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Oracle Buy Renews Call To Spin Off OpenOffice.org

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the now-to-tempt-all-liberty-procured dept.

Software 170

ericatcw writes "Some OpenOffice.org insiders say Oracle's purchase of Sun is reinvigorating the long-stymied push to spin off the open-source project into a 100% independent foundation. Freeing itself from Sun's (and soon to be Oracle's) orbit will attract more developers and more vendor support, two perennial problems due to Sun's tight grip on the project, say supporters, who wonder which foundation model might work best: Mozilla, Apache or Linux. Others prefer to take their chances under Larry Ellison, saying Oracle's take-no-prisoners salesforce and grudge against Microsoft could benefit OpenOffice.org. Version 3.0 of the Microsoft Office competitor has garnered 50 million downloads in the last six months."

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170 comments

Same old song [shift 7] dance... (5, Interesting)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748723)

Christ, kids, for the last time, OpenOffice is part of a patent cross-licensing deal between Sun and Microsoft that resulted from all the anti-trust cases that Sun won. If OO is detached from Sun, it loses that umbrella patent protection and would likely be targeted by Microsoft. Looking at the big picture it would take a tiny amount of Oracle's R&D budget to improve OO. The first thing would be to support macros. A bi-directional translator would be acceptable. A more viable OO could do nothing but help Oracle in its epic battle with MSFT. So piss off.

=Smidge=

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (5, Insightful)

skynexus (778600) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748909)

It makes no sense to spin off OpenOffice before knowing what Oracle does to it. What I think most of us really care about is some reinvigoration in the OpenOffice project, which this change may help bring about.

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (5, Interesting)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749235)

That's a very good point.

When Sun was buying MySQL, there was a lot of FUD how it was going to ruin it, but looking at MySQL job trends [indeed.com] it seems as if MySQL adoption has increased.

Even after the acquisition, people try to paint Sun in a bad light over what's been going on with MySQL. For example, when it was announced that MySQL was going to come out with some features that would only be available in the closed source, enterprise version, the decision was attributed to Sun, when it seemed like it was really Mickos' decision. He was the former CEO of MySQL AB.

When Sun reversed the decision, the news was the MySQL made the change.

Even recently, what's been going on with Monty Widenus leaving Sun has been used to make Sun sound like it was hurting MySQL, but if you read Monty's blog [blogspot.com] about why he left Sun, it sounds more like he was unhappy with MySQL management, and not Sun.

I get the impression that Monty wasn't all that happy with MySQL AB even before they were bought by Sun. When Sun bought them, he was hoping for things to improve but that never happened.

Unfortunately, even a company like Sun is not the same as a startup before VC money and board members come in. It seems it's not as stifling as other companies though, but not what Monty was expecting.

People like Monty probably aren't meant for that type of atmosphere. Probably why people like Andy Bechtolstein come and go frequently.

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (0)

levell (538346) | more than 5 years ago | (#27751119)

It makes no sense to spin off OpenOffice before knowing what Oracle does to it. What I think most of us really care about is some reinvigoration in the OpenOffice project, which this change may help bring about.

It may reinvigorate OO, who knows, but I did like Solveig Haugland's open letter [blogs.com] to Larry Elison explaining what he'd like to see happen. (Hat tip to http://www.groklaw.net [groklaw.net] )

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (5, Interesting)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748979)

Are you sure? I thought it was StarOffice that was protected, but Sun was indemnifying Open Office users as well?

In any case, the agreement was back in 2004 and nothing has happened since then.

I had a thought in the past about house Sun could improve their OpenOffice development to include more outside contributors. It would be true for any of their open source projects.

One of the big issues with big companies dealing with open source projects is that they aren't required to use the public colaboration tools. In fact it's harder for them to do so.

Instead of Sally asking a question or presenting an idea to Joe on the mailing list, where everyone can see it, Sally might run into Joe in the hallway or walk up to his desk. So all these ideas that Sally and Joe are exchanging are "closed".

It may be ore productive, but it doesn't include the community.

It might be better for the community if employees working on open source projects mostly worked from home to encourage them to use the community collaboration tools.

I think Sun might understand this. The disadvantage of meeting someone in the hallway is something I heard in a presentation from a Sun employee. That might be why they have been working on the Wonderland project [java.net] .

With Wonderland, you can get all the developers in one virtual conference room without having to really see or smell them which can be a very good thing. I've had my share of marathon coding sessions.

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (2, Informative)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749015)

Ooops... Forgot the link [itwire.com] to a story about the deal as it relates to OO.o

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (1)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749667)

Uhmm... We've had those 'virtual meeting rooms' since like 1992. They are called 'IRC chat rooms'.

