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The Hidden Costs of Microsoft's Free Office Online

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the free-ain't-cheap dept.

Microsoft 174

Michael_Curator writes "Despite what you've heard, the online version of Office 2010 announced by Microsoft earlier this week won't be free to corporate users. Business customers will either have to pay a subscription fee or purchase corporate access licenses (CALs) for Office in order to be given access to the online application suite (Microsoft already does this with email — the infamous Outlook Web Access). But wait — there's more! A Microsoft spokesperson told me that customers will need to buy a SharePoint server, which ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000 with all CALs included, if they want to share documents created using the online version of Office 2010."

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well duh (5, Insightful)

goombah99 (560566) | about 5 years ago | (#28740203)

you need the server to run the apps inhouse rather than out of your control. The same is true of things like google docs and other cloud apps. either you run it on their servers and gove third parties access to your data or you pay to run it on your servers. this is not a surprise or even unreasonable.

Re:well duh (5, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#28740261)

Yeah, it sounds like the article is confusing free, online, other-party-hosted applications with non-free, online, self-hosted applications. Both have existed for a long time.

Since Microsoft's main bread and butter is MS Office, why would they offer a "free" version- offline or online, other than trialware, crippleware, or sampleware?

Re:well duh (-1, Troll)

MindStalker (22827) | about 5 years ago | (#28740485)

Because if it just "worked" it would catch wildfire and be extremely popular and would sell tons of copies. Many corporations will use these features but it won't catch fire because average joe won't pay for it and you need to stay compatible with joe.

Re:well duh (1)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | about 5 years ago | (#28740819)

Because if it just "worked" it would catch wildfire and be extremely popular and would sell tons of copies.

Which reality is it that you live in where Microsoft's Office suite is not extremely popular and does not sell tons of copies?

OH NO! (2, Interesting)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | about 5 years ago | (#28742067)

A for-profit, closed-source and highly-profitable company is going to charge real dollars for corporations and businesses that use their software!

How dare they! What gives Microsoft the right to adapt their successful business model to Application as a Service?

When will this outrage stop!

Really now, people. If you want free beer, let Google steal your companies IP and private communications.

If you want a free puppy, go to town on OOo and whatnot. :-)

Personally, I LIKE the puppy option, but not everyone is Caesar, the dog-whisperer.

Re:well duh (1)

jipn4 (1367823) | about 5 years ago | (#28741299)

Since Microsoft's main bread and butter is MS Office, why would they offer a "free" version- offline or online, other than trialware, crippleware, or sampleware?

Competition [google.com] perhaps?

Re:well duh (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28740471)

Sorry, it is certainly unreasonable if 3rd parties have access to my data. Suppose that all in one afternoon, I do Grandma's tax return, do a medicare application for Aunt Helga, make a resume for my son, etc, etc, etc, you're saying that ALL of that data should be accessible by unknown 3rd parties? Every application hosted in the web should supply my data to anyone, and everyone, around the globe?

Totally unreasonable.

This is why I am not entirely thrilled about the web. Notice, I'm not just picking on Microsoft here - the same applies to Google and any other company that might supply applications in the future.

Re:well duh (2, Informative)

larry bagina (561269) | about 5 years ago | (#28740729)

Additionally you have government regulations (enforced with jailtime and fines) for HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other shit.

Re:well duh (2, Insightful)

mick88 (198800) | about 5 years ago | (#28740851)

>This is why I am not entirely thrilled about the web.

Not thrilled about the web, eh? Hmm. I'm not sure this is the web's fault, to be honest.

If you pay attention to the comment you're replying to, you'll notice the post didn't suggest that all data be accessible by any and all unknown 3rd parties. But what he/she says is that when you do your tax return online with TurboTax, they have access to your data. That _is_ reasonable. Just like when you walk into a brick-and-mortar H&R block to do you tax return: H&R Block has access to your data too. There are privacy laws to prevent them from doing bad things with the data. But if you give info to any company, on the web or otherwise, they have access to your data.

Re:well duh (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28741357)

Sorry, fingers got ahead of the brain there. I meant "cloud", not "web". ;-)

Re:well duh (1)

bschorr (1316501) | about 5 years ago | (#28740949)

There are so many questions around "Cloud Computing" and SaaS when it's hosted by a web service.

* Where is your data?
* Who has access to your data?
* What happens to your data if the SaaS vendor goes out of business?
* What happens to your data if the SaaS vendor discontinues the app?
* What happens to your data if you have a dispute with the SaaS vendor? If you're late paying your bill or there is a disagreement about the fees charged?
* What if your data is stored in a foreign country? Could you be subject to the laws of that country? What if there is political instability in that country? What if it's a country that is unfriendly to your country?
* How do you perform compliance audits on a distant, disparate, data center?
* Does your SaaS vendor respect your document retention and lifecycle policies?
* How easy is it to take your data to a different vendor if you don't like the current one any more? ...and about a hundred more.

Re:well duh (0, Troll)

jipn4 (1367823) | about 5 years ago | (#28741387)

What makes you think your data is safe on your computer? Microsoft can access anything on your PC if they so choose. So can police and others. They don't even need to tell you about it.

Re:well duh (2, Funny)

bschorr (1316501) | about 5 years ago | (#28741493)

I don't know what country you live in but in the USA the police DO need to tell you if they access your PC. And if you think Microsoft gives a toss about your My Documents folder I think you've overestimated the value of those documents.

