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Microsoft Faces Fight Against Online Office Rival 186

Posted by Zonk
from the docs-on-the-move dept.
bharatm writes "It's now been a decade since Microsoft bought Hotmail, the web-based e-mail service, for about $400 million. Now Sabeer Bhatia (the site's co-founder) is challenging the software giant's core $20 billion office desktop business. Yesterday Sabeer Bhatia released a free online rival to the bestselling Office suite of applications that will allow users to view, share and edit documents from any computer. 'Designed to help consumers avoid expensive upgrades and to foster collaboration on a secure internet platform, Live Documents matches features found in Office 2007, the most recent version. It will be given away to individuals with 100MB of free data storage space per user. Companies will pay for the system, either hosted remotely or on an internal server, at a discount to Microsoft's licensed technology.'"
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Microsoft Faces Fight Against Online Office Rival

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  • by Jugalator (259273) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:25PM (#21449177) Journal
    Office [wikipedia.org] Live [wikipedia.org] Documents, also not falling under the trademark name exception where he's using the naming in a different field of business? Should be interesting to see what Microsoft's reaction will be here, if they see it's enough of a threat here to have their lawyers attack him. It's not identical by sharing the Windows Live part of Windows Live, but it looks quite intentionally used to sound confusingly similar to a Microsoft product to me.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      Hmm, looks like I misread -- it actually doesn't include "Office", but is just "Live Documents". It would be funny if MS introduced "Windows Live Documents" though, in their Windows Live line of online services. :-p
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by francisstp (1137345)
      Especially since they're using the actual MS Office logo right on the home page...
    • by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:35PM (#21449255) Homepage

      They may be ready to challenge the validity of Microsoft's claim to Office by itself as a trademark. While there is no question that Microsoft Office, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Windows, etc. are valid trademarks, the validity of Office, Word, Windows etc. is questionable since these are arguably generic terms that Microsoft cannot remove from the public domain. There are quite a few other office suites with Office as part of their name, e.g. KOffice, Gnome Office, Xoom Office, Star Office.

      • by willyhill (965620) <pr8wakNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:50PM (#21449357) Homepage Journal
        They are valid, I think, in context. "Office" in the context of a software productivity suite can probably be upheld. I don't see "Joe's Office" in Detroit selling printer consumables being a threat to the trademark. "Office Online", a software productivity suite, might.

        There's a brand of kitchen towels in Brazil I think called "Linux". Has the entity that protects the Linux trademark gone after them? No. Would they go after ReactOS if they decided to re-brand themselves and sell their wares under the "Linux" name? Probably.

        As far as the courts are concerned, it's all about context. That's why "Lindows" got nailed. If they were selling Pokemon stickers Microsoft probably wouldn't have bothered, don't you think?

        • by belmolis (702863) <billposerNO@SPAMalum.mit.edu> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @07:02PM (#21449423) Homepage

          Actually, Lindows won on the trademark issue, in the United States. See the Wikipedia article on Lindows [wikipedia.org]. Microsoft finally offered to settle, and the Lindows people agreed since Microsoft had sued them in six countries and dealing with all the suits was such a hassle.

          The fact that numerous other office suites with office in their name exist is pretty good evidence that Microsoft can't claim a valid trademark.

          • by YU Nicks NE Way (129084) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @07:27PM (#21449577)
            Lindows won in the United States, but lost in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, etc. Microsoft had Robertson by the balls, and he knew it, so he took the "settlement" (which was essentially a capitulation on his part) and got while the getting was good.
            • by belmolis (702863)

              There is a good chance that Lindows would have prevailed in the European cases if it had appealed. The decision in the Netherlands, for example, was based on the court's holding, without expert testimony, that "windows" was not a generic term in Dutch, which is empirically false. It is true that the Microsoft suits were more of a hassle than Lindows wanted to deal with, but it is far from clear that Lindows had an untenable legal position outside the US.

              • Nonsense. Here, do the following test: go to Google News, or any other searchable aggregator, and find every use of the words "Windows" (or "windows") in a French or Belgian paper that did not refer to Microsoft Windows in the year prior to the date of Microsoft's filing.

                You will find none whatsoever.

