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Can a Small Business Migrate Smoothly To OpenOffice.org v3?

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the has-anyone-here-been-officially-trained-in-office dept.

Businesses 503

Pay The Piper writes "As an IT Support Technician in a small corporation, I've been tasked by one of my managers to determine the feasibility of transitioning our small 40 or 50 person office from Microsoft Office 2000 to Open Office 3.0. What are some of the problems I may run into as far as document cross compatibility? Has the Open Office suite evolved to a point that permits easy transition from Microsoft's suite? Besides the obvious 'free vs. expensive' argument, what are some of the pros and cons of transitioning? Are there any reliable ways to view/edit/save a document saved in the OpenXML format through Open Office, or are my co-workers and I still going to be stuck in Microsoftland?" (Given that company-wide rollouts take some time to implement, this early look at the features of OO.o 3.1 may have some relevance, too.)

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503 comments

OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533125)

Microsoft Office 2000 to Open Office 3.0

I will say that although I have not had the joy of opening Office 2000 files with OO.o 3.0, I do recall there being some serious issues between powerpoint slides. Some weird rendering going on in OO.o for what reason I do not know. In my line of work, powerpoint is perversely pervasive--to the point of alarm for me. If this is true for you, do some testing before taking the plunge!

Are there any reliable ways to view/edit/save a document saved in the OpenXML format through Open Office ...

I regrettably give you the option of getting Novell's OO.o distribution [novell.com] (here [novell.com] ) in which you can install an extension for OpenXML.

The best recommendation I can give you is to do this change only if you can assure that it will not hinder your ability to serve your customer or detract largely from productivity.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Insightful)

gravos (912628) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533419)

This is a good analysis. Don't listen to the guys below who are just saying YES RAH RAH OPEN SOURCE and who have never worked in IT or had to deal with managers howling at them when a 10 year old document won't open correctly in a new software package.

I love open source too, but let's be realistic here.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533793)

It's a shame they haven't found a way to make OpenOffice work better with MSoffice files. I can't recommend open source for business applications, but it is great for home users or schools tyo reduce their costs to near-zero.

Do other alternatives like WordPerfect or WordStar handle MSoffice files better?

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533877)

Nothing handles MSOffice files well, not even other Microsoft applications. Their format is a mystery wrapped in an enigma enveloped by a binary blob.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534079)

MS Office doesn't even handle MS Office files. I've had Excel corrupt many spreadsheets itself, things I saved by Excel that the same app couldn't open again on the same computer.

That said, OO.o is quite compatible with MSOffice if you don't get too insane with the formatting and such. I have yet to have someone have a problem opening a .doc with Word that I created in OO.o.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (2, Informative)

edmicman (830206) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534561)

If anything, I would think Office 2000 documents would have a much better chance at being compatible than Office 2003/2007. I've had very few problems with OO opening and working with MS documents. I *have* had problems with Excel formatting Calc docs, though.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Informative)

Tiber (613512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533911)

They fixed it. I'm the Linux Guy at work, and I have to toss together powerpoint presentations.

Specifically what doesn't work:
* Slide transparency isn't supported, so anything you paste into slides will be 100% opaque when opened in MS Office
* Vector art does wild stuff. Whatever coordinate system OO is using, MS isn't. If you use anything that uses vectors, convert them to bitmaps first.

Beta MS Office 2010 Express (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533939)

There is that MSO 2010 Express that sounds like it will be free.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Insightful)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533983)

Also, don't compare moving to OpenOffice to Office 2000... Compare it to Office 2007.

The same whiners that will complain about OO will also complain about MS Office 2007... the GUI change is so drastic. OO's GUI is closer to Office 2000 than Office 2007 is.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (1)

gth685f (1457515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534045)

I agree with the powerpoint compatibility problem. One of my professors last semester used something that took his handwriting and placed it directly over the slides. In OO.o the notes he wrote on the slides would be all over the place when I opened the document.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (2, Informative)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534585)

not far off the ball, but what I'd say:

UI:
MSO 2000 or MSO 2003 -> OO 2 or OO3 is easier than to MSO 2007.

I have had a couple issues.

Supercript: does not transfer well. You end up with the superscripted text way too large (full height, raised by about 1/2 the height of the base text, instead of half height raised by about 1/2 the height of the base text).

Page borders: Opening a word document in OO will open it with page boarders equal to the default of OO, not whatever you saved them as.

Excel comments: I comment cells in excel documents (and other spreadsheets). On any OS I set tooltips to white text, black background. OO opens them with black background and text (I think MS doesn't save a value, and OO uses the default text color with the tooltip background color). If you save it, your tooltips are stuck as black background and text (unreadable).

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (5, Interesting)

macxcool (1370409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534603)

You should also consider GoOO http://go-oo.org/ [go-oo.org] which is an improved version of OpenOffice.