My $.02. Keep the change.

Re:well duh (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28741579)

ROFLMAO - Has Microsoft engineered a backdoor into all *nix machines, then? Assuming that all the stories about MS's backdoors really are true, assuming that the stories about the NSA's backdoors are true - that doesn't address breaking into a *nix machine. Yeah, I'm sure that either MS or NSA could get into my machine, if they really wanted to. *nix is secure, but I may or may not have configured the thing perfectly. Maybe they can get in. They have the resources to hire good crackers, if they want to. But, it will cost them.

It would make more sense for them to send a couple of cops out to my house with warrants to confiscate my machines. If that happened, THEN it would become a game of "who is more clever". Is my stuff really hidden, or can they get to it? You can damn sure bet that I'm not going to just GIVE it all to them. ;-)

Re:well duh (2, Insightful)

dkf (304284) | about 5 years ago | (#28742147)

It would make more sense for them to send a couple of cops out to my house with warrants to confiscate my machines. If that happened, THEN it would become a game of "who is more clever". Is my stuff really hidden, or can they get to it? You can damn sure bet that I'm not going to just GIVE it all to them. ;-)

Do you really think that's going to save you and your data? They can take images of the whole disks quite easily (there are hardware tools for doing this) and they most certainly can get someone who will tell them that if it's a truecrypt partition, they should make sure to check for multiple stacked encrypted partitions, especially if the dates of the innocuous files don't match up with recent use of the system.

The only thing that is saving you right now is the fact that you're not breaking any law they actually care about. (OK, I can't tell whether you're breaking any law at all, given the stupidity of some jurisdictions' legislatures, but I prefer to assume you're not going about committing felonies and bragging about it on slashdot. That would be jaw-droppingly dumb...)

By contrast, my defense is simple. If the cops want to know what I'm doing, they can just ask and I'll tell them in great detail. I've even got several presentations that will make my explanation easier, though the use of that much powerpoint might count as Assaulting A Police Officer...

Re:well duh (5, Insightful)

illumin8 (148082) | about 5 years ago | (#28740525)

you need the server to run the apps inhouse rather than out of your control.

Some things should be mentioned here for those that aren't familiar with Sharepoint.

I work for a Fortune 15 company and we are required to use Sharepoint, instead of a simple file server, to store all of our Office documents already. Sharepoint is a terribly, terribly flawed "workplace collaboration" software. It's basically a glorified WebDAV server that supports versioning, and also allows people to post little "widgets" like calendars that integrate with Outlook.

Sharepoint is Microsoft's answer to Mediawiki and other real media sharing web services. In fact, for 99% of all companies, Mediawiki running on an internal server would be much better than Sharepoint, and provide much more functionality, without requiring a copy of MS Office to be installed on everyone's client PC. But, corporate america, in their infinite wisdom, only trusts Microsoft products, so we get stuck with Sharepoint.

I hate the fact that I'm required to use a Microsoft browser to check out a Microsoft proprietary document, and edit it with a Microsoft proprietary office software package, then check it back in to a Microsoft proprietary server. This solution is the most difficult to use, from a usability standpoint, workflow point of view solution I have ever used before. Mediawiki would be a better solution for 99% of these purposes. I like the ability to just click "Edit" and start editing a page. Microsoft's solution is to keep all editing inside the Office suite, which requires checkout and checkin of each individual document. It's a terrible solution, rooted in an outdated "document centric" methodology.

Re:well duh (3, Insightful)

thethibs (882667) | about 5 years ago | (#28740727)

Let me understand this:

  • MediaWiki has a word processor that I can use to create large complex documents like Word does, send them to my clients, print them with layouts and typography that makes them a joy to read?
  • MediWiki has a world-class spreadsheet?
  • MediaWiki has a professional drawing package to compete with Visio?
  • MediaWiki has access control so that documents can be made accessible on a "need to know" basis?

No one is forcing your "Fortune 15" company to use SharePoint and fully-loaded office applications. They could use a geek toy instead (and ride to work on bicycles instead of BMWs). Your Corporate Architecture group made that decision. If you check, you'll find that they are actually qualified to make those kinds of decisions.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect strikes again.

Re:well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740909)

Sharepoint doesn't have any of those either.

You're mixing Office and Sharepoint like they're one product. They're very separate, and so is the pricetag for each. There's no reason I can't use Office with MediaWiki if that's what I prefer.

Re:well duh (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 5 years ago | (#28740947)

Other than the access control functions, Sharepoint doesn't do any of these things either.

Re:well duh (0)

thethibs (882667) | about 5 years ago | (#28741023)

Sharepoint and fully-loaded office applications do.

You must have missed the "I like the ability to just click "Edit" and start editing a page. " part.

You can still use OOo. And you can use MSO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741207)

You don't need Sharepoint, though.

That was his point...

