform, most aren't, so kontact probably isn't a good comparison. kolab perhaps, as it is based on kontact, but I don';t think that's exactly ready to uproot outlook any time soon.
        KDE4 will run under Windows.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          Minor correction: Many KDE4 *apps* will run (natively) under Windows (and OS X). The KDE4 desktop will not.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:40AM (#20973933)
        To most people there is no difference, unless they work for big companies.

        Well der. The point, to spell it out more clearly, is that the people who are developing OpenOffice aren't coming up with features that big companies want, and big companies are the ones holding the majority of Office licenses.

        I was rather under the impression that the integration of office components with each other and tightly with windows, while nice in theory, actually made it a horrible security threat. Applications that co-operated but existed wholly apart from the OS, other than running on it would be a good thing.

        Not enough of a security threat to bother any of the hundreds of thousands of companies that have purchased it. But more seriously, macros are completely reined-in, Outlook restricts everything, IE7 has as many security features as Firefox and runs in a sandbox in Vista to boot. (It's not part of Office, but I figured someone would bring it up.) And, frankly, it's been years since anybody has seen a macro virus, or another virus that uses Office to spread, and so even if there is still some security threat to these products more-so than to OpenOffice (which frankly I doubt), there's a sense of calm in that area right now.

        Speaking of security, Office does have a nice feature where you can encrypt sensitive files before sending them out of the office to prevent your data being read by nefarious third-parties. Does OpenOffice have anything of the sort? (I haven't used it in a few years, and their website is so horrible it doesn't even have a basic page describing the features of the product, nor does it have screenshots, or basically anything you'd want to see before downloading it.)

        Openoffice is very nice MS Office has the edge on maturity, but I don't like the locked in nature of the document formats.

        I can guarantee if you go to a professional writer and ask:

        Which would you rather have?
        A) An outline view where you can instantly re-order your work, including notes and references?
        B) A slightly more open document format?

        There isn't a single one who's going to answer B.
        • by B3ryllium (571199) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:30PM (#20974223) Homepage
          Cory Doctorow.

          BAM! Hah! Disproved your entire post with one name. Extra points for me.
        • by rmcd (53236) * on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:50PM (#20975515)
          I'm an academic and a textbook author so I guess you could call me a professional writer. And you're wrong. My two objections to Word have always been that 1) the file format is fragile -- you can not expect to be able to reliably read a 10-year old document and 2) to my continual astonishment, Word simply doesn't work very well.

          WRT #1, version upgrades are a nightmare, and I've seen colleagues lose days of work because of file incompatabilities. I know that if you're *very* careful this won't happen, but you shouldn't have to worry about this. And I want reliable access to things I wrote 10 years ago.

          #2: The last time I used Word (2003) for a serious project I used styles for different-level headers and so forth. Everything was auto-numbered and auto-formatted and I was pleased and thought to myself that maybe Word was finally usable. Then I inserted a table of contents and doing this stripped the numbering out of all the headings and eliminated all of my bulleted and numbered lists! I simply couldn't believe it. The truth is that the only people I know *personally* who are happy with Word are people who do not use it's features very deeply. There appear to be plenty of people who use Word in a serious way and who are are happy, but I have yet to meet one personally. (And yes, I am at a big university and I am know lots of people :-)

          So what do I use? LaTeX and Emacs. I adopted them both specifically when writing my book because I didn't trust Word. It took a long time to become comfortable with both, but it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. My book is published using TeX and I can use the compositor's files to revise the book. I find this works incredibly well.

          I always tell PhD students: you are going to a professional writer so use professional writer's tools: LaTeX and BibTeX. (I *never* recommend Emacs, though I personally love it.)
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      If they really want to compete in the corporate realm, they need a drop-in replacement for *Exchange* (or Domino among the less savvy corporations), not Outlook. I agree with you entirely that this, along with so many other things that OpenOffice does (lack of a good outline mode, lack of accurate word count, crummy chart rendering, lack of video in presentation tool) just shows how completely, 100% out-of-touch OpenOffice developers are with anybody who actually uses Office to get stuff done.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sentax (1125511)
      This reminds me of when I tasked one of my employees to burn a powerpoint presentation on a CD and make it auto-run. I knew it was simple with PowerPoint and I mentioned that he install MS Office for this purpose and to ignore that he thinks OO can do the same and will do it equally, well 4-5 hours later I noticed he had been burning alot of CDs and is still testing this thing. He said he was having trouble getting the right components to copy to a computer that may not have PowerPoint installed so it wou
    • There is not one single thing in OO that doesn't have an OSS equivalent stand-alone application that is at least as good.

