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SoftMaker Office 2008 vs. OpenOffice.org 3.1

kdawson posted about 5 years ago | from the attempted-dethroning-using-nerf-bats dept.

Software 214

snydeq writes "InfoWorld's Randall Kennedy examines would-be Microsoft Office competitors SoftMaker Office and OpenOffice.org and finds the results surprising. OpenOffice.org — frequently cited as the most viable Office competitor — has pushed for Office interoperability in version 3.1, adding import support for files in Office 2007's native Open XML format. But, as Kennedy found in Office-compatibility testing, that support remains mostly skin deep. 'Factor in OpenOffice's other well-documented warts — buggy Java implementation, CPU-hogging auto-update system, quirky font rendering — and it's easy to see why the vast majority of IT shops continue to reject this pretender to the Microsoft Office throne,' Kennedy writes. SoftMaker Office, however, 'shows that good things often still come in small packages.' Geared more toward mobile computing, the suite's 'compact footprint and low overhead make it ideal for underpowered systems, and its excellent compatibility with Office 2003 file formats means it's a safe choice for heterogeneous environments where external data access isn't a priority.'" Note that SoftMaker Office is not free software — it costs $79.95 — and there is no version for Macintosh.

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214 comments

Another Shitty Knockoff? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28534917)

Is this another one of those Open Sores programs that you sycophants assume is better than what Microsoft produces.

After my experience with Linux, I have to seriously question a the sanity of Open Sores advocates who seem convinced of their software's superiority.

It's clear to anyone who has used this garbage and it's non-communist competition which software is better.

Save your toy office suites for your toy operating system.

Another Shitty Malware magnet? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535469)

Is this another one of those nonfree programs that you M$ astroturfing trolls assume is better than what free software authors produce.

After my experience with M$ Windoze, I have to seriously question a the sanity and intelligence of nonfree software advocates who seem convinced of their software's superiority.

It's clear to anyone who has used this garbage that free, non-communist software is better.

Save your malware attracting office suites for your malware attracting operating system.

--
Friends don't help friends install M$ junk.
Friends do assist M$ addicted friends in committing suicide.

Re:Another Shitty Malware magnet? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535895)

You just couldn't help yourself, could you twitter.

Face it - your Open Sores advocacy promotes lousy software.

History (2, Interesting)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | about 5 years ago | (#28534921)

One of the coolest things about german Softmaker is the software they made for the old Windows CE platforms like my old HPC ïHP Jornada 680. This included Word that could actually edit MS Word files and Excel that did something more than just display data.

Re:History (3, Informative)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | about 5 years ago | (#28535001)

If anyone cares. The software for Windows CE by Softmaker was called "Textmate" and "Planmaker", for word and excel (in that order).

Re:History (2, Informative)

googlesmith123 (1546733) | about 5 years ago | (#28535301)

TextMaker

Re:History (0, Troll)

davester666 (731373) | about 5 years ago | (#28535465)

Um, everybody contracts "Windows CE" to just "wince", for obvious reasons.

What timing (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 5 years ago | (#28534983)

I've been dealing with a rash of OpenOffice compatibility problems with MS Office that I hope don't cause my business plan to bomb in a local business plan competition. I've been discovering that the way it saves .doc files doesn't quite match with how MS Office reads them, so things end up misaligned - tables broken up, images out of place, etc. And don't even get me started on docx... I'm going to try to get a revised (MS Office-saved) version in, but I hope it's not too late.

Re:What timing (3, Informative)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | about 5 years ago | (#28535047)

To be fair, I had one Word project crumble because the damn program wasn't compatible with itself, after five minutes of sitting around. This is something even Microsoft can't get right 100% of the time.

I think the author's overstating OO.o's negatives a bit, but that's just me. I like the way it highlights text better.

Re:What timing (2, Insightful)

IntlHarvester (11985) | about 5 years ago | (#28535175)

To be fair, I had one Word project crumble because the damn program wasn't compatible with itself, after five minutes of sitting around. This is something even Microsoft can't get right 100% of the time.

I've been using Word for like 20 years, and this has happened maybe once or twice.

"Word isn't perfect so you might as well gamble on OpenOffice" is a frequently used argument, but not a very compelling one.

Re:What timing (4, Informative)

Cornelius the Great (555189) | about 5 years ago | (#28535265)

I use Word at work for engineering requirements and software documentation and it's a common occurrence- I've seen several instances of making a small change (no formatting), saving it, and reopening it to find the formatting completely corrupted. Furthermore, while Office 2007 has fixed many of the formatting issues I saw in 2003, it's equally frustrating when docs (not docx files, but plain old ".doc") would display differently between 2003 and 2007 (half of the office hasn't made the switch yet).