Re:OpenXML Plug-In Exists for Novell's OO.o (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26534613)

Oftentimes when we roll out new software at our company, we will roll it out initially to a test group. The group usually consists of savvy computer users from each department as well as some not so savvy so we can see what kinds of issues we may come across before doing a company wide roll out.

At least if you test it first, you would get some visibility of problems to anticipate before making a final decision.

Short and long answers? (5, Informative)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533141)

Short : YES.

Long : Yes, but you will have to tell the office whiners to STFU.

Honestly it's not that hard, it requires some retraining of habits. and requires users to not be raging Luddites.

If you get management buy in for it, the transition will take weeks before all the whining dies down. the only problem is when you get users that are not smart enough to understand what they were instructed to do because they did it the other way for the past 5 years.

Re:Short and long answers? (2, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533709)

Is there a piece of software that will tell the whiners to STFU?

Re:Short and long answers? (5, Funny)

homesnatch (1089609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533859)

Yes.. Outlook has the ability to send emails for any such messages. Outlook is part of MS Office, so just make sure you have that installed.

Re:Short and long answers? (4, Funny)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533901)

Put the message inside an Excel spreadsheet that uses weird macros. If they can see it, then they're still using MS Office, and they should switch.

Re:Short and long answers? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533929)

Is there a piece of software that will tell the whiners to STFU?

Maybe the whine activated pink slip generator?

Re:Short and long answers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533777)

but you will have to tell the office whiners to STFU ... and requires users to not be raging Luddites.

So that's technically a "no", then?

Re:Short and long answers? (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533797)

Your response to this disqualifies you as any kind of authority on this type of question. You are combative, hard headed and have absolutely no empathy for the folks you are supposed to be serving. As a manager, I would NEVER have this type of attitude towards people or allow that type of attitude to germinate in my department. You think your point of view is the only valid ones and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. frankly, you are the type of person that gives IT workers a bad name.

Re:Short and long answers? (3, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534193)

I wouldn't say so. There are a number of people who will complain just because it's different, not because it doesn't do what they want it to do. And if your employees can't deal with a little bit of retraining and thinking for themselves, you're better off without them. They'll blindly take you down a rabbit hole you don't want to go down by following directions to the letter and not paying attention to the bad shit that's going on because of it.
There's no reason to not be sensitive to people's complaints and try to solve them, but saying that someone's complaint is valid simply because they have one is also a mistake. I mean, I could complain that your nick is too long... does that make my complaint valid, and should you then change it to accommodate me?

Re:Short and long answers? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534203)

Your response to this disqualifies you as any kind of authority on this type of question. You are combative, hard headed and have absolutely no empathy for the folks you are supposed to be serving.

I disagree although I wouldn't have worded it the way he did. No matter what office suite they switch to, whether OOo or MS Office, the end users will have to learn something new. Some people will complain that it's not what they're used to, and that's a legitimate concern even if there's nothing really to be done about it other than offer training. Others will complain that "it's not the real Office", and you can dismiss those out of hand.

Re:Short and long answers? (5, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534403)

One thing I learned as a software developer, is you can create an application that conforms to specifications but is hated by the end users, even those who designed the spec. What I learned is that you need to take a lot of time up front, and talk with all of the users and other stakeholders. You need to listen to what they say and don't say and then you need to figure out what they really want. It is usually different than what they are expressly asking for. Part of that is respecting everyone in the process, regardless of their attitude. If you can demonstrate that you really want to give them what they need and will help them with that process, you will get very little of the backbiting that original poster expressed.

Where does this begin? Nothing technical. Nothing taught in school. You have to sincerely respect people from all areas, not just the IT minded. Not just the higher ups. Everyone. Once you start with that frame of mind, doors open. Granted, sometimes it takes a conscious effort to get to that frame of mind. Sometimes, people rub you the wrong way.... they have agendas, and you have to take a deep breath and step back. But calling your users Luddites and worse sure ain't the way to go. Frankly, the attitude disgusts me.

Re:Short and long answers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26534343)

And it is managers like with linguine-spines who bend over backwards for upper management opinions and ideas that you know wont work, but are too afraid to lose your management position to disagree, a yes man who values a paycheck and a pat on the head over efficiency and innovation.

Re:Short and long answers? (5, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534375)

If you're doing IT for people who's job descriptions require basic computer skills, it's perfectly okay to tell them to suck it up when they have to transition away from software that is one week shy of a decade old, particularly if you offer some training classes.

Besides, when has it ever made sense to pamper employees who's skills are ten years out of date?

Re:Short and long answers? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533889)

I transitioned my home office to OO3 on XP from Office95 on XP which had been installed for the last 10 years. No real complaints yet. We don't have a massive legacy of old documents to open, and very little powerpoint to deal with, but in general powerpoint has worked for us on OO3.

I bet if management would give employees a $100 or $200 bonus to learn OO3, there'd be very few complaints.