                Now, try to invalidate a trademark when mark holder comes in with that bit of evidence (replicated in television scripts, radio scripts, advertisements, and other publications.) Wear earmuffs, though, since t
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by Courageous (228506)
                  That's just a stupid idea. If the word is generic in its own language, and in the country in which it is hosted, it doesn't suddenly become "not generic" elsewhere. If stupid judges in stupid foreign countries want to bamboozle themselves and their countrymen into giving up their rights... well that's a different matter.

                  C//
              • by killjoe (766577)
                Is that why MS paid lindows money?

                Lindows was about to invalidate the windows trademark in the US, after that it's all dominoes.
        • by 1u3hr (530656)
          They are valid, I think, in context. "Office" in the context of a software productivity suite can probably be upheld. I don't see "Joe's Office" in Detroit selling printer consumables being a threat to the trademark. "Office Online", a software productivity suite, might.

          The question is not whether it's a "threat" to the trademark, that begs the question of whether the trademark is valid to begin with. In any case, the name of the application is "Microsoft Office", not "Office". If you have installed it,

        • "There's a brand of kitchen towels in Brazil I think called "Linux"..."

          I never saw one of them.

          Anyway, ReactOS can't be renamed Linux because Linux is a valid trademark. It is far from clear that you'd have troubles if you name "Online Office" your online office suite, because it isn't clear that office is a valid trademark.

      • by Stevecrox (962208) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:54PM (#21449377) Journal
        Yes but when you download Open Office or install star office the look and feel is subtley different they have their own logo's and design. If you goto the live document site you will slight alterations of the standard MS Office icons, you'll see the MS Office logo on the front page and a snapshot of what looks to be MS Office 2003. The site appears to be trying to pretend to be Microsoft sanctioned and be part of Microsoft.

        I always thought trademarks were designed to protect companies/consumers when small companies stole names, designs and images from anouther and mislead consumers into buying their product. This would seem like an open and shut case of a website trying to pretend it has Microsoft Office and mislead people into using it for that reason. If they want to tout how the apps looks extremely similar to MS Office let them but lets not use identical images and icons.
        • by belmolis (702863)

          The Live Document site seems to be /.-ed, but if it uses the Microsoft logo etc. then that may well be deceptive and infringing. But that is different from the name being infringing.

          • by sumdumass (711423)
            It appears that that they have a desktop plug in that turns MS office into a caching client or something similar. Their use might be within the limits.

            It is confusing though. When I went to the download page, all I saw was the client and the system requirements was windows with MS office 2000/xp/2003.

            I'm not entirely sure that this isn't a some web extention for Office or if it is an entire office sweet. The article and sumery suggested it was a different office sweet but I'm not entirely sure after visitin
            • by Tacvek (948259) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @10:24PM (#21450533) Journal

              From the site: "Live Documents provides you with a full Office productivity suite - Word, Excel and PowerPoint - with built-in collaboration features right out of your browser - no more dependence on Microsoft Office and Windows and no more format lock-in!" So there is a full office suite online. It also sounds like the online suite might be using the names "Word", "Excel", and "Powerpoint". That is a problem.

              However they also have a Microsoft office add-in that more or less allows one to use Microsoft Office as an offline non-browser client. In fact, it looks like they intend this to be the usual way to edit documents, using the online editors only when Microsoft office is not available.

              Their site does definitely use too many copies of the Microsoft office logo, and the Microsoft Office screen shots are somewhat misleading, especially as there very few screen shots of the browser-based editor.

        • by Herschel Cohen (568) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @08:00PM (#21449775) Homepage Journal

          " ... thought trademarks were designed to protect companies/consumers when small companies stole names, ...
          Maybe, but the inverse is NOT true. For example, Vista was a Veterans Administration application before it became Vista the OS, the former was open source too. In addition, I read a long description on how MS pilfered the Internet Explorer browser name. Unfortunately I have been unable to locate a link, it was quite a story where justice did not triumph. Others big names have freely used other's property that were not freely given, until they were forced to pay. Many times having the larger legal budget spared them of even that consequence.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501)
        Microsoft already has a product named "Office Live": http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/officelive/FX101465131033.aspx?xid=CDBD3DE7-630E-477D-8B20-FE6BB97DB13D [microsoft.com]

          The only thing these guys did was add the word "documents" to it.
        • by Bert64 (520050)
          And we already have an "Open Office" XML based document format, didn't stop microsoft creating "Office Open"...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blind biker (1066130)
      If you look at the Office Live Documents website, you'll see they use icons that resemble those of Microsoft Office.