This means that only the 2-3 developers who have Word 2007 installed can officially save and commit changes to our official process documents and software documentation.

Say what you will about OpenOffice- they at least can maintain consistent tabs across different versions.

Re:What timing (4, Insightful)

gbarules2999 (1440265) | about 5 years ago | (#28535329)

I've been using Word for like 20 years, and this has happened maybe once or twice.

Lucky you. Too bad I run into that issue on a regular basis every time I go print something by one of the nearby libraries or computer labs. What a nightmare.

"Word isn't perfect so you might as well gamble on OpenOffice" is a frequently used argument, but not a very compelling one.

Neither is "OpenOffice isn't perfect so you might as well just forget about it and pay the money for Word."

I have no problems with anyone using either program; use what works for you. It just not fair to pick on one for having the same exact problem as the other with incompatibility.

Re:What timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535727)

I've used MS Office and OpenOffice for about a decade each, and I've had this problem maybe four or five times in each application. Using either application when correct rendering matters is a gamble, in my opinion.

Re:What timing (1)

WitheringtonSmythe (1444157) | about 5 years ago | (#28535417)

That is not being fair that is assuming a pretty unusual bug is the same thing as a general incompatibility which is really stupid.

Re:What timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535939)

Unusual bugs that break HTML/CSS/etc in web browsers are considered compatibility issues, why not apply the same standard to document editors?

Re:What timing (4, Interesting)

mpapet (761907) | about 5 years ago | (#28535123)

I've been discovering that the way it saves .doc files doesn't quite match with how MS Office reads them

Hahaha!!! Microsoft is no better at retaining formatting than OpenOffice. I had one particularly wasteful work day attempting to edit a complex Word doc with embedded images, tables authored on Mac with French as the default language. We were each on different versions of Office too. The language of the document was Fr-english, so I was supposed to clean up the language a little.

I spent Hours spent attempting to keep the document open long enough to get the information out of it before it would crash Word again. Hours!!!!!

Do yourself and them a favor and send them a PDF. They'll think you are a big-shot with your Adobe Acrobat software and everything!!!

Re:What timing (1)

the_womble (580291) | about 5 years ago | (#28535603)

I agree. If people do not need to edit your document a PDF looks MUCH better, and it will always look the same - no worrying about different versions etc.

Re:What timing (5, Informative)

Jim Hall (2985) | about 5 years ago | (#28535131)

I've been dealing with a rash of OpenOffice compatibility problems with MS Office that I hope don't cause my business plan to bomb in a local business plan competition. I've been discovering that the way it saves .doc files doesn't quite match with how MS Office reads them, so things end up misaligned - tables broken up, images out of place, etc. And don't even get me started on docx... I'm going to try to get a revised (MS Office-saved) version in, but I hope it's not too late.

BTW, the problem is just as bad with Microsoft Word rendering other Microsoft Word files. Just this morning, I saw this example in action in a meeting.

Last night, one of the attendees sent out some notes for us to read before the meeting. We all dutifully printed out our copy of the doc, and brought it with us to the meeting.

Despite the fact that we all run Microsoft Office (yes, the document was created with Microsoft Office) there were 3 different versions of the printed doc at the meeting. You could tell by looking around that one version of the doc (printed from Microsoft Office for Macintosh) was aligned in a weird way when moving text around a table. Another version of the doc (Microsoft Office 2007) put a pagebreak in a different spot than everyone else's copy, and put an extra blank line between a table and its caption. This was a 3-page doc with an enumerated list of paragraphs, so differences were easy to spot when looking around the table.

This was a Word document in plain DOC format, not DOCX.

If you have a document that absolutely must preserve formatting, send it as a PDF.

Re:What timing (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28535933)

One shouldn't ever use DOCs for that sort of thing, ever. I thought everybody realized what a security problem they were years ago. Beyond that there's the compatibility headaches and requiring people to us a compatible office suite.

At this stage, I'm not sure that ODF is any better, but I've pretty much always had good luck using RTFs. And PDFs are great if you're just wanting them to print them.

Re:What timing (2, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#28536247)

The common reason I find for people emailing word documents is when they are negotiating contracts. Then you see .docs being emailed between the parties and their advisers, with people suggesting various changes to the document. The final version will generally be distributed in pdf, but the discussion drafts need to be in word format so people can make changes to it.

Compatibility Mode (1)

R4nm4-kun (1302737) | about 5 years ago | (#28536043)

Well, I think Microsoft will solve the compatibility problem "a la" Windows7. Office 13 will load Office 2007 that will load Office2003 that will load OfficeXP and so on, and so on.