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (2, Informative)

notarockstar1979 (1521239) | more than 5 years ago | (#27751015)

Here is the comparison. The indemnity is listed. Sun's Comparison [sun.com]

Re:Same old song [shift 7] dance... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749059)

Patent deal?!?! where's the proof?

what umbrella patent protection?. (1)

viralMeme (1461143) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749407)

"OpenOffice is part of a patent cross-licensing deal between Sun and Microsoft that resulted from all the anti-trust cases that Sun won. If OO is detached from Sun, it loses that umbrella patent protection and would likely be targeted by Microsoft"

What umbrella patent protection?. According to this Microsoft gets Sun to find any 'patent violation, and pay for any subsequent litigation. Not much protection then. I don't know any other company who would have the cohones to get a rival to sue it's own custoners and pay for the privelage :)

'Sun Microsystems may have saved itself from years of costly litigation when it settled with Microsoft over their long-running Java dispute, but a clause in the landmark deal has open source supporters parsing its potential impact'

'The provision allows Microsoft to "sue or otherwise seek recovery from an authorized licensee of OpenOffice [internet.com] " that was in use prior to April 2. In this way, Microsoft could in theory file suit if it finds pieces of OpenOffice that it contends infringe on its Microsoft Office patents'

'Under their agreement, Sun must notify Microsoft if a claim surfaces and must let Microsoft take control and responsibility for fighting the charges in court. Sun must also help Microsoft defend its case against a potential OpenOffice licensee. For its troubles, Microsoft will reimburse Sun an undisclosed sum for certain damages, according to the filing'

Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (3, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748733)

Doesn't IBM use Open Office as the core for one of their products as well? If that's the case, it would seem that a Mozilla or Apache license would be needed to allow them to continue development and shipping as well.

It's a big step for a project to shift from sponsored to self-sustaining. I hope the OOo team isn't biting off more than they can chew with their plans to shift to an independant project.

Re:Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (4, Informative)

markdowling (448297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748915)

Lotus Symphony [lotus.com] is based on OOo, and the various OOo programs are integrated into Lotus Notes 8 Standard as optional Productivity Tools.

Re:Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (2, Interesting)

davidsyes (765062) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749147)

"Symphony" should have been an extension of SmartSuite especially since SmartSuite has:

- A multi-award-winning end-user-friendly relational database (Approach) that trounces the hell out of Base
- A spreadsheed (1-2-3) that has STILL got some superior chart editing features that Calc hasn't got
- A word processor (WordPro) that has true WYSIWYG facilities that Write hasn't got
- A planner (Organizer)
- A presentation application (Freelance)

The first 3 alone are worth the $300 IBM asks for, but REALLY wish that IBM didn't use the name "Symphony" (a previous Lotus product that, IIRC, was pretty much like a 3-D database/spread sheet before even ms came out with Excel) until SmartSuite was overshadowed by a decent release candidate replacement, which Symphony currently is NNOTTTT.

In all the SmartSuite apps, however, non-modal properties pallets are available so you can modify font and other properties without having to play stupid-ass do-it-the-ms-and-other-lazy-develpers'-way of "edit-jump-out-change-edit-change-..." until you get fed up and just live with what is on screen.

WordPro has a much better visual editor interface for viewing multiple sheets of a same or different documents. I've for YEARS been begging the OO.o devs to just "take a look" at SmartSuite., and they persist with the NIH (Not-Invented-Here) attitude. It's obvious, since their idea of sections and divisions (which i might have inspired, but they copied in name only) is woefully dismal an attempt to create a flexible interface.

Too bad IBM keeps saying it bought a patent-mired Lotus SmartSuite, which is their excuse for not releasing SmartSuite into Open Source, which could enable devs to fall in love with it and rebuilt and unencumber the patent-minefield parts.

Re:Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (1)

YouWantFriesWithThat (1123591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750011)

"Symphony" (a previous Lotus product that, IIRC, was pretty much like a 3-D database/spread sheet before even ms came out with Excel)

i remember using symphony on one of the old compaq luggables with the tiny green screen. it was a rudimentary spreadsheet program booted off of a floppy, and i think predated 1-2-3. not a lot of info about it online, for some reason. it was the first off-the-shelf spreadsheet program that my dad the accountant used, prior to that he was programming his own accounting tools in COBOL.

Re:Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27750059)

Too bad IBM keeps saying it bought a patent-mired Lotus SmartSuite, which is their excuse for not releasing SmartSuite into Open Source, which could enable devs to fall in love with it and rebuilt and unencumber the patent-minefield parts.

Couldn't they release it in all the regions where software isn't patentable? Just like Netscape used to do with encryption (click "I promise that I'm a US resident" to download) except the other way around.

Re:Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749263)

Yeah, but symphony is actually based off of a pre-2.0 fork, since it relied upon the SISSL. IMHO it's much slower and needlessly differentiated, and requires Eclipse as a dependency. Kind of makes me miss Lotus SmartSuite :-P

Re:Doesn't IBM use OOo as a product core? (2, Interesting)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749203)

Lotus Symphony, which you refer to, is based off of OOo 1, because that was the last version that IBM could fork a closed-source app off of.

