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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Israel Suspends MS Office Purchases For Now 488

case_igl writes "The Seattle Times is reporting 'that in an apparent showdown over price, Israel's government has suspended purchases of Microsoft Office software and is encouraging the development of an open-source alternative.' The Finance Ministry has cooperated with Sun Microsystems and IBM in designing the Hebrew-language version of OpenOffice software, a freely distributed open-source alternative to Microsoft Office. The spokeswoman said the government was unhappy with Microsoft's refusal to sell individual programs from its standard Office package, which includes e-mail, spreadsheet and word-processing applications. Microsoft representatives in Israel did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment." The Associated Press article is carried on many other sites as well.
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Israel Suspends MS Office Purchases For Now

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  • not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by smsp ( 736236 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:30AM (#7845221)
    I guess they don't welcome their old ms-overlord then...
  • Good! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nycsubway ( 79012 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:30AM (#7845224) Homepage
    More power to them! Microsoft Word's default Hebrew fonts are non-existent, and the alternative Hebrew fonts aren't very good. Nor are any of the office products very good at inputing right-to-left text. I hope the improvements to openoffice will make their way to other countries.
    • by einhverfr ( 238914 ) <chris DOT travers AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:58AM (#7845482) Homepage Journal
      More power to them! Microsoft Word's default Hebrew fonts are non-existent, and the alternative Hebrew fonts aren't very good. Nor are any of the office products very good at inputing right-to-left text. I hope the improvements to openoffice will make their way to other countries.

      I would assume that the main benefits would be of most use to (in order):

      Other Semitic languages such as Arabic, Syriac, and Ethiopian

      Other right-left languages, such as Farsi.

      Noticing a pattern here... Ironically enough, these improvements are likely to help develop the software for those that Israel considers to be their enemies (the Arab world and Persia, being Iran and parts of Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan).

      This is not a bad thing. In the end, Israeli engineers may work side-by-side Iranian engineers on open source projects, and these engineers may develop personal respect for eachother.

      The Israeli political system is paralized when it comes to peace, IMO, due to the low margin (2%) that parties need in order to qualify for the Knesset. This is why the current gov't is so dependent on the radical right-wing parties such as the National Religious Party (which many Israelis regard as fascist). Yet they are not stupid, and this unilaterial suggestion on their part has been a long time coming (if you read the Israeli press, you should have seen it at least a year ago, if not more).

      The ONLY hope of peace is for enough people on all sides of the conflict to get to know eachother and develop personal respect. They don't have to respect eachothers' governments. Hell, as an American, I don't have much respect for MY government! But in the end, personal respect is the way towards peace. Collaboration is one way to do this. FOSS is one venue for collaboration.
      • I think you over estimate the power of OSS.

        In the height of the cold war, lets say you met and befriended a Russian. Lets say a thousand people did, lets say a million.... what what % of the population do these personal relationships make governments change policy? My guess is, it doesn't happen. When ideologies not only vary, but conflict to the degree Israel and it's neighbors do, personal relationships will have very little effect unless we're talking about the nation's leaders becoming buddies, which

        • by Anonymous Coward
          I think your expectations are too high.

          OSS probably won't bring peace on earth by christmas of next year. It could very well bring some people together from different and conflicing cultures that would have not have otherwise. It is a step forward, and good enough for me. It will take many steps in the right direction, and this may be one of them.

        • by Tony-A ( 29931 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @02:07PM (#7846655)
          It's one of many. And yes, a very few do make a difference.

          Extreme cold war.
          You don't know any Russians.
          You don't know anyone who knows any Russians.
          You don't know anyone who knows anyone who knows any Russians.
          You've barely heard of vodka.
          Tchaiskovsky is ok because he comes from Czarist Russia.

          A little interaction between a few people makes for a lot of change in the degree of seperation. American Rock Music in Moscow and Russian ballet in the USA or Western Europe do a lot to bridge the gaps. It doesn't solve the problems, but it does make them a lot less unsolvable.
          • I agree with you, cultural exchange can lead to a foundation of understanding - which can lead to compromise. But the parent I was commenting on, leads the reader to think a couple techs working on an OSS project together is the trigger pin to a happier and more harmonious middle east, which I disagree with.