Re:Short and long answers? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534285)

Wow, you've had XP installed for 10 years?! Impressive!

Re:Short and long answers? (1)

fpophoto (1382097) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534153)

Actually having already done one conversion with one small business, and about to do it to mine this year, I would actually comment that the whining was a lot less than I tough it'd be.

Re:Short and long answers? (2, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534251)

Wow, not a good answer...

The real question is what do your users do? If you have plain vanilla users then shifting them to OO will be not that bad.

However, if there is any use of style sheets, macros or any other automation technique then you are going to have problems galore and not worth the effort.

The problem that you are going to be fighting is why upgrade?

Open Office is not Office 2007 comparable. Office 2007 is quite the package. Though that does not mean Open Office is not usable. It really depends. I write trading systems with Excel, and have looked multiple times into Calc. And each time I keep passing. Calc is not a great spreadsheet. It is actually quite lackluster.

I would even say that GNumeric is much better spreadsheet.

Re:Short and long answers? (5, Interesting)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534287)

Don't tell them anything about change.
Users fear change.
Tell them they are getting an upgraded version of office.

True enough, less fear, less whining, and less pain for you.

Probably Not (2, Informative)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533189)

I am inclined to say "No", but a better answer is "probably not". We all know those little offices, work processes stitched together by a global excel spreadsheet with countless obscure VB Macros... touch one little thing and everything grinds to a halt. Hell, this happens when just upgrading to a new version of Microsoft Office. Imagine the pain of trying to get these things to work with OpenOffice's shoddy VBA support.

Re:Probably Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533567)

After getting used to Office 2007's wonderful UI, most of the users I know wont even want to consider OpenOffice (which has got an Office 97 clone ui). Also the replacement for Visio is missing entirely, which is a blocker for most companies.

Re:Probably Not (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534261)

I don't think "most" means what you think it means. Visio isn't even in ANY standard Office 2007 suite [microsoft.com] from Microsoft. If someone needs Visio, they can get it. But for 99.9% of employees, OpenOffice.org has all the features they need.

Entirely Depends On Your Integration (3, Insightful)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533225)

That entirely depends on how heavily you rely on odd-ball features in office.

For example do you have Word setup to access a database or something ridiculous like that?

If you are just doing basic word processing it is unlikely that you will run into any problems beyond the (marginally) different UI.

Re:Entirely Depends On Your Integration (5, Insightful)

Magic5Ball (188725) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533561)

For example do you have Word setup to access a database or something ridiculous like that?

Mail merge is not usually an odd-ball feature for anyone who has more than a handful of friends or clients. As an aside and from experience, attempting to mail merge anything with over 3,000 rows in OOo generally results in pain.

Re:Entirely Depends On Your Integration (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533729)

I agree. This is a lot more common than people think.

Macros (5, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533233)

Do your documents utilize VB macros? If so, you may want to look at Novell's fork of OOo at go-oo.org which improve macro support. Otherwise mainline OOo should open all your MS Office 2000 documents with ease.

The interface of OOo is closer to MS Office 2000, than MS Office 2007's interface is. Training users should actually be easier than training users on MS Office 2007.

When I converted my mother to Linux I told her she'd have to give up MS Office. When I installed openSUSE 11 and OOo 3, she thanked me for giving her MS Office. It looked so similar, she couldn't tell the difference.

The only little bit of advice I'd give you, is to go into the program options and set the default file formats. While I praise ODF, and want the world to adopt it, if you're going to send documents out to the rest of the world, you'll have to save them either in PDF format (which OOo does natively) or save them in MS formats for everyone else.

When you're done, tell your boss how you just saved the company $400 a pop times 50 people, and ask for a raise.

Re:Macros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533613)

When you're done, tell your boss how you just saved the company $400 a pop times 50 people, and ask for a raise.

If they already have the MS Office 2000 licenses, how did he save them money?

Re:Macros (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533985)

Because eventually they'll have to upgrade to Office 2007 or switch to OOo. A good chunk of the world distributes Office 2003 files right now, and they wouldn't be able to open them. Microsoft's constantly changing file format forces the world to upgrade.

Re:Macros (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534337)

Microsoft releases plenty of free compatibility fixes and free readers, and they allow new versions of their products to save in legacy formats. They really don't lock you in to any one version.

Also, their file formats haven't changed very much at all since Office 97. For example the new DOCX extension is just a DOC file that's been stored as XML and zipped. You can open it with any ZIP archive manager.

Re:Macros (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534537)

The point being that by default, Office 2007 saves in the new 2007 format. End users don't understand saving in legacy formats, and Microsoft has been dropping some legacy support in case you missed it. If you use Office 2000, and someone sends you a 2003 or 2007 file, you're forced to upgrade.

Futhermore, if you think DOCX hasn't really changed from the 97 format, I don't know what to tell you. DOCX is vastly different from the DOC file format.