I think Oracle should partner with IBM to allow Symphony to be based off the latest OOo 3 base.

IBM should be able to sell a top-notch threat to MS Office, while OOo could benefit greatly from an improved UI that Symphony offers.

Off Topic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749367)

shift to an independant project.

Isn't it more like a shift to an indepedant project? Which reminds me of a joke (a real story) told by one of my teachers (thank you, Mrs Hansen!) years back:

Some evening we sat together at a little party when somebody rectified what someone else just said. The corrected one exclaimed: "Well, you're a real pendant!" The accused replied: "Firstly, it's 'pedant', secondly, I'm not."

Well, maybe it's also a shift to a pendant project, that is, not a real shift done yet?

Just my 2 pendies ...

Standards and the futility of OO.org (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748735)

When it comes to standards, the only thing that really matters is that your documents conform to the standards that everyone else is using. In the past couple years, that standard has been Office 2003. Though the migration towards Office 2007 (whatever version it is that comes with Vista installs) has been going on apace, the vast majority of users still need their documents in Office 2003 format.

And since OO.org doesn't support either set of formats 100%, it will ultimately fail. It will always play catchup because it doesn't have either the roadmap or the market power to drive formats.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (4, Insightful)

tsa (15680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748865)

More and more governments finally realize they have been lured into the Microsoft trap, and are now freeing themselves by madating the use of open standards for documents. Hopefully they also understand that OOXML is not an open standard and they will use ODF in the future. If MS doesn't incorporate ODF very fast in their products they will lose a significant part of the market in the coming years.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1, Troll)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748997)

That argument is as tired as it is braindead.

The only thing that matters with regard to government documents is archival. For that purpose, standardization is necessary. PDF is a natural choice, especially now that it has features like forms and menus which allow for a little bit of interactivity.

But for document creation, the only thing that matters is that the document can be saved to the archival format. Creation and editing only require that the document be of a known format, and with MS Office the dominant format, it makes sense to simply let people continue to use their Windows PCs to create Office documents.

We see a lot of talk about migration to "open standards" here at Slashdot, but it all pretty much misses the point. Document creation doesn't require OOXML or ODF.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (2, Informative)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750597)

The only thing that matters with regard to government documents is archival. For that purpose, standardization is necessary. PDF is a natural choice, especially now that it has features like forms and menus which allow for a little bit of interactivity.

Hopefully the guys in the government (or corporate) offices are little more forward thinking than you. I doubt it, but I can hope. Archival is of limited (but not no) value without the ability to modify or expand on old docs. Who wants to copy and paste the old document into a new one when you can just load the old document, tweak it, and save it under a new name? Especially when the old document was the source for a PDF file with forms and menus and such. Or when dealing with new laws that require more/less/different information on the form, or what have you.

A form from 2002 may need some minor tweaks in 2012. I hope your archive includes something you can modify, or it'll be ten times more expensive to change.

The PDFs are fine. But something immutable is only of value for historical purposes (which can also include legal purposes). Something that can be copied and modified for current uses has a much bigger value. For about the same reason that you don't retype your entire source file every time you need to make a minor change to it.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749001)

If MS doesn't incorporate ODF very fast in their products they will lose a significant part of the market in the coming years.

No they won't. MS ownes the desktop and office applications market. This is not going to change for a very long time. A few dweebs bitching about the company on digg and /. does not qualify as government or corporate strategical planning.

No one gives a shit about ODF, office app users simply want their documents and spreadsheets to work when they pass them on. The de-facto standard for office files is whatever MS office spits out. The only way forward is mandated open standards, but as we're seen, MS bought off the right people with the ISO farce. Game over.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27750021)

You're trolling. Governments are adopting ODF. [wikipedia.org]

one trap to another... (2, Insightful)

tjstork (137384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749525)

Just because you move from Microsoft to an FOSS platform does not mean you are becoming more free nearly as much as you just trading service providers. Whether you get your browser from Microsoft or get it from Mozilla foundation, your Office from Microsoft, or your office from some Open Office foundation, doesn't matter. In all cases there's some other body that ultimately controls the direction of the software.

Re:one trap to another... (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749631)

It's not about the software. It's about the documents.

Re:one trap to another... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749723)

It's not the software, it's the format [wikipedia.org] .

Re:one trap to another... (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749739)

But when you move to a platform built on standards instead of proprietary systems, you gain increased mobility after the initial transition. If you're on a Microsoft platform, with everything in .doc, and you find that you don't like where MS is taking things- you've got a painful transition. If you're on a standards-based platform, and you find that you don't like where your current vendor is heading, you can move to another vendor with comparatively minor cost (possibly some retraining, but at least no conversion).

