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Software 3.0 Wants to Compete with Outlook 464

jason writes "At the 2007 conference about a month ago there was a presentation on what to expect in the next major milestone for their Microsoft Office competitor. "The presentation mentions bundling Thunderbird with their Office Suite, and refers to it as an 'Outlook replacement.' This is all assuming that Thunderbird recently losing two of its main developers doesn't affect the decision, because I'm sure OpenOffice wants to ensure that Thunderbird will continue to progress before including it." This probably won't sway large corporations away from using Microsoft Office, but it could make it more intriguing for the smaller businesses that are looking to cut some costs."
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  • by realdodgeman ( 1113225 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:06AM (#20973725) Homepage
    The only real Outlook competitor I know of, is Evolution. Most other email clients are still on the Outlook Express level (though many are much better).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:25AM (#20973829)
    Minor correction: Many KDE4 *apps* will run (natively) under Windows (and OS X). The KDE4 desktop will not.
  • by Blakey Rat ( 99501 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:29AM (#20973855)
    It saves your data in a format which can be opened by any other software that chooses to support it, and it costs nothing to install. If there's a document you're unable to create with it, chances are you don't know how to use it properly.

    To use an example from a previous OpenOffice discussion, let's say I want to use OpenOffice to translate a text from Japanese into English. I bill 'per-character' in Japanese, so to determine how much to charge the client, I do a word count in OpenOffice. And the results given for english are correct, but the Japanese results are entirely wrong.

    Copy and paste the same text into Word, and the word count works fine the first try.

    Now, you're right, that technically I didn't *need* word count to complete this task. I could have manually counted through all the words. You also don't technically need a good outline view, since you can manually select and drag huge blocks of text around the document. You also don't technically need video support in Impress, because you can just tell the viewers to close their eyes and imagine what it might look like. So I guess in that sense you're technically correct.
  • by Crayon Kid ( 700279 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:43AM (#20973957)
    If you're using a word processor to edit manuscripts, you get what you deserve. You should be using something like LyX [], which is more rigurous and oriented towards allowing you to write content first and apply/change style later, at your convenience.
  • Re:Patches (Score:3, Informative)

    by theshowmecanuck ( 703852 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:47AM (#20973993) Journal
    I wish open office would send incremental patches instead of making people download 70 to 100 megabytes when security or bug fixes come out. Slag Microsoft for being an abusive monopolist, but at least they know how to minimize the download sizes when patching. Maybe it is related to Open Office's architecture and how it has to load damn near everything even if you are just using one piece of it (slowing it down and sucking memory). That is, maybe they need to solve their performance issues first. I use OOO and don't have MS Office installed. But the patch thing really bugs me. Fortunately I have high speed internet. However I think there is still a huge number of people on dial up in the United States (if not a majority). Huge downloads like this basically prohibit those people from using the product. They will use unpatched pirated versions of MS Office, or something they can buy for cheap instead. And even if they can buy OOO on a CD they won't patch it until it is not a huge bandwidth burden.
  • by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:14PM (#20974137) Homepage Journal
    On the KDE side, Kontact is also a competitor. Its less integrated then evolution, but using kparts, it 'feels' like a single application, for the most part.

    But both evolution and kontact have their issues. Id like to see something like kolab become useable for the server side to go with them. ( citadel is close, but stil quirky )
  • Yeah, outlook (Score:4, Informative)

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The Status of OpenOffice is IMHO the following:

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

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

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

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

    - There is no replacement for Outlook.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Just my 2 cents.
  • you little beauty! (Score:4, Informative)

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

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

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

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

    Im of course getting ahead of myself, one step at a time eh?
  • by Randle_Revar ( 229304 ) <> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:57PM (#20974467) Homepage Journal
    Actually KDE 4.0 will come out early (Q1) next year, although some people may have expectations of it that may not be satisfied until it reaches 4.2 or so. In any case, KDE 4 is definitely not vaporware.
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <ChristianHGross&yahoo,ca> on Sunday October 14, 2007 @12:59PM (#20974479)
    >I routinely use OO.o Writer for manuscripts. I use GNU Cash for my investing, but I would be able to use OO.o Calc.

    Right.... GNU Cash is for investing... Right.... Ok, so I ask how am I supposed to calculate the price of an option based on its implied volatility with GNU Cash? Oops, you mean its not an investment tool? Or how about calculating the cost of a hedge where I buy X calls, and Y puts? Ooops...

    OO.o writer is not usable for manuscripts because comments and edits get buggered up. If you want to write without edits, and comments, sure Writer is fine...
  • by ThePhilips ( 752041 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:27PM (#20974647) Homepage Journal

    WRT to manuscripts I can't keep comments, styles, formating etc straight.