Re:well duh (4, Informative)

JoshuaDFranklin (147726) | about 5 years ago | (#28740981)

You don't understand what Sharepoint is, do you? We rolled out MOSS Sharepoint and used it for a few months. Even Windows users preferred email because the interface made it so painful to find things. Sharepoint does not have any of the functionality you list, either. There is an add-on that includes access control, but guess what? Client machines much be logged into the same domain (or have a a trust set up). In other words, Sharepoint has no access control functionality that can be used any differently than a Windows Server fileshare! It also stores documents in a database, and as you get a lot of documents (say, 1000) performance degrades. Maybe Mediawiki is a bad comparison since it has a completely different feature set, but any business would be better served with an actual document management system like Alfresco. (People also seem obsessed with Sharepoint's "blogs" which have much less functionality than Wordpress.)

Re:well duh (4, Insightful)

popeyethesailor (325796) | about 5 years ago | (#28741415)

Well SharePoint doesn't do any of those things, and the Office integration part sucks. Have you seen system requirements for SharePoint for a large organization? Have you administered a non-trivial sized Sharepoint instance? Have you managed a SharePoint version to version migration? It's a PITA, and completely overkill for most applications. The OP was right, most people don't need SharePoint.

It's the new generation nightmare - almost like MS Access and Lotus Notes rolled into one - easy for some tasks, ridiculously painful for others. And don't get me started on the whole song & dance people go through to build custom applications on top of it...

Dunning-Kruger indeed.

Re:well duh (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#28740855)

Microsoft's solution is to keep all editing inside the Office suite, which requires checkout and checkin of each individual document. It's a terrible solution, rooted in an outdated "document centric" methodology.

Check out the Wiki or blog functionality in SP. Literally, click Edit, and off you go.

Re:well duh (2)

blincoln (592401) | about 5 years ago | (#28741687)

I hate the fact that I'm required to use a Microsoft browser to check out a Microsoft proprietary document

SharePoint 2007 works fine with FireFox, assuming you configure FireFox to pass your Windows credentials on and maybe a few other minor configuration changes. I imagine it will work with other modern browsers (in which category I do not include e.g. lynx).

and edit it with a Microsoft proprietary office software package

You can store any type of file you like in SharePoint, as long as the administrators don't have it on the blocked extension list.

Mediawiki would be a better solution for 99% of these purposes.

Most of the corporate users I work with love Excel and PowerPoint files in addition to their Word documents. How would you replicate that in MediaWiki?

Microsoft's solution is to keep all editing inside the Office suite, which requires checkout and checkin of each individual document. It's a terrible solution, rooted in an outdated "document centric" methodology.

That's how your organization is choosing to use SharePoint. It supports that model because it's supposed to be a replacement for (among other things) file shares and Exchange public folders. It also supports different usage models, including limited wiki-style pages.

If you think your organization has progressed into the documentless future of tomorrow, maybe you should try convincing other people there to work in that way using the tools they already have, and if it provides significant benefit you can steer them towards a product geared specifically toward that model.

Re:well duh (5, Informative)

jbeale53 (1451655) | about 5 years ago | (#28742163)

FYI, Sharepoint 2007 SP2 now supports Firefox with no config changes.

Re:well duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740607)

It sounds like a false alternative -- what corporation is going to trust their documents on Microsoft's servers? So now you have to pay extra when you 'choose' to run these apps in-house. It's kind of like Vista Home Basic.

Re:well duh (1)

arose (644256) | about 5 years ago | (#28740827)

either you run it on their servers and gove third parties access to your data or you pay to run it on your servers.

...and pay a third party to access your own server. Welcome to the wonderful world of CAL.

Move along... (1, Flamebait)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#28740217)

Why does the poster sound so surprised by the licensing and prerequisites? It is not like this is new behavior for Microsoft.

And you can bet it won't work with any other operating system except MS Windows, and won't work with any browser except IE.

Nothing new to see here... move along...

Re:Move along... (4, Informative)

sam0737 (648914) | about 5 years ago | (#28740305)

SharePoint (not 2010, i mean the current version) actually works well with Firefox. I have yet to noticed any different when browsing it with Firefox/IE7.

Re:Move along... (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#28740355)

Although that is good news, I would comment thusly:

1) Did you try it using Firefox on a non-MS-Windows computer?

2) The article is really about some type of browser-based MS-Office, not Sharepoint. So even if Sharepoint might work, it doesn't mean MS-Office will (I should think the odds would be much lower)

3) Microsoft has a nasty habit of allowing things to work with non-MS products/browsers/OS's AT FIRST. Then later that support starts to dwindle and disappear.

Re:Move along... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740463)

We run a mix of PCs and Macs, and I actually run Ubuntu with a VB version of 7RC. Our SharePoint site works well on PCs with IE7/IE8/Firefox, on the Macs with Firefox (Safari has permission issues and is generally unpleasant), and it even works decently on my Ubuntu with Firefox.

Re:Move along... (2, Informative)

illumin8 (148082) | about 5 years ago | (#28740475)

SharePoint (not 2010, i mean the current version) actually works well with Firefox. I have yet to noticed any different when browsing it with Firefox/IE7.

Actually, Sharepoint works terrible with Firefox. All of the advanced directory and file browsing features are disabled, since Firefox doesn't support the "Internet Explorer is your file browser" functionality that IE does. Sharepoint is basically just a glorified WebDAV server, but trust Microsoft to use proprietary IE only protocols instead of standard WebDAV, which would have worked with any standards compliant browser.

