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Sun Microsystems

Sony To Package StarOffice On European PCs 287

Jahf writes "This News.com article talks about how Sony is adopting Sun's Star Office suite over Microsoft office in some areas. It's nice to see it being adopted, maybe this is the beginning of a trend. While Star Office is still not as optimized as it could be (read: it eats memory and can be a little slow even compared to MS Office), it has all the features most people need and then some at a much better price." Specifically, as reader Yacoubean points out (pointing to coverage at InfoWorld),"The PCs will be sold in the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Austria and Switzerland."
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Sony To Package StarOffice On European PCs

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  • Anti-competitive? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by I Am The Owl ( 531076 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:51PM (#4824187) Homepage Journal
    Isn't bundling applications with an operating system and computer what got Microsoft in trouble in the first place? I hardly think a large multinational like Sony would be any more generous than the money-grubbers in Redmond. Beware.
    • Wasn't it more like "charging customers to include bundled software in an operating system that they were required to pay for when buying a computer whether they intended to use either"?

    • by rawshark ( 603493 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:55PM (#4824218)
      Microsoft had a monopoly, Sony does not have a monopoly on PCs. If memory serves, it is not illegal to have a monopoly, nor is it illegal to bundle applications, but it is illegal to use bundling to tie one market to the market you have a monopoly in.

      Besides, I say that if the almighty dollar causes more marketing and development work to be done in the name of Open Source and Free Software, than so be it!
      • What not illegal to have a monopoly? Maybe not the board game, but an actual monopoly is a no-no; well unless you're a union then you can have a monopoly.
    • Re:Anti-competitive? (Score:5, Informative)

      by AnEmbodiedMind ( 612071 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:57PM (#4824224)
      It would start to be anti-competitive if Sony owned StarOffice, and had a monopoly on distributing machines. It's not much like Microsoft at all.
    • Re:Anti-competitive? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by l810c ( 551591 )
      Just about anything you buy computer related has bundled applications. It's common practice. Sony is the one with a Choice, and they exercised it.

    • by Locutus ( 9039 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:02AM (#4824254)
      well yes it was. What Sun/Sony is doing is different in that Sony is but one OEM and it's their system. Now Microsoft came in and bundled apps in the OS and told every OEM that if they don't keep the bundled apps they will lose their license to sell the MS Windows OS. There is a big difference here. Atleast if the OEMs can decide what their customers might want, users would have choices among OEMs for the hardware and software features they want prePackaged .

      Without choice and competition, Microsoft has been able to dictate what is popular and what's not.

    • That's not as simple as whether bundling a software is illegal.

      Microsoft was extending their monopolization power by setting the price when the vendors wanted to have choice. Say if a vendors chose to bundle non-MS office, then the OEM price of Windows OS would be risen to an extent that using non-MS office was totally unjustified. That could kill the all the competitors making office-suits.

      I don't recall the exact legal term, but taking actions to extend your monopolization across other market, e.g. price-setting, is illegal. It's good that the court has recognized OS, browsers and office-suit are of different markets at the very first place, otherwise the lawsuits would be rejected.
    • Why not just include Openoffice? It's not like their getting any branding advantage with Staroffice. The average joe doesn't know what either star or openoffice is.
    • between Sony choosing to bundle Star Office with their PCs and offer them for sale and MS _requiring_ other MS software be installed on other peoples products.

      When I bought my Vaio in the UK a few months ago I was surprised to find it didn't come with an office suite at all (which is no big deal to me, I didn't check because an Office Suite wasn't on my list of requirements. I've since installed OpenOffice just in case I need one, but I've not used it yet).
    • Sony do not "own" StarOffice and do not have a monopoly to use, so it cannot be anti-competitive. Microsoft bundled their own software with their "monopoly" OS, thereby stifling the competition. If Microsoft had bundled Lotus's office suite that would not have been anti-competitive.
  • Works Suite (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Comster ( 615942 )
    It beats the cheesy Works Suite that people end up using because it bundles with their OEM PC.
    • by IndependentVik ( 582582 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:58PM (#4824227)
      Ahhh, yes, the infamous MS Works--one of the oldest misnomers in the PC market :)
    • Re:Works Suite (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Pilferer ( 311795 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:46AM (#4824475)
      I think MS Works is far easier to use than Word, Excel, etc. My mother could figure out the word processor in Works - but Office is a bit too complex.