Re:What timing (1)

BikeHelmet (1437881) | about 5 years ago | (#28536487)

I've found OpenOffice to be quite consistent with Word 2000 and 2003 for simple formatting. Never tested it against Word 2007, but your point about different versions of Office is totally valid.

Re:What timing (3, Insightful)

SparkEE (954461) | about 5 years ago | (#28535181)

Does the competition actually require you to send in your plan as a .doc file? You should be able to send it in as a pdf or postscript.

It just always really irks me that people ask for finished documents in an editor's format. If people would just stop having this dumb expection, then it wouldn't matter if my tool of choice was Word, Ooo, Pages, Correl, html, or LaTex. They're all able to send out postscript files, and usually able to generate pdf these days.

The only time .doc files should be getting sent around is within a single team or corporation, where you have a reasonable expection that your coworkers have the same program available that you do.

Re:What timing (1)

Rei (128717) | about 5 years ago | (#28536263)

They like them in .doc so that they can play with embedded spreadsheets for financial statements and balance sheets.

Re:What timing (2, Interesting)

datapharmer (1099455) | about 5 years ago | (#28535243)

The proper rendering of documents is one of the main reasons PDF was created. If they require that you submit in some proprietary format that has known problems with rendering that shouldn't count against you. oh wait - its a BUSINESS competition... never mind.

Re:What timing [PDF stinks] (2, Insightful)

Tablizer (95088) | about 5 years ago | (#28535587)

But PDF is annoying in many ways. First, it's difficult to copy-and-past from. Second, the page navigation system is different from both typical word-processors and web browsers (HTML), at least for Adobe. And third, the fonts always look blurry to me.

Re:What timing [PDF stinks] (2, Informative)

Rude Turnip (49495) | about 5 years ago | (#28535785)

It is not difficult to copy and paste from. I probably do this on a daily basis. The only time you can't copy and paste is if the document author was an idiot and blocked the copy/paste/print functions, or if the source content for the PDF was a scan of an older printed document.

The page navigation system is no different than word processors or web browsers. In fact, it's a little more optimized. Using Adobe's reader, you can even turn on thumbnails and skim through a document like you're using microfilm.

If the fonts look blurry, that is a function of the source document and not the PDF format. G-I-G-O.

Re:What timing [PDF stinks] (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#28535899)

I'm sure everybody is aware that PDF has annoyances. But that's very different than the situation with DOC or PPT, which are utterly broken in almost every respect. PDF actually works for its intended purpose, which is why it is so successful. DOC and PPT are only prevalent because of marketshare, not because they are useful.

Re:What timing [PDF stinks] (1)

PitaBred (632671) | about 5 years ago | (#28535915)

For your first point, get a better reader. It's not that hard to copy text out if you have a decent PDF viewer (and the data is actually in text, not an image of text, which is quite common). For your second point, that again depends on the reader, but I find it quite intuitive, and not really that different from word processors. You press page down, you go down to the next page... select a page number, it jumps to that page. How is that different than most word processors? As for your third comment, again, get another PDF viewer. They all render the text themselves, and can many times do it differently. I like Foxit reader on Windows, and just use kpdf on Linux. Works great, no blurry text.

Re:What timing [PDF stinks] (1)

cetialphav (246516) | about 5 years ago | (#28536407)

It's not that hard to copy text out if you have a decent PDF viewer

I have always run into problems in trying to copy and paste out of pdfs (this is with a variety of readers). For example, if the text is layed out in mutiple columns, selections cross columns instead of flowing down the column, which is not what is wanted. You also run into problems with ligatures. For example, fi can be combined into a single glyph and that is what gets copied and pasted instead of the two individual characters.

Re:What timing [PDF stinks] (2, Interesting)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#28536169)

You can fix the blurry text as follows:

Right click on the document, and click "Page Display Preferences", then click on "Page Display" in the side menu, and in the "Rendering" section, select Smooth Text: "For Laptop/LCD screens".

Adobe uses its own font rendering system rather than the one in Windows, and clear-type is not the default setting.

If you are using the Mac, the same procedure applies except that you may have to ctrl-click if you only have one mouse button.

Re:What timing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535707)

Yes, Microsoft has continued to make things incompatible, even if ever so slightly. And not just with competitors, but with their own software, forcing people to buy their latest and greatest.

And then people blame the other software manufacturers, and buy Microsoft's latest.

Nothing new here, move along.