            Although I appreciate your point of view, I don't think it applies to the parties in Israel. Primarily because the dispute in the Middle East evolves around land and religion, two things people (for

      • by pirhana ( 577758 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:31PM (#7845801)
        >> Noticing a pattern here... Ironically enough, these improvements are likely to help develop the software for those that Israel considers to be their enemies (the Arab world and Persia, being Iran and parts of Iraq, Turkey, and Afghanistan).

        Actually you make a very valid point. One of the best (and most underrated) benefit of Free software is the collaborative nature and the community built around it. Look at what happened with KDE recently . Some Iranians made use of what is basically a European/German project. I dont know of many things in which Germans and Iranians cooprate in a grass root level. Certainly open source is not a panacea for peace or anything like that, but the cooperation and association in the field of open source development without borders surely will help people bring closer.

      • Please don't forget that your government is one of the few that lets you freely state that without hunting you down like a criminal.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Israel is helping to develop software that could improve the usability of computers in Farsi (Iran).

        Iran refuses Israeli humanitarian aid for earthquake victims.

        Islamofascist mad mullahs would rather their people die than get help from Jews.

        And you claim it's the Israeli political system that's paralyzed by peace because of the low margin for Knesset representation.

      • This is not a bad thing. In the end, Israeli engineers may work side-by-side Iranian engineers on open source projects, and these engineers may develop personal respect for eachother. ... But in the end, personal respect is the way towards peace. Collaboration is one way to do this.

        I wish I could go along with that, but it seems like a little bit of wishful thinking. Geekdom is the ultimate meritocracy -- politics is not. In computer science, you can tell a good solution from a bad solution -- it's all ri
      • by iabervon ( 1971 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @01:24PM (#7846237) Homepage Journal
        And, in fact, the latest peace effort is by Israeli and Palestinian civilians to entirely skip their government bodies and negotiate with each other as a group of people harmed by conflict. These are people who affect corporate interests, government committees, nearby countries, foreign funding, and so forth. Working on FOSS together is very much in this spirit. I look forward to the day when Arafat tells Palestinians that the PLO's administrative functions depend on Israeli tech support and development, and it would be a major setback for any of them to get killed. Random violence is much more difficult when you have to be careful.
      • The ONLY hope of peace is for enough people on all sides of the conflict to get to know eachother and develop personal respect.

        Unfortunately FOSS developers are not the ones who's attitudes towards others need changing. It is the politicians who need educating.

        The biggest problem now is that the Israeli politicians have a kneejerk reaction every time there is a terrorist attack. The only way they are going to make progress is to ignore the terrorists for a while and press ahead with plans to create an e

      • "This is not a bad thing. In the end, Israeli engineers may work side-by-side Iranian engineers on open source projects, and these engineers may develop personal respect for eachother."

        I suspect that the engineers already respect each other. It's the politcians and other wackos that want to maintain the perpetual(?) war.
    • Re:Good! (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Samhain138 ( 683125 )
      Even in the newest version of Word, hebrew still is problematic.
      For example, when you try to add something in english in the middle of your hebrew line;
      or when adding a phone number with a dash (+972-3-1234567) in the middle.
      And they want money for that, sheesh...
    • Re:Good! (Score:5, Informative)

      by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:57PM (#7846012) Homepage
      Not to mention that OOffice comes out of the "box" with full language support. Last I checked MSOffice need seperate copies to handle each language. Not even taking Hebrew as a special issue, you have to consider that Israel is very diverse linguisticly. In addition to Hebrew you have English (the official language of business in Israel), Russian (20% of the population), Arabic (another 20%), Tai, Farsi (Irainian Jews), Bedoiun (not kidding), Ethiopian, Hindi, and more.

      Your typical Israeli office has native speakers of at least 5-6 languages.

