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Study Touting OOXML Over ODF Is Debunked 203

Posted by kdawson
from the where-the-bread-is-buttered dept.
The Burton Group, an IT research company, published a study urging that enterprise organizations adapt OOXML rather than ODF. Their reasons include things like "ODF is controlled indirectly by Sun," "MS Office is cheaper than OpenOffice.org," and "OOXML improved many problems of DOC." The Burton Group also claims that although ODF is well-designed, OOXML is better suited for the specific needs of enterprise organizations. The study claims to be impartial in that Microsoft didn't pay for it. Ars Technica now has up a pretty thorough debunking of the Burton study. Ars wonders how the Burton authors can so blithely overlook Microsoft's vote-buying in Sweden, while wielding unfounded accusations of chicanery in Sun's direction.
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Study Touting OOXML Over ODF Is Debunked

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  • by moderatorrater (1095745) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:55PM (#22058842)
    With claims such as "Sun indirectly controlling ODF" (as opposed to Microsoft directly controlling it) and "OpenOffice is more expensive" (free? wtf?), it doesn't sound like Ars Technica had too difficult of a job.
    • by Finallyjoined!!! (1158431) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:00PM (#22058934)
      It's no problem de-bunking the report, Burton are obviously in the pay of the monopoly. /. readers know this. The real problem is that corporate high fliers will read it & take it for a "reasoned & studied, impartial report"

      monopoly money well spent.
      • by filbranden (1168407) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @09:37PM (#22060734)

        The real problem is that corporate high fliers will read it & take it for a "reasoned & studied, impartial report"

        I don't think so. Recently with Office 2007 and specially Vista I've seen that companies are really trying to avoid the upgrades as much as possible. Maybe it's the recession, but the thing is that right now companies are really considering not giving Microsoft a load of money for upgrades that bring few worthy features many new problems, and are considering alternatives instead.

        Nowadays companies are not blindly eating whatever Gartner et al. feed them anymore.

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @11:44PM (#22062082) Journal
        It's no problem de-bunking the report, Burton are obviously in the pay of the monopoly.

        Burton are Microsoft boosters from way back.

        They did a hatchet job [infoworld.com]on Google for MS not so long ago, and when they're not slandering Microsoft competitors, they're out flogging [michaelsampson.net] Sharepoint Services.

      • by jimicus (737525) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:27AM (#22064236)
        The real problem is that corporate high fliers will read it & take it for a "reasoned & studied, impartial report"

        Perhaps I've had a very sheltered life, but how in God's name does someone become a corporate high flyer without knowing that there's no such thing as a "reasoned & studied, impartial report"?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by MrNemesis (587188)
          Perhaps I've had a very sheltered life, but how in God's name does someone equate a corporate high flyer with someone who's capable of analysing data in a critical, rational, objective fashion? ;)

          I used to work for a small financial company, who saved a crapload of money by migrating much of our backend over to FOSS (file servers, mail gateways, internal webapps (Plone = rocks) - the company was only 18 months old when they joined and had invested heavily in an MS setup that was going badly wrong due to ter
    • by jorghis (1000092) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:03PM (#22058974)
      > "OpenOffice is more expensive" (free? wtf?),

      License fees dont begin to cover the real cost of software. You need to have an IT department to support it, you have to train users on it, etc. A $100 dollar license fee seems negligable pretty fast when contrasted with the IT budget for a company and any productivity gains/losses that result from using different software.

      This is often referred to as TCO (Total Cost of Operating) and salesmen love it cause they can always put up graphs that indicate that their product is clearly the best from that perspective. A lot of people roll their eyes when they hear this term because they dont think much of the aforementioned salesmen's BS. But it really is foolish to factor licensing fees into your decision about what software to use from a cost perspective unless those fees are truly exorbitant.
      • by jorghis (1000092)
        Total cost of perating should have been total cost of ownership in the above post there. I wish slashdot allowed edits. : /
      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:11PM (#22059108) Journal
        I can guarantee right now that, from a training perspective, for anyone familiar with Office 97 through Office 2003, OO.org is going to be a helluva lot cheaper than Office 2007.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jorghis (1000092)
          That is true, no doubt. But it still isnt very cut and dry. What happens 4+ years from now when everyone and their cat knows Office 2007 (not an unlikely scenario) and every new employee needs to be retrained on OO.org? Then it becomes more expensive.