Re:What timing (2, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | about 5 years ago | (#28535825)

This is a valid concern, but is not really an issue with the office suite. If the goal is consistent display across products, this will never happen with any office product. There is simply little incentive. Any software developer is going to want all users to use their product, at the latest version. There is almost no incentive to build interoperability outside of the proprietary suite. This is the primary reason why I stopped using MS Office. I would send stuff out, and people, who were using a more recent version, could not read my files. Since they were the customer, it was my responsibility to upgrade, but I did not have the money. The solution was to move OO.org which was more likely to be able to write files in whatever version of MS Office the customer was using.

The issue really is the state of MS Office as a defacto standard, which really never really existed because there is no cross platform year after year guarantee that files will remain accessible. The way to insure that formating will remain constant across platform and through time, at least so far, is the PDF file. I laugh every time I get a .doc memo. I think how simple it would be to change the memo slightly, spoof the address, and get someone in trouble. MS Office security is not nearly as secure as Adobe PDF.

Back to the subject. PDF is a better way to exchange files, as long as they do not need to be edited. MS can provide a superior solution where files are edited. HTML is also good for distribution of files. I have also taken to converting my presentations into HTML or flash. Again, I see all these presentations on the web. Change the presentation, hack, upload, frivolity ensues.

My current situation is that I have machines that run MS Office 2003, and other runs later versions. The later versions tend to bork the 2003 files, and I will not even deal with the later version in 2003. I have OO.org installed, and if 2003 will not work I use OO.org.

Re:What timing (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#28536217)

The key lesson here is that where two or more people are going to be working on a document, it's a very good idea that they all be using the same software and same version of that software. Even mixing in matching between, say, Office 2007 and Office XP can lead to formatting issues.

"Interoperability" is not a strong suit of any of office suite I've seen. Even RTF can be mangled if you're working with different versions.

Re:What timing (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#28535889)

use PDF

Re:What timing (1)

Rei (128717) | about 5 years ago | (#28536171)

Whoa! I'm "Flamebait" for reporting the problems I've had with OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office, on an article about OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office?

Wow, tough crowd.

Here's the real issue: (0, Flamebait)

DrGradus (1515733) | about 5 years ago | (#28535009)

"I evaluated OpenOffice.org 3.1 under the 32-bit version of Windows Vista..." Found the bug!

KOffice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535011)

This was not a comparison I was particularly interested in.

Re:KOffice (2, Interesting)

Sparr0 (451780) | about 5 years ago | (#28535607)

Ditto. Or the Gnome suite (Abiword, Gnumeric, etc). Hell, I still maintain multiple installations of StarOffice. There are so many alternatives out there, but no one ever considers most of them.

"good things often still come in small packages" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535043)

CmdrTaco and his 3" dick must be the exception that proves the rule.

Scores: OpenOffice 7.4 vs SoftMaker 7.7 (4, Insightful)

InsertWittyNameHere (1438813) | about 5 years ago | (#28535057)

All that OpenOffice bashing and SoftMaker Office boasting and there's only a negligible scoring difference between them?

From reading the article you'd think OpenOffice was crap (less than 5) and SoftMaker Office was the greatest thing next to sliced bread (8+)...

Re:Scores: OpenOffice 7.4 vs SoftMaker 7.7 (3, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | about 5 years ago | (#28535129)

Are we using the reviewer's scale where anything better than notepad is a 4? If so that could actually be a real difference... Anyway, I wasn't aware this company was trying to take on Office so interesting news. A bit of a slashvertisement but it gets very one sided when we get all the OSS releases/raves and nothing else.

Why are you calling it an article? (4, Insightful)

msimm (580077) | about 5 years ago | (#28535211)

I thought it was an ad?

Re:Scores: OpenOffice 7.4 vs SoftMaker 7.7 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535541)

Agreed. Since when was the latest version of MS Office still a contender at all? That ribbon interface did nothing but make the entire app unusable. Sure you can talk about file formats but when it comes to usability OO.org at least makes things simple enough that power users aren't forced to relearn basic tasks.

Ever moved to an English-speaking country and been forced to change how you use the words "and" and "the"... no. Because they're so friggin basic that people don't change them for compatibility reasons.

Thick red-rose pillocks (-1, Offtopic)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#28535073)

Manchester has suffered from several viruses. One was an email that said "Forward this to 20 people, then delete your c:\windows directory. If you do, you'll get a pie!".

PR pimps + magazine whores = slashvertisements (1)

olderphart (787517) | about 5 years ago | (#28535085)

Nothing to see here.
--
phunctor

IBM Symphony (1)

hilather (1079603) | about 5 years ago | (#28535095)

Is far superior to either of these. Google it. It has the closest compatibility with microsoft office. I would post a link to it but I'm on my iPhone.

Symphony is free as in beer.