      They are, I think, doing this on purpose, hoping for the publicity from being sued by MS. They are probably gambling on the fact that the money they might lose would be less than what an equivalent marketing campaign would buy them. Besides, they might pull back and "oblige" before it's too late, complying to MS' demand to change their name. By then, everybody + dog will know about the service
      • by Bert64 (520050)
        Microsoft's products have become so widespread that people no longer talk about spreadsheets, they now specifically say "excel spreadsheets"... They could argue that the program names have become genericised. Look at the company Hoover that became synonymous with vacuum cleaners,
  • One thing missing... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sirch (82595) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:26PM (#21449185) Homepage
    I'm not surprised a Slashdot summary didn't link to it, but the Times Online? Come now.

    Here it is: the Live Documents website [live-documents.com].

    Not had a look yet, though as I've only found a limited use for Google Documents (the spreadsheet application is great for collaboration) I doubt it will be of any use to me. Open Office is good enough for me, if not everyone.
  • by vivaoporto (1064484) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:26PM (#21449187)
    And how is that different from Google Docs [google.com]? TFA even mentions that it is getting a "Crowded office", with all these wannabe "online" office applications. This is nothing but a press release, a slashvertisement for a product that did not even proved its worth yet.

    Nothing to see here, move along people.
    • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @07:19PM (#21449533)

      And how is that different from Google Docs?
      Because this one has all the stability and file integrity of Microsoft Office, with the security and trust of an unknown company on the Internet?

      - RG>
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jma05 (897351)
      > And how is that different from Google Docs

      It allows off-line use for one thing. They will be releasing an MS Office plugin soon. This is a big deal for me. I would like to access my documents from anywhere but I also like the richness of desktop tools. Google talked about it but nothing concrete so far as I know.
      • by calebt3 (1098475)
        How is this much different than using Gspace [mozilla.org] or some equivalent to automatically sync a file in your google storage box? Besides better integration,
      • looks more like they're trying to knock off the Office Live service than MS Office itself. It seems to use the real MS Office and a plug in to store all your documents online for easy access. That makes a lot of sense as it's what most people would use, but I don't see it hurting Microsoft unless they have an online editor good enough to replace things yet, but for personal organization and companies it seems like a good compromise adding the leading software package and simply adding a plugin to put thos
    • And how is that different from Google Docs? TFA even mentions that it is getting a "Crowded office", with all these wannabe "online" office applications. This is nothing but a press release, a slashvertisement for a product that did not even proved its worth yet.

      Well, the offline synchronization looks promising - even if you only treat it as a free online backup and remote access tool. If they manage to create a common OS independent office suite that really is transaprent to users (in terms of 100% file
  • Yeah, forget it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by realmolo (574068) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:30PM (#21449209)
    "It will be given away to individuals with 100MB of free data storage space per user."

    That's pretty cool.

    "Companies will pay for the system, either hosted remotely or on an internal server, at a discount to Microsoft's licensed technology."

    Okay, that's fucking stupid.

    Office apps that REQUIRE a working network/internet connection to function are something that any sane IT department would stay FAR FAR away from. We just don't live in a world where everyone can be connected to the internet all of the time. And even when that day comes, most people would like to have their apps run locally, just in case.

    The whole idea of "hosted desktop apps" is dubious (and I'm not even considering the inevitable "rental fees", which is a whole 'nuther scam). It might work for little "one-time use" stuff, but no one would ever rely on them for day-to-day work.
    • by Winckle (870180)
      From the way the site describes it, there are both local, and remote copies, the online ones are for collaboration.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ReeceTarbert (893612)

      The whole idea of "hosted desktop apps" is dubious (and I'm not even considering the inevitable "rental fees", which is a whole 'nuther scam). It might work for little "one-time use" stuff, but no one would ever rely on them for day-to-day work.