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (2, Informative)

nine-times (778537) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748885)

When it comes to standards, the only thing that really matters is that your documents conform to the standards that everyone else is using.

Yes, and that's exactly why it's so important to push for the use of formats that can truly be called "open standards". In fact, some governments have instituted legal requirements for the use of open formats for their own documents, and that's a very good thing.

If enough governments and companies have policies requiring use of open standards, then Microsoft will be forced to support some kind of open standard in their products. That will allow real free-market competition, since the competition will be based on the quality of the products rather than the vendor lock-in of a monopolistic company.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (5, Interesting)

deemen (1316945) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749529)

Hate to say it, but I think Microsoft Office is a flat out better product than OpenOffice.org. It starts up faster, it has the whole macro system, it's just a lot more powerful.

What makes you think there isn't free-market competition right now? OpenOffice.org users can open MS files and save to the format as well. There are a few bugs, but those are true among Microsoft products too (open the same document in Word 97 or Word 2000 or Word 2003 and they look different). Open standards are great, but I highly doubt it will make a dent in Microsoft's hold of the office software market.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (0, Troll)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749779)

i agree. open office is a piece of crap, both on linux and windows.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1)

caerwyn (38056) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749823)

Sadly- and as someone who hates Microsoft Office- I have to say that I agree with you.

OpenOffice is okay at certain things, and fails miserably at many others- while being amazingly bloated, slow, and painful to interact with. Every time a new version comes out, I give it a try- and every time I feel lucky that I don't have to deal with document writing in that format but infrequently.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750309)

Who gives a fuck about what package is better? The point is that the document FORMAT is closed. Open standards are great, and if anything, governments will force Microsoft to support them. People are starting to realize that the closed Office files screw them in the long run. Hell, I've saved files in Excel that I couldn't re-open. The need for open, documented standards is there. And if you legislate it, Microsoft will come.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (4, Interesting)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749325)

With the advent of web-based office solutions, does OO really matter that much any more?

More and more I find myself working with Word documents in Google Docs. Granted, Google Docs has a long, long way to go to be considered a serious contender, but in terms of convenience, it's second to none. I work with very basic documents, so once I open them they are stored on Google's servers, and I can access them wherever I am -- home, office, yacht club, city morgue, etc.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749719)

Sure,
,br> There are times when your not online that you still need Office software. Plus Google Docs isnt robust enough for everyone yet; someday it might be.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (2, Interesting)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749821)

What I think OpenOffice.org really needs is an integration with something like Google Docs but open so others can implement it.

Basically, Google Docs serves as a content revision system and OpenOffice.org is the fat client to it, but you can also connect and edit in Google Docs as well.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (4, Insightful)

gentlemen_loser (817960) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749781)

This "web browser for everything" cloud model keeps coming up. It will not work. Again.

Reason 1: As soon as the "cloud" is unavailable, you are screwed.

Reason 2: It does nothing for anyone who has real work to do. People still need to do complex design documents including diagrams, charts, tables, etc. Why would I want to spend time in one app (ArgoUML, Dia, Viso) creating a diagram to then upload it to a browser so it can be in the final doc product?

Reason 3: For anything more serious than a shopping list, I do not trust an advertising company to be the primary repository for my data.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749793)

Your post answers the question you asked, so it's rendundant and not interesting. The only mildly interesting thing is that you use Google Documents while in the city morgue.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749885)

So you ask:

With the advent of web-based office solutions, does OO really matter that much any more?

And then you proceed to point out that:

Granted, Google Docs has a long, long way to go to be considered a serious contender

Uh, isn't that the point? Google Docs is still a toy compared to your average office suite, and will likely remain that way for a long time.

I work with very basic documents

Ah, and now I see. You don't actually represent the kind of people who really use MS Office on a day-to-day basis. Hell, sounds like you'd be happy with good ol' WordPad.

so once I open them they are stored on Google's servers, and I can access them wherever I am -- home, office, yacht club, city morgue, etc.

Centralized storage solves that problem. Why centralize the application? Do that, and suddenly it's useless if you want to work on a plane, or anywhere where you don't have internet connectivity. And all the content is in the hands of Google. Dibsout, thanks.

Personally, for that kind of application, I'd be much happier with an SFTP-aware office suite. Then I could read/write documents directly to my own servers using whichever thick client fits my needs. Fortunately, Ubuntu makes that trivial (just mount the remote server with FUSE and go to town).

Now, in the corporate intranet space, a centrally served package like Google Docs, deployed privately within the network makes sense (similarly to the Gmail appliance), assuming, of course, that it ever comes even close to feature parity with something like OO.o (let alone MS Office). But I simply do not buy the idea that people will be moving to Google Docs en masse any time soon.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749549)

Though the migration towards Office 2007 (whatever version it is that comes with Vista installs) has been going on apace, the vast majority of users still need their documents in Office 2003 format.