Re:Move along... (1)

lenehey (920580) | about 5 years ago | (#28740539)

My experience with Firefox and SharePoint is different. Most features work with Firefox, including just browsing and navigating. But there are a lot of features of SharePoint that just not work with anything but IE. Especially things like page editing.. I hare are so many problems using Firefox with SharePoint, I have the IE tab extension and have it set to use the IE rendering engine whenever I access our corporate SharePoint.

Re:Move along... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740569)

Editing things does not work very well unless you use IE.
But you probably use Office mostly for browsing documents, right?

Sharepoint has its own costs,
I have probably added up a weeks worth of payed hours but haven't gotten any closer to making it useful.

Re:Move along... (4, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#28740631)

SP works with Firefox at a basic level. Any of the higher level functionality (editing in place, slide libraries, checkout/in, etc.) needs IE, ActiveX, and Office.

The real name for SharePoint is Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. It's an online extension of the Office suite.

SharePoint as extension of Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741035)

The real name for SharePoint is Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. It's an online extension of the Office suite.

But Office is available for the Mac. So everything should work tickety-boo with Safari on OS X. Right?

Right?

Re:Move along... (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 5 years ago | (#28740803)

It crashes IE7 if you use some Microsoft add-ons - haven't taken time to figure out which one but they're all microsoft. I've not had any luck with Firefox doing anything but downloading docs - and sometimes that doesn't work either. The check out, edit, and upload certainly isn't functional in Firefox 3.07

Re:Move along... (2, Informative)

tonycheese (921278) | about 5 years ago | (#28740823)

I'm confused; when did Microsoft claim the suite was going to be free to corporate users? From the PC Pro article,

Microsoft says the online applications will be free to consumers and small businesses, via Windows Live. Larger businesses can choose to host their own versions of the web applications via their SharePoint server or buy them as a hosted service from Microsoft.

I found this article from the previous Slashdot summary about Office 2010.

Microsoft copying Apple? (1, Funny)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 years ago | (#28740239)

Maybe Microsoft has decided to become a hardware company like Apple claims it is. I wonder if the servers will be made in the same Chinese factories that make Macs.

Re:Microsoft copying Apple? (3, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 years ago | (#28740257)

No MS hardware involved. "A sharepoint server" is just your basic x86 server from anybody running a particular set of MS software.

Re:Microsoft copying Apple? (0, Flamebait)

Vinegar Joe (998110) | about 5 years ago | (#28740285)

Oh well then......Fuck Microsoft and Go Apple! :^)

A Bad Idea (2, Informative)

Techmeology (1426095) | about 5 years ago | (#28740243)

Cloud computing is a bad idea. It gives software companies an unprecedented level of control over our data. If they decided to up the price of their service, or withdraw it entirely, there is little we can do. Microsoft is famous for manipulative behavior. I would not endow them with this level of trust; nor would any other sane person. If you are looking for an alternative, might I suggest http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org] (many people I know also use it for its superior equation editor, in addition to the fact that it is free and open source).

Re:A Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 5 years ago | (#28740295)

Cloud computing is a bad idea.

Isn't that kind of a sweeping statement? Might it not be a good idea for some people?

It gives software companies an unprecedented level of control over our data.

It rather depends what you put on there and what kind of business you are, doesn't it? It also depends on your backup strategy. If they up the price of their service, you can migrate away. If they shut it off completely with no warning... well, you were keeping backups, right?

I would not endow them with this level of trust

Who's talking about trust? You use their service and you keep backups. You don't "trust" anyone.

If you are looking for an alternative, might I suggest http://www.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org] [openoffice.org]

Please tell me that your whole post wasn't just a plug for a free office suite that everyone on Slashdot is already aware of?

Anyway, other than saving a few hundred bucks per seat, OpenOffice isn't a "solution". It still requires more support compared to letting Google/MS be your IT department.

Re:A Bad Idea (3, Insightful)

Techmeology (1426095) | about 5 years ago | (#28740613)

It still requires more support compared to letting Google/MS be your IT department.

I believe you just made my point for me. Letting Google or Microsoft be your IT department is dangerous because they have a vested interest in the decisions your IT department makes.

Re:A Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740951)

What kind of paranoia is that? Do you also not buy vegetables because the growers have a vested interest in the decisions you would have to make if you were growing vegetables yourself?

The bottom line is that people are selling services. They are good at X so they sell doing X, whether it's growing food, painting your house, fixing your cavities, or maintaining your IT infrastructure. Dismissing this is basically rejecting the benefits of society. If you insist on doing everything yourself you might as well go live on a deserted island.

Re:A Bad Idea (2, Informative)

mR.bRiGhTsId3 (1196765) | about 5 years ago | (#28741025)

But at least Google/Microsoft have solutions in place for collaboration and other fun things. Some are even self-hosted if you want to fork over cash. What has OO.o got going for it? A free price tag is about it.

Re:A Bad Idea (1)

timeOday (582209) | about 5 years ago | (#28741175)

It rather depends what you put on there and what kind of business you are, doesn't it? It also depends on your backup strategy. If they up the price of their service, you can migrate away. If they shut it off completely with no warning... well, you were keeping backups, right?

Well, there goes one of the major savings from cloud computing then. If you can't rely on them to back it up, you still have to host all your data yourself (as backups). For that matter, having all your data sitting in a big tarball somewhere hardly counts as a backup unless the infrastructure is in place for all your enterprise users to switch over to it on demand.

Of course we both know hardly any cloud computing users will actually do that.