      Can you point me to an alternative to OO Write? I love the ease of creating formulas in OO Write, and the way the Macro system works. But if you show me a more stable opensource application that can do "at least as good", I am ready to convert.
    • by westlake (615356)
      The great thing about Office is all the damn pieces work together. Excel is friendly with Access, Access is friendly with Word, Everything is friendly with Outlook. To beat Office, you have to have an Office suite that works like that. Not just all the pieces in one package.

      There are also an ungodly number of third party applications and plug-ins that more or less seamlesly integrate with Office or are designed for use within an Office environment.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I know my business does. Packaging them will only make things easier.

    Changing the names of the various apps in OOo would have a bigger effect. The number of times I've had someone think that Calc was windows calculator replacement, rather than a spreadsheet is far too high.

  • Exchange (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sc0ob5 (836562) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:22AM (#20973459)
    When it can sync with exchange servers without having to use webdav I think it will be a contender, until then I don't think so. Still, nice to have it included in the office package I guess, but does it really make a difference?
    • by vertinox (846076)
      When it can sync with exchange servers without having to use webdav I think it will be a contender

      Like Microsoft Entourage? Oh wait...

      (Yeah, to be fair, Entourage 2008 will have supposedly native MAPI exchange support and not webdav, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm just point out that "offical" Microsft "Exchange" application Engourage 2004 on the Mac only has webdav support unlike its brother Outlook 2003)
  • by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:24AM (#20973477)
    Considering Sun refuses to incldue open source code into OOo [slashdot.org] without owning the copyright, this will be an interesting move. Although how will bundling Thunderbird help add functionality to OOo rather then simply installing the two separately?

    One could say the same about any office product, but at the very least they share the "Recent Documents" and can launch each other's applications (which is quite a nifty side-benefit). I'm not seeing even that advantage to the Thunderbird bundling. Although I'm sure it will be useful for those not knowledgeable enough to be able to install both separately.
  • It just needs to support MS Exchange. Easier said than done but there is a plugin already for Evolution which presumably could be used. I expect Sunbird would also have to come into it somewhere for the calendaring support.
    • by rizzo420 (136707)
      we have exchange at work. i am a fan of MS office. it works great and OO.o isn't anywhere near as great as MS office. thunderbird is a great email client, but it is most definitely NOT an outlook replacement. it is anything but that. it supports email and the address book, but it doesn't have a calendar, to-do list, and i'm not sure if it did, it would support all the stuff that exchange can do. as someone above said, just tossing in different programs as alternatives to the various MS office pieces i
      • by bvdbos (724595)
        It's obvious you didn't digg any further then a first glance or you would have known there's tons of plugins among which is Lightning, a full-fledged calendar for lighnting. Lately it's been evolving rapidly with version 0.7 coming out pretty soon. Actually I think it's better then outlook, I rather use lightning then outlook.
        • by rizzo420 (136707)
          i tried lightning. thunderbird kept crashing on me when trying to use it. does lightning sync with exchange or can you only use it locally?