      The ability to nativize a desktop/office suite on the fly is tremendously important here.
  • You gotta.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    <sarcasm mode="bigot">
    You gotta watch them jews - they'll beat you down to the lowest price every time!
    </sarcasm>

    Disclaimer: I am jewish.
  • Good example! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hak hak ( 640274 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:30AM (#7845236)
    I'd like to see more countries do this. Hopefully it'll help convince businesses and people that Microsoft isn't the only choice.
    • I think it'll help (Score:5, Informative)

      by truthsearch ( 249536 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:49AM (#7845400) Homepage Journal
      I think it can help quite a lot. The Israeli government has a lot of interaction with other governments and businesses. They have huge military contracts locally and abroad. They also contribute much government money to scientific research, so it may spread there as well. Since their government has so much interaction with so many different organizations I think it will help spread the word.
    • Re:Good example! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GeckoFood ( 585211 ) <geckofood@gmDALIail.com minus painter> on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:54AM (#7845454) Journal

      I'd like to see more countries do this. Hopefully it'll help convince businesses and people that Microsoft isn't the only choice.

      What M$ will end up doing is waffling on the price down the road somewhere and try to schmooze Israel into coming back to them. It then becomes a matter of whether or not Israel is disenchanted enough with M$ to tell them to go away or if they'll recant and take the new deal.

      In an effort to keep India from going open source at one point, M$ decided that offering software at a steep break would work to keep India in the shackles. IIRC, India went open source anyway after much debate.

      Will the scenario play out the same way? Dunno. Either way, it'll be interesting to see what happens next. I am willing to bet that M$ will cave on the price to avoid losing business, with not too much concern over the revenue. It could be too little, too late, but they have little to lose by trying that. And since they have done that before, I expect history to repeat itself.

      In the end, I hope Israel sticks to their plan and turns from M$ Office. And perhaps this is the new trend?

      • Re:Good example! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pirhana ( 577758 )
        >> What M$ will end up doing is waffling on the price down the road somewhere and try to schmooze Israel into coming back to them.

        Even if that happens also, microsoft will be the loser in the long term. The significance of these issues are actually the price pressure and discount pressure it exerts on Microsoft. When Microsoft "schmooze Israel in to coming back" with steep discounts and other incentives, others are bound to demand the same from Microsoft. And this is what going to create problems for
      • Re:Good example! (Score:4, Insightful)

        by swillden ( 191260 ) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:23PM (#7845725) Homepage Journal

        What M$ will end up doing is waffling on the price down the road somewhere and try to schmooze Israel into coming back to them. It then becomes a matter of whether or not Israel is disenchanted enough with M$ to tell them to go away or if they'll recant and take the new deal.

        Yep, but as MS learned with Munich and, as you pointed out, India, unless MS plays their cards just right, they could lose anyway. Too many people are too pissed off at the way they've been jerked around in the past, so many are willing to suffer a little pain and even higher costs to break free.

        Microsoft's high-handed tactics of the last decade are coming back to haunt it. Not in a really significant way, just yet. A few thousand copies of Office here and a few thousand copies of Windows there aren't going to cause immediate suffering for a company of Microsoft's size and health, but as more organizations make the switch it will become easier and easier for others to make the switch.

        The goal of F/OSS developers isn't to combat Microsoft, but it's becoming increasingly clear that what will motivate the entry of F/OSS into the mainstream is widespread dissatisfaction with Microsoft's tactics, rather than anything related to the relative quality of the software, or even price.

      • Except Word doesn't do exactly what they want. They want better support for their language and Microsoft wouldn't play ball. Such decisions at Microsoft are always economically based where as at OpenOffice such decisions are based on (a) if it's possible and (b) if someone can do it.
    • Re:Good example! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by u-235-sentinel ( 594077 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:15PM (#7845627) Homepage Journal
      I've been watching this happen over and over again. Country after country have been walking away from Microsoft over the last few years and it seems to be accelerating.

      $300 for XP Pro and $500+ for Office is shear lunacy. Before you spend ANY money on hardware, you already have spent more than the hardware is worth just in a simple OS and office product. Not worth it. Not even close. When I asked for a refund for XP Pro on my laptop I was told I would receive a check for $10. Is that what I paid when purchasing the laptop? Of course when I asked for 10 copies of XP Pro at the same price they were a little miffed at me. Bummer dude.