Re:A Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741627)

For that matter, having all your data sitting in a big tarball somewhere hardly counts as a backup unless the infrastructure is in place for all your enterprise users to switch over to it on demand.

I take from your context there that you take "on demand" to mean near instantaneously? How does the time delay between requesting the backup be restored and it actually being restored affect the factual statement "we have a backup"? You seem to be placing too much emphasis on speed of backup restoration rather than integrity and quality of data.

Re:A Bad Idea (1)

dkf (304284) | about 5 years ago | (#28742033)

Well, there goes one of the major savings from cloud computing then. If you can't rely on them to back it up, you still have to host all your data yourself (as backups).

You can buy backup space from another provider if you want, or do it yourself with your own equipment. If you want to do it yourself, you have to remember factoring in the costs of doing it properly, keeping the system up when you need it. If you care hugely about your data (which you might or might not do; not everyone feels the same) then you'll want to keep multiple backups in multiple locations, with at least one under your direct control. But it's up to you to work out how much you're willing to spend on caring.

For that matter, having all your data sitting in a big tarball somewhere hardly counts as a backup unless the infrastructure is in place for all your enterprise users to switch over to it on demand.

Of course we both know hardly any cloud computing users will actually do that.

Backups aren't the same as having hot replication; they have different purposes and different properties. Hot replicas tend to be far more liable to corruption by normal operations. Backups are for recovering from "oh shit" moments, and should be kept fairly long term, yet they're also slow. If you think they're the same... well, let's just say you're going to end up losing all your data and there won't be anyone around to save your sorry ass.

Re:A Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741261)

Cloud computing for some, miniature American flags for others.

The word for Microsoft is infamous. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740407)

"Microsoft is famous for manipulative behavior."

should be:

Microsoft is infamous for manipulative behavior.

Off topic, partly: If you have problems with Microsoft Office refusing to open its own file, open the file in the free, open source Open Office and save it. The file will then open in Microsoft Office.

So, Open Office is a necessary utility when you use Microsoft Office.

Re:The word for Microsoft is infamous. (1)

UnderLoK (552056) | about 5 years ago | (#28740573)

The part you forgot to mention is that you saved it in .doc from OOO to begin with.

Re:The word for Microsoft is infamous. (1)

Techmeology (1426095) | about 5 years ago | (#28740655)

Actually, I was sent some files a while ago which were exported from Office 2007 which refused to open in Office 2003 with Microsoft's compatibility program. The only way to open the file (I can't remember whether Office 2007 was just not available or whether the file had previously been opened and subsequently save, and then refused to open) was to use OpenOffice.org.

Re:A Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740893)

Your unoriginal ideas are boring. Almost every sentence in your post is misleading or wrong. Please think about that before you put post again.

Software licensing is cheap (3, Interesting)

hattig (47930) | about 5 years ago | (#28740283)

It's nothing compared to the cost of hiring a team of people to get sharepoint to do what you want it to do, and plenty of companies are happy to pay for them. It's also cheap on a per-user basis - remember how many tens of thousands you are paying them each year - not that this logic extends to buying them a decent computer.

Some software just works. Other software unnecessarily requires over the top maintenance and setup costs. I've never read anything good about sharepoint apart from the people who got wooed by the salesman over golf/dinner/piss up to buy it. Sadly these people are who controls decision making.

What's a good free sharepoint alternative, in a single package?

Re:Software licensing is cheap (0, Troll)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 5 years ago | (#28740405)

Oh god, I have to second that - Sharepoint is abysmally unproductive. From a technical point of view that you can put documents online and access them through a web browser, it works. However, for some reason, no sharepoint server has ever made it easy to find or access those documents, they always end up in a sprawl of links.

I wouldn't start top describe the 'addon' functionality as I doubt anyone really uses it.

Re:Software licensing is cheap (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#28740771)

However, for some reason, no sharepoint server has ever made it easy to find or access those documents, they always end up in a sprawl of links.

That's called "a crappy SharePoint admin" or "bad taxonomy" or "no forethought as to organization".
If that same person was in charge of a simple file share, it would be just as bad.

Re:Software licensing is cheap (1)

Shados (741919) | about 5 years ago | (#28740887)

You can access your documents via WebDav, and map the sites as Web Folders (Windows XP) or drive letters (Vista and up).

Doesn't exactly get much easier than that.

Re:Software licensing is cheap (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | about 5 years ago | (#28740837)

What's a good free sharepoint alternative, in a single package?

That works as 'seamlessly' with MSOffice (the default business suite) as SharePoint? There isn't one.

Re:Software licensing is cheap (2, Informative)

Shados (741919) | about 5 years ago | (#28740945)

SharePoint works fine. And you don't exactly need to pay a bundle for it if you just want document sharing and collabortion (since Sharepoint Services is a component of Windows Server. Only the souped up "enhanced" version costs, and has a million pieces to support).

I run Sharepoint on a one server virtual machine, and probably have an higher than average load on it, and its fine, and I definately don't need to maintain it much at all. And at work we're running one of the largest non-Microsoft sharepoint farm in the world, in a unix based environment (no active directory, lots of *nix clients, box linux box than windows box, etc) and while it sure has the hiccups than any webfarm of the size ends up having, it does work pretty good.