          Also, using the new file formats (which was the original discussion here) doesnt necessarily entail using the new software. You could continue using Office 2003 and use the newer file formats at the same time.
          • Well, I think, at the moment, some argument can be made to moving over to OpenOffice. Four years down the road, who knows? What I'm seeing thus far is a good deal of resistance in many quarters to Office 2007, and a lot of bitching from those who have it and save in OOXML, and then have to go and set the default to Office 2003 doc files so that Aunt Martha or the Accounting department can read their files. Strangely enough, a lot of people, from Aunt Martha or the idiot IT guy in Accounting can't or won'
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Gyga (873992)
            4 years from now everyone working will still have used an earlier version of office (for school) so it would take very little to retach them (just bringing back old memories). Farther into the future you will start having the generation that grew up with computers, training costs for these people will probably be loads lower than today's current working class.
          • That is true, no doubt. But it still isnt very cut and dry. What happens 4+ years from now when everyone and their cat knows Office 2007 (not an unlikely scenario) and every new employee needs to be retrained on OO.org? Then it becomes more expensive.

            Maybe 10+ years from now... but even four years hence? The vast majority of the workforce today will still know how to handle OOo rather seamlessly. So unless you're talking about wet-behind-ears bottom-half-of-the-class college grads who don't know any different, Office 2k7 isn't going to represent any real paradigm shift in how documents are made and disseminated.

            You also assume that world+dog would be using Office 2k7 - meanwhile, in 2008, half of world+dog are mostly using things like Office 2000 a

          • It could just as easily be the other way 'round. Right now there's a real battle in terms of OO vs MS Office. I'm not sure that either one is going to win that one hands down anytime soon.

            In the meantime, people are starting to learn about open Office and -- for a starving student, even $100 for the MS Office Suite vs $0 for OO is gonna be the difference of a handful of beers, or meals .. or a bus pass.

            For starving students, TCO =~ license cost, and -- since very few people are buying Office 2007 rig

            • What's to "learn" with an office suite?

              When did you "learn" to use a browser, or did you just play with it for 5 minutes and get the hang of it?
              • by cmacb (547347)
                Cute sig.

                You're right though. Most Office users are writing away at their documents, computing their departments next year budget and so on, after just 5 minutes of playing with Word and Excel.

                Unfortunately, for the rest of us, this methodology shines through in the results.

                Also unfortunately, most of these people never bother to get any better at what they are doing and further go on to preparing Powerpoint sideshows that we have to pretend to pay attention to.
                • Most Office users are writing away at their documents, computing their departments next year budget and so on, after just 5 minutes of playing with Word and Excel.

                  I wouldn't ever do my budgets with Excel. Specially as I have to buy for my company 850 software licenses that cost $77.10 each, which totals $100,000.00 [slashdot.org]!!!

              • by TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @09:56PM (#22060994) Homepage
                Correct. There isn't a lot to learn. Having said that, I used IE7 for 5 minutes and was uncomfortable with the layout. I returned to a browser that had a similar layout to the original browser I "Learned" (in this instance "Netscape navigator Version 2 I think) And once I was back with firefox I was happy again.

                The same can be said of Office. What I want in an office product is features to be layed out in the same way so when I reach out for the "Make this line a header" tool, I'm grabbing the right tool first time. Now I am not a power user by any stretch, but if I spend more time "Learning" where they hid the (up the font size by 2, make bold and underline) key then I am not spending that time writing the paragraph below which contains job related information.

                In short make your interface intuitive or if you can't manage that, make it the same as the last one. Office 2K7 managed to break both these rules. Open Office 2 has a very similar interface to all the office products before it.
                • Amen to that.

                  I've only been working with various computers since 1979, and it took me 5 minutes to figure out how to save a document using the Word 2007 interface.

                  Talk about frustration!

                  At least most of the old keyboard shortcuts still work, though - I touch that poisonous GUI as little as possible, and have learnt to tolerate it.

                  As I said to the guy who mandated it in our company - if I want a gay interface I'll use a Mac, thankyou.

              • by richlv (778496)
                like - "a lot" ?
                correct usage of styles, correctly setting indents, margins, automatic indexes, outline numbering...
                from my experience, basically nobody knows how to use all of these.
                they manually format everything (which bites them HEAVY at any large document), space pages using linebreaks, some even indent lines using spaces.
                some know how to insert automatic index, but most of those still manage to break it and instead of fixing their headings or whatever is the source of the problem, they edit the index
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by ragefan (267937)

            That is true, no doubt. But it still isnt very cut and dry. What happens 4+ years from now when everyone and their cat knows Office 2007 (not an unlikely scenario) and every new employee needs to be retrained on OO.org? Then it becomes more expensive.

            No more expensive than when MS replaces ribbons for the next big thing in UI and then having to retrain everyone again. Or if they decide to stop backward compatibility of older file formats again [slashdot.org].

          • by symbolic (11752)
            What we really need is a study from a reputable source that focuses one the real cost of "re-training" people from Office to OO.org. Seriously - they both do many things in very similar ways.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Bert64 (520050)
            But if a lot of companies move to OOo now while there's a compelling argument, 4 years down the line there will be a supply of OOo experienced staff and demand for more, causing people to learn it on their own time prior to applying for work...
        • by Psych0_Jack (726837) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:03PM (#22059822)
          Sun has an ODF plug-in [sun.com] for MS Office 2000-2007. It's not like using ODF means you are forced to use OpenOffice.org. Isn't that the point of an open format, no vendor lock-in?
        • by jimicus (737525)
          I can guarantee right now that, from a training perspective, for anyone familiar with Office 97 through Office 2003, OO.org is going to be a helluva lot cheaper than Office 2007.