          i have been waiting patiently for sunbird to be released.
          • by bvdbos (724595)
            There's a lot of servers which lightning can connect to but (afaik) not exchange for now, due to the closed protocol MS has put on exchange. But several caldav-servers, communigate, webdav-servers, google, file-system, ftp etc etc do work.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by brusk (135896)
          Lightning works, but just barely (I say this as someone who uses it every day). It doesn't integrate with Thunderbird well enough (e.g., dealing with invites by email). It has a kludgy screen layout in TB. Its reminders don't fire reliably. Contacts are not well integrated with events, and the recurrence system has some problems. It needs a lot of fit and finish work. I say this as someone who LIKES it, and used to use Outlook. But I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who isn't prepared to fiddle with extensio
          • by bvdbos (724595)
            Lightning does do invites which arrive by email. As for the screen, and contacts with events, these are solved with 0.7rc1 which has been out for a few weeks already. Recurrence-problems? Not by my knowledge, which bug?
      • by DrXym (126579)
        we have exchange at work. i am a fan of MS office. it works great and OO.o isn't anywhere near as great as MS office. thunderbird is a great email client, but it is most definitely NOT an outlook replacement. it is anything but that. it supports email and the address book, but it doesn't have a calendar, to-do list, and i'm not sure if it did, it would support all the stuff that exchange can do. as someone above said, just tossing in different programs as alternatives to the various MS office pieces isn't e
        • >Thunderbird & Sunbird combined have almost everything Exchange offers. They just don't connect to Exchange servers.

          That's like saying. Heck I have a car that drives on Hydrogen, but the problem is that there are no Hydrogen gas stations anywhere. Gee, that sort of defeats the purpose no?

          >Thankfully the code is modular (e.g. it already has handlers for nntp, imap, pop3) so it should be quite possible to write the code.

          That's like saying. Heck a hydrogen car is not a problem, you just need to creat
      • Word does not work great - it works okay. There are too many annoying bugs and ill thought out defaults for it to be called great.
    • by bvdbos (724595)
      Why support exchange? There's lots of other servers available...
      • by deniable (76198)
        It's called embrace and extend. Look it up. You should also look at all of the features of Exchange including all of the Windows Mobile interaction. This is what the people who pay me want.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        There's Exchange/Outlook, used by all companies that don't hate their users. There's Lotus Domino/Notes, used by the companies who do hate their users. Then there's whatever Netware was selling a few years back, if it even still exists...

        So yes, by "lots of other servers available" you mean "up to two, if Novell is still selling theirs."
        • by bvdbos (724595)
          There's webdav for calendaring, there's tons of caldav-servers, mail-servers, you have sogo (http://sogo.opengroupware.org/), communigate etc etc. If you look around instead of taking the one's you know, you'll learn a whole new world...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mkoenecke (249261)
      What I cannot understand: how exactly does anyone expect Thunderbird to compete with Outlook as a contact manager? Sure, I use it for e-mail, and I can see how calendaring and task management could be integrated nicely, but no one seems to be addressing Thunderbird's address book, which has zero usefulness outside of e-mail. Does anyone do anything useful with the Thunderbird address book?
  • by Helmholtz (2715) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:29AM (#20973503) Homepage
    As many people have already noticed, people don't choose to use Outlook. Somebody else choose to use Exchange, and that means you're using Outlook. There's no way a third party could attempt to compete, since Exchange uses totally proprietary hooks and methods.

    Personally, I think it'd be better to focus on something like a Visio replacement. Use Dia as a starting point, etc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by keko_metal (1010011)
      How about Kivio [koffice.org]?
    • There's no way a third party could attempt to compete, since Exchange uses totally proprietary hooks and methods.

      I believe MDaemon [mdaemon.com] can serve as an Exchange replacement with their Connector plug-in, although I've not personally used it for that. MDaemon is hardly an open source product (although it is one of the better commercial offerings out there) but it does go to show that Exchange compatibility is not an impossible goal. If that's what you want.
  • I don't know... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Keyper7 (1160079)
    ...bundling Thunderbird is a good idea in the sense that they won't try to fit more stuff in the saturated market of email clients. On the other hand, should email client and schedule integration be a priority? From my point of view, Microsoft is using Office as a tool to turn Windows itself into an all-purpose environment. Sun's efforts will probably be restricted to improve OpenOffice, and OpenOffice alone. They might risk turning it into a bloaty 300 Mb mess that people will ditch in favor of KOffice, E
  • For a lot of quick and dirty charts, I'll just take my data and throw it in an excel spreadsheet. I tried to do the same thing with OO, and it just never felt right or looked good at all. If someone makes a chart that takes up a new sheet in a workbook, why does OO decide to put the legend in 8pt font? Hopefully they add some options to flesh things out more.
  • This issue is a whole lot more complex because of Exchange. They're going to need this Outlook replacement to function with Exchange properly, and then to ensure that it has a reliable and working future, they're going to have to come up with an Exchange server replacement with the ability to migrate people off.
    • Re:Exchange (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimicus (737525) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:50AM (#20973631)
      But Thunderbird is not a replacement for Outlook.