      If I'm keeping score properly, there are about 30 countries in which the Government has "allowed" opensource alternatives. Most have required justification for non-opensource software and why opensource can't be used for the work. Microsoft isn't totally out of the picture. They have a seriously reduced role which I'm encouraging everywhere I can.
      • Realize that the terms of a deal of this size would be closer to $50 for windows, and $75-$150 for office depending on the version. Microsoft has long given discounts to larger organizations. Add up the cost of components in any major OEM system, and see what is left over for Windows (give em 5% in a budget system for profit, and figure $30 on assembly).
      • Re:Good example! (Score:3, Interesting)

        "I've been watching this happen over and over again. Country after country have been walking away from Microsoft over the last few years and it seems to be accelerating."

        As have I. I feel like the website for Open Office should have a world map that indicates which countries have already ousted M$ and have switched to Open alternatives. If such a map already exists, someone please provide a link!

  • Hrmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by acehole ( 174372 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:31AM (#7845239) Homepage
    Hebrew isnt the easiest language to work with on computers seeing it is read from right to left, which would make for interesting programming.

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Adambomb ( 118938 )
      Honestly, as far as the computer is concerned, what difference if characters being displayed are displayed to be read left to right or right to left?

      now...CODING from right to left would make for some fun revamping of parsers and parser generators, but nothing that would be all THAT complicated.

    • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Interesting)

      by phatsharpie ( 674132 )
      Considering that Chinese (and many Asian languages) is traditionally written from top to bottom and left to right, it is probably in any software vendor's best interest to design their software allow text input in multiple directions. After all, Asia is a huge market.

      Didn't Microsoft really embarrassed themselves awhile back when they demonstrated Windows/Office using traditional Chinese characters in China (which uses simplified characters)? I think that demonstrates that Microsoft needs to be much more d
    • by mekkab ( 133181 ) * on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:37AM (#7845296) Homepage Journal
      Nah, coding is easy.

      What's interesting is if this is just a bargaining chit being used by israel to make MSFT drop thier price, Just like Thailand did! [com.com]

      Use the promotional code "LINUX" and get thousands off your Microsoft installation costs!
      • Thailand is a poor country where Windows piracy is rampant and Linux is a valid alternative just on the basis of cost and licensing issues alone.

        MS is also tailoring a version of Windows for Thailand alone and making noises about being willing to this for other Asian markets as well, which are huge.

        Isreal is a rich developed country where cost and licensing issues are the same as for any other developed nation. To be considered but not necessarily overiding issues.

        However, the market is small and MS is r
    • Spoken language orthography has nothing to do w/ programming syntax. If the language tokenizes left-to-right, that's how you edit it in the source file.
    • Re:Hrmm (Score:2, Interesting)

      by MrsPReDiToR ( 736605 )
      Israel isnt the only country with a difficult language that isnt encouraging the use of MS office. Think the notoriously hard to learn languages and the fact that China, Japan and Korea are using Linux?http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/200312/29 / eng20031229_131444.shtml
      Maybe just maybe Microsoft are going to find it increasingly hard to sell to countries whose language doesnt not follow similar rules to english (american) grammar. It could become a strong point above many others for open source products
      • If our OS does not provide a correct form of our language surely we will use one who does.

        I don't remember how many times I've had to reset MS defaults from American (spelling, MDY date format, Letter-size paper, inches) to what we actually use here (UK spelling, DMY, A4, metric). It wouldn't be so bad if it actually made users aware that they were making this choice (I know that there is a selection somewhere, but it is usually ignored in the "click okay" frenzy of installing). And every time you reinst

        • You know, listening to this makes me realize how nice it really is to have localized settings as a default. I've got one or two apps where the developer isn't from the US and used foreign defaults, which can be irritating to work with, so.. yeah.. having seen both sides of the picture, I can see your frustration.

          The computer world really is US-centric for the most part, at least in the Windows world.
    • That could actually be really interesting programming, I would think. On the surface, it seems like it wouldn't be too hard to set up a word processor to run right to left (though a project as complex as OOo probably would take a lot of bug-checking before it was "ready")....

      The other thing that occurs to me -- has there ever been a CLI that ran right to left? Now that would be an interesting project.