Last time I checked, there was no office suite bundled with Windows.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749585)

Last time I checked, there was no office suite bundled with Windows.

Not with Vista, but with Vista-installed PCs.

Re:Standards and the futility of OO.org (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749785)

MS Office is rarely if ever bundled with retail PCs and is usually a separate billable item if you order through Gateway or Dell.

Count me for 3 (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748893)

Downloads over the last six months. Just so when people send me .od* files I need to save them as MSOffice docs...

Re:Count me for 3 (1)

phorest (877315) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749061)

I know it's bad form to reply to your own posts, but as I understand it, MSOffice Service pack 2 update (released April 21st 2009?) includes .od* file support. According to this Description of 2007 Microsoft Office Suite Service Pack 2 (SP2) and of Microsoft Office Language Pack 2007 SP2 [microsoft.com]

Long Way To Go :( (2, Informative)

Steve Cox (207680) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748971)

> Version 3.0 of the Microsoft Office competitor has garnered 50 million downloads in the last six months.

They have a long way to go though - the last release of Office probably had 10 times that. They probably also had at least 10 times that in legal purchases too....

Re:Long Way To Go :( (2, Insightful)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749219)

And while I praise the effort of OOo devs, everytime there is an update, people download it again. Conversely, one may download it once and the deploy it to 1,000 machines. Downloads are sadly not an accurate indicator of users.

Re:Long Way To Go :( (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750703)

Or like me and most of my friends, that use OOo, having downloaded and installed from our distro repository.

I for one... (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748973)

Wouldn't mind seeing a "retail" version of open office on the shelves at the local best buy or walmart, and the open office group would likely need a large corporation to launch such an effort. If open office was sitting on the retail shelf for, say $50 in a nice box with all the open office apps, next to MS office at $300 with all the apps, we could see its acceptance really start to soar.

Granted, I would still download it for free, because I'm cheap. But I would suspect plenty of people would be willing to dish out $50 or so for it, and being in a full retail box with a jewel case and printed manual adds "legitimacy" in the eyes of many consumers.

And I suspect Oracle could help bankroll such a push much better than the open office foundation themselves could.

Re:I for one... (1)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749201)

You should look up "Star Office", and then ask yourself why nobody buys it.

Re:I for one... (2, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749237)

Walmart doesn't carry it, but there is a retail box version.

http://www.sun.com/software/staroffice/ [sun.com]

Re:I for one... (3, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749879)

Walmart doesn't carry it, but there is a retail box version

Which feeds into my point; sure you have a retail box version but >99% of computer buyers have never seen that box. There are a great number of people who still haven't heard of open office; if they could get it into places where more people shop they could increase the familiarity of the brand and the product.

Re:I for one... (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749251)

I suspect rather the opposite. People see OO for $50, and MSOffice for $300, and thing "Wow, what's this cheap knockoff? Only $50? I better avoid that, cheap knockoffs could have bad things. I better get the 'real' one, just to be safe."

Re:I for one... (2, Interesting)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749497)

not everybody wants to throw down 300 bucks for ms-office and with the economy in the toilet even more so. there are lots of people that just need to print a decent looking document, or use a generic spreadsheet for some basic accounting, i use openoffice's spreadsheets to do checkbook balancing since i have a debt card and no more checkbook with built in register so i save my receipts and when i get home i fire up OO.org and update the withdrawals and balance (would be nice if there was a template to automate some of it)...

Re:I for one... (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749831)

the thing is that now msoffice student edition retails for about 20 usd, so oo won't sell for anything more than 10 bucks. and large corporations can usually afford to buy the pro version.

Re:I for one... (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749915)

my mistake. retail price of student edition is 100usd. i guess all that i wrote is now useless.

Re:I for one... (1)

EvolutionsPeak (913411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750997)

In a tight economy I bet they will be less likely to say that.

Open Source to the rescue! Again! (1)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749257)

That is what is so great about open source. You don't need to wait for Sun or Oracle to sell Open Office. You can do it yourself. Just make sure to include the source code on the CD, and the GPL notice in the manual, and on the box.

Re:Open Source to the rescue! Again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749519)

Denied. Just make sure to put a notice that source code can be requested in writing, and save yourself the effort of putting it on CD. Don't worry, no one will come knocking.

Re:I for one... (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749269)

Actually, you want several different versions on the shelves. The first would sell for 25, but offer just a bit more. I know that I would buy it just to help. The second should be for 50 which would have install support and perhaps more goodies than does the 25 version. Finally, a version for 100, which includes full support, and a lot of extra goodies. That version should install easily into MS, Apple, and Linux.

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749573)

I prefer the "u" in honour as it seems to be missing these days.

Is there a reason you feel the need to insult everyone reading your signature by calling them dishonorable?

Re:I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749975)

Do you feel that the sig fits you (u?)? If not, then ignore it. If you believe that it fits you, then change.