In any case, as of the latest version, Alfresco is a very respectable open source alternative that will run on Linux boxes and uses mainstream open source components, and is seen as "Sharepoint" from Office 2003/2007's point of view, and it integrates quite seemlessly with it. Give it a shot, its pretty damn good.

Re:Software licensing is cheap (1)

Shados (741919) | about 5 years ago | (#28740977)

just want document sharing and collabortion

Oh boy, talk about a typo I made there... the zealots will have a field day with this one. Whoops.

The moving target (1)

westlake (615356) | about 5 years ago | (#28742195)

What's a good free sharepoint alternative, in a single package?

SharePoint is part of the MS Office system.

What you buy - or rent - from Microsoft is a sophisticated - scalable - turnkey solution for a business of any size.

If you want to be competitive, you have to see how well the parts fit together.

New Features in SharePoint 2010:

The Ribbon.

Ribbon icons will now allow users to check in and check out documents as they are viewing document libraries. Companies will be able to customize the ribbon and even remove it in favor of the older user interface found in SharePoint 2007.

Web edit.

Site owners can edit their sites almost as if they were typical Office documents. Other user-focused upgrades include the ability to use Office themes in SharePoint.


Business Connectivity

The Business Data Catalog, introduced in SharePoint 2007, gets a makeover and a new name in SharePoint 2010. Business Connectivity Services now gives users the ability to read and write to business databases. Users can create, read, update, delete, and query that data, even publishing it to Office, so that data published to SharePoint via Business Connectivity Services can do things like show up as a selectable list of data in a form document in Word.


Other user-focused features include the addition of the ability to read Visio documents in SharePoint, and an upgraded version of Microsoft Groove, now renamed SharePoint Workspace and given improved data synchronization capabilities.


IT


Managers get improved administrative capabilities with a dashboard that uses the ribbon interface; a set of tools to monitor server farm health and data performance and fix common problems; and usage reporting and logging. Developers get a new set of tools and capabilities like a developer dashboard for easier debugging and a new programming interface, as well as built-in support for Silverlight.


Platforms

SharePoint 2010 will support Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari. However, it will not come in a 32-bit version, and will require Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2005 or 2008 (64-bit only). It will also no longer support Internet Explorer 6.0.

Microsoft Begins Detailing SharePoint 2010 [informationweek.com] July 15

I know, I know, the prevailing opinion is that SharePoint sucks, but in my experience, companies that grab hold of SharePoint integration with Exchange and MS Office, would rather give up their children than that combo.
Where is the competition for that ENTIRE feature set, for a comparative amount of money? Exchange-Outlook-SharePoint, baby! [slashdot.org] {July 12]

of course (0, Flamebait)

FudRucker (866063) | about 5 years ago | (#28740313)

if microsoft can turn something in to a gold mine you can bet on it, raking in as much money as possible by milking it for all its worth is a big part of their business model

Re:of course (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740563)

And they probably don't want to see the headline "Microsoft ships free Office version for upcoming Google Chrome OS".

Storing your documents OFFLINE (3, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | about 5 years ago | (#28740315)

...priceless.

For everything else, there's Microsoft.

I can't ever see myself storing my personal documents, especially financial ones, on some remote server or "cloud". Fuck that. Take your orafice online and stick it.

Re:Storing your documents OFFLINE (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740527)

For everything else, there's Microsoft.

Well, there's always Cthullu [wikipedia.org]

He sees you.

Re:Storing your documents OFFLINE (1, Funny)

UnderLoK (552056) | about 5 years ago | (#28740577)

Like you have any financial documents... What do you keep track of your allowance?

Re:Storing your documents OFFLINE (1)

mick88 (198800) | about 5 years ago | (#28740933)

I laughed so hard when I read this. Thanks man, that was awesome.

I for one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740319)

Welcome our self-foot-shooting overlords.

Microsoft Office Online (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740389)

Dedicated server in my house + cable internet + VNC + existing copy of microsoft office = Microsoft Office Online.

But, as any PHB will tell you... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#28740403)

..."You get what you pay for."

Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740449)

FUCK THAT!

Even if i ran a multi-billion dollar company, i still wouldn't pay this.

What is it with stupidly high prices for such things? There is no fucking way in hell that any piece of software is worth that much, ever, even if it was coded by the "almighty God" himself. I'd rather print the sale page and use it as toilet paper.

Sad thing is some people will actually PAY for bullshit like this.

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (3, Interesting)

UnderLoK (552056) | about 5 years ago | (#28740553)

"People" don't pay it, businesses do. It just shows how clueless you are about software costs in the Enterprise. I guess you just assume that since you can download a copy of XP or Vista Enterprise off of a torrent it must be "cheap". Check into pricing for ANY of the major Enterprise apps, 41,000 for all of the CALs isn't shit.

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (2, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28740671)

Grandparent is clueless? I don't think so. PEOPLE pay for Enterprise. All those costs are passed on to consumers. ALL of them. Those corporations that don't market to consumers pass THEIR costs on to other businesses and/or governments, who in turn, pass those very same costs on to consumers/taxpayers.

So - who is clueless here? It costs ME, and it costs YOU when the idiot managers around the globe to decide that one stupid workstation is worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (1)

UnderLoK (552056) | about 5 years ago | (#28740833)

If you think for one second that if a major company was to switch to OSS the savings would be passed onto you, you are wrong. Also keep in mind that the same things you cite as costing YOU money provide jobs and the money YOU spend provides yet even more jobs. That's how the world turns "my friend" (couldn't resist haha).