          You can guarantee all you like, but there are two things that you don't have:

          1. The management tools that Microsoft provide for automatically rolling out and configuring Office through things like GPO.
          2. A 15 page typed report (which could easily be condensed into 1 page) from some random organisation calling itself "The ---- Grou
      • License fees dont begin to cover the real cost of software. You need to have an IT department to support it, you have to train users on it, etc

        yes about that, do you have any examples where the license cost justifies staying with MS?

        But it really is foolish to factor licensing fees into your decision about what software to use from a cost perspective unless those fees are truly exorbitant.

        if you're going to count support and training into the equation you can't just ignore liscense fees now can you? co

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jorghis (1000092)
          > yes about that, do you have any examples where the license cost justifies staying with MS?

          Like I was saying in my original post any salesman can make it sound one that one is better than the other. If you go to MS's website you can find case studies where it was cheaper. If you go to Sun's website you can find case studies where their stuff is cheaper. Both have som basis in fact and both are going to be slanted slightly to favor their respective authors. If you really want examples just look at th
          • by neil-ngc (1019290) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:57PM (#22059742) Homepage
            As you probably know, total cost of ownership, while real, is pretty hard to predict in advance. Anyone telling you otherwise is probably selling something.

            It is generally true. Most job applicants out there are familiar with MS software and have used it extensively in the past. Ergo, the software learning curve for a new employee is generally lower.
            At this point, I think it's a fair argument that the cost of retraining to use OO.o is probably much smaller than the cost of retraining to use Office 2007. Just because a job applicant is familiar with MS hardly means they're familiar with the latest version, which has fewer similarities to Office 2003 than OO.o does.

            License fees are tiny next to the cost of operating an IT department and any productivity gains/losses. A handful of guys working in IT will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Even if you have a lopsided ratio and a few IT guys are supporting hundreds of people that is still a one time cost of a few tens of thousands of dollars versus hundreds of thousands a year.
            While this is a fair argument, I'd be interested to see some evidence that there's a difference in IT costs between the different suites, and, if there is, is it greater than the total licensing costs. I'm not pathologically anti-MS. I continue to use Windows and Office because it's convenient and makes it easier to switch between work and home, not to mention it allows me to run my games without fussing endlessly with wine. On top of that, I have one Mac on the network, and OOo's lack of a decent Mac version (X term or a very resource intensive Java hack don't count) has left Office as the better option.
            • by jimicus (737525)
              I'd be interested to see some evidence that there's a difference in IT costs between the different suites, and, if there is, is it greater than the total licensing costs.

              These tend to amount to two things:

              1. Office has a plethora of management tools to ease rollout and configuration. When was the last time you saw end-users expected to configure Outlook themselves?

              2. An assumption that the installation and management of a complete rollout of OpenOffice across a large business is significantly more compli
        • by Bert64 (520050)
          There isn't just the cost of acquiring licenses, there is also the cost of keeping track of how many you have, where they are and that you have enough etc, not to mention recovering licenses from retired machines, which can also soon add up.
          With OOo, the license only places terms on distribution, it has no restrictions on how you can use it inside your company, so it doesn't matter how many systems you install it on, you can install it on every machine you have without worrying.
          Also if you have any non wind
      • by walterbyrd (182728) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:29PM (#22059350)
        As I understand it, going from office-2003, to office-2007, requires more training than moving to OpenOffice.

        BTW: I've worked in IT for 28 years. I never remember any company, spending any money, to train anybody, to learn any office product. I thought you supposed to pick that up by yourself.
        • by jorghis (1000092) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:36PM (#22059448)
          Thats true, you do generally have to pick it up yourself. The cost comes in the form of lost productivity from all the time you spend trying to figure out how to do new stuff or why something doesnt work the way you think it should.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by mortonda (5175)

            Thats true, you do generally have to pick it up yourself. The cost comes in the form of lost productivity from all the time you spend trying to figure out how to do new stuff or why something doesnt work the way you think it should.
            Which is quite a high TCO for MS Office, IMHO. Getting Word or Access to do what I want is like witchcraft sometimes. ;)

        • And the "cost" is the time you wasted doing it.
        • I never remember any company, spending any money, to train anybody, to learn any office product. I thought you supposed to pick that up by yourself.

          "Picking it up yourself" has a real cost in lost productivity.

          Here's a hypothetical. You upgrade 300 workstations to the latest version of Office. Your employees spend the whole day after the upgrade just figuring out the new software. That's a man-year of productivity lost.