      Is is just me or we're slowly going back to square one? That is, to the days when all you had was a terminal connected to a time sharing system you paid to rent resources from?

      RT
      --
      Your Bookmarks. Anywhere. Anytime. [simplybookmarks.com]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RollingThunder (88952)
        Frankly, if it makes sense, why not?

        They did it that way back then because computers were obscenely expensive and rare.

        Now they're plentiful and cheap, but expensive to administer effectively... there's still an economy of scale there, especially for smaller businesses.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcrbids (148650)
        Is is just me or we're slowly going back to square one? That is, to the days when all you had was a terminal connected to a time sharing system you paid to rent resources from?

        It's just you. We aren't heading back to "square one" - the world where you had a terminal connected to a time-sharing system you paid to rent resources from. But that original world still exists, and in certain situations, still makes lots of sense.

        1) Accessing applications online with vendors on their systems means that support cost
    • Re:Yeah, forget it (Score:5, Informative)

      by JMZero (449047) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:54PM (#21449385) Homepage
      The company I work for has been using all online docs for the last 7 years. Around 4 million documents and a few hundred thousand dollars saved later, I don't think it's that ridiculous of an idea.

      About a year in, we added a plug-in to store backup versions of the docs on the user's hard disk to supplement the auto-save (in the case of a lost connection during editing, which of course does happen occasionally) - but other than that things have pretty much "just worked". Honestly, the docs have caused less problems than we used to have with Word: there's nothing to configure incorrectly, there's no choice about where to save, there's nothing to install, and there's far fewer features to abuse. It's much easier to protect the user from themselves and to enforce business rules in documents. As a bonus, users can work from home without buying their own software, or having compatibility hassles.

      Pretty much everything our users do is done using a browser and hosted centrally; it has been an unqualified success and an IT dream. I can't imagine how much pain we've avoided by missing 5 generations of new Word problems. I think back to the time when we had to install apps on every machine, and I shudder.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by kava_kicks (727490)
        Would you mind sharing what online application you are actually using? How do you deal with travelling users who may/may not have constant Internet access? What about privacy/security? Are the docs encrypted? Is this an inhouse system or provided by a third party (eg Google)? How are business rules enforced?
        • Re:Yeah, forget it (Score:5, Informative)

          by JMZero (449047) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @09:42PM (#21450291) Homepage
          Our document editor is homegrown, and we host it internally. Privacy and security would certainly be bigger concerns if you were hosting with a third party, and I can't really speak to how it would be best to manage that.

          The application isn't overly bandwidth intensive, and some of our users access it over cell-type connections. But really this hasn't impacted us too much - the nature of our business means that our production staff who travel will usually be dictating rather than typing themselves (and it's easy to upload the dictation files when you're back to some kind of good connection). Also, to be fair, many of our users (especially marketing) have other Word processors they use for documents not tied to production, like proposals or brochures or labels and what not. Our app is not a general purpose word processor: we had the luxury of designing it around a limited set of needs.

          In terms of business rules, we've found it to be very convenient - though a proper content management system would do most of the same things. Naturally it's easy to control who can see what, who can edit what, what's available to what clients online, etc. We can also make certain elements of documents uneditable, or only editable via our own tools (and the relevant data captured back). For example: our users produce a lot of reports, and in the past they would tend to put tabled information in reports and nowhere else (meaning we couldn't analyze that data later). Now, they enter that data one time, in a structured way through a plugin in the word processor, and it's persisted in the database as well as being on the report. This is of course possible with a regular word processor as well, but I think some parts would be much more difficult to manage. When you're dealing with a small subset of word processing functionality, and a small/standard codebase for the UI, many of these things are trivial.

          I imagine there are a lot better options out there now than when we built this years ago (and it quite possibly wouldn't be the right choice now) but it has worked out well for us.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      "Companies will pay for the system..."

      Okay, that's fucking stupid.


      OK so you'd rather have "Clippy" (or his equivalent) pop up with v14gR4 ads every 30 seconds? :)

    • "Office apps that REQUIRE a working network/internet connection to function are something that any sane IT department would stay FAR FAR away from."

      Everybody around here would stop if we lose network connection. People wouldn't even be able to log on their systems and access their documents.