      A simple, small, easy to use word processor that's geared at newbies is what Linux needs. Something that's not so intimidating as Office, something your mom could figure out, without having to ask you "What are all these things(icons) for?"

      I wonder why MS hasn't put more effort into Works! That's a HUGE market - Office is the WRONG choice for 1st time computer users.
      • Re:Works Suite (Score:2, Informative)

        by driverEight ( 598719 )
        A simple, small, easy to use word processor that's geared at newbies is what Linux needs. Something that's not so intimidating as Office, something your mom could figure out, without having to ask you "What are all these things(icons) for?"


  • So? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Wakko Warner ( 324 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:52PM (#4824190) Homepage Journal
    My American Vaio came with Corel Office.

    Sony's been shipping stuff other than office for a long time.

    - A.P.
    • Who could argue that a Vaio is a low end system? Seeing open source and free software on high end computers is nice. I get sick of seeing free software clasified as bargain and low cost while significant feature set improvements are ignored. Sony, IBM, Sun will help change that perception. Corel Office was premium software that, as long as M$ was dumping Office, you had to pay "extra" for and you did so to gain superior software. Everything else comes with a post script and portable document file output, does Star Office? That would be cool, and that is definatly an "extra" right now.

      My wife used to run Star Office and liked it better than M$. M$ Office is an ugly beast that writes hideous propriatory formated files. Star Office read those files, dispelling the bizare perception that M$ programers were some kinds of wizards. Other than that, my wife simply enjoyed Star Office's easy to use layout.

      • Considering that the Unix versions produce PostScript output when printing, it's surprising that Open Office doesn't support PostScript directly. Still, you can always do it the normal way-- print to file using a PostScript printer.

        BTW, StarOffice is only Open Source in the sense that Mac OS X or Netscape Navigator 7 is Open Source. In other words, it's not.
      • Here's why .DOC doesn't suck:

        The majority of people use Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office flawlessly reads .DOC files.
        That's as simple as it needs to be.

        Go to any office building and ask the secretary what she thinks of the .DOC file format and then tell her that she could be using a slower, less sophisticated, less featured office suite that MIGHT read her files correctly, sometimes.

        I'm getting tired of people bashing MS Office simply because it's a Microsoft product. You have to consider the possiblity that people elect to buy these products because they like using them, not just because Microsoft is ramming them down their throat. In fact, I challenge you to find a better office suite than Microsoft Office... (Hint: It isn't StarOffice, it isn't OpenOffice, it isn't Corel, and this is far from a matter of opinion).

        OpenOffice will be a glorified text editor for some time to come.
    • Charting? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by deanpole ( 185240 )
      Is there a better GUI app for charts than OpenOffice or Gnumeric? or do I have to learn the command line of gnuplot?
  • by IrvineHosting ( 628102 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:52PM (#4824199) Homepage
    I just recently got my dad one of those cheap walmart computers and installed redhat 8 and staroffice and he loves it! He only dabbles with writing a few letters but he really seems to get along fine. I think overall it is a little slow compared to Microsoft Office but it has a surprising number of features you wouldn't necessarily expect from a free software product.

    Kudos to Sun and the StarOffice group for creating a true Microsoft Office killer.
    • Seems OT, but.... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LinuxHam ( 52232 )
      I've been wondering about all the slowness complaints that have plagued large applications like OpenOffice. Does anyone here do the hdparm tweaks [linuxnewbie.org] to improve disk performance? I just stumbled across it (after 7 years) trying to improve mplayer's performance. This may take care of much of the slowness complaints we always seem to hear.
    • I don't get it....you acknowledge it's slower with less features but claim it's a MS killer? What gives?
    • by LUN!X ( 621212 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @02:09AM (#4824814) Homepage
      I totally disagree. OpenOffice is horrendously slow compared to Office 97/2K/XP on all my hardware from the trusty P-120 with 48MB up to P4-1.6 w/512MB. Hell, it's not even in the same class. KOffice is closer to MS Office performance, but lacks those precious 'features.'