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (1)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | about 5 years ago | (#28740853)

'Enterprise' pricing is a POS anyway. I've seen cases where they don't even give you extra support, just a triple price tag. Whoever came up with the idea of charging extra money to a business just cause they have a bigger checkbook is an idiot.
Wait. Scratch that. He's a rich idiot.
What they should do is offer the software/product to everyone for the same price and let you add support on later if you want it. If you already have a competent IT staff, why should you be forced to pay MSFT to hover over your shoulder?

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (1)

mick88 (198800) | about 5 years ago | (#28741065)

Hey dude - people only pay for MS licensing if it makes business sense. I can assure you that if there were some better, cheaper alternative - companies would use it. A corporation's job is to make money, period. If there's a way for a business to make more money & it involved never buying another piece of software from MS, they would.

Corporations don't love Microsoft, they don't love paying for stuff. But in a market-based economy, people and corporations are willing to pay for something that adds value.

So either everyone who buys software from Microsoft is stupid, or maybe you just are missing a few pieces to the puzzle.

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#28741273)

> Hey dude - people only pay for MS licensing if it makes business sense.

Sorry, I disagree with that.

Many businesses just buy right into the MS product line, purchasing whatever products they sell that MIGHT be useful, without EVER looking at any competing products... and especially not FOSS.

And there are plenty of businesses that pay for MS licensing for things THEY DON'T EVEN USE!

Most corporations could save lots of money if they only purchased licenses for what they really needed and used FOSS products where appropriate.

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (2, Interesting)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 5 years ago | (#28741397)

"people only pay for MS licensing if it makes business sense"

*cough* And, investors only invest where their money will grow - it only makes business sense. *cough*

Perhaps you have noticed something they are calling an "economic meltdown"? All those kids we sent to college to learn how to run things aren't all that smart after all, are they?

Allow me to assert quite plainly here - IT MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. If all of my neighbors agree that the earth is flat, the earth doesn't become flat because of their belief. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for licenses to use some software in accordance with MS (or anyone else's) wishes makes no cents at all. Idiocy, no matter how many degrees on holds.

Re:Ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741151)

Oh, SORRY Mr Pedant.
Also, blah blah people run businesses, costs passed on to you.

It is still a terrible price, regardless.
All this "Enterprise" tier pricing is a fucking joke, in every sense of the word.
You can bet people who create such things are sitting behind the computer tapping their fingers in sequence and laughing manically at all the people who actually pay for it.
YES, PEOPLE. Businesses, despite what you appear to think, aren't some alien thing, they aren't run by robots, they are run by humans, quite often very stupid humans.

You are seriously defending the pricing for this? Christ man, why don't you just suck on Microsofts metaphorical cock while you are at it?
I can quite easily open a web browser, point it to many of the FREE services that replicate this and get about my daily business.

go open source (1)

compgeek83 (1482029) | about 5 years ago | (#28740467)

sadly there are hundreds of thousands of companies in the US and abroad stuck in MSHell paying these high fees to use MS software.

Same with academia (2, Interesting)

witch-doktor (1592325) | about 5 years ago | (#28740559)

People still use Matlab, even though the combination on Python and matplotlib does just fine. People could use LyX, but they use MS word. It can't be usability, its not the number of bugs. I think its just inertia. Also, in academia, the lab pays for a copy and then it gets shared onto individual machines (even though the licensing may not allow that). So most academics are technically violating terms of use. But if you don't pay for it, you don't worry about it. But really, its coming out of our taxes, right?

Re:Same with academia (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28740869)

Of course much of it is inertia, but the license fees for Windows and Office in even a semi-professional setting are not 'high'. Say that the average license refresh cycle is 3 years (this is not absurd, in either direction). In that time period, the other salary and overhead for a cheap individual is going to exceed $150,000, so the (perhaps as much as but probably less than) $1,500 for software licensing is not a huge increase.

$500 a year of savings is still $500 of savings, but it sets a pretty low bar for how disruptive something can be and still be worth it.

Re:Same with academia (1)

witch-doktor (1592325) | about 5 years ago | (#28741277)

That's very true about the relation between personnel and software costs. But I prefer to compare software with equipment costs and these points bug me

1. A Matlab single user license with several toolboxes came to $2000 (in 2004).
2. If several people use a single user license it technically is illegal, but this is common in labs.
3. If you have a multi user license through a department the license server can ruin your day if it goes down, or the network acts up, or too many people log on
4. A licensed copy of Office for everyone in the lab?
5. A licensed copy of Acrobat for everyone?
6. A licensed copy of Illustrator for everyone?

It all starts to add up. If you are willing to be elastic on ethics (multiple use of single user license, install dept. copies of word on personal laptop etc.) it really doesn't matter. But from a principles point of view, shouldn't academics, who strive to release information free for all (since a lot of work was done using tax payer money) be ethical and use open source software.

In a way, in the old days, academics wrote their own software, used it, shared it and it was a rising tide that lifted all boats. I think we should go back to that.