      So, please, explain why office software is that big a deal.

  • by Stevecrox (962208) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:31PM (#21449215) Journal
    When will people realise that not everything that can be done online should be done online. The article is very light on details one of the big reasons I won't even try Google Apps is because all the files are located on Googles servers and I wouldn't have any control over them. The only detail the article does mention is that this "Live" office has Office 2003's look and feel. OpenOffice is free and has Office 2003's "look" and yet it hasn't replaced MS Office, google apps is free and hasn't replaced MS Office.

    Next a small upstart company will be telling us how they have a image manipulation program you uses through the web which will replace photoshop.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MightyMartian (840721)
      I wouldn't think of using Google Docs as my full time editor. What I have found it very handy for is storing frequently used documents in a fashion which I can reach just about anywhere and export as PDF, Doc or ODF depending on my needs. In a pinch, I can use it for writing, and then move it to my main document store.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Agreed.
      These types of things are fine for college & high school kids that have very little confidential information. But when you become an adult, you need control over your information.

      There is no way I going to write a letter involving a financial transaction on one of these things. Plus, I have been around long enough to see these things come and go, and my data along with it.

      Also, what business is going to use this? If you run a law firm, medical office, or financial business you are legally requ
      • There is no way I going to write a letter involving a financial transaction on one of these things. Plus, I have been around long enough to see these things come and go, and my data along with it.

        I know MSFT wants to move Office to a web/subscription model and when they do these types of businesses will be out in the cold

        Are you trying to have both sides of the arguement by yourself? Either it's a useful product or its not. If its a not a valid product then micronsoft moving into the market has no affect w

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They're not doing it because they believe this is the way of the future.
      They're doing it to be bought by Microsoft.

      Buying a small company out is much easier than actually competing with it. Business 101.
    • by martijnd (148684)

      When will people realize that not everything that can be done online should be done online. The article is very light on details one of the big reasons I won't even try Google Apps is because all the files are located on Googles servers and I wouldn't have any control over them. The only detail the article does mention is that this "Live" office has Office 2003's look and feel. OpenOffice is free and has Office 2003's "look" and yet it hasn't replaced MS Office, google apps is free and hasn't replaced MS O

    • by Hamstaus (586402)

      Next a small upstart company will be telling us how they have a image manipulation program you uses through the web which will replace photoshop.

      Adobe is already planning [news.com] on taking Photoshop online.

  • The Truman Show (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iamacat (583406) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:34PM (#21449239)
    Did we really progress from naked MySpace photos to such a disregard to our own privacy that we do not mind putting ALL of our stuff online. Besides server compromises and XSS exploits, the data can be easily disclosed in even a simple civil or divorce court case. At least with your own computer you can delete the files, use encryption or simply throw the hard drive away in the dumpster. Besides, what happens if the provider decides to suddenly discontinue the service or start charging $50/month?
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:51PM (#21449359) Homepage Journal
      Privacy is for old people.

      The kids, they love to be stalked.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by foxylad (950520)

      Many posters have responded along the lines of "I'd never trust my data to an online servce!". But there's a case to be made that for the average user online data is safer than having it on their PC.

      Before you shoot me down, think about all the viruses, trojans, spyware you've cleaned off friends PCs, and about the number of times you've asked "When did you last backup?" with a sinking feeling. Wouldn't it be great to be able do a quick Ubuntu install and be totally confident they'll be working on their d

      • by QuantumG (50515)
        Gmail (and Google Docs) is a perfect example of a totally insecure way to store confidential documents. They actively encourage people to access the system (sending their credentials) over insecure connections (no https) and will even do it automatically.

        If you're the director of a company and you store confidential information on one of these services and your company loses money as a result of someone gaining access to that confidential information, you will likely be sued into bankruptcy.
        • by MsGeek (162936)
          over insecure connections (no https)

          Wrong!

          Google Docs and Gmail both use HTTPS if you force it to. The easiest way to do so is use the Firefox plugin CustomizeGoogle. Hard way is to remember to type https:/// [https] links to Gmail and Google Docs. Either way, you are golden.
          • by QuantumG (50515)
            I believe I gave Google fair credit here.