      Of course, what do I care? UltraEdit [ultraedit.com] + a web browser does everything I need.
      • Of course, what do I care? UltraEdit [ultraedit.com] + a web browser does everything I need.

        Did you try Xemacs? :)

      • OpenOffice is horrendously slow compared to Office 97/2K/XP on all my hardware from the trusty P-120 with 48MB up to P4-1.6 w/512MB.

        In Word 2K, I can type faster than the characters display (especially in tables)--on a 400MHz CPU, and I'm not a fast typist by any measure.

        Word is a messy ugly kludge. What kind of crappy software requires faster than a 400MHz CPU for just text entry? Word is crap.

        One serious advantage of OpenOffice over MS Office is that OpenOffice will always be making progress, and the GPL ensures that progress will never be lost. MS Office seems to take two steps back for each step forward.

        So, if OpenOffice is too slow for your needs, there is a good chance that won't be true forever.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:54PM (#4824206)
    Here's one to ponder... the article cites that PC makers are now less fearful of retribution from Microsoft for chosing other programs since the anti-trust settlement.

    Could the anti-trust settlement, as weak as it is, actually be that effective? Is it really the reason the office suite market is going back up for grabs?
    • I don't think so. Maybe though. Correct me if I'm worng but more people there run linux to begin with than in the US. So it seems to me that its not that hard to get them to addapt to something like StarOffice.
    • I really don't think so. This is in Europe anyway so what does the anti-trust case have to do with it?

      Microsoft will tread lightly with regards to licensing of Windows but MS Office is open game because Microsoft was able to get the US States to drop their case against MS Office and concentrate only on the Windows OS.

      When you see the US OEMs bundling StarOffice, OpenOffice, or Corel Office on business systems, THEN there's something going on at Microsoft.

    • by aero6dof ( 415422 ) <aero6dof@yahoo.com> on Friday December 06, 2002 @01:24AM (#4824620) Homepage
      But Sony is certainly not your typical PC maker. They're backed by an enormous corportation with many lines of business other than PCs. I doubt that Sony I doubt has much fear of retribution from Microsoft.

      On the other hand, a small to medium company whose primary line of business is PC systems still has plenty to fear. Specifically that their OS licensing costs might just happen to go up by their Star Office cost savings + 20% because they don't fall under the same purchase plan anymore...
      • From what I know of the PS1, it accounted for just about 50% of Sony's revenue/profit. I assume the PS2 will be of similar order.

        Now, m$ are going after that, and Sony is pissed.

        So, what do they do? Release a PDA running Linux, and bundle StarOffice.

        Business as usual, it seems.
  • by Bullseye_blam ( 589856 ) <{bullseye_1} {at} {yahoo.com}> on Thursday December 05, 2002 @11:58PM (#4824229) Journal
    I believe that this is all a vile plot by Sony to eat into Microsoft's profit margins so that Microsoft must cut its losses on the Xbox and cede victory to Sony!

    Any takers? heheheh.
    • Sony isn't stupid.

      MS reveals that Office is paying the rent while they lose money on Xbox... Sony thinks about the fees they're paying MS every year, as long as MS Office is part of their computer package..."...choto.... Tanaka-san...look at these numbers....why are we helping MS to keep the Xbox afloat?"

      Sony has been subsidizing the Xbox, and now they have a way to halt that practice :) =========

      Remember...investing in or doing business with MS is risking having your own money used against you in the marketplace.
    • Microsoft was prepared to lose as much money as a company like AMD or Nvidia is worth (their current market cap is around $2billion). Now they just released a statement saying they're prepared to lose *more* than that. Microsoft doesn't cede victory to anyone. The PS2 is older and slower and is still outselling the X-box many times over yet Microsoft haven't even blinked.

      I for one am loving the PS2/Xbox battle. Microsoft, for all their success, is a young upstart compared to Sony, which has been playing the same game far longer than Microsoft has. Sony almost killed Sega and is kicking Nintendo's ass - they're not about to let some newcomer start playing in their console market. Microsoft though is pretty big too and they play to win. Always.