Re:IBM Symphony (3, Informative)

mail2345 (1201389) | about 5 years ago | (#28535127)

Link for all you lazy people:
http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/home.nsf/home [lotus.com]

Re:IBM Symphony (1)

Abreu (173023) | about 5 years ago | (#28535949)

.nsf/home

For a second I read ".nsf/work"

Re:IBM Symphony (2, Informative)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 5 years ago | (#28536269)

It's also... OpenOffice.org based.

Slashvertisment (5, Insightful)

R4nm4-kun (1302737) | about 5 years ago | (#28535107)

Either I am really stupid (which is possible I won't deny it), or this is clearly a hidden advertisement on Slashdot for SoftMaker Office. To be anywhere near a fair comparison they should have included IBM Lotus Symphony, KOffice, StarOffice and others. Not compare OpenOffice to some commercial product I don't think many people ever heard about.

I don't understand why this has made it to the frontpage.

Answer.. (2, Informative)

msimm (580077) | about 5 years ago | (#28535227)

Kdawson, boner, cute girl in advertising. And that's the optimistic version!

Re:Answer.. (1)

Sponge Bath (413667) | about 5 years ago | (#28535325)

And that's the optimistic version!

You think it's improbable Kdawson can get a boner?

Re:Answer.. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28535979)

Well, he certainly seems to make a lot of them. Perhaps it's a picture of Kdawson in the advert.

Re:Slashvertisment (3, Interesting)

Zantetsuken (935350) | about 5 years ago | (#28535487)

Also, they should have included Go-OpenOffice [wikipedia.org] , as this is what is in most mainstream GNU/Linux distro repositories and not the vanilla OpenOffice that you download from Sun. Also, as you mentioned comparing with IBM Lotus Symphony, they should mention that it's based on the older OpenOffice 1.1.4 due to that being the last version the upstream with a particular dual license of LGLP and one of Sun's licenses...

Re:Slashvertisment (1)

Mystra_x64 (1108487) | about 5 years ago | (#28535545)

That's rather pathetic way of showing advertisement for those who turn their JS off and have /.s "Ads Disabled" option on...

Re:Slashvertisment (1)

R4nm4-kun (1302737) | about 5 years ago | (#28535833)

I have JS and Ads on, because I want to contribute a bit back, so I don't understand why I'm being "punished" like this (just using Opera with some custom filters, guess it's blocking some of the ads, so funny sig btw). But really, I'm quite upset right now, I hope this is the last time I'll see something like this, or I'm considering not "seeing" Slashdot anymore.
I might also be subjective, I really like OpenOffice.

Skin deep? (2, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | about 5 years ago | (#28535115)

I haven't had any trouble with any MS Office files I've thrown at OpenOffice. Granted I mostly open MS Word documents but they've all opened fine. Far more impressive to me was when I dug out an MS Office for Mac file from about 15 years ago and THAT opened in OpenOffice even though MS Word for Windows wouldn't have anything to do with it.

So while I'm sure there are certain files which don't convert well I've been extremely happy with OpenOffice's support so far. I'm less happy about the general level of bloat and lower level of usability that comes with the product. I can't help wonder who thought it would be a great idea to toss in Python, Java, StarBasic and god knows what other runtimes into this app. There is a very cobbled together feel about the whole thing.

Why so few contenders? (2, Interesting)

Absolut187 (816431) | about 5 years ago | (#28535151)

How hard can it be to write a better word processing program?
MS Word is terrible!
Why doesn't Blizzard or some other studio do it?
You could make millions if you just write something that (A) can read/write Word files and (B) isn't a total piece of crap.

Re:Why so few contenders? (1)

datapharmer (1099455) | about 5 years ago | (#28535285)

The problem is (A). Not even microsoft has figured out how to do that between versions.

Re:Why so few contenders? (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#28536011)

The problem is (A). Not even microsoft has figured out how to do that between versions.

This just brings us right back to the question you were trying to answer.

Microsoft isn't very good at developing software, so it's not surprising that they can't write a decent word processor. However, there are hundreds of more talented software companies on the planet - so why can't they do it?

I think the answer is pretty obvious. It's not about the quality of software. People can and do write better word processors than Microsoft. It's just that the business world dominates this category of software, and they just go with Microsoft by default.

Re:Why so few contenders? (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | about 5 years ago | (#28535287)

While the two aren't 100% mutually exclusive, (a) requires there to be a fair amount of crap in the code. The prior standardization of ODF was far from the only reason people were opposed to the standardization of Microsoft's formats. Even their new XML-based format is a steaming mess, and you can only polish a turd so far...

Re:Why so few contenders? (2, Insightful)

Astadar (591470) | about 5 years ago | (#28535297)

It's not hard to write a better one. It's hard to write one that's still compatible with the a) unpublished, b) quirkily implemented, c) voluminous spec that is MS word. At least sufficiently well enough to be a modest replacement.