          Even though you haven't budgeted anything for formal training, you've just paid your

          • by Tony (765)
            Your employees spend the whole day after the upgrade just figuring out the new software. That's a man-year of productivity lost.

            I don't believe this, even for a thousand users of the office package.

            Actually, I see 1,000 employees who've lost time reading /. (or Perez Hilton), playing Solitaire, pimping their MySpace pages, or just staring off into space pretending to work.

            In one given day, most people productively *work* only for a couple of hours.
          • by richlv (778496)
            not to mention that they actually do not learn to use it, just cope with it.
            30 pages of manual formatting ? good ! once generated, later manually edited index ? great !
            mixed outline, paragraph and manual numberig ? wonderful !
            so after some documents have been edited by several such persons, the mess in there is incredible. as a result quite a lot of time is spent hunting weird glitches and manually fixing them over and over again. and in the end there still are problems left. total time spent - a lot more t
        • by blair1q (305137)
          With a little formal training, Excel becomes a serious tool.

          The parts of it that you can "pick up by yourself" amount to glitzy version of SuperCalc.
        • Even if people don't attend specific training courses and spend money on these, there is still ramp-up time learning a new product and time == money.

          I fully agree though that going to Office 2007 is a huge step compared to going to OpenOffice.

      • by mugnyte (203225)
        You may not know this, but licensing fees start high and go up from there. It's not $100. It's many $1000's, especially given OS, database, middleware, tools, backup kits, etc.

        TCO for any single product may be negligible given support costs, but if you have to pay the same on either side, why add more for licensing? Paying for licenses without knowing if the best commercial vendor is actually any better than FOSS is foolish, to me.

        This is where the "cost of support" and "market availabi
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by MrMunkey (1039894)

        A $100 dollar license fee seems negligible pretty fast

        Except when you factor that cost per computer (not just employee). At a company size of 100 employees that only have one computer a piece, that gets to be a lot. Office 2007 Pro comes in at $347.99 (according to Amazon anyway... I was lazy to compare prices anywhere else). You're going to run into a cost of $34,799.00. When you're talking about that much money I think that OOo starts looking pretty attractive from a price perspective.

        Also considering the level of proficiency, at my company anyway,

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rubah (1197475)
        Yeah, but how many people had to support office 2007, learn how to use office 2007, etc etc etc? From what I've heard it's a little bit different, similar to the way that OO is a little bit different, and the lecturers in class still walked both sets of office users through the differences. What's the difference?
      • by canuck57 (662392)

        License fees dont begin to cover the real cost of software. You need to have an IT department to support it, you have to train users on it, etc. A $100 dollar license fee seems negligable pretty fast when contrasted with the IT budget for a company and any productivity gains/losses that result from using different software.

        Spoken like a true MS-Fanboy.

        The best software does not not require much support. Users are more adaptable than you might think.

        Maybe in the problem is you have had to spend too much

      • by hughk (248126)
        Most corporates buy their Microsoft software through volume agreements. This means that license fees are a recurring cost rather than one-time. The only place where MS really does seem to have the upperhand is slightly better management/rollout and more functionality (which 70% of users don't use anyway).
      • by donaldm (919619)
        I won't disagree with what you said with regard to license fees and TCO, however the issue is not licensing, re-training costs or TCO it is saving your word processor file in ODF which is a document format and should not require any retraining, hence licensing, re-training costs or TCO is effectively zero.

        Now moving from Microsoft Office to Open Office or even Star Office may entail some re-training although to be honest if you can use a Word processor or spreadsheet you can work on just about any Offic
  • Durr (Score:5, Funny)

    by Smackheid (1217632) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @06:55PM (#22058852) Homepage Journal
    Ars wonders how the Burton authors can so blithely overlook Microsoft's vote-buying in Sweden, while wielding unfounded accusations of chicanery in Sun's direction.

    Money, hookers or blow. Probably a combo of all three. Just a guess.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Peter O'Kelly is a friend of mine, and I could not pick a guy whose intellect or integrity I respect more, so I am just blown away by this. Do I believe he really believes what he's writing? Yes. Could a 12 year old find all the holes in this? Yes. I can't figure out the angle. Saying that people have to work with legacy files out there and OOXML does it better than ODF, so that's your answer... it's like saying, the guy already raped you so you might as well marry him. Posting anonymously for obviou
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Smackheid (1217632)
        Peter O'Kelly is a friend of mine, and I could not pick a guy whose intellect or integrity I respect more, so I am just blown away by this.

        Happens to all of us. Good friends and respected colleagues are as fallible as anyone.

        it's like saying, the guy already raped you so you might as well marry him

        Sounds like a soap opera plot point.
    • Re:Durr (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Stephen Samuel (106962) <.samuel. .at. .bcgreen.com.> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:58PM (#22060394) Homepage Journal
      Well, burton wasn't paid for the report, but Groklaw reports that "However, Burton analyst Peter O'Kelly, one of the report's co-authors, is scheduled to make a presentation at an Open XML press briefing that Microsoft plans to hold in the Seattle area on Wednesday."