      Outlook's shared calendar integration, while being a minor thing to most geeks, is one of the major features which get Exchange installed in businesses.

      And Exchange requires Active Directory, which requires a domain driven by Windows Server rather than Samba, so even if you weren't planning to before, you may as well authenticate other systems through that. Then people start looking at other things like Sharepoint and third-party applications which expect a Windows domain, and before you know it you've got an entire infrastructure built around Windows.

      This, ladies and gentlemen, is how Windows became a popular server platform in places where you might otherwise expect to see Unix, Netware or OpenVMS.
      • And Exchange requires Active Directory, which requires a domain driven by Windows Server rather than Samba, so even if you weren't planning to before, you may as well authenticate other systems through that.

        Not all that impossible to do - your auth can come through AD's LDAP connector, and if rest can be done like Evolution does... take scrapes off of the OWA service on Exchange.

        Everyone makes it sound like Echange and AD are these magic thingies that no one will ever plug into. While I'll never claim it to be perfectly easy (and MSFT does their damndest to insure that), it certainly isn't impossible.

        /P

        • by jimicus (737525)
          I'm not saying there's anything wrong with Exchange and Active Directory - for what it's worth, it's probably the best solution to that particular problem on the market right now.

          But I keep on hearing of stories like "OpenOffice volunteers believe their product can beat Microsoft on its home ground by including an email client" and all they do is demonstrate that the people who make these packaging decisions and think Outlook is used as nothing more than an email client have spent zero time working in the r
    • by Sir Homer (549339)
      Zimbra is a pretty good alternative to Exchange, we have actually migrated *off* Exchange to Zimbra. With Zimbra you have groupware solution completely independent of Windows on the client and server side.

      http://www.zimbra.com/ [zimbra.com]
  • Sun (among others) has been offering recourses to put into tunderbird and sunbird/lightning for some time now. Lightning is maturing very fast and already a lot of offices can use Thunderbird and Lightning as an alternative to outlook. With the co-operatioon with the rest of openoffice, it's a MS-killer for sure.
  • Not what we want (Score:5, Insightful)

    by markdavis (642305) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:49AM (#20973619)
    Apparently the OpenOffice team is not listening to what users want. Most of us don't want a "bundled" Email client to add to the bloat.... we already choose the Email client we want to use. I don't want an IM client, web browser, or music player bundled into it either!!!

    This is what they should be concentrating on:

    1) Faster. Fast loading, faster opening documents, faster saving documents, faster menu response.
    2) Smaller. Higher efficiency. Smaller downloads.
    3) More stable. Better code. Less crashing.
    4) More compatible. With more types of files (for example, docx, wp, svg)
    5) Better documented. End user docs, help, and developer docs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iknownuttin (1099999)
      Apparently the OpenOffice team is not listening to what users want.

      It was once posted here on /. (I can't find the post - it was months ago) that FOSS developers write code for themselves not for the end user. Then I see an article about a FOSS project trying to compete with MS.

      I guess the guy who originally posted that comment meant to say that some FOSS developers write code for themselves and not for the users.

      Anyway, my point is that I'm not so sure that every FOSS project is really that interested in

    • by niiler (716140) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:12AM (#20973759) Journal
      I agree with most of what you've said, although I'd like to comment on some points:

      1) Faster. Fast loading, faster opening documents, faster saving documents, faster menu response.
      2) Smaller. Higher efficiency. Smaller downloads.
      3) More stable. Better code. Less crashing.
      4) More compatible. With more types of files (for example, docx, wp, svg)
      5) Better documented. End user docs, help, and developer docs.
      1) Currently I'm starting up in about 3 seconds using Vector Linux 5.8 with a custom built OpenOffice 2.3. So start time is not an issue. Save and load time are, although I think these may be related to the zipped/XML type format that is used. I have no experience with Office Open XML for comparison.