Sorry. I'll get off the soapbox and stop preaching to the choir now :)

Re:Same with academia (1)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#28741729)

It certainly does add up (though, again, if you buy them as part of Adobe Creative Suite, Photoshop/Illustrator/Acrobat only cost about $500 a year (and that is keeping things updated)).

This line of reasoning is quite a bit less true for stuff like Matlab, but the fact that it gets used in industry (I guess Simulink is probably less replaceable than the plotting stuff) probably justifies an increase in academic spending (whether they should or not, students currently expect to learn things that are applicable to the work they will be doing; sure, experience in any system will translate, but why not use a system that is prevalent in industry?).

And I don't mean to suggest that people should not use open source software, I use it all the time, I'm just trying to get people to consider that $500 can appear very similar to $0 if the perceived value of the software is high enough.

Hidden? (2, Insightful)

UnderLoK (552056) | about 5 years ago | (#28740511)

You need SharePoint to do that now... This guy obviously is out of the loop. Also the last time I checked while a business CAN use Google Docs, that isn't the business solution. Sounds like a troll report, nothing else.

Run away! (1)

dweinst (218284) | about 5 years ago | (#28740515)

Oh my gosh - it's made of....

PEOPLE!!!!!!!

Source? (4, Insightful)

jamesl (106902) | about 5 years ago | (#28740541)

And the source of this important information on pricing of an unreleased product?
A Microsoft spokesperson told me ...

Microsoft spokespersons with the knowledge and authority to speak about such things have a name and title.

Re:Source? (2, Funny)

TDyl (862130) | about 5 years ago | (#28742315)

Yes, but this is a family forum isn't it?

Google charges too, for corporate Docs accounts (5, Informative)

themeparkphoto (1049810) | about 5 years ago | (#28740555)

Google has paid services too with similar pricing models. While there is a free "Google for domains" that gives you docs, etc, on your domain, there are additional paid tiers of support.

Re:Google charges too, for corporate Docs accounts (2, Insightful)

UnderLoK (552056) | about 5 years ago | (#28740835)

Exactly, the OP is a clueless kid.

Holy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740775)

Great. Direct from the company that brought us security holes. No thanks.

Leave it to Microsoft... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28740989)

Leave it to Microsoft to make a word processor where sharing your documents is an optional feature.

Details at Eleven (4, Funny)

thethibs (882667) | about 5 years ago | (#28740991)

Wow! Microsoft is selling its software! Be still my heart!

Well, of course its not free (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 years ago | (#28741061)

They have salaries to pay.

Glad to be off that treadmill (4, Interesting)

HangingChad (677530) | about 5 years ago | (#28741173)

A Microsoft spokesperson told me that customers will need to buy a SharePoint server, which ranges from $4,400 plus CALs, or $41,000 with all CALs included, if they want to share documents created using the online version of Office 2010."

I am so happy to be working in an office free of the MS strangle hold. CALs always struck me as the most insidious of their macabre licensing circus. First you pay for the software, then you pay again so people can use it. What a racket. For the $41,000 you're paying in CALs I can cover an employee salary for 8 months (that would be one of the lower level people).

We don't have any problems getting our work done at the office without Microsoft. We have corporate Gmail and use GoogleDocs, so far with zero problems. If we have super sekret corporate information we can't trust to Google, we can store them in the truecrypt file container. We can send out pdf's to clients and customers, everyone can read them and they format just fine.

Plus I really like that we don't have to fit either our business processes or development processes to MSFT models. It's a lot more open and a lot more productive. You don't realize how much time you spend dancing on Microsoft's string until you get away from them. And, as an extra bonus, I can blow your ROI and TCO numbers out of the water. Just about any metric you want to use. And I never have to make the painful choice between layoffs and new servers. We can upgrade on our schedule, patch on our schedule, work the way we want to. If we need more capacity, we just stand it up. If we don't need it we can turn it off and it's not wasted money sitting there doing nothing.

And it's not just a small office. If you set it up right, you could do the same thing with almost any size organization. The only consistent pain in the rear problem we have regularly are those damn webinar programs. GoToMeeting and crap like that. Many of those are Windows only. That's kind of annoying.

Re:Glad to be off that treadmill (1)

markdavis (642305) | about 5 years ago | (#28741313)

Hello, fellow non-MS-Windows site

>GoToMeeting and crap like that. Many of those are Windows only. That's kind of annoying.

Yeah, it is more than KIND OF annoying. Sometimes it is extremely annoying. Especially when 3/4 of those stupid webinars are nothing but some slide show that could have been done in plain HTML + Javascript, or Flash if they REALLY had to have something fancy.

And it is further annoying that sites like "GoToMeeting" base their whole product on things like VNC, which is FOSS and multiplatform in the first place!

All facts messed up here by the ignorant poster (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741317)

Outlook Web Access is free actually, provided you've bought Exchange.
WSS is a free when you have Windows server and this is all you need to share documents. You can buy MOSS (MS Office SharePoint Server) to get access to a lot more collaboration features, which is optional.

People stress over the dumbest things. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28741895)

I create and edit documents in Open Office which I have been doing for quite a long time now and I'm not the least bit worried about what Microsoft is up to. I have no problem with Microsoft making money, in fact I have not problem buying things but I'm not going to buy a 'reinvented/rehashed wheel' with a stupid price tag on it. I'm also not going to allow my documents to be locked up in someone's silly proprietary lock down simply because they are trying to corner a market.

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