Retail path to glory? I think not. (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749283)

I for one...Wouldn't mind seeing a "retail" version of open office on the shelves at the local best buy or walmart, and the open office group would likely need a large corporation to launch such an effort. If open office was sitting on the retail shelf for, say $50 in a nice box with all the open office apps, next to MS office at $300 with all the apps, we could see its acceptance really start to soar.

Granted, I would still download it for free, because I'm cheap. But I would suspect plenty of people would be willing to dish out $50 or so for it, and being in a full retail box with a jewel case and printed manual adds "legitimacy" in the eyes of many consumers.

Ah, yeah, two words for you on the retail idea: Mandrake Linux.

Sorry, but I didn't exactly see their revenues soar through the roof when they hit the Best Buy shelves. As a matter of fact, where the heck are all those distros at Best Buy...

Bottom line is it's a long hard road to go against the monster that is Office. Don't know if retail channels is the path to glory vs. something like pushing the suite into the cloud.

Re:Retail path to glory? I think not. (2, Insightful)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749531)

Ah, yeah, two words for you on the retail idea: Mandrake Linux.

Sorry, but I didn't exactly see their revenues soar through the roof when they hit the Best Buy shelves. As a matter of fact, where the heck are all those distros at Best Buy...

Indeed, Mandrake fizzled. However, there is a distinct difference between selling an OS at Best Buy, and selling an office suite.

After all, every computer sold at best buy comes with an OS. Almost none of them come with a functioning office suite. Very few customers at best buy have a need or desire to install an OS on their system beyond what is already on it; almost every customer will at some point need to read and write to an office file for something.

Hence since the customers there have already paid for an OS, but not yet paid for an office suite, there is a good chance of picking up some customers (and recognition) by having retail boxed open office on the shelves.

Re:I for one... (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749383)

That's what Star Office was... it was the more polished version of Open Office that Sun was selling.

Re:I for one... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749721)

Wouldn't mind seeing a "retail" version of open office on the shelves at the local best buy or walmart. If open office was sitting on the retail shelf for, say $50 in a nice box with all the open office apps, next to MS office at $300 with all the apps, we could see its acceptance really start to soar.

It's been tried on Amazon with 79 cent CD-ROMs.

Ranking somewhere around 39 in sales of office suites, as I recall.

The chances are really quite good that you already qualify for a legit free or steeply discounted version of MS Office.

Through your employer. Your school or college.

The Ultimate Steal [microsoft.com] from Microsoft is $60 with student ID.

90% off retail list.

Office Home and Student 2007 is easily found at around $90 retail. But it's the consumables that eat you alive -
not the OEM office suite that sits on your PC for the next five years.

The geek always quotes the stiffest price he can find for the retail box the lone wolf professional will buy only once.

Forget the retail box.

Re:I for one... (1)

EvolutionsPeak (913411) | more than 5 years ago | (#27751023)

If they packaged good documentation in book form, I might even consider buying it. And I know enough to download it for free.

Does Canonical support it? (3, Interesting)

Nerdposeur (910128) | more than 5 years ago | (#27748983)

Considering that part of the argument for "Linux is great" is "look, you get an office suite for free," Canonical should be Oo's biggest supporter.

Personally, I use Oo in Linux and Windows, but I think it's got a long way to go to compete with MS Office. I hope it catches up.

(And before you ask, I have neither the skills nor the time to contribute to the code myself.)

Re:Does Canonical support it? (4, Informative)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749265)

This is what gets me. Ubuntu is getting all the praise, but the two companies that pay devs to really push for upstream development are Red Hat and Novell. Novell has a great fork of OpenOffice (go-oo.org) and has really been pushing OpenOffice development.

If anyone is going to circle their wagons around a community fork, the go-oo fork would be where I started.

I believe both Oxygen Office, and Neo Office use it as a starting point for their forks.

Re:Does Canonical support it? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749555)

Go-oo is not a fork. It is a set of additional features and modifications on top of OO.o. It's constantly synced with OO.o

Re:Does Canonical support it? (1)

samcan (1349105) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749839)

From what I understand, many Linux distros use the Go-oo code (or at least some patches) as well...Bug report on Launchpad [launchpad.net]

Re:Does Canonical support it? (1)

afsina (1184017) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750201)

No, Sun should get the praise. Others just fork and try to lure customers without much sweat. most OO.org develoeprs were, and are from Sun.

Re:Does Canonical support it? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750753)

Redhat and Novell both do a lot of development, true, but don't overlook the "look and feel" improvements that Ubuntu has pushed. The Linux desktop only started really getting cohesive when Ubuntu came on the scene. You can't as easily say "Look how many kernel commits are from @redhat.com!" with Ubuntu, but it really has fostered community and a lot of improvement in the user interface and integration arena. Little things like making screen nicer for most people [arstechnica.com] . The features have always existed, they're just now easier for more people to get at. Don't be so quick to write off Ubuntu... it's like saying John Carmack is the only person at id Software who matters. He sure as hell may do the most important core stuff, but he's not doing all the modeling and texture generation and storyboarding and so on.