      _sl # tsohlacol@toor

    • I think what people fail to see in this argument, is that it really doesn't matter how the characters are oriented. It's all a matter of how they're displayed.

      If you have:
      AABBBCCCDDD in your memory, since that's the order in which the characters have been typed, the only thing you have to do is make your display routines in such a way that you write them 'on screen' from right to left.

      For all the code involved in line checking, block operations, search and replace, etc, etc, it really doesn't matter how i
  • by suman28 ( 558822 ) <suman28.hotmail@com> on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:33AM (#7845251)
    This is definitely a move that will help push Linux further into everyday use. I wonder how soon Microsoft/Isreal will 'compromise' to help make the deal?
  • Powerpoint (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    What OOo needs most is more support from powerpoint. We are forced to buy a copy of Office for every computer because we use powerpoint for so much. Features such as hyperlinks to other presentations and exit effects are show stoppers for openoffice.org.
    • Re:Powerpoint (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:48AM (#7845393)
      What version of OpenOffice are you using? In my version (1.1), you can insert a hyperlink by clicking Insert, Hyperlink on the menubar. Transistions and effects are handled by the Slideshow menu.
    • I don't know about exit effects, but hyperlinks to other presentations are in OpenOffice 1.1.
    • but Tufte has "proven" that powerpoint makes you stupid... I'd think that would be reason enough not to buy office :-)
    • Re:Powerpoint (Score:4, Informative)

      by Fred IV ( 587429 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:57AM (#7845475)

      Use the free powerpoint viewer [microsoft.com] for employees that aren't writing the presentations. Buying office is a waste, especially if you're only using it to view ppt files.

      Better, stop using powerpoint (or open office) and start presenting in HTML instead...no worries about compatibility issues, hyperlink as much as you want, easy bulleted and numbered lists, etc.

      FIV
  • away with MS (Score:3, Informative)

    by cinnamon colbert ( 732724 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:35AM (#7845279) Journal
    What if 1 out of 100 /.ers got invovled with their local school/ school system technology group... I don't know what our school system (town of ~ 90,000 people, dont know fraction in school) pays for software, but we must have close to a thousand seats, even at academic prices, thats a lot..not to mention the educational value of having High school students forced to learn something about software
    • Schools get site licenses that are obviously discounted because they are an educational institution. My school got a site license for the MX studio for $500. They can legally install it on every computer for that price. Pretty good.
  • According to IDC, this not real. This is just another ploy.
    rrrriiiiiiggggghhhhhhhttttt.
  • Time will tell... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Osrin ( 599427 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:50AM (#7845407) Homepage
    Once we see what the Israeli government deploy on their desktops we will know if this is for real, or just a crude negotiation technique.
  • by chia_monkey ( 593501 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:54AM (#7845451) Journal
    We know there will be a lot of posts about "yeah! Stick it to the Man!" and "Microsoft sucks! Serves them right!" going on. But let's think a bit deeper into this. I like the actual reasons Israel is saying "no, we're not going to live under your tyrannical rule. We will search out other options". That has been a major argument over the years..."everyone uses Office, so do we". Well that's not the case anymore. Microsoft is still trying to strongarm its customers by any means neccessary. It started with the OS, then to the nutty licensing, and now by their refusal to split up Office (which if you recall used to be a collection of software you could buy individually). Good for Israel. Now...what next? Will other large companies go "hm...well it worked for them. Let's try it too" or will they just go "they're crazy" and continue to be lemmings like most of humanity is?
  • by theMerovingian ( 722983 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:56AM (#7845468) Journal
    The spokeswoman said the government was unhappy with Microsoft's refusal to sell individual programs from its standard Office package, which includes e-mail, spreadsheet and word-processing applications.

    Off the record, she refered to Bill Gates as a shlemil, and said they weren't going to take any more of his schmutz. They are tired of schlepping his insecure software around, paying far too much of their hard-earned mezuma for his khazeray.

  • David vs Goliath? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Baron_Yam ( 643147 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:57AM (#7845473)

    It seems to me that one of the reasons MS has always been able to create inconvienient packages from groups of software, and then sell at very high prices, is that they OWN most of the market. In other words, they're so big that you and I can't possibly expect to demand a concession.