      Will Microsoft learn from their mistakes come time for PS3 v. Xbox2 and come to dominate? Will Sony have learned Microsoft's weaknesses and exploit them to the fullest? Coming to a TV near you, the Sony/Microsoft joint venture: the multi-billion-dollar game, Cutthroat Business.

      Whose cuisine will reign supreme?
  • by Chordonblue ( 585047 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:00AM (#4824245) Journal
    I have to say that startup speed is probably the biggest issue I have with these programs. However, on a brand new PC with a 7200 RPM drive and GHz processor speed, it should flat out fly anyway. At my school we use Open/StarOffice almost exclusively. It's working out, but for the students with under 400 MHz laptops, it's nightmarish.

    On a side note, does anyone here know why Microsoft's 'Word' can load in like, 2 seconds, and OpenOffice.org's 'Writer' takes about 10 times that? Does M$ do something special with the OS to facilitate faster loading for Office?
    • by bagboy ( 630125 ) <neo&arctic,net> on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:11AM (#4824307)
      Per some info I located: "The Office Startup Assistant (Osa.exe or OSA) is a program that improves the performance of Office XP programs. Office Setup places a shortcut to the Osa.exe file in the Windows Startup folder; the file is named "Microsoft Office". "The Osa.exe file initializes the shared code that is used by the Office XP programs. When you use the Osa.exe file to initialize shared code, the Office XP programs start faster. If the Office programs, instead of Osa.exe, initialize the shared code, the programs take longer to start." Microsoft already pre-loads most of the shared code on bootup, so you're already running portions of it even when you don't want to. Under WinXP, run msconfig and you can disable it from the startup. Time how long Word now takes to load (after rebooting) - not real noticable on a P4 with lots of RAM and fast drives though.
    • by Locutus ( 9039 )
      I would guess that things like MFC libraries are already loaded because they are used in the OS and in MS Office. Also, it's likely that other libraries get autoloaded at boot time when MS Office has been installed.

      OpenOffice/StarOffice should have a boot time module loader IMHO. Let it get swapped out if the apps aren't used and memory gets tight but atleast make it an option.

      I found it strange that StarOffice 5.2 starts quicker than OpenOffice 1.0.1 considering OpenOffice was supposed to trim down the apps by separating them. It's painfully slow on a dual 333 Celeron, 7200RPM IDE, 384MB RAM.

    • OO has a 'load during system startup' option (QuickStarter) that makes working from scratch much more tolerable. I can have a new text file, spreadsheet, etc., open on demand...a new drawing makes me wait a whole three seconds. If you run SO when you boot, and leave it running, you'll find it much easier to create new documents. Think of SO as an alternate desktop.
  • by teamhasnoi ( 554944 ) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:00AM (#4824246) Journal
    If consumers can't have the friendly advice of a paperclip with eyes, I don't know how anyone will get any work done over there.

    I don't know about you, but I am completely lost after, "Dear Sirs:"

    If I didn't have the paperclip, I'd never know who I was writing to.

    • I agree. I also find it greatly helpful when clippy pops up and says: "It looks like you are writing a letter, would you like help with that?" and then brings up a letter template. Because usually when I compose a written communication to someone, I just type the words in any random format, and the address ends up in the middle of a paragraph, and the date at the end... it's just a mess.

      I'm so glad I have clippy to help me type all the parts of a letter in their proper places.
  • Its the XBox Factor (Score:2, Interesting)

    by acomj ( 20611 )
    I think MS was tired of paying MS roalties that MS would pump into XBOX.

    Remember PS2 is a Xbox competitor
  • keep in mind (Score:5, Insightful)

    by morgajel ( 568462 ) <slashreader AT morgajel DOT com> on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:10AM (#4824300) Homepage
    they're enemies.
    sony knows that office and windows are the cash cows for microsoft. sony knows that if microsoft starts hurting there, they can't afford to keep pissing money away on the xbox, sony's direct competition...

    it's a street fight, and sony just kicked microsoft in the balls.

    makes sense to me.
    it'll be interesting to watch where it goes.. a new service pack kills sony dvd drivers? I have no clue.

    either way I'll get some laughs out of the two slugging it out.
    • it's a street fight, and sony just kicked microsoft in the balls.