      I'm betting that he's getting paid really, really well for (ahem) "the presentation" that he was, apparently scheduled to give even before he released his "independent" report.

      Perhaps he was so excited about getting the Microsoft gig, that he 'forgot to check his facts and logic' before he released his report.

  • Why (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ryukotsusei (1164453) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:02PM (#22058950)
    Why is this topic still going on? I would think that everyone agrees that pdf is the better standard.
  • Didn't he and Judith Clark get sacked for something? Hmmmmm. And Novell might be in whose pockets these days? http://linux.slashdot.org/linux/08/01/01/0354229.shtml [slashdot.org] might shed some light.
  • by ricebowl (999467) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:12PM (#22059122)

    "ODF is controlled indirectly by Sun,"

    While I can't agree with this being a problem due to Sun's having influence over the development, I could perhaps understand it to be potentially a problem due to the indirect nature, in that there is no central guidance. Whereas with MS software there is, potentially, a focused development path (I'm not trying to be modded funny, honest).

    "MS Office is cheaper than OpenOffice.org,"

    Ummm...no. I...no. The costs involved in OO.o are only, I think, due to the training issues for staff familiarised with MS Office. And I don't think that the cost of training each user, with group seminars, would be more expensive than the per-user license for using MS Office in a corporate environment.

    Ah, corporate shills. They're funny guys...

    • by Shados (741919)
      For your second point, over time, you're right, no. But on a one shot deal, the cost of training employes is insane. Group seminars are stupidly expensive, plus you have to pay the employes during that time too... that makes enterprise licenses of Office virtually insignificant.

      Especially for extremely large corporations, who have "unlimited" license packages... that is, they pay a flat amount for the entire organisation, regardless of how many licenses you use. In those scenarios, you get a new employe, yo
      • by rtb61 (674572)
        The cost of training employees is the same as the cost of retraining them with forced upgrades due to document incompatibilities. You do not ever pay M$ 1 licence fee in point of fact Ballmer stated that M$ intends to update windows and office every two years, in the typical working life of an employee that represents 40 licence fees, and 40 retraining sessions, oh sorry I forgot the server 20 more licence fees and exchange 20 more licence fees, and the support kits (the real help files and the manual that
        • by Shados (741919)
          My point was that the Open Office install wasn't even worth considering, because the license costs of Office are insignificant.

          For the rest, I'll leave it at: new Office versions don't require retrainings (the UI may change, but the stuff you'd actually TRAIN someone on doesn't, as opposed to switching to Open Office: the UI is similar, but the core changes).

          And you probably missed the memo, but usually companies don't buy "licenses" of MS products. Its subscription based, which is why its insignificant: yo
      • by nguy (1207026)
        Currently, I work for a small software firm around that size, and compared to the rest of the cost of doing business, switching from Office to OO.o (and we barely use Office) isn't even worth, money wise, the time it takes to install it.

        Sounds to me you're short-sighted. You already know that MS Office will make radical UI changes, MS Office will make radical format changes, and MS Office will force upgrades. MS has to do that because that's how they make money. OOo development, on the other hand, is use
    • Whereas with MS software there is, potentially, a focused development path (I'm not trying to be modded funny, honest).

      That's like saying that central planning is obviously better than a market economy, and we all know what the outcome of that was.
  • Not aimed at us... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tech10171968 (955149) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:13PM (#22059138)
    At first blush I wondered how Burton could get away with such absolutely ridiculous claims (OOo costs more than MS Word?!?! WTF??!!). But then I realized: the target of this report isn't going to be Slashdot readers, experienced sysadmins, or anyone similar - our collective knowledge can see the BS from a mile away, and some Slashdotters I know actually know enough of what they're talking about to debunk the report all by themselves. No, the intended audience is going to be those folks who may lack the IT knowledge but still control the purse strings (CEO, COO, CFO, et al). They don't know any better so it's going to be easy to fill their heads with FUD and have them take it as gospel. The data may be incorrect but, by the time anyone else find that out, the damage will have already been done.
    • (OOo costs more than MS Word?!?! WTF??!!)

      Yes, OOo costs more than MS-Office. Here's why.

      MS-Office is the dominant office suite. MS-Office 2007 saves documents in a format that OOo can't read. Therefore, most people are saving their documents in a format OOo can't read.

      Now, every time an IT guy has to go to a desk for the user who called and said, "I can't open this document," and then the IT guy has to go *back* to the office, get the clue-bat, return to the desk, and forcefully whonk the user with the clue
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:14PM (#22059154) Homepage
    Reports like this, paid for by M$, and made visible to those who may base purchasing decisions are tantamount to M$ advertising it's products.