    Of course, now that countries are starting to realize that they're big enough to push back, we have more of a Goliath vs Goliath thing going on, and maybe MS will start to be more flexible in the way it offers its software. Maybe they'll start to consider adding a language pack when they stand to lose sales to an entire nation.

    It'd be nice to be able, for instance, to buy Word and Excel without PowerPoint, Access, or FrontPage. (It'd be even nicer if Frontpage and everyone who contributed to it's creation were cast into Hell, but that's another story!)

  • by Naomi_the_butterfly ( 707218 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @11:57AM (#7845477)
    As an Israeli computer technician, I see what everyone uses here. 95% (maybe more) windows. almost 100% office. now Israel's government is in a major budget crunch, and is cutting corners everywhere. Other corners cut: Handicapped support (not enough to live on now), public health benefits and so on.
    as for the claims that MS office doesn't support hebrew, it depends which version. Every copy you can find in Israel will be "Hebrew Enabled" which provides FULL Hebrew support, including great help files and even the interface.
  • MS Is Dying (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Orien ( 720204 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:04PM (#7845537)
    Now if I was Microsoft right now, I would have to be asking myself this question:

    Is the money that I make forcing people to buy things that they don't need (for example, an entire office license if all they need is Outlook) worth the money that I lose when people start flocking to free alternatives when they don't like I'm offering?

    Microsoft (or any company for that matter) stands on very shaky ground when the market starts going in a different direction and they refuse to be flexible. This is just like the RIAA and file sharing. If the RIAA in the mid 90's when CD burners were about to hit the market had dropped the price of CD's, and offered a legitimate electronic distribution method, things like Napster would not have been such a big hit. They created unrest in the market by not being flexible and giving people what they want to buy, for the price they want. The same thing is now happening to MS. What does MS office have that OpenOffice doesn't? Nothing that mattered to Israel. So when they were forced to pay for something they didn't want or need, they looked for an alternative and found it.

    Unless MS shapes up this will continue to happen and happen more rapidly. Mac OS, Linux, and all other *NIX will only gain market share as they become the viable alternative.

    Just compare some of the licensing of Mac OS to MS. The new, fully loaded version of OSX? ~$130. The new fully loaded version of Windows XP? ~$200. The new fully loaded version of OSX Server? ~$1000 for unlimited users. The new fully loaded Windows server 2003? ~$4000 with 25 users. And that is not to mention Linux which is fully loaded for free!

    They can't sustain this for long before something breaks.

  • I find it interesting that even as so many governments are making moves away from Microsoft, the US Department of Homeland Security designated Microsoft as its preferred supplier of desktops and servers. [govexec.com]
    • Yes, but they did get an F for computer security from the House of Representatives. Getting security advice from the class dunce doesn't strike me as a great idea. If the DOD, another F recipient, doesn't like OpenBSD, perhaps we should have a second look at it too.
  • by The I Shing ( 700142 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:23PM (#7845723) Journal
    In the Golan Heights today, Microsoft employees and shareholders threw rocks and bottles at Isreali soldiers, who fired back with rubber-coated 8x10 glossy photos of Linus Torvalds, injuring one Microsoft employee in the left upper arm. In response to the violence, the Isreali government ordered pizzas delivered and watched reruns of South Park and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
  • by The Infamous Grimace ( 525297 ) <emailpsc@gmail.com> on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:31PM (#7845800) Homepage
    I'm an admitted Apple addict (fan-boy, whatever...), so...

    I installed OO.o for OS X the other day, and poked around a bit. Gotta admit, it isn't anywhere near as easy to use outa the box as either Office or AppleWorks, at least for me (got both installed). That said, I think it has a lot of potential, and I'm anxious to see what the Aqua-native version will bring. And the folks over at OO.o admit that it's not for the faint-of-heart, and recommend it only for geek-y types at this time.

    I'd like to see Apple release an update to AppleWorks, for both Mac and Windows. I also think Apple should support Linux as well, and expect that they eventually will. The more competion that MS has, the better off we all are. It's not like MS can't make good software - Office v.X and Flight Simulator come to mind as examples of good products.