      Hehe, you just made my day.

    • sony knows that office and windows are the cash cows for microsoft. sony knows that if microsoft starts hurting there, they can't afford to keep pissing money away on the xbox, sony's direct competition...

      Sony have a fairly small share of the PC market and anyway, historically any threats to Microsoft's market share have only made them compete harder.

      VAIO means video audio integrated operation. How many VAIO users are heavy Office users? Most likely Sony did this so they can save some money on licensing software their customers barely use anyway.
  • This isn't a bad move as I know Star Office 6 is pretty reliable as I purchased this for my dad, and he was able to open an MS Word documents (including a monster 15MB one) all on an old laptop.

    Just wish Apple would Open Source AppleWorks and take over the GUI section of SO and OO though :).

    • Just wish Apple would Open Source AppleWorks and take over the GUI section of SO and OO though :)./
      Yikes! While I like the apple GUI I cannot stand how there menus work. I just wish that Apple would go the NeXT way on the menus. It made more sense.
  • Business Decision (Score:5, Insightful)

    by donutello ( 88309 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:33AM (#4824412) Homepage
    I think all the posters who are talking about the relationship between this and the fact that MS is competing with Sony with the X-BOX are just plain wrong.

    If Sony was a well-run organization, its computer division would be making business decisions based on their own market rather than some vague spite because of some other divisions battles. There are several valid business reasons why offering a cheaper (to Sony) Office solution would make business sense.

    MS is not going to run out of money any time soon - so suggesting that this is being done so MS stops spending money is just plain asinine. Rather, the very reason MS is investing in the XBOX is because they want to earn money in more diverse ways and if the Office business were to become less profitable, that would only encourage them to invest further into other markets in the hopes of being able to grow or maintain revenue.

    It is possible that management asked the computer division to do this and use that as a threat to ask Microsoft to back off from the XBOX. However, that is arguably an antitrust violation similar to the one Microsoft got into trouble for since the PS2 is a virtual monopoly. However, I sincerely doubt that this is the case.
    • by w42w42 ( 538630 )
      If Sony was a well-run organization, its computer division would be making business decisions based on their own market rather than some vague spite because of some other divisions battles.

      I have to respond to this. I think normally this would be a valid point, except that Microsoft has two business divisions referred to as "Office" and "Windows", which are used to fuel their slash and burn business practices.

      I would love for any other Microsoft division to compete on its own merit with that from any competitor, without the immense backing they recieve from those two monopolies.

      • MBU (Mac Business Unit) does quite well on it's own (and actually has little if any interaction with the rest of the company, from what I've heard). It's the one business unit that really puts out high quality work, IMHO.
  • by Anonymous Bullard ( 62082 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:42AM (#4824454) Homepage
    Yes, Corel, the weather vane of IT industry (just follow the opposite direction).

    Price comes first, and Corel is valued at cash value, if not even lower. They've got loads of software, WP Office (which luckily wasn't rebranded Corel XXXX to even destroy the brand too), CorelDraw, Micrografx line, Softquad line (HoTMetaL etc.) and who knows what else. And thanks to Corel they're all essentially valued at NIL. Use what is useful and spit out the rest for sale (most of which might even have a chance of success once out of Corel's clueless fingers) or open-sourcing.

    Although Corel have tried their best to become totally irrelevant, they still continue to release PR that some journos read, or at least re-circulate. Currently that muscular PR machine is churning out, you guessed it, Micorsoft PR and their employees probably get fired just for mentioning Linux. Problem easily solved by Sun.

    Sun knows how to sue monopolists instead of giving them discounted shares and even working for them for free (yes, you guessed who). If Java is worth $billion + damages, what about WordPerfect which was pummelled out of all channels (esp. preloads) by MS. Isn't MS-Office micorsoft's most valuable cash cow? Hit 'em where it hurts most.