            By default it is insecure.

            Therefore it is insecure.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by syousef (465911)
      Did we really progress from naked MySpace photos

      I for one haven't even progressed to naked mindspace photos. Link please.
    • by Lazy Jones (8403)
      At least with your own computer you can delete the files, use encryption or simply throw the hard drive away in the dumpster

      Wake up! In many countries, governments with a disregard for privacy and human rights are working on (or have already implemented) legislation that forces you to help police decrypt your stuff or go to prison [theregister.co.uk], allows the police to use malware to search through your computer's harddisk [wikipedia.org] and let's not forget all the illegal wiretapping / breaking into homes by police around the globe.

      T

  • by MadJo (674225) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:34PM (#21449247) Homepage Journal
    I'm all for competition against MSO, but I fail to see the benefit of online office suites. And especially now that we have two. (and I'm sure MS is working on their version of MSOO (Microsoft Office Online))

    The market for such online suites seem rather thin to me.
    • by 2ms (232331)
      How about being able to do your work the same way on any computer any where? How about not having to carry a laptop everywhere just for simple crap like writing documents? How about being able to collaborate with other people on any computers anywhere anytime including the same time you are working on the same document yourself? How about not having to pay hundreds of dollars for freakin basic software that, realistically speaking, hasn't advanced remotely enough over at least the last decade to justify
      • by MadJo (674225)
        1) Most documents I have to work on are at work. I have no need to go somewhere else to work on these documents.
        2) At work I already have a computer with all the tools I need.
        3) Collaboration sounds nice, but so far I have yet to find the instance where I have to do that, at the same time (except for our timesheets, but that works in Excel out of the box already. (you can set an excel sheet to 'share with others', and they can edit the same document at the same time as you.)
        4) TANSTAAFL. Right now it's free
  • This is just a plug and nothing more.

    this is about as much of a competitor to microsoft as a cockroach is a competitor to me

    • by jamrock (863246)

      this is about as much of a competitor to microsoft as a cockroach is a competitor to me
      Um...so you think it's going to be a success, then?
  • by realinvalidname (529939) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:36PM (#21449271) Homepage
    ...when it was called ThinkFree Office [thinkfree.com].
  • Where credits due... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LingNoi (1066278)

    Now Sabeer Bhatia (the site's co-founder) is challenging the software giant's core $20 billion office desktop business.

    Way to make it sound like it's a new and original idea instead of a copy and paste of what Google Docs has done.

    and from the article..

    Live Documents is similar to Google Apps, launched in February and used by companies including Proctor & Gamble, General Electric and Capgemini as a cheaper alternative to Microsoft.

    Don't want that cheap knockoff now do we..

    However, Mr Bhatia claims that

    • by gordgekko (574109)
      Everyone hates Office 2007 so much that it's selling like gangbusters [arstechnica.com].

      • by hairyfeet (841228)
        I have noticed that with Office 2K7 you really love it or really hate it. As someone who was given the Pro version from a friend who really hated it and went back to 2K3, I have found the ribbon VERY much a PITA, and find it much more tolerable with it off.

        I think whether you are in the love or hate camp really depends on your monitors resolution. My friends that are running the 1400 and better flat panels seem to love it, while I have found that on my 1024X768 laptop that it just sucks up too much real

        • by RupW (515653) *

          I think whether you are in the love or hate camp really depends on your monitors resolution. My friends that are running the 1400 and better flat panels seem to love it, while I have found that on my 1024X768 laptop that it just sucks up too much real estate.

          Actually you don't lose any real estate [msdn.com].

          Does anyone know of a way to resize the ribbon real estate without getting rid of it entirely? I wouldn't mind learning the button layout just so I can walk folks through it when I have to work with it,but I am not going to give up 25% of the screen just for a control bar.

          Well you can minimise it (ctrl-f1 or right-click 'Minimise the Ribbon') which leaves only the tab headers and hides the ribbon itself until you click on them or start using ribbon command key shortcuts. Don't know about scaling it.

  • WebApps == Utopia (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 22, 2007 @06:38PM (#21449279)
    Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

    I have news for these people, internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked.