    Anyways, hopefully MS will continue with their recent trend of seeking outside input (as with the questionaire sent to Linux users. [slashdot.org]

    (tig)
  • by karuna ( 187401 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:35PM (#7845835) Homepage
    Recently I did some freelance translation work for Microsoft. Actually some brochures highlighting the benefits of using licenced software versus pirated sw. The files I was sent were in rtf format and I did the job successfully using Open Office 1.1 in Linux.

    If the documents from Microsoft (although I don't really know if they were from Microsoft because my direct client was not Microsoft) can be used on Open Office then why not in the Israel government, provided that the language support is there. My experience is that government clerks are not the brightest users anyway and they tend to use a limited range of features they have been tought. With some planning Open Office can be more than adequate for all real tasks in the government.
    --
  • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @12:56PM (#7846008)
    How big is the market for a Hebrew-enabled office? It can't be that big outside of a few Jewish schools, some of the Orthodox community in the US, and Israel itself.

    It just sounds like a pricing game to me -- MS wanting (needing?) to sell the whole package in Hebrew to make any money keeping up their translation and the Israeli government objecting to the provisions of the seller.

    It wouldn't surprise me if MS just decided to drop Hebrew altogether; it's a limited growth market, and the number of people who speak English in addition to Hebrew has to be huge, and with the demands of document portability, many would likely switch to the English version anyway vs. some other version which supports Hebrew.

    I know, I know, it's another terrible example of American corporations exterminating a local culture in the name of profits, but that's just a political interpretation of economic reality.
    • MS gladly supports even smaller language communities, such as Estonian.
      • MS translations probably have less to do with size of audience than audience size and language complexity. Estonian is a simpler language to support, since it follows the same input methods and text layouts as other latin alphabet languages.
    • The hard work is right-to-left support, for which there is, potentially, a huge market - Arabic speakers. If you have Arabic working, Hebrew is much simpler (replace the font, disable context-sensitive-glyphs, and you're done).

      Furthermore, Israel exports a lot of "bleeding edge" technology to the rest of the world. If Israelis don't use Microsoft, it will have noticable effects, especially with early adopters which are often also trend setters.
  • I have a feeling that most of the " choose OpenOffice" things you see, including this one, are just negotiating tactics to get Microsoft to drop the price. Does anybody have any data about long-term switches away from Microsoft? Any data of people who ultimately buy Microsoft anyway?

    Not wishful thinking data: objective stuff.
  • Confused (Score:3, Interesting)

    by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @01:49PM (#7846454)
    The spokeswoman said the government was unhappy with Microsoft's refusal to sell individual programs from its standard Office package, which includes e-mail, spreadsheet and word-processing application

    Perhaps the middle-eastern market is diffrent then the american one... but near as I'm aware you can still by Outlook, Word, and Excel seperatly. However, it makes little sence to as if you need two MS applications, you might as well buy Office. At least the american price is something like $200 for excel, $200 for word, and like $100 for outlook. The office professional edition is like $500 from buy.com, not sure about the SB edition, the upgrade is about $300 from buy.com.

    Now... whether or not you can buy one copy of Office and install word on one machine, excel on another, and outlook on another is a little bit unclear to me. Back in 2000 I did actually ask microsoft about this, they... being tech support said "I don't know, sounds reasonable to me, but I don't know".

  • Bundling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhYrE-K ( 736870 ) on Wednesday December 31, 2003 @02:34PM (#7846938)
    Bundling is just another word for profit maximizing. Microsoft makes more money by bundling, even just slightly. The newspaper example is best used. A wants just the sports section and is willing to pay 30c for it. B just wants entertainment & the front section and wants to pay 40c for it. If each of them buy it, they may 70c total, but if they can charge 50c for both people, they make a dollar.

    The point is that Microsoft is trying to milk everyone for more than they're worth. Israel isn't doing anything wrong beyond saying "why are we choosing Microsoft if their support is sub-par. Why shouldn't we find a better prices solution that is completely compatible". Microsoft has to be competative (with free) or convince more lemmings to follow them off the cliff.

    -M

"Ada is PL/I trying to be Smalltalk. -- Codoso diBlini

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