    And StarOffice... I'm sure there's something worth scavenging in WP Office that would benefit StarOffice. At least WP engineers used to be good at reverse-engineering MS-word filters. Migrating their remaining users out of micorsoft's sphere of influence would also be useful, as would phasing out the MS-windows-based no-revenue preloads that some OEMs use to avoid the full force of MS tax.
  • I know this is a little naive, but is Sony doing this so they can lower costs on their systems and pass the savings along to customers? Or will they provide a less expensive office package, and maintain their current pricing scheme? Most PC manufacturers (not out of the box) now allow you to configure your system almost entirely, down to the software packages you want (or don't). Will Sony still install MS Office on systems you order directly from them if thats what you want? And if so how much will the price difference be?
  • by puto ( 533470 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:47AM (#4824483) Homepage
    Hey how old is Star Office 5.2? Ancient! And while there are many people say it is all I need, FINE, that might be great for you but not for the rest.

    I love *nix OSes. But Star Office on anything is dog slow and a nightmare to operate.

    I was the Technology Director of a Small University and I purchased a load of new Dells(bout 1 year ago i think) Pentium 3 1.0 ghz. 256 megs of ram. I grabbed 40. We had 40 plain jane 233 mmx pentiums with 128 megs of ram and win 98. We only had liscenses for 40 copies of office 2000, so I smacked star office on the 233's. I had 40 machines that became dog slow, erratic, and crash prone. The ran office 2000 just fine. The productivity level for the students dropped abour 30%. I started keeping a log of the problems and they all pointed at star office. Locking the box up, not opening word files well. Whole slew of shit.

    I tweaked and tweaked, and finally threw office back on the boxes and the liscensing be damned. Cause in this case office worked better, the students got into Acess, Excel, and kept on chugging.

    On my new boxes I dual booted win 2000 and redhat. Taught classes in both. Taught Star Office and Office. And Office is a great product, yes it is bloated, but you can do *alot* in it. Star Office could not touch it. Office 97 runs better, doesnt eat the desktop and resources Alive.

    I like Open Office, still see room for improvement. Loads better than Star. But saying Star is an Office Killer in this day and age that is ridicoulous.

    Plus, in poor countries they learn to use what they have, the file server I replaces ran sco on a 1.0 gig scsi drive, 486 sx 25. They had done wonders with the box. Replaced it with Red 6.2 dual 1.0 p///s. Raid 3 on 36 gig scsis.(we got a good deal with dell).

    We took a survey of 300 students. They liked linux, they wanted to learn linux, and we taught it. But hands down they voted star office out. They just couldnt be productive in their normal school work with star office.

    • I'm sorry, but you mention StarOffice 5.2. Sony is using StarOffice 6.0, which is as recent as Open Office, and uses the same base set of features.
      • Sorry, I was a little unclear about somethings. but the point being that apples to apples Star Office doesnt cut the Mustard.

        I was using Office 2000 on 98 machines, and Star 5.2 on the same ones. Star Office had lower system recquirements, older product. Office 2000 on same system, but higher resource requirements whupped its ass hands down. And on 40 machines.

        My windows 2000 box is an Athlon 1800, 512 meg, 7200 IBM drive, and Star Office 6.0 sits on it, and Office XP. And for work(as well as compatibilty issues with the rest of the world) Office is the better product.

        I try and and keep all options on my machine cause you never know who I might support.

        On the XP box is office 2000 and Open Office. And guess which one functions better?

        Workstation productivity for pushing characters around Office is the best. Linux kicks ass in so many other areas but MS has office down.

        I am sorry I was unclear. But I was comparing 5.2 to 2000. But even 97 is better than 5.2.

        Best tool for the job aint always the free one.

    • Try comparing like with like, compare say Star Office 5.2 with Office 97. Office 97 was great for writing letters, simple letters, however when you took it to anything significant, it was slow, it crashed and the user interface plain lied about what the output would look like.

      I guess you took the usual short cut and worked with small documents like business letters rather than long documents. You might be fairer to your students by giving them prepared large documents and spreadsheets to be changed.

      Office 2000 is much better and is a reasonably solid product, although it still has problems with columns and object placement (forget about its DTP pretensions, MS Publisher does this much better).