I'm sure the folks at OO.o have been trying VERY hard to match Word behavior, but it's obviously not that simple.

I've run into several issues where OO.o doesn't render word docs properly and many more where an OO.o saved doc doesn't render properly at all in Word.

A shame, really. But that's the reason that we still have MS Office in the house. My wife and I use it for work just often enough that we can't afford not to have it.

Re:Why so few contenders? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#28535363)

Yes and MS can't do that even between Word versions.

WordPerfect, where's the Love? (1)

CrashNBrn (1143981) | about 5 years ago | (#28536287)

Yeah, I do miss the days before Word. I recall WordPerfect in splitscreen mode almost all the time - so I could see where the FontCodes were, where the underline code was, in voluminous green and black.

Of course it had keyboard shortcuts that only an Emac-aholic could love.

Re:Why so few contenders? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535477)

Yes, but A and B are contradictory; the Word format, in all its various revisions, forces crappiness upon anything capable of understanding it.

Re:Why so few contenders? (0)

kklein (900361) | about 5 years ago | (#28535765)

MS Word is terrible!

On what basis do you assert that? It is the industry standard and has more features--and more ways to get at them--than any word processor out there.

That isn't to say it's perfect; in fact, I have been using Apple's Pages more and more for simple documents. It's faster, and it handles styles correctly. Also, it separates comments from tracked changes, which is awesome.

That being said, any serious writing that I do, and certainly any collaborative work, is always done in Word. It has the best/most complete offering for tables, little things like line and paragraph numbering in the margin (you don't think about that until you need it--and only Word has it, as far as I know), and lots of scripting support, whether it be simple autotext entries, or entire standard tables that you can set to insert by tapping a few characters. Oh, and don't forget total control of keyboard shortcuts.

With absolutely no offense intended (I promise!), it seems to me that the only people who claim Word is "terrible" or that some other offering is better overall, are those who don't have to do a lot of word processing. Word does stuff that no one else does.

(Please god don't send the TeX zombies; I don't have time to explain to them that no, most fields do not use TeX, and I've actually never met anyone off of Slashdot who even knew what it was. Also, yes, I know it's not a word processor. I know. I know.)

Re:Why so few contenders? (2, Interesting)

Toonol (1057698) | about 5 years ago | (#28536203)

I'm in the process of editing a 150 page book with lots of tables and lists. About halfway through the process of writing it, I moved to OO because Word was creaking under the strain; it would glitch, it would repaginate differently from load to load, it was just unpleasant.

Open Office has seemed much more robust in that sense. It didn't open the document without problems; I had to do extensive reformatting. If this was something I would be exchange outside my company, I would have stuck with Word. But if you're using Open Office Writer from start to end, I think it is a respectable competitor to Word. (Calc, however, isn't quite there.)

Value (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535161)

They gave OpenOffice.org only a 9 out of 10 in value? Isn't value what you get for your money? It's still free right?

Re:Value (1)

Cornelius the Great (555189) | about 5 years ago | (#28535357)

Generally yes- the software is free. But to businesses paying salaried workers, throwing in free software that takes additional time and effort to learn can end up costing you more in the long run.

For the average geek and quick-learner, free software is worthwhile. For computer-illiterates, "free" can be an oxymoron.

Re:Value (2)

hedwards (940851) | about 5 years ago | (#28536285)

Have you tried the last few versions of MS Office? I mean seriously, the amount of training it would take somebody to go from Office XP to OO.org is less than the amount that would be required to make the switch to the current version of MS Office. At least at the default, there may be a way that I don't know about to give it older UI.

Trust me, those folks are going to have a lot more trouble trying to follow MS as it innovates its way along.

Re:Value (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#28536045)

No, value is about much more than money. Something can be free of cost, but still have negative value if it's a pain in the ass.

Competitor Not Clone (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535219)

OpenOffice may be a competitor to Microsoft Office but it is not a clone, and I wish people would stop always expecting it to be a clone.

OpenOffice provides the functionality that any modern office could require, and it does so in its own way. Although MS Office compatibility is provided, that particular feature is not the raison detre of the OpenOffice suite.

Let's start judging OpenOffice on what it can accomplish -- and it can accomplish a lot -- and not on just how it measures up to the Microsoft product.

Re:Competitor Not Clone (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 5 years ago | (#28535339)

Thats a nice idea... Unfortunately the only reason for many people to have a word processor is to read/write to Office files. Making the ability to do those crucial.