    I like having an application on my laptop (portable), where I can access it anywhere. I don't need an internet connection to get at my data. USB keys, CD-ROMS, DVDs provide enough.

    Software, as flaky as it is, can also be resold when I am done with it.

    Try selling a subscription to some web service that you don't need / no longer want.

    Software developers want a market that operates like the cellphone market, pay $20.00/mo, independant of usage of the service. Then add 'micropayments' for 'features'. A sure fire way of ensuring revenue, while nickel and diming consumers to death.

    I will always buy standalone software. You can pry my copy of Office/Visual Studio from my cold dead hands, or when I sell it for say 50%. Take that away, and I can use OpenOffice, and good old GCC/G++.

    Software wants to be like a utility company. Pay for the service, weather you use it or not. Without any of the regulation, security, or acccountability. Sorry, doesn't work in my book.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "Try selling a subscription to some web service that you don't need / no longer want."

      especially after the company offering it dies...
    • by Lazy Jones (8403)
      Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

      This utopian society may soon be reality for most of us.

      I have news for these people, internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked. Laptops get stolen, hard disk drives break down, viruses can destroy your data... Data on some online provider's disks is generally better protected, the real danger is that provider or the company hosting it might go broke

    • by Dunbal (464142)
      Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

      I have news for these people, internet connections go down, servers crash, on-line servers get hacked.


      You can't build the future in the present. If I show you a future that you need, the fiber will come. Twenty years ago the lucky ones had 1200 bit per second modems, and paid $12 per hour (on top of any long distance charges) to connect online to bulletin boards
    • by m2943 (1140797)
      Web application developers/promoters seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free Fiber-like speeds everywhere.

      Appliance manufacturers seem to think we are living in a utopian society, with free, reliable electricity everywhere. Those silly bastards.
  • ummm (Score:4, Informative)

    by rockwood (141675) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @07:04PM (#21449447) Homepage Journal
    I've been using Zoho [zoho.com] for a while now. With six kids in school, it has been a fantastic tool for them to write, edit and print documents accessible remotely at a moments notice. So what makes live doc's so much better? Furthermore, from what I've read thus far at live-docs, it seems Zoho has also provided more features... a more thorough overall user experience. Admittedly I have nothing solid for comparison since live-docs is still by invitation only (yes, I did register). Can anyone that currently has full access to live-docs that also uses Zoho regularly care to post a comparison... [or get that invitation approved for me :) ]
  • "Matches"? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jay L (74152) <jay+slash@IIIjay.fm minus threevowels> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @07:10PM (#21449475) Homepage
    Live Documents matches features found in Office 2007

    They're obviously trying to position this to be "as powerful as Office 2007", but they can't even bring themselves to use THAT much vague puffery?

    My personal site also matches features found in Office 2007. It's blue.
    • Methinks that's a bit of Indian understatement at work there. :-)

      Why do I say this? Consider the About Us [live-documents.com] page:

      InstaColl is a Bangalore-based start-up founded with a singular vision - establish the first "Made by India" product brand that is globally recognized and appreciated. Please note that is "Made by India" and not just "Made in India" - half the software products in the world are probably already developed to some extent in India but can you name even one product brand made by India...no? We though

  • I'm surprised no one has mentioned it yet. Google has provided a sound alternative to Office 2007. Yes it's in its infancy, whereas Office has had decades to grow. I wonder how docs will look like in 15 years.
  • A bunch of hot air? (Score:3, Informative)

    by no-body (127863) on Thursday November 22, 2007 @07:49PM (#21449709)
    Well, Beta on invitation only....
    Poking around on those web pages, it gets to: [live-documents.com]

    Getting Started with Live Documents

    Sign Up

    Before you get started you'll need to set up your account. It just takes a few seconds: sign up here for an invitation to our technology preview.

    Then:
    Sign up to get invited

    Live Documents is currently available in a technology preview mode on an on-invitation basis. To request an invite to this private beta, please sign up below.