      Office 2000 is a great product, unless you have to pay for it (or the extra memory/faster processors). This is why some people only upgraded Office this year, because when you have several thousand users, upgrades are not to be lightly taken. Especially if it means machine upgrades and more memory.

      Open Office isn't the best, but the price is right (remember we don't see educational discounts in the real world) and for a lot of cases it can replace Microsoft Office. If this means I can junk 5 copies of Office and just keep one for special ocassions, that is already a saving.

  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @12:55AM (#4824517)
    When I was working at Circuit City about a year and a half ago, we had these, although only sort of bundled. The Sony rep stopped by, and along with his usual propoganda about various Sony features , he had a stack of Star Office CDs in slip cover-type cases with the Sun and Sony names printed on the outside (this was a pre-printed glossy cardboard slip, not some bootleg crap he rolled himself). It wasn't really bundled, per se, but he said, "when people ask you if they come with MS Office, you tell them they come with this." Right at that point I thought, "wow, that's a great idea. Way to go Sony. People really need to get used to the idea that they don't need to pay upwards of $400 for their basic word-processing and spreadsheet needs." Still, it never amazed me that in the face of Lotus SmartSuite and Star Office with different manufacturers (namely Toshiba and Sony), people still insisted on MS Office (even after we went to the trouble of saving various .doc and .xls files to a floppy and opening them with the other programs to show that you could indeed bring work home). Oh well, you can lead a horse to water...

  • Interesting Times (Score:2, Interesting)

    by USC-MBA ( 629057 )
    The strategic issues with this situation are intriguing. Microsoft Office presently faces competition from several fronts, the biggest two threats to its dominance of the market at present being Sun's StarOffice suite, and Corel's Wordperfect. Also nibbling away at MS Office's market share are smaller Opne-Source rivals like Open Office, KOffice, etc.

    Any one of these may not pose any threat on their own, but together they may be in a position to eat away a sizeable chunk of Microsoft's profits. The obvious way for Microsoft combat to combat this multiheaded threat is a two-pronged attack. .

    First, Microsoft needs to emphasize the imporance of the network effect (which is basically when a product becomes more useful and valuable as its userbase grows: this effect can be observed in a product like an office suite, where I need my document to be readable on my client's system. It is considerably less pronounced in something like toothpaste ) in its marketing efforts. The pitch would go like this: most everyone is familiar with MS Office, most everyone uses MS Office now, so it's best to stick with MS Office. StarOffice may boast "95%" compatibility, but what business wants to risk their bottom line on the chance that they'll never have to worry about the other 5%?

    The second prong to combat the hordes of rival office suites would be for Microsoft to simply slash the price of MS Office. Miscrosoft already pulls in nearly 80% profit on Office, and is in an excellent cash position, having over a billion in liquid reserves. They could therefore easily handle a temporary dent in profits for the sake of maintaining or even expanding market share. This would have the additional advantage of reinforcing the network effects enjoyed by MS Office, thereby strengthening Microsoft's position. Prices could be raised again, of course, with the next release of MS Office.

    Or maybe not. Perhaps Ballmer and co. have something even sneakier up their sleeves, or maybe we will see Microsoft's rivals make inroads into the Office suite market. Whatever the case, it's fun to watch the plays unfold, kind of like the world's slowest RTS game.

  • everyone else uses metric, it may be better... but the US will still use MS products, and the rest of the world will have to deal with it because we are who we are, for better or worse.


  • the sad truth is (Score:3, Interesting)

    by b17bmbr ( 608864 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @03:40AM (#4825107)
    that as long as people can get a hold of office cd's, they will install it, because to them it is "free". and m$ knew this, and knows it. the sad truth is that for all their bitching about piracy, it helped them. and they knew it, and laughed all the to the bank. i know that for instance, although my school gets office for $50 a box, it is not available to teachers' personal computers for that price. you think the office97 install cd's haven't made the rounds 1-2 thousand times. ha. think again.

    the big test will come when new version of windows no longer runs office97/2k.
  • Or does Sony just bundle cheaper/less powerful software and charge the same amount and pocket the difference itself?