Re:Competitor Not Clone (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#28535379)

You have a very good point. The most important aspect of moving away from one software package to a replacement is that the replacement be able to import the original software's data. So, if you approach OpenOffice.org as a replacement to MS-Word, then you're not really all that worried about whether it can save in MS's doc format, so much as it reads it. Once you've got it into OO.org, then it seems rational that one would start using ODF file formats, rather than expecting OO.org to support not only the proprietary MS doc format, but also the underlying object model.

That being said, on the computers that I manage which are for public use, I have OO.org configured to save to MS formats by default. There are problems, but my attitude is that if these folks want to open and save their Word 2003 documents flawlessly, then they can go buy their own copy.

Internally, I use ODF almost exclusively, and I simply don't have these issues.

Evermore is another. (1)

LikwidCirkel (1542097) | about 5 years ago | (#28535229)

I've only tried Evermore Office, which is a near-perfect Chinese MS Clone that retails for $15 or $50 for the enterprise version. It even runs on Linux and possibly Mac. It works for me, but I still keep wishing there were a better free solution, because I really don't like OpenOffice.org, but I still use it for basic stuff.

Why pay $80 when you can get Office for $50 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535279)

So I can buy Softmake Office, a MS Word clone, for 80 bucks. Or I can wait for a sale and pick up MS Student and Home for 50 bucks and I get 3 licenses for that price...

Thanks but I'll stay with the free OpenOffice or I'll drop 50 bucks on the real deal.

Cripple Fight! (1)

pankkake (877909) | about 5 years ago | (#28535283)

They both suck.

SofMaker (3, Informative)

Brandybuck (704397) | about 5 years ago | (#28535303)

I purchased SofMaker suite since they support FreeBSD. It's decent software, much much lighter in weight in OpenOffice, and free of annoying featuritus. It's chief drawback is its proprietariness. If they ever open sourced it, I would banish OpenOffice forever from my harddrives.

Re:SofMaker (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | about 5 years ago | (#28535523)

Why would I use a Office suite which is free of features? I mean I want to actually use that think, don't I?

It would be like using Gnome. (Their basic idea was very good. But the implementation is horrible. I'm really objective here. I would have loved for Gnome to also be a software design success.)

When did it happen, that features became somehow uncool to a small but loud subset of the people (I guess)??
Is it perhaps, because the developers of software with features did not get the point of good defaults and how to put the settings dialogs and feature toggles in the background to not disturb newbies and people who are not really using the power? (For whatever reason.)

Re:SofMaker (2, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 5 years ago | (#28536035)

> Why would I use a Office suite which is free of features?

Because your actual requirements are meagre and more resemble the sort
of word processing programs that existed for home computer users before
Word Perfect wannabes became the forced defacto standard.

> When did it happen, that features became somehow uncool to a small but loud subset of the people (I guess)??

Once people realized they were being perpetually charged over and
over again for the same thing and when relatively pointless features
like the macro interpreter became a vector for malware.

Sometimes a simpler device that meets your need is better than using an overpriced corporate tool.

On the Mac (hey, it's already a slashvertisement) (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 5 years ago | (#28535451)

I've used NeoOffice, which is a native OS X port of OpenOffice, and also OpenOffice on Fedora. While it's certainly capable software, there do still seem to be some "gotchas" when it comes to MS Office interoperability - but the big issue is how ponderous it is. Java apps still seem to have this basic issue with not feeling "snappy".

Now I'm using the latest version of Pages from iWork. I started out just thinking of it as "maybe getting a little less dependent on Microsoft"; but I've found I just plain like it better than Word. I haven't run into any interoperability gotchas yet, either.

Re:On the Mac (hey, it's already a slashvertisemen (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28536469)

It's a popular misconception that OpenOffice's "snappiness" is affected by Java. Fact is, Java is used for a few wizards, macro languages, and little else. You don't have to install Java to use OO.

http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Java_and_OpenOffice.org

Please feel free to change this post to complain about "bloat", though (or any other unquantifiable term that makes you feel like a power user.)

Microsoft will Nurture SoftMaker (1)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 5 years ago | (#28535485)

If they have any sense. Not only does it shield them a little from euro trust-busting legislation, but it also propagates MS proprietary file formats and breeds developers that are familiar with them. None of these things is bad for MS in the long run. A near toothless competitor is a godsend to MS.

Obvious (1)

tiger32kw (1236584) | about 5 years ago | (#28535491)

Wait, something that cost $80 performs better than something that is free? Just blew my mind with this article.