    In the UK the Advertising Standards Authority [asa.org.uk] governs advertising and, amongst other things, insists that it not be misleading.

    If we can firm up the paid-for-by-M$ link that we can take M$ to task for breaking the rules. Can anyone prove the link ?

  • Baseless Accusations (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hardburn (141468) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:17PM (#22059188)

    A shame that you can't access the original PDF report without a particularly invasive registration process. They could be sending that information on to terrorists groups looking for new recruits.

    Broad accusations aside, I know Slashdot invented the 'RTFA' acronym, but it'd be nice if we could read the original without having to take Ars' word for it or having to reveal our company's annual revenue range. After badly mangling that Sony wireless USB thing, I'm not inclined to trust Ars without the primary source.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      it'd be nice if we could read the original without [...] having to reveal our company's annual revenue range.
      You mean that you register on those sites using REAL data?
    • So, you're blaming Ars and Slashdot for not being able to read and argue with the story, rather than the analyst group who put up that registration bit? Besides, Ars isn't the only source reporting that the study touted OOXML over ODF. There aren't really any good arguments that'll do that, so why should it be so hard to believe that they used bad ones? Weren't we warned earlier with that ODF roadmap that Microsoft was preparing a pro-OOXML media campaign?

      Finally, if their arguments are so great, you'd t
  • by maxwell demon (590494) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:19PM (#22059214) Journal
    I personally prefer problems to be solved instead of improved. But obviously the Burton Group actually likes problems, but doesn't consider the problems of .DOC as good enough, so they are glad that OOXML contains them in an improved form.
  • by initialE (758110) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:26PM (#22059302)
    It informs me to add "The Burton Group" to the list of bullshit propaganda organizations. Seriously, who are these guys?
  • Their reasons include things like..."MS Office is cheaper than OpenOffice.org"
    The Burton Group, obvious whores who will say anything in exchange for cash, also said yesterday that "up is down" and "black is white" at the behest of Bizarro [wikipedia.org].
    • by Bryansix (761547)

      The Burton Group, obvious whores who will say anything in exchange for cash, also said yesterday that "up is down" and "black is white" at the behest of Bizarro.
      They were then killed at the next Zebra Crossing.
  • Knee-jerk reactions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:30PM (#22059364) Homepage
    I know everybody wants to immediately jump to the conclusion that the Burton Group is in Microsoft's pocket, etc., etc., but while it is perfectly appropriate to question the methodologies and motivations of analysts' research, in my experience the Burton Group is as much of a "good guy" as an analyst firm gets. If you've ever been to one of their conferences, they are packed to the gills with useful information, and their analysts generally come off as being genuinely knowledgeable.

    That said, I'd love to see the Burton Group get rid of the registration requirement on this PDF so I can see what they actually say. TFA is mostly paraphrasing, and I'm not certain they are taking every comment in context.

    Some folks on here seem to be taking issue with the statement that ODF is "indirectly controlled" by Sun. But, as far as I understand it, that's pretty much the case. Last I heard, the vast majority of work on OpenOffice.org is done by Sun employees. The codebase is just too complex for amateurs to get their heads around. You could argue (and many do) that OOXML is directly controlled by Microsoft ... but for all I know, not having read the paper, the Burton Group never disputes that. Maybe they're just saying that anybody who insists on using ODF because Microsoft has a disproportionate influence over OOXML is fooling themselves, because the same can be said (to an extent) of ODF.

    The Burton Group's greater concern seems to be that Sun has a conflict of interest here. What is the purpose of ODF? Is it to empower users? Or is a means for Sun to erode the profitability of core Microsoft products? If the latter, does it make sense for a corporation to support it on that basis? Maybe you'd argue that it does make sense. Me, I'm not so sure.

    As far as ODF "only supporting a fraction of what enterprises need," well, that's probably true. I doubt that ODF was ever designed to define a standard for everything that enterprise customers do with their office suites. Be that as it may, if an ODF application suite does not support all of the features that an enterprise might want, does it make sense to conduct a mass migration to a new office suite on the basis that the new suite uses document formats that are "open"? In other words, the Burton Group seems to be making the age-old case for sticking with the status quo, even given the understanding that it represents a capitulation to "vendor lock-in." Many customers may decided that open file formats just aren't worth the trade-off.

    You can call it cynical, or self-interested, or just plain lazy, but given the opportunity to participate in a revolution, there will always be some people who will say, "No thanks." Some of them might be deluded. And others may merely be acting in their own self-interest. If they are deluded, however -- and sticking with the status quo really means trading long-term best interests for short-term interests -- then isn't it up to us to convince them of their mistake? Calling them "shills," claiming that they were paid off in "hookers and blow," and all the other stuff I see in this thread, doesn't strike me as a very effective way of making the counter-argument.