Re:Macros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533683)

[quote] When I converted my mother to Linux [/quote]

OMG!

Re:Macros (3, Funny)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534033)

It's easy, in Perl:

s/mother/Linux/

Go-OO is NOT for production (1)

CritterNYC (190163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533767)

Go-OO is considered a development build/branch and should not be used in a production environment. It doesn't go through the level of testing and QA of OpenOffice.org for each release.

Re:Go-OO is NOT for production (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533941)

Funny. SLES ships with a Go-OO build. Many distros use the Go-OO branch in their stable releases that they advertise for production use.

There is an unstable branch of Go-OO, and there are stable releases of Go-OO. Obviously, I'd suggest you use the stable branch in a production environment.

Re:Go-OO is NOT for production (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26534095)

Debian and Ubuntu also use Go-OO...

Re:Macros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533795)

It's not just 400x50, it goes and goes again everytime they would upgrade it and also the business may be expanding to a really large one, where they would need several times that 50 copies of office...

Re:Macros (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26534367)

Even when using Word I still prefer to send and receive all external docs as PDF anyway. There is less chance a PDF can be modified, anyone can view PDF's, you don't have to worry about removed text still existing in the .doc files, etc.

Re:Macros (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534445)

The "macro" barrier is not only for existing VBA code, but I found it utterly baffling trying to work out how to do anything with macros is OOo. Operations that were a single function call in Excel (such as giving the user a file selection dialog box) required five lines of setup to create some kind of automation object first.

Why not pilot it with a small group first? (5, Insightful)

tubegeek (958995) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533251)

Pick a sample of users - some tech-savvy, some not - who interoperate with others still using microsoftware. A pilot should bring out the most pressing points of contact and show whether or not the compatibility level is adequate.

Re:Why not pilot it with a small group first? (1)

teambpsi (307527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533341)

Make sure the group has management in it as well -- need a Lead By Example person.

Also, you'll need to understand the interoperability comfort level, as your clients and business partners will continue to use M$oft.

Not a lot (5, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533291)

Our office of 50+ transitioned back in the early 2.0 days with nary a hitch. A couple of people still have MS Office for specific compatibility reasons (certain spreadsheet macros, that sort of thing) but everyone else from IT to the receptionist has OOo. We spent approximately $0.00 on training, instead going with "here's your new word processor". People who need office suites picked up on it quickly and people who primarily do other things didn't really care.

i don't see any problem (4, Informative)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533321)

short answer: yes.

long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees (sorry Yahtzee!).

a friend of mine migrated to OOo a year ago and most of his employees didn't even noticed. he owns a small architecture office.

only the oddball document that doesn't open right in OOo, he opens and converts on his own notebook, the only one in the company that have MS stuff.

Re:i don't see any problem (3, Interesting)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533665)

For the majority of vanilla Excel users ... the road is clear. But not for those of us who work a bit deeper in Finance there are some valid problems. My biggest concerns are availability of add-ins for and interoperability with PeopleSoft, Oracle applications, QuickBooks, Peachtree accounting, SAP, Essbase, Hyperion Planning, Hyperion Financial Management ... Second would be availability of statistical toolkits and other extended function sets.

Depends on how small (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533347)

As you approach planck-scale sized businesses, the smoothness of the migration breaks down.

Well here's my migration story... (2)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533353)

About two summers ago, when I was working (as a stagier) in a company that's massively using StarOffice and truly were having difficulties (mostly in international files), OpenOffice 1.1 had been the "savior" thanks to its UNICODE interface. That's how I've met OpenOffice, and moslty its presentation module. (I can say, it's as good as PPT, and import works quite well; still it sometimes erases part of graphics in your presentation, which is not that cool!!). When I've installed some "recent" Linux versions I've remarked that they all had OOo bundled, so keeping OOo on my drive would probably be a good idea...

So I kept both OOo and MSOffice2k on my drive. I'm not such an "active" office user, so the Office product I'm using should not be that important... Yet, I also knew that OOo supported cool things as PDF export; and that it never had such big issues when opening "everyday office files"...

Problems started when I've started to write my lessons (mostly in physics, so with a lot of graphics) as office files: my Word file was not properly opened on anywhere else then my PC! That was ... bad ... sad ... But I did not care much. Still, I had to someday!!

Than, one year and a half later, that day came. I printed those files as PS and then converted to PDF; hopefully that worked perfectly )suppose PDF is mostly optimized for vectoral graphics). Finally pushed by Word's double-crash in the middle of a work (and I tell you, it wasn't heavy work!), I decided to move everything to OOo... Anyways, even at the university I was used to installing (and sometimes compiling) and therefore using OOo's Windows, Linux or Solaris versions when nothing else was available (nothing including some real bad office apps).