Re:Does Canonical support it? (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750941)

I'm not saying Ubuntu does nothing. I'm saying Ubuntu gets almost all the credit for Linux development, when they do a very small portion of it.

As Nedposeur posited, it is to Canonical's benefit to have good products like OpenOffice they can tout. But they aren't pushing much upstream. Shuttleworth did say last year that they will invest more in the future in upstream development, so that might change. But to this point, Canonical gets more credit than they deserve.

And while I disagreed with the Novell/MS deal, it seems the community wants to hate on Novell, and not give them the credit they deserve.

How 'bout the Interface? (5, Insightful)

D Ninja (825055) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749013)

Who knows if this will be modded as a troll or not, but, with each new version of OO.org, I download it, try it out, and then head back to Microsoft Office 2003/7. I know not everybody is a fan of the ribbon interface (which I particularly *really* like), but, in general, OO.org just feels clunky. I really can't put my finger on what it is exactly, but it's the reason I can't get myself to adopt to it. I want to, but the interface and speed of OO.org must be improved.

Re:How 'bout the Interface? (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749031)

I miss AmiPro...

Re:How 'bout the Interface? (0, Flamebait)

lightning_queen (861008) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749101)

You just got too used to the PlaySkool interface. It's okay, it happens to a lot of people.

Re:How 'bout the Interface? (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749335)

Who knows if this will be modded as a troll or not, but, with each new version of OO.org, I download it, try it out, and then head back to Microsoft Office 2003/7.

There is nothing wrong with Office 2003/2007. They are very good products. If you -have- Office 2003/2007 and you need to be saving as .xls or .doc anyway, you might as well use it. I can't really imagine anyone who HAS office 2007 switching to OOo unless they want to use odf, or are switching to Linux... or something like that.

However, if you didn't have Office 2007, ask yourself whether you find the free OOo so 'clunky' that you'd shell out $150 for Office Home and Student just to avoid using it at home? Or $400+ to use it at work?

Maybe you would... maybe you wouldn't. But I can tell you a lot of people wouldn't. And are happy to put up with OOo's relatively minor shortcomings to get off the MS Office upgrade treadmill.

Re:How 'bout the Interface? (1)

rmcd (53236) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749659)

I find that Office 2003/2007 has a "fit and finish" that is light years ahead of OO. There are little things like the visual indicator when you have copied a region in Excel, that I find I miss in OO. However, when 2007 came out I switched to using OO whenever possible because I just cannot stand the toolbar. (And I also think it unbelievably presumptuous to require all users to switch en masse between hugely different interfaces. It's either lazy engineering --- Borland's office tools let you pick your menu system 20 years ago --- or a deliberate ploy for lock in.)

Re:How 'bout the Interface? (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749883)

every oo developer should admit it that their code is buggy and slow. only then will any improvement occur.
on the ribbon ui, it does not make much difference to me. i search everytime i need to find something.

Dont bet it all on the openoffice horse. (1)

miffo.swe (547642) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749081)

I would much prefer if the openoffice developers, abiword, koffice and the rest put much more work into making odf displaying flawlessly between them than people putting much work into forking openoffice.

I personally doesnt like openoffice much but primary because its an MS Office clone. The copy can only be so much better than the original.

Re:Dont bet it all on the openoffice horse. (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749557)

Exactly. It would be better to group together and fight MS than to fight each other which MS would probably love to see happen.

How about a mix? (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749109)

Move to less control by Oracle, but keep it selling under the Oracle/Sun umbrella. Oracle WANTS to destroy MS's monopoly, the same as most ppl in our industry. After that, we can have innovation again.

Re:How about a mix? (1)

pseudonomous (1389971) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749253)

I would be much more cynical about that, Oracly WANTS to destroy MS's monopoly and usurp it for itself, if at all possible. The only way we're going to foster innovation and interoperability is if no one company ever achieves 90% market penetration again.

Re:How about a mix? (1)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749483)

While it is POSSIBLE for OO to get 90% of the market, it can not hold it. The reason is that with it being opensource, others will simply come up with new interefaces, but use the same file format. In fact, I suspect that WP, Ami, and MS Office would all become competitive again.

Re:How about a mix? (1)

sourICE (1480471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749541)

I would be much more cynical about that, Oracly WANTS to destroy MS's monopoly and usurp it for itself, if at all possible. The only way we're going to foster innovation and interoperability is if no one company ever achieves 90% market penetration again.

I don't see any problem with 90% market penetration if the product is a good product. As they say there is no use in re-inventing the wheel.

The reason why Microsoft is such a bad company to have achieved such great market penetration is because of it's bully attitude and held back technology(source code).