Re:Obvious (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 5 years ago | (#28536109)

Yeah, open source and free software is always inferior to the expensive proprietary stuff. Linux users sure are cheapskates for not paying for much more expensive (= "obviously" better) solutions (Vista perhaps?). I don't know about you, but most people's time is much more expensive than any software (ok, some might call me on that and claim CS4 Suite is more expensive than their time - but anyway), so productivity is more important than price.
I use a combination of free & non-free software, since I simply choose the best. It is actually our CEO's dogma that engineers are more expensive than machines & software, so I am encouraged to buy whatever will do my job better. If it happens to be a free solution (which of course is often but not always), that's just a bonus.
Talking specifically about Open Office, it is definitely not one of my favorite open source projects, so I never use it as a "hey guys, why do you give all your $$ to MS when you can get this great thing for free" example...

Re:Obvious (1)

tiger32kw (1236584) | about 5 years ago | (#28536229)

Oh wow a self righteous linux post who saw that coming on slashdot.

In most circumstances you get a better product when it cost money than if it is free, in all aspects of life. There are of course exceptions to the rule.

A Better Test (1)

sk999 (846068) | about 5 years ago | (#28535539)

Randall should try creating a document on a Mac, editing it on an MS Windows PC, and opening it on a Linux machine. Let's see, MS Office, N/A, SoftMaker, N/A, OpenOffice ... we have a winner.

Most documents I get these days are in PDF format. The occassional MS Word documents are usually so simple that the best way to read them is using antiword. Just about every Excel file opens fine in OpenOffice 1.1. The most problematic powerpoints are those created by Mac users with embedded Quicktime files - no one else can see those.

For complex documents, the publishers I deal with require LaTex.

Yes, I do have access to MS Office, but now that it has been upgraded to 2007 with its ribbon interface, I have no idea how to use it anymore.

whither googledocs? (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about 5 years ago | (#28535645)

whither googledocs?

Buggy Java implementation... NOT (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28535653)

"Factor in OpenOffice's other well-documented warts - buggy Java implementation, ..."

OpenOffice ist not, and never was, written in Java. It's C++. And it's open source, so you can even look that up. The point is: Why does a review, whose reviewer didn't even bother to do elementary facts checking, end up on the front page?

Re:Buggy Java implementation... NOT (1)

Locutus (9039) | about 5 years ago | (#28535909)

Why does a review, whose reviewer didn't even bother to do elementary facts checking, end up on the front page?
 

when it's a slow news day and/or there's a need for more ad dollars.
 

Lob
 

GoBe Productive! (1)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 years ago | (#28535711)

Still rocks!

is this a stunt or truth (1)

the simurgh (1327825) | about 5 years ago | (#28535739)

must we be reminded that randall c kennedy is a man whose actions may be a bid for attention? he supposedly hates microsoft is now singing their praises. is this an attempt to stop the promised Microsoft lawsuit? hmm maybe. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_C._Kennedy [wikipedia.org]

Re:is this a stunt or truth (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 5 years ago | (#28536173)

Yeah, that's the most unbiased article I've ever seen on Wikipedia.

What's with the .org? (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#28535819)

Can anyone tell me why the Openoffice.org application has the .org in its name? That is usually used to designate a website's domain, not desktop software. It's really weird that they'd put that in the name of a piece of application software.

Re:What's with the .org? (1)

AmberBlackCat (829689) | about 5 years ago | (#28535963)

Apparently, Microsoft somehow got exclusive rights to the word Office. Or something like that.

Re:What's with the .org? (1)

dangitman (862676) | about 5 years ago | (#28536153)

How does adding .org make the word "office" disappear? In any case, Microsoft only has trademark rights to "Microsoft Office", not just any use of the word.

Re:What's with the .org? (3, Informative)

Zantetsuken (935350) | about 5 years ago | (#28536361)

Wikipedia:

The project and software are informally referred to as OpenOffice, but this term is a trademark held by a company in the Netherlands co-founded by Wouter Hanegraaff and is also in use by Orange UK,[3] requiring the project to adopt OpenOffice.org as its formal name.[4]

No version for Macintosh??! (1)

Farhood (975274) | about 5 years ago | (#28535879)

Pssht......remind me why I'm reading this?

sent from my iPhone.

Shameless Ad (1)

Hercules Peanut (540188) | about 5 years ago | (#28536599)

I'll agree with previous posts. This is nothing more than an add for a new app. I will NOT be visiting their site. Besides at $79(39 educational) I'll take iWork from Apple and have an awesome Presentation app and office compatibility, Of course we need another office format like we need a hole in the head but hey, you opened the flood gates with your fat price tag.
BTW: I still recommend OO to everyone. You can't beat free and it seems like a pretty solid office app on every platform. Frankly, I'd choose it over MS Office 2007 even if it were free. Have you seen the new interface? Awful!
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