So today I'm now with only OOo 1.1.0 on my PC. No office files on my drive (I know I don't have much Office files but they all have some specific importance, therefore their layout is important to me) are opened "very weirdly" for the moment (and I've remarked that Word conversion is better in the 1.1.1 beta, so that's a good point). Also, French spellcheck module (or plugin) seems to work as good as in my old Office product (but there's no Turkish spell checker available!! Evil or Very Mad); so that's somehow "something I can live with". One big issue: why doesn't OOo have Access??? (database module).

=Smidge=

Of course (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533363)

What other answer do you expect here on slashdot? Hell, most of the time we're ready to tell you to drop Windows altogether and go with the blessed Linux. I'd rather do real world tests on complex documents. Particularly hear if someone is using any "smart" Excel sheets or other wierd things.

We did it. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533399)

It's not that hard. As other posts say, there will be whiners who don't like change. "Why do we have to do this?" Blah, blah, blah. The reality is that within the organization you don't need MS Office at all. You will only need it for those times when you need to edit docs with others in the outside world. What we did was to make sure we had a couple of machines with Office on them as well as OpenOffice. Office was only used when it absolutely had to be, with all internal docs being OO. Most of the time we would export our OO docs to PDF's and ship those outside of the company. If we needed to ship out a doc to a law firm or some other such entity where it needed to be edited, we would convert the OO to Word and then ship it out, keep it in Word for the edits, and then convert back to OO at the very end (or not, depending). If the whole world used OO, you wouldn't even need to do that. But that can only come when everyone has already done what we've done and you plan to do. I say go for it and save some cash. You won't regret it.

Yes, but no. (4, Informative)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533409)

Yes, for most things.

No for powerpoint. From what I've used, OO.org's Impress is simply not as good, has rendering issues, flickers, is a resource hog, is not smooth, etc. Powerpoint is way better.

Can you do office docs and spreadsheets? Yeah. If not using the aforementioned VB macros and whatnot, it's easy to use openoffice.org for stuff like "word" documents and spreadsheets.

But presentations ... blech.

Re:Yes, but no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533757)

Just a thought but couldn't you save your presentation from Impress as a PPT. Then do your presentation using the free Power Point Viewer to avoid the rendering issues?

Re:Yes, but no. (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534053)

Impress -> PPT yielded some strange results as well. Animations or slide transitions seemed to "randomly" break (not all of them, but some of them). It wasn't a very smooth switch, and I ended up having to tweak it in Powerpoint before using it.

Re:Yes, but no. (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534365)

Anyone who uses slide transitions should be shot.

docx seems to work (3, Informative)

fermion (181285) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533427)

I use OO.org 3.0 and MS Office, not 2007. I am becoming increasingly happy with OO.org and see little need for MS Office.

As far as migration, in many ways OO.org does a better job with file formats than MS Office. In particular, I recently had to open a MS Office 2007 document(docx), and rather than getting the filter into MS Word, I just loaded in into OO.org. To put it plainly, I have no problem opening any files in OO.org.

Re:docx seems to work (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534151)

In particular, I recently had to open a MS Office 2007 document(docx), and rather than getting the filter into MS Word, I just loaded in into OO.org.

docx has probably received a ton more effort than pptx, but I just did a presentation in PowerPoint 2007, and for an experiment tried opening it in Impress 3, and it failed miserably; it's not even remotely usable.

This [wisc.edu] is a typical slide from the presentation I'm talking about; this [wisc.edu] is what it looks like in Impress 3. Even slides with just text [wisc.edu] render like someone crapped on the slide [wisc.edu] . (I'm willing to give the benefit of the doubt about the fact that the text size changed in case there are font issues; I'm opening it in OO for Linux, not Windows. But the new borders on the text box? The date that flat out wasn't there in the original? The lack of the background color?)

It also didn't read my presenter notes.

As for non-MS Office compatibility features, the lack of a presenter view in Impress makes it a non-starter IMHO.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that, while Writer is damn good and I have only pretty minor complaints about it relative to Word, once you get outside Writer the comparative quality drops tremendously.

(While I'm at it, if OO wants to provide the PPT killer, provide a better animation system based on keyframing, like Flash or a 3D modeler or something. PowerPoint's is only slightly more fun to use than stabbing your eyes out with a fork for any animations that are intended to convey useful information.)

The devil is in the details... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533433)

For very elementary stuff, open office is fine, but get into more advanced stuff, and you'd better check the support is there.

Look and see if vba automation has been used, if so, can it port easily, and who will do the port. Same goes for financial modeling in Excel, the same must be possible in the Open Office version.

You might actually spend more money moving to Open Office... so YMMV.. check everything.

Some missing things (1)

Amezick (102131) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533455)

You will not have outlook or OneNote so you will have to find different solutions for them.

Re:Some missing things (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534579)

Thunderbird, Evolution, or just ditch Exchange and go with Zimbra.

Much cheaper and much nicer.