      2) This probably is desirable, although the last time I downloaded it took about 5 minutes. For those without superfast broadband connections, a smaller package would be nice.

      3) I haven't had crashing problems with OpenOffice in two or three years. At this point, it just works.

      4) Docx is theoretically supported by Novell's OpenOffice, but I've heard bad things there. I suspect that since it is theoretically "open", that OpenOffice will support it sooner or later. As a former WP fan, I would also like this support so that I can import my dissertation. Finally, I'm also with you on SVG.

      5) The documentation does leave much to be desired, although it's getting better by leaps and bounds. The really key issue here is that the OO.org website sucks. I'll be the first to sing the praises of the program, but their web site looks bad, and is poorly organized. Even when you know what you are looking for, you can't necessarily find it unless you have inside information.

  • Wrong prority! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ecbpro (919207) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @10:55AM (#20973659)
    Please this is so wrong, who needs yet another mail client?
    How about first finish cleaning up the OOo code?
    Then make Impress make slides look nice! Graphics output is so ugly I have to be ashamed when I use Impress, drawings in Powerpoint look so much nicer. Why cant they make good anti-aliasing of curves? What is really stupid is that when I export my slides as pdf they look really nice! Oh boy... but no, first they want to add a mail software into an already really slow office suite, THANK YOU!
  • Its the server side that needs to be addressed. All the current OSS replacements have their issues in an 'enterprise' environment.
  • ...stability and performance of OO.o.

    But somehow I doubt it.
  • by nurb432 (527695) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:01AM (#20973695) Homepage Journal
    And group scheduling, public folders, notes, etc ?

    If not its replacing Outlook express, not outlook. And there are tons of decent competitors at that level now.
  • Without any kind of SEAMLESS intergeneration with ACTIVE SYNC you stand ZERO CHANCE of prying Outlook from my hands. Sure I use Open Office but dumped Thunderbird after giving it more than a fair chance.
  • To replace Outlook, OO.o would have to connect to MS Exchange for all kinds of shared databases, including calendars, distribution lists, contacts, as well as email. If OO.o can do that indistinguishably from Outlook, with the client code in GPL, that's excellent news. Not just for using OO.o, but for using Outlook.

    Because there are several GPL projects out there working on replacing Exchange with something running (much better) on Linux. Their main problem is the Outlook/Exchange protocol. If OO.o offers t
  • by plusser (685253) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:08PM (#20974099)
    I think that the problem with Open Office is that Microsoft Office has no real competition, hence it can afford to ignore everybody else.

    The problem is very simple, when it comes to using Operating Systems there is very effective competition to Windows, namely Unix, Linux (and its many variations), BSD and MAC OS. While many of these systems are low cost to own, they do provide Microsoft with an incentive to provide a better operating system.

    However, Microsoft Office has no real competition. Some people will say "but what about Open Office", but the problem is that while it may be free, there is no incentive for anybody to develop program other than for the simple joy of it. Unfortunately developing a office tool today is not like developing an operating system, as you have to offer dictionaries, grammar tools, paper formatting and tool integration to support every country in every region of the world; something you either buy or pay for a lot of work to be done. The problem is that the commercial alternatives to Microsoft Office have all but died out (Word Perfect etc..), hence the market share for Microsoft Office is probably greater than that of Windows.

    The solution is that somebody needs to take Microsoft on where it hurts, i.e. offer a proper Office suite that costs less than Office. Unfortunately the only company that is any position to do this is Apple, but having been hurt by Microsoft when Explorer was withdrawn for Mac OS after Apple launched Safari, I doubt whether they would even attempt to tackle this problem as Mac without Office would be a problem for interoperability with documents in the future. There is of course Star Office, but that is just a commercial version of Open Office.

    So the solution is that we get total bloatware and zero innovation. While I have not used Office 2007 yet, I suppose that like 2000, XP and 2003 there is little innovation over 97, which was actually quite a good piece of software.