  • Unless it was -1 delusional
  • It's not open source, it is a private company. If by some act of god this did take off, remind me again what's stopping MS from just buying them up?
  • Designed to help consumers avoid expensive upgrades...
    If they really want to help me avoid expensive upgrades they should make it run Supreme Commander [wikipedia.org].
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DesScorp (410532) <DesScorp @ G m a il.com> on Thursday November 22, 2007 @11:54PM (#21450975) Homepage Journal
    Why is this story worthy of a post on Slashdot? So someone has come up with yet another MS Office competitor. Google already has Internet-accessed office apps. Others do as well. And there have been Office clones, free and otherwise, for over a decade. What makes this one so special? Was it that slow in the Slashdot bullpen today?
  • by Gumbercules!! (1158841) on Friday November 23, 2007 @12:45AM (#21451201)
    The key seller for Office, in business, is Word + Excel and Outlook + Exchange. The key seller for Excel, is VBA. Whether you like it or not, the vast majority of businesses with more than a few people use Excel and VBA Macros. The company I work at provides a large scale financial solution to people and we have hundreds of client businesses. All of them use VBA Macros. Sadly, I spend a large amount of each day modifying them to suit their latest requests.

    Does Google Apps offer VBA or something like it? Does Live Documents? Does OpenOffice? I'm pretty sure they don't (but admit to being too lazy to fact check this).

    So it's game-over for businesses. Have fun with the Mums and Dads and teenagers but they're never going to pay you more than a few peanuts. Until you can match VBA in applications, MSO wins.
    • by dodobh (65811)
      OOo has equivalents [openoffice.org]. They aren't pretty, but work.
      • What I like about the macro code in OO is that you learn ONE variant. Not 3 (VBA Excel, Word or Powerpoint), just ONE. And, of course, you end up with multi platform support, but it will be a while before people realise that from using OO it is but a short step to Linux - IMHO, Outlook is about the last claw MS has on business and end users because mobile phone suppliers still insist on using it as the sole targer for synchronisation.

        The moment some Open Source heda comes up with a decent alternative for
  • by steveoc (2661) on Friday November 23, 2007 @01:16AM (#21451331)
    So let me get this right - Firstly, 2000 Microsoft programmers spend 3 years developing MS Office, and then lock it up with some sort of secret code, and proceed to make money selling it as a desktop application.

    After that, 32 software engineers in India put in many hard hours over a 4 year period to "crack the code" of MS Office. Thats like 4 years of tedious mathematical analysis .. comparing ciphers, testing hypothesis, following hunches, kidnapping and interrogating suspects who may have had some involvement with the original Microsoft effort.

    After 4 years of this seemingly endless and fruitless intellectual struggle .. this battle of wits and minds .. they make a breakthrough ! Excitedly, they gather together at 3am after an exhausting marathon code breaking session. Behind them the blackboard is covered in equations, diagrams, the chalk dust of many previous failures and deadends. Today's ciphers are layed out on a large table, aligned correctly, and checked and double checked once more. And then they place the ciphers one on top of another and roll the result into a single, extremely complex equation that just might work this time.

    This new equation is fed into the computer banks and the hard disks begin whirring away for one more time.

    Some hours later, as the sun is well on its journey into the sky, the hard drives stop whirring. Everyone in the team gathers around the green glow of the monitor in the dead silence, the sweat glistening on their faces drawn tight with exhaustion and tension. After a moment that lasts a lifetime .. the words :

    C O D E - C R A C K E D

    appear in capitals on the monitor, and the dusty old dot matrix printer begins printing out the secret Microsoft Office code word. But admist the jubilation, the computer hackers remain calm .. the world may now be theirs, but there is still remains work to do. Armed now with the secret code word to Microsoft Office, they skillfully manipulate the code word, shuffling and re-ordering the code word ever so slightly - like cyber Gods adjusting the DNA of a dangerous new species - until they are done.

    Barely hours after breaking the secret code, the new modified code word is overlaid onto Microsoft Office and fed back into the computer. The hard drives whirr noisily one more time, and then the result appears on the screen. They now have Microsoft Office working as an online application !!!

    Im glad that the times newspaper in the UK decided to print this story .. because it gives the inside view on how IT really is .. this tense, frustrating, demanding, clandestine and often dangerous occupation that we geeks take for granted. Its time for the common man in the street to give us the fear and respect that we so obviously deserve. We are programmers - We crack codes ! Be afraid - Be very afraid.

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

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