Why not both? (4, Interesting)

Sir Homer (549339) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533467)

The fact is not EVERYONE needs Office, but some people do. Which baffles me why a corporation wouldn't consider deploying OOo to everyone, and give MS Office to the people who depend on weird MS Office features. This way you save the most money while not slowing your business process!

Yes, yes, and yes. (2, Informative)

mlwmohawk (801821) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533523)

If you are going from Office 2000 to OpenOffice.Org you will go almost effortlessly.

There may be a few small things here and there that users may gripe about, like obscure formatting issues, but nothing earth shattering.

If, as you say, you are going from MSO-2000 to OO.o3.x, then Microsoft Office XML should not be an issue as 2000 can't open that anyway.

Tell everyone to check their spreadsheets for numeric accuracy and functionality as some funtions and macros work differently.

After that, you have to sell it!! Tell them how wonderful it is. Talk about PDF export. Tell them they can have a copy for home!! Tell them they don't have to enter an endless stream of letters and numbers just to install it.

Re:Yes, yes, and yes. (1)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534235)

You sound like you work more in marketing than IT. You can't convince people to like something that doesn't work or doesn't work the way they want it to. Your formula will result in disaster unless all the stars align and good karma sweeps the world. Please, be a little more careful in how you evaluate a project, plan a project, and then execute the project.

Re:Yes, yes, and yes. (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534413)

I've addressed your concerns in a counterpoint fashion here [slashdot.org] .

Re:Yes, yes, and yes. (1)

0p7imu5_P2im3 (973979) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534325)

I'd even say it will be an easier transition than to 2007. The interface has been almost completely redesigned in Office 2007 and backward compatibility to 2000 and earlier has been all but dropped.

My understanding (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533563)

There is always going to be a cost if you're transitioning from Office 2K. The difference is instead of retraining to Office 2007 which has a completely new UI, your users will be retraining to OO which has a similar UI. As for OpenXML, I wouldn't trust the format yet. Use older Office formats or ODF for full compatibility with other applications.

Case study in pub ed: (4, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533597)

I renamed the "OO.org Document" icon to "word". Set the defaults to save as ms .doc files. Works great.

50 people? No problem (5, Insightful)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533671)

Your biggest griper will be a finance guy (like me). For him, just buy excel. Forcing him to use something other than excel is cruel and unusual punishment.

Re:50 people? No problem (3, Insightful)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534649)

The finance guys should use Gnumeric. OOo Calc just doesn't cut it. Gnumeric is more compatible with Excel, than Excel is with Excel...

Instead of asking Slashdot (3, Insightful)

jeevesbond (1066726) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533677)

Instead of asking Slashdot, although I'm happy you did as OpenOffice always generates a good flameware, you should be asking your users.

In particular you should gather the people who're likely to have the biggest problems with migrating: accountants for example, often have massive and complex spreadsheets, not to mention VB macros. Create a focus group, or go around each of these people to see how they're using the software, then create a requirements document and test OpenOffice against it.

The advantage of a requirements document is that if OpenOffice doesn't 'fit the bill' at the moment, you'll be able to check newer versions (and even different office suites, such as KOffice) against it in future.

If OpenOffice meets the requirements of your users in theory, test them in practice. Gather anyone who's adventurous enough to try out OpenOffice alongside Microsoft Office and get them to give you feedback. Even if OpenOffice doesn't meet requirements now, check back in a year. Also, check on how other office suites, such as KOffice, are coming along. You may not be able to replace Office immediately, but that doesn't mean you should give up on trying!

its the users, stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26533703)

your users are going to have to learn all the little new buttons menus etc, and will be bugging you 24/7 for several months, cursing you under their breath, and cursing management for doing something for no goddamn reason.

do any of them rely on excel pivot tables? on fancy VB macro scripts? do you want to tell your customers 'sorry our computers are down, we switched our whole system over to a new system without asking our workers if it would interrupt their efficiency or workflow''

if nobody brings out guillotines and makes voodoo dolls of management, it might be feasible. otherwise, no.

Training (2, Informative)

AviLazar (741826) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533735)

Your biggest hurdle is training. Getting people to learn the new software.

If your office trades documentation that has specific formatting that will be another problem unless you convert it to a standard like PDF. Then you run into the problem of people who need to edit those documents who are not using your software.

What if something doesn't work? (1)

GraphiteCube (1437703) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533791)

"It is free, what do you expect?"...

Gnumeric vs Calc (2, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533805)

I suggest that you also install Gnumeric, since it works a lot better with Excel spread-sheets than OOo Calc does.

Outlook? (3, Insightful)

Dunx (23729) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533835)

It depends on what you're doing with email and calendar. MS Office includes Outlook, after all, and if your office is using Outlook/Exchange as its email solution then you could hit a big problem in the transition.

OOo is a good replacement for the document preparation parts of Office, with a much less irritating UI than Office 2007, but email is a problem.