    For your information, I do use Thunderbird as my home email client along with Open Office on my Home PC. But believe me, if I was running a small business, I would have no option but to pay the "Microsoft tax", even if I was not using Windows.

    I personally think that the only reason that Microsoft does not sell Office as part of the operating system (which for many people it could be described as, especially when it comes to Outlook) is that not only do they make most of their money from Office, but if they did they would suddenly find being themselves being prosecuted for anti-trust by the EU and US.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)
      So the solution is that we get total bloatware and zero innovation. While I have not used Office 2007 yet, I suppose that like 2000, XP and 2003 there is little innovation over 97, which was actually quite a good piece of software.

      You should try it. I seriously think they've broken new ground with 2007; usabiity is increased dramatically. And 2003 introduced the new note-taking tools and online collaboration that's pretty slick.

      Of course, that's kind of irrelevant to this discussion, as OpenOffice still doe
  • Yeah, outlook (Score:4, Informative)

    by Aaron Isotton (958761) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:27PM (#20974203)
    Openoffice 3 is scheduled for release in September 2008 (http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Roadmap#Ongoing_OpenOffice.org_3.0). You may like Outlook or not, but there's /no way/ /anyone/ writes a replacement for it in less than a year.

    People are /not/ using Outlook because it is such an incredibly cool mail client (which it isn't); they use it because it integrates mail, contacts and calendars with each other and with Exchange. I mean, you can take Thunberbird, add conversation capabilities and polish the UI a little more and then you'll have the *mail* part of Outlook, but you do *not* have the whole thing.

    The MS Office universe is as successful as it is because of the following:

    - Word, Excel and PowerPoint are a "classic office suite" and are nicely integrated with each other

    - Outlook integrates mail, contacts and calendars with a server (Exchange) and is interacts nicely with the other Office apps

    - Access is a crappy database which causes more problems than it solves. Not much to see here. Most people would be better off with excel sheets they mail to each other.

    The Status of OpenOffice is IMHO the following:

    - Writer is pretty much equivalent to Word. Some things are actually nicer, others are worse. It definitely needs some polish though (there are hundreds of minor nuisances). And they should definitely get rid of the retarded light bulb shaped assistant. It's even more stupid than clippy, but at least it's not animated.

    - Calc is close to Excel, but not as close as Writer is to Word. It's usable for most things Excel is used for, but not a replacement yet.

    - Impress sucks. It's not even close to PowerPoint. It's usable for presentations consisting of bulleted lists, but if you want anything more, oh my.

    - Base vs Access - I have almost no experience with Base, so I can't say much about this. But the concept is the same as Access, so I guess it sucks at least as much.

    - There is no replacement for Outlook.

    - The integration between the individual programs is *years* behind what MS Office has to offer.

    What they *should* do instead of trying to push Thunderbird as "Outlook replacement" is this:

    - Polish Writer some more. I use Writer almost daily and have the feeling that it has the potential to be *better* than Word in most tasks. They should *not* try to be bug-by-bug, stupid-feature-by-stupid-feature compatible to Word; people who need that kind of compatibility are not going to switch anyway. Maybe bring it a bit closer to a DTP program (more and more exact controls for layouting and styling, especially for longer and/or structured documents).

    - Work a bit on Calc. I mainly use both Excel and Calc for things such as "making lists" or "summing numbers" or maybe to write a small macro, so I don't really care.

    - Do something *really cool* with Impress. PowerPoint is far from perfect and presentations are getting more and more important every day. I know I can do "everything" using LaTeX and Beamer, but sometimes you just want to do something *quickly*. And Impress disappoints me every time.

    - Get rid of Base. Both Access and Base are crappy concepts anyway. Databases should run on a server.

    Then they could still write an Exchange replacement, and only *then* Outlook can be truly replaced.

    Just my 2 cents.
  • Although this is a bit off-topic, I'm wondering about whether OO has the basics right yet.

    Every few months I download the latest and greatest OO, and try to load up a random MSWord file. I have never seen OO handle bullets correctly. And this is for MSWord files created on a whole host of Windows and OSX machines, probably with different locale settings, and also using a variety of MSWord releases.