    Nor, in fact, does the Ars article. It doesn't seem like a "thorough debunking" to me; more like a fairly well-reasoned opinion piece/editorial/blog.
    • by walterbyrd (182728) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @07:59PM (#22059778)
      Let's suppose that ODF is indirectly controlled by Sun, and OOXML is directly controlled by msft. Why is it that the indirect control by Sun is cause for alarm, but the direct contol by msft is not cause for alarm?

      Why is it relevant that Burton never disputed msft's direct control? Does that make msft's direct control of a supposed open standard all right?

      > What is the purpose of ODF? Is it to empower users? Or is a means for Sun to erode the profitability of core Microsoft products?

      Why not both? Is google trying to erode msft's marketshare by financial supporting mozilla/firefox? Should I reject firefox on that basis?

      ODF is open, OOXML is not. By using ODF, I can insure my documents will always be readable, and avoid vender lock-in. If that's helpful to Sun, so what?

      Don't forget, ODF can be used with msft products. And if msft chose to do so, msft could support ODF just as much as Sun. Msft is also free to contribute to the ODF standard. Therefore ODF does not give Sun any competitive advantage.
      • > Let's suppose that ODF is indirectly controlled by Sun, and OOXML is directly controlled by msft. Why is it that the indirect control by Sun is cause for alarm, but the direct contol by msft is not cause for alarm?
        >
        > Why is it relevant that Burton never disputed msft's direct control? Does that make msft's direct control of a supposed open standard all right?

        Absurd strawman. Nobody said that. What he's suggesting Burton was saying is the exact opposite. Why is MS's control cause for alarm but
    • by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slash&omnifarious,org> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:00PM (#22059784) Homepage Journal

      Wow, a well reasoned comment that for the side I'm not on! :-)

      I am not intimately familiar with either ODF or OOXML. I am passingly familiar with both. I also have an understanding of the culture of the communities they come out of.

      As for ODF, I know Open Source. And I know the proprietary Unix world before it. And while Open Office is mind numbingly complex, the source is out there and I consider the source the ultimate arbiter of any protocol or file format. Standards documents are merely high quality documentation and not definitive. Additionally there are various other implementations that interoperate with Open Office via ODF to a greater or lesser extent, and I know there will be a lot of pressure to make that support more complete as time goes on.

      And while Sun might be the major contributor to Open Office, they don't have the same kind of control that Microsoft has over Microsoft Word. And the existence of other interoperable implementations decreases the effect their influence on Open Office has on the ODF document format.

      I also know the culture that OOXML comes out, though not as well. It's clear that Microsoft bought ISO votes, and this behavior is not unusual for them. It's clear from even a casual reading of the standard that it will be impossible to create an interoperable program without access to proprietary Microsoft source code. It's even clear that Microsoft themselves couldn't create an interoperable version without using their own source code. For example I doubt anybody knows how Word 97 formatting works in detail except to know that a particular block of Microsoft proprietary code implements it. Microsoft also has a strong history of having 'standards' they claim are open, but actually require Microsoft proprietary technology in some way to implement.

      So this mysterious report by this well-respected group is interesting to me as they seem to be telling me that everything experience has taught me is all wrong. The kind of broad sweeping changes in both cultures required for my experience to be rendered obsolete surely couldn't happen without my notice. My first impulse is to figure out if they were paid to do it. My next impulse is to figure out if they have a strongly self-interested reason to do it. The latter appears to be the case. No matter how respected they might be, their bread and butter is threatened if Microsoft Office significantly diminishes in importance. I would expect the legion of string theory theorists to (initially at least, until the more intellectually honest ones among them really took the time to understand things) call anybody who questioned string theory a crackpot regardless of whether or not they were right, and I would also expect a company who makes the majority of it's money from the existence of the Microsoft Office ecosystem to react similarly, no matter how respected they are.

      So until they can produce this mysterious report for public perusal, comment and dissection, I think that believing it to be total hogwash is completely justified by past experience and knowledge of the players involved.

    • by pimpimpim (811140)
      Some Knee-Jerk reactions indeed, very well said. But "Troll" or "Flamebait" would also have been a good description of your post there.

      There is no "status quo" in keeping with .doc. The internals of .doc, .ppt, .xls can and will change at Microsoft's will. You should have been long enough at slashdot to have read about this (or was there a UID yardsale that I missed out on).

      The non-openness of these formats creates immense and costly problems for the users (companies and employees). I once had a talk, e

    • by Chris Burke (6130)
      Maybe they're just saying that anybody who insists on using ODF because Microsoft has a disproportionate influence over OOXML is fooling themselves, because the same can be said (to an extent) of ODF.

      I'm not sure if anyone is literally concerned solely with influence and the degree thereof.