Aged software may be your ally this time (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533961)

Being as you are moving from a version of Microsoft Office that is coming on 9 years old, you should be using mostly files whose formats are (mostly) well understood. Taking documents, macros, and the like from that old version should be fairly straightforward. If you were instead looking to move from a brand new version of MS Office to the latest Open Office your chances would likely be much slimmer.

Re:Aged software may be your ally this time (2, Interesting)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534591)

Office 2000 was released 27 Jan 1999. In one week, it will be a full decade old.

We tried that (4, Insightful)

PhantomHarlock (189617) | more than 5 years ago | (#26533997)

We tried migrating a company with 40 users maybe three years ago, to Sun's boxed version. It was a complete and utter failure. Maybe it's gotten better now, but I'd be pretty weary. There were a thousand and one little incompatibilities. Plus some of our people use Excel for things god never intended it to do.

One thing is we deal with the government a lot, which always has the latest version of Office. Keeping up with that using non-MS software is pretty hard.

I think if your office only does very general word processing and spreadsheet use, it might work. But a lot of people have noted the powerpoint issues.

Basically, if it doesn't just work perfectly, it's a support nightmare. When we tried the experiment, I remember we'd author something, send it off, it'd come back with revisions from a customer with real MS office, we'd open it and it'd be all messed up, and that would happen going the other direction as well.

I don't think I'm ready to try that experiment any time soon. It's not worth the money saved, yet.

Maybe. (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534013)

Has the Open Office suite evolved to a point that permits easy transition from Microsoft's suite?

Maybe. It depends what you need from Microsoft's office suite.

what are some of the pros and cons of transitioning?

Pros: Choice of OS, and a format which is truly an open standard. For example, if some people find KOffice works better, or some people prefer Gnumeric to OO Calc, there's no problem -- ODF is supported by everyone except Microsoft.

Cons: Support with Microsoft Office will probably never be "bug for bug" complete. In fact, you may want to keep a copy around for comparison. And depending how competent everyone else is, it may require some training, which means the cost is not zero -- it's lower, but not zero.

Re:Maybe. (1)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534421)

> Support with Microsoft Office will probably never be "bug for bug" complete.

Microsoft Office isn't bug for bug compatible between versions. So that isn't a problem unless OO.o has notably more incompatible than say Office2007 would be vs OO.o 3 when opening those old Office2000 files.

> In fact, you may want to keep a copy around for comparison.

Well before putting ANY new software into production you want to run lots of tests on your existing datasets. If it doesn't work on YOUR data it doesn't matter if it works for everyone else. That would go for both Office2007 and OO.o 3.0.

> And depending how competent everyone else is, it may require some training, which means the cost
> is not zero -- it's lower, but not zero.

An upgrade from Office2000 to OO.o 3.0 should be less pain than Office2000 to Office2007. Docx support coes easier with Office2007 but versions of OO.o (the Microsoft/Novell version) do support the horrible undead abortion of a format. Probably shouldn't worry too much about it though, Microsoft will be adding ODF support in their next version and that should be the end of the docx experiment.

It has been done (1)

ghomem (1452521) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534049)

Short answer: Yes

Long answer: It has been done by many even with Open Office 2.x. As long as you don't need MS Access shouldn't be a problem. 90% of Ms Office users use up to 10% of the available features. Even OO is overkill for many of them.
Advice:

- show confidence on the project
- provide excellent support during the migration
- quickly solve any existing issues that may appear
- leave a (legal) copy of Office 2003 installed on a Virtual Machine for the unlikely rare situations

Moving the water dish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26534073)

No matter how carefully you proceed there will always be some users who will insist that OO 'doesn't work' and that they must have MS office.

I find a LART, a roll of carpet, a bag of quick lime, a van and a secluded spot in the woods, and a shovel to be the best way to deal with these users.

+ Feature parity and doc sharing on all OS's (1)

chriscorbell (1093363) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534089)

In addition to price the major reason for me to use OO over MS is the seamless use accross OS's. I'm a developer who works on Mac OS X, Ubuntu Linux and Vista. I keep a lot of documents under source control, things like specifications, spreadsheets with performance data, and diagrams which I'm now doing in OO draw. There's nothing that quite prepares you for being able to check out, edit, and check in the same spreadsheet on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows and have it just work and render perfectly on all OS's. If you're a cross-platform shop in any way (for development, creative or anything) OO is a huge win in this regard.

Why bother unless you are gaining a lot? (1, Insightful)

gsgriffin (1195771) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534107)

Why on earth would you consider making a large transition with staffers who will be annoyed at having to do things a little different for a product that is about the same in quality and features? OO is much closer to MS Office 2000 than 2003 or 2007 (which, regretably are much better than OO still).

Before you serious consider upsetting the cart, make sure the features and benefits you gain are worth the headaches. Get to the end of the process, if most people don't feel the pain of change was worth the end product, they'll revolt and hang you from the patch panels.