  • The big annoyance I find with SO under W2k is the creation of vast temporary files. And yes, it is slower to startup and slightly slower to run than Office.

    However, I get attachments from various people who are prone to macro viruses. The total absence of Office from my system means that this crap never gets a chance to run.

    When I look at huge multicolored spreadsheets that actually do something that could be done far more elegantly in a three-table relational database, Word documents produced by people with the visual intelligence of a seaslug, and PP presentations that make my eyeballs go funny, I do wonder just how much highly paid make-work Office has caused in the last ten years. It would be interesting to know how much more profitable corporate America would have been if no-one had ever come up with competition for Lotus 123 and Word Perfect.

    Which makes me sound, I guess, like a Luddite. But in a way the feature proliferation in Office has destroyed choice (I'm sure this is deliberate) by creating an insuperable bar to new entrants in the WP/SS field through the requirement to interoperate with the Office file formats. If SO or OO are only 90% as good as Office, they probably will not sell regardless of their other merits. What would happen to the world car market if every manufacturer, no matter what else they did, was forced to use Ford engines and transmissions? Hint: it wouldn't be bad for Ford.

    It's a pity that governments and ISO don't seem to have been able to get together to develop an international standard for word processing and spreadsheet formats for official business. That might create a more level playing field and encourage a bit more real innovation in the user interface.

    • Heh. I think the reason that Excel is used in place of a database is for one main reason: Access is crap. Excel is actually faster and certainly more reliable for many things, and you can do a lot with linked sheets, lookup functions, filters, and maybe even a VBA form if you need that stuff. Not only that, but in Excel you can do more complex math and see results graphically. For many simple applications that don't need queries which trace through dozens of tables, Excel is better. As far as the back-end goes, I think Excel is the best MS-Office app by far.

      Anyway, yes, I know what you mean about people wasting time with Office. But people will always find a way of wasting time. And there are some pretty clever hacked-together VBA apps in Office, despite Microsoft's obvious attempts to have VBA and Automation go the way of MS Bob. So there are some good things that have come out of it all.

  • This is a turf war (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oob ( 131174 )
    I think that outside of the cost, freedom and "chique factor" advantages to Sony for supporting StarOffice the essence of this is a tit-for-tat response to Microsoft releasing X-Box.

    Unlike other OEMs, Microsoft can't push Sony around because Sony is involved in many other lucratice markets.

    The Japanese (or indeed, Asian in general) technology maunfactures are getting into OpenSource (or other Microsoft alternatives) wherever they can, particularly with PDAs and embedded systems.

    Europe and Australasia are overflowing with FOSS, particularly Linux.

    Where is North America? Desktop and low-end server computing there looks to be destined to become like their wireless and mobile markets; stagnant and lagging behind the rest of the world.
    • "chique factor" advantages to Sony for supporting StarOffice

      Sorry? Chique factor? Sony's PR people must be hiding under the table. Of all the flagships that the Open Source community could choose, this is the one that has the most holes below the waterline.

      the essence of this is a tit-for-tat response to Microsoft releasing X-Box.

      I really don't think so. Surely it went something like this:

      1. Some accountant in a suit works out that applications software contributes quite a lot to the cost of PCs, and that the market is price sensitive at present
      2. the market research people confirm that a lot of customers don't care what office suite is shipped with their machine, either because they don't use it, they have a licence from their last machine or they are going to pirate Office from work anyway
      3. their secretary finds a copy of Star Office on the cover disc of her son's magazine.

      Sony are using Star Office because it is cheap, because it increases their margins and/or reduces their RRP. Star Office is a poor advert for OSS, and Sony are using it for the least noble of all possible reasons. So, while it isn't a bad thing, I think the street parties are premature.

  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Friday December 06, 2002 @07:51AM (#4825799)
    .. majorly in the PC-business. As it is, Microsoft is trying to take over the console-business, something Sony is not prepared to see happen. At the same time Sony is putting lots and lots of dollars into Microsofts warchest by selling PCs with Microsoft Windows preinstalled.

    Sony is not alone here, IBM is another company in a similiar situation.

    I think it would be in both companies interest to subsidize development of Linux desktop systems.

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