    Not one single time has OO represented bullets correctly as, well, bullets.

    So, this is a question to my /. br
  • They use outlook express or thunderbird or webmail or AOL clients. Many home users dont even both to configure standalone email clients anymore their
    webmail clients are "good enough"

    I dont understand this obsession about overtaking microsoft office in businesses.

    If you ask what most people would like to see in Openoffice.
    Speed is not the problem for most openoffice users. On my reasonably new desktop writer opens within 3 seconds.

    1) Desktop/Web publishing (a replacement for Publisher) the most common activi
  • you little beauty! (Score:4, Informative)

    by pjr.cc (760528) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:57PM (#20974465)
    All i can say is brilliant!.

    Although, the choice of Thunderbird is a little annoying. I was having a chat not that long ago (actually the day OO 2.3 came out) with a friend and we both came to the conclusion we both use ms office because the number 1 thing we use is outlook.

    Now, if OO 3 had a viable outlook alternative (notice the use of the word viable) then i'd never have to fire up outlook ever again. OF course, by viable i mean something that has at least the calender - i use evolution at work with exchange and it works "ok" when its not crashing, but if OO had its eyes on thunderbird and upping its functionality levels then more power to them i say!. My life would be complete!

    I do use t-bird at home for everything, but its so hard to do that in a job given that lack of (useful) calendering. Now, evolutions outlook (owa) connector may be quite annoying really but there is work underway for a real connector to exchange for evolution and if that library (http://sourceforge.net/projects/openchange/) could be used in t-bird - then brilliant!.

    Im of course getting ahead of myself, one step at a time eh?
  • by unity100 (970058) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:00PM (#20974481) Homepage Journal
    ok replacement.

    first, we need scheduleable TASKS, and we need them to be linkable with EMAILS and emails be THREADED, and also tasks linkable with events (meetings and whatnot) AND CONTACTS (emails and cards).

    current thunderbird with lightning addon doesnt cut it unfortunately, it just can function as a "reminder" service, not a complete scheduler/planner/organizer/communication client.
  • by Zigurd (3528) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:08PM (#20974551) Homepage
    I have been using Open Office and Thunderbird as direct replacements for Office and Outlook for over a year now.

    My main tasks are product planning, design, presentations, and documentation for software projects. For these tasks, Open Office is fine - no complaints about missing pieces, and the diagram editor in Open Office is sufficiently better than the diagram editor in MSOffice as to not require a direct replacement for Visio (though Dia is pretty good if you need something Visio-like).

    Thunderbird isn't going to make Exchange Server users happy, but that isn't the point. If you use a hosted mail service, as many small companies do, and if you use a shared hosted calendar, Thunderbird, plus a few plug-ins, especially Lightning, is an adequate replacement for Outlook in that context. All, or almost all the functions of Exchange Server and Outlook have equivalents in Thunderbird plus plug-ins.

    A year ago, when I started using Thunderbird, it was with some reservations: No Plaxo sync, iffy Webmail integration, Lightning was shakey, etc. In the past year I have found enough plug-ins to fill those gaps. As of now, people using Outlook without an Exchange Server would be better served by Thunderbird.

    Some people depend on particular features of the Office/Exchange combination, and that can't be helped, but the 80% that use that software to edit documents and read mail can switch without pain.

    For many organizations, the fact they can do all this without buying software, signing up for maintenance plans, and subjecting their budget to the continuous pressure on commercial software vendors to lock in and up-sell, is enough to make the OSS alternative more attractive.

    Not convinced? You don't have to be. You probably have an obsolete PC laying around. Put a Linux distro on it and try it.
  • ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by m2943 (1140797) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:15PM (#20974593)
    These arguments about Microsoft Office, Outlook, OpenOffice, etc. sound ridiculously outdated. Come on, do you really think people will want to install, maintain, or run any of that bloated, complicated crap in the future?

    OpenOffice is a good stop-gap replacement for people wed to old paradigms, and I'm glad its' there, but people: get over it.

I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the demigodic party. -- Dennis Ritchie

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