Yes with work - depends on the office (3, Insightful)

markk (35828) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534211)

There will be two key things that determine how much work the transition will be, (in my experience).

1. How much VB is used mainly in Excel.
2. How are your workflows set up? Do they depend on other MS things that don't work with anything else?

All the other stuff is no harder than moving from an older version of MS Office to a newer. I have found it is worth looking at the little apps that people built in Excel, and spending the time on the transition seeing whether they can't be refactored to use Base, since everyone will have it, or moved over to the Starbasic stuff. (Or will it work with small changes in Novell's version?)

In transition you will need to give an overabundance of help right away to the heavy duty users, and engage them even before hand. In a small situation even have them help in looking at the little hand built apps. Plus you will find out usually about a month later when people actually really use the little odd things when they get to documents and and reports that they only look at quarterly, or monthly. Be prepared for that. Try really hard to separate the grumbling that will come simply because of change, and real issues that hurt someone's job.

Too Many Filetypes / Too Much Incompatability (4, Interesting)

bhima (46039) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534289)

I am currently looking for a job (as I suppose a lot of folks are). At home we all use Macs. My Girlfriend has Apple Pages, so I decided to use it. I was astounded how easy it was to make a resumé that looked pretty good from one of the templates. So I applied for a job and sent them the Word export (as I figured word was a default filetype). Not only does the resumé look really bad, many windows users can not open it. So I exported to PDF, same. So I took it to where I work now opened with the current version of word (disaster!)... spent a while fixing it, saved it... and people have trouble opening docx files in the more common older MS Word application.

I am a scientist, not a typesetter! And I wound up doing several iterations of this to get something that older versions of MS Word (running on older versions of windows?).

So bottom line, I used Rich Text and a MS font. I blame this on MS making their applications so picky when opening various competing filetypes.

What MS features are currently in use? (1)

barneco (1353761) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534293)

How about starting with good, old-fashioned requirements gathering?

Talk to a few people for as many roles as you can determine. Find out what features your office currently uses, and prioritize and categorize them(must-haves, costly-to-lose, frivolous[quantified as much as possible]). Compare this to the equivalent(or NONequivalent OO features). This data will tell you exactly what to do.

Classic cost-benefit, imho. Use leg-work and good analysis to make the right recommendation, not buzzwords and advertising.

Once you make the right decision, selling it to the masses is easier than you think. It's those decisions that are made with no real research or for the wrong reasons that aren't accepted and blow up in your face.

Mailmerge / Labels (1)

2phar (137027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534429)

If you have users that work with MS Office mailmerge and label features, you might want to take a close look at that. I have found this feature to be pretty painful at times in openoffice. Compare, for example, starting with a CSV file of names and addresses and printing them to Avery laser address labels.

I did it (1)

ahziem (661857) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534477)

I administered ~50 computers at a non-profit. We ran the latest OpenOffice.org (versions 1 and 2) for several years and even after I left the company.

Generally training and file format compatibility were not an issue. The initial draw to OpenOffice.org was not having to count licenses (so tedious!), and later it helped us switch half the systems to Linux (most on a terminal server).

One 'gotcha' was that the accountant needed Excel to use Quickbooks because it interfaces directly over a COM API.

The second in charge (an Apple fanboy ironically) wanted to switch to Microsoft. He didn't give a good case why.

To increase compatibility reading OpenXML, install odf-converter-integrator [oooninja.com] . To understand how it works, read "A Better Docx Converter" [oooninja.com] .

You've already passed the biggest obstacle. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26534553)

Seriously. If management wants to switch, you've already overcome the most significant problem. I have an office where well over 90% of our staff could migrate to OO without a hitch. Submitted a proposal to my boss who passed the buck to his boss. That one said, "Let me try it for a few weeks and see if I can do everything I need to do without resorting to Microsoft."

A month later, "I haven't had to touch an Office application once. Some things work a little differently but I was able to figure it out easily enough. We won't be switching."

"Wha?"

"There's just something not right about it. How can it be free?"

Back and forth for half an hour or so with no progress. Amazingly frustrating. The guy had determined that OO could do everything he needed, understood that we could use it free of charge, and refused to consider switching specifically because it was free.

Of course, my boss won't take a stand on much of anything so there it sits. Waiting for his boss to retire.

As for the technical transition, going from Office 2000 to OO 3.0 will not be much of a shock. The look/feel is very similar and the features are similar. As others have pointed out, your most likely sticking point will be complicated macros. So, if you've got anyone working on that kind of thing, start there. Most likely, you'll find one or two people who cannot function without MS Office. So they stick with office and everyone else goes to OO.

Are you continuously paying for office? (1)

imp7 (714746) | more than 5 years ago | (#26534589)

You own office now right? So you don't make money switching to open office right? And a 40-50 person office... easily. How hard can it be? Its not like you have to uninstall office to make open office work...
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