      The closely related topic, on which there is a 100% binary on-off difference between OOXML and ODF is that Sun may dictate the standard, it is comprehensible to anyone and thus anyone can write software to read/write it,
      • by IvyKing (732111)

        The closely related topic, on which there is a 100% binary on-off difference between OOXML and ODF is that Sun may dictate the standard, it is comprehensible to anyone and thus anyone can write software to read/write it, whereas Microsoft dictates the standard and is the only one capable of fully comprehending and implementing it. THAT is the issue that many have with OOXML, that it's faux-openness. It's a "standard" which depends entirely on Microsoft's proprietary implementations.

        One option for ISO ratification of OOXML is to make the standard only apply to the non-propietary portions of OOXML (i.e. not for gems like 'space as done by Word 95') and have a utility that checks for violations of that standard. I don't see MS going for that.

    • Some folks on here seem to be taking issue with the statement that ODF is "indirectly controlled" by Sun. But, as far as I understand it, that's pretty much the case. Last I heard, the vast majority of work on OpenOffice.org is done by Sun employees. The codebase is just too complex for amateurs to get their heads around.

      Not true. While Sun "indirectly controls" the development of OpenOffice.org, the file format is owned by Oasis [oasis-open.org], which is a "not-for-profit consortium that drives the development, convergence and adoption of open standards for the global information society" (according to their own website). Although Sun is a member of Oasis, it's not alone there, so Sun will never be able to hijack the file format all by themselves, because the other members won't allow it.

      Among the other members of Oasis is IBM, which,

      • by azrider (918631)

        Among the other members of Oasis is IBM, which, with its Lotus Symphony office suite, has interest in ODF as well.

        Among the other members of Oasis is Microsoft, which declined to participate in the process as regards ODF.

        If Microsoft, which proclaims interest in interoperability was telling the truth in the matter, they would (and could) have added their $.02 to the process which resulted in ISO/IEC 26300:2006 (also known as Open Document Format ).

    • Last I heard, the vast majority of work on OpenOffice.org is done by Sun employees.

      You are obviously confusing ODF with OpenOffice.Org. OOO may be have a lot of SUN influence, but OOXML was developed independently of that process. Although it was based on the original OOO XML-based file format, it underwent extensive editing before it was accepted as a standard, and OO had to be changed to fit those changes. ODF is now controlled by ISO, and the various organizations that produce conforming software are expected and intended to follow that lead.

      OOXML, on the other hand, is just a (rat

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Tony (765)
      Maybe they're just saying that anybody who insists on using ODF because Microsoft has a disproportionate influence over OOXML is fooling themselves, because the same can be said (to an extent) of ODF.

      If that is what they are saying, they are just plain wrong. Sun has influence over ODF because they participate in the ODF working group. They *participate.* They don't control, though they do have a lot of input, being a highly-skilled bunch of folks.

      Microsoft doesn't have a disproportionate amount of control
  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @08:27PM (#22060080) Homepage
    "ODF is controlled indirectly by Sun,"

    Oh, and who controls OOXML? Someone you trust more than Sun?
  • giggle: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Stephen Samuel (106962) <.samuel. .at. .bcgreen.com.> on Tuesday January 15, 2008 @10:38PM (#22061430) Homepage Journal
    TFA read:

    Open XML is "more complex than ODF, but it's not unnecessarily complex for the contexts it was designed to address,"
    Not unnecessarily complex?!!? freaks! The recent Errata for OOXML is almost six times the size of the full ODF documentation -- and, even then, OOXML docs are missing critical parts!

    I'm surprised that the authors don't expect to get laughed out of the hall when they present this report -- even if it is on Microsoft soil.

  • To reduce the (probably intended) market confusion over the pedigree of the format names, it would be nice if people used "MS-OOXML" to differentiate it from ODF and OpenOffice.

    [repost]
  • Wow, I didn't realize that business has become so bad for MS that they now have to pay people to use MS Office, but that is the only way it can be cheaper than OOo.
  • There has to be a money trail leading back to Microsoft. There always is when someone else is pumping their FUD. It may be indirect or a promise for future investment but it has to be there. No rational analyst can conclude that a standard that says things like "format the way Word95 does it" is worth promoting as a common document format.
  • Sun indirectly controlling ODF
    That is really nice. I didn't know ODF was solar powered. Open energy source rocks.
    Think green. ;)
  • Debunked? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous MadCoe (613739) <maakiee@NoSpam.yahoo.com> on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @04:29AM (#22063930) Homepage
    In my book debunking means looking at someone's statement. And then methodically showing that it's not true. This can be done by showing the truth is different, or showing that the reasoning is flawed.

    This article IMHO just stated that things are different, but does not provide a better founded truth, nor does it show the flaws in the original reasoning in a methodical way (again it's just stating the opposite).

    I would not call this debunking, I would call it disputing.

    My 2 cents...

"Love may fail, but courtesy will previal." -- A Kurt Vonnegut fan

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