I think the deep-seeded reason for monopolies succeeding is our flawed patent system, copyrights, etc. When you allow one company to own rights to a single idea, how can you prevent a monopoly on it?

Re:How about a mix? (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 5 years ago | (#27751249)

Move to less control by Oracle, but keep it selling under the Oracle/Sun umbrella. Oracle WANTS to destroy MS's monopoly, the same as most ppl in our industry. After that, we can have innovation again.

Microsoft has a monopoly on product X as much as Lotus 123 has on spreadsheets.

Their stock price has decreased to about 1/2 of the value 10 years ago. I can't think of a compelling product or service that they have to change that fact. In comparison, Apple's stock is over 10x the price it was 10 years ago.

A monopoly would suggest an opposite trend.

On a different topic, if you can see my .signature, its not a ploy on Microsoft, but rather I find the truth of the statement, err, interesting.

StarOffice originally to save Sun Windows licenses (5, Informative)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749157)

Sun bought StarOffice to save money on Windows licenses:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star_office#History [wikipedia.org]

The number one reason why Sun bought StarDivision in 1999 was because, at the time, Sun had something approaching forty-two thousand employees. Pretty much every one of them had to have both a Unix workstation and a Windows laptop. And it was cheaper to go buy a company that could make a Solaris and Linux desktop productivity suite than it was to buy forty-two thousand licenses from Microsoft. (Simon Phipps, Sun, LUGradio podcast.)

Sun open sourced Star Office because they could, but that was a secondary motivation.

Does Oracle have the same objectives? Probably not, since I imagine their employees have a lot of other software that requires Windows.

Since Oracle doesn't need to use Star/OpenOffice internally, then they have less motivation to control the project that Sun does.

Re:StarOffice originally to save Sun Windows licen (1)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749301)

Could IBM in turn purchase the Star Office division from Oracle?

IBM only has access to the OOo 1 codebase for Lotus Symphony currently.

Bad deal then (2, Insightful)

Cold hard reality (1536175) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749693)

$73 million / 42000 employees = $1700 per employee. Would have been cheaper to buy 42000 StarOffice licenses for $2.1 million.

Re:Bad deal then (1)

iamhigh (1252742) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749747)

Yeah, I had to check that math too. Even Office would have been cheaper at full price, much less the massive discount you would get for that quantity.

Re:StarOffice originally to save Sun Windows licen (1)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749869)

It's hard to tell when Sun is telling the truth. It was only a few years earlier when Mcnealy was saying he had banned office suites at Sun. How can you save money replacing MS Office when you're not using it?

Forget M$ and OO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749187)

vi does all you need.

Re:Forget M$ and OO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27749707)

Yeah. vi is the best spreadsheet out there!

/eyeroll

Re:Forget M$ and OO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27751059)

No, but gnumeric is. :)

You need more than OpenOffice. (3, Insightful)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749297)

Others prefer to take their chances under Larry Ellison, saying Oracle's take-no-prisoners salesforce and grudge against Microsoft could benefit OpenOffice.org

The geek sees an office suite.

What Microsoft really sells is the MS Office environment.

Integrated Client-Server solutions for damn near everything your people will ever need - solutions which scale "effortlessly" from the home office to the enterprise. On-line resources and third-party support that are miles wide and deep.

The geek doesn't have a clue.

Recruiting workers who are comfortable and productive in the MS Office environment is trivially easy for anyone based south of the North Pole -
and even there you could probably set up shop on the remnants of the ice pack without much trouble.

Re:You need more than OpenOffice. (2, Insightful)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27749447)

Integrated Client-Server solutions for damn near everything your people will ever need - solutions which scale "effortlessly" from the home office to the enterprise

When do they start selling this to normal customers? I have newer seen the word "effortlessly" used to describe sharepoint and exchange before.

Re:You need more than OpenOffice. (2, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750809)

Ugh. Even in a corporate environment, Sharepoint is a flaming pile of shit. You can only use IE to really get anything done, which means you have to use Windows, every time I connect to our internal one it has 3 or 4 different fucking htaccess-style login boxes I need to ok because it pulls things from multiple places. I'm sure IE has something behind the scenes to make that all invisible, but it sure as hell isn't a web standard.

Dust The Anti-Trust RuleBook (1)

aoheno (645574) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750451)

If the anti-trust rulebook is dusted and opened, the deal may fall apart or be watered down because of the intricacies involved.

Oracle and Sun are not completely isolated from the rest of the world. IBM is likely to have patents that can be leveraged to throw a wrench in the works. They are not out of the picture, unless their coterie of lawyers is of the 'wimpy' kind likely to be waterboarded into submission.

Copylefts (1)

paxcoder (1222556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27750665)

If indeed such a foundation was to be founded, it should consider returning copyright to authors (at least on request), as Sun required the code to be copyrighted to be surrendered to the company.
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