    I used to use hidden frames for comments in my documents. Reflowing/repagination in OOo works better than in M$Office, so I found the functionality (though bit awkward and not straightforward) yet performing better than M$Office counterpart.

    As for styles and formating, I'm not sure what you refer to. OOo, unlike M$Office, can be configured to use only predefined styles from document.

    WRT to investing the OO spreadsheet is way to limited, and to extend the spreadsheet with custom functionality is absolutely painful! OOBasic bites, and their component architecture is anything but simple. OO extensions are a joke when compared to Microsoft Office.

    This is in fact major blocker in OOo for mass adoption. As soon as you try to automate/extend anything in the OOo and face the OOBasic thing, it all breaks down miserably.

    In M$Office you can record couple of macros and then easily modify/combine them: VBA is dumb, but for primitive automation is fits OK. Automating - easily.

    In OOo recording macros just exposes you to all the ugliness of its undocumented component model. Extending macro - or combining two macros - essentially impossible. That renders OOo unautomateable nor extendable as end user concerned. (Correction: bad wording. Component model of OOo is of course documented. It's components themselves which are undocumented. Best documentation I found to date was happily reporting that "and here we have a plugable components - go search documentation elsewhere" - and that was in about 5 places in OOo documentation. "Frustrating" at best.)

    Until OOo would get itself decent user-friendly scripting language, one can forget about professional users adopting it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:44PM (#20974729)

    Right.... GNU Cash is for investing... Right.... Ok, so I ask how am I supposed to calculate the price of an option based on its implied volatility with GNU Cash? Oops, you mean its not an investment tool? Or how about calculating the cost of a hedge where I buy X calls, and Y puts? Ooops...
    Just because GnuCash doesn't have some things built in does not mean it isn't an investment tool. Excel doesn't have them built in either. Like Excel, GnuCash is not a unitasker & can be extended. It is no harder to calculate a price for a commodity using whatever scheme you wish to in GnuCash than it is in Excel. You can build an external calculator in either case (or use an already existing third party calculator & to copy the results in).

    These examples are further trivial in Gnumeric, OO.o Calc, and nearly any other spreadsheet if you don't want to use pre-existing third-party tools. I fail to see any ingrained advantages of Excel for these scenarios, other than your personal familiarity for the tool. That's not an insignificant factor, but it underminds the universality that you try to imbue your personal gripes with.

    OO.o writer is not usable for manuscripts because comments and edits get buggered up. If you want to write without edits, and comments, sure Writer is fine...
    I use comments and change tracking (which is what I assume you mean by "edits") in OO.o Writer. They never get "buggered up" (whatever you mean by that). As before: the only downside with commenting in Writer is that you must either hover over the comments or see ALL comments in a separate pane, which is not as good as MS's interface that has the documents and comments side-by-side (and visually linked to the section they comment on). But OO.o Writer will be getting even this "real soon now."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 14, 2007 @01:56PM (#20974797)
    Did you just find all the three letter acronyms in your documentation to try to make a point?

    The grandparent post argued about languages.

    Your post convolutes VBA (a language which is in both OO.o and MS O), XLL (an extension mechanism (and OO.o has a competing methodology)), UDF (which MS uses for all user-defined functions (most of which are probably still in VBA)), RTD (a single spreadsheet function), and COM (an object model comparable to OO.o's UNO).

    You list absolutely no technical advantages that the MS technologies have over the OO.o technologies. Do you have any?
  • by rmcd ( 53236 ) * on Sunday October 14, 2007 @03:50PM (#20975515)
    I'm an academic and a textbook author so I guess you could call me a professional writer. And you're wrong. My two objections to Word have always been that 1) the file format is fragile -- you can not expect to be able to reliably read a 10-year old document and 2) to my continual astonishment, Word simply doesn't work very well.

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

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

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

    I always tell PhD students: you are going to a professional writer so use professional writer's tools: LaTeX and BibTeX. (I *never* recommend Emacs, though I personally love it.)
  • by eugene ts wong ( 231154 ) on Sunday October 14, 2007 @11:15PM (#20978327) Homepage Journal
    There was an explanation of why it was unsatisfactory. He said that the software doesn't play well together. Whether it is true, and whether we agree to it or not, is a different issue.

    1 thing that I don't like about OOo is that it is bloated. I don't want to upgrade my computer just to use new versions, and just to have access to OOo documents.
  • by tyrione ( 134248 ) on Monday October 15, 2007 @12:53AM (#20978951) Homepage
    Download 1.5.2 and answer your own "How about?" and then comment.
  • by zdarnell ( 16295 ) <zach AT zdarnell DOT org> on Monday October 15, 2007 @01:06AM (#20979011) Homepage
    The actual name of Open Office is OpenOffice.Org, hence the 3 Os.

    I don't know anyone who verbally says the .org, but its part of the name.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay