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IBM Policy Switches From MS Office To OO.o

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the let's-see-some-school-districts-do-the-same dept.

Businesses 331

eldavojohn writes "It's frequent that we hear of a country or city or company switching from Windows to Linux, but it's rare that we hear of one third of a million employees being told to use Lotus Symphony (IBM's OO.o variant) over MS Office, and also to use the Open Document Format when saving files. The change has been mandated to take place in the next 10 days. Of course, they are doing this to illustrate that they actually offer a full-fledged alternative to Microsoft. With i4i stirring stuff up against MS Office and absolving OO.o from litigation, are we on the verge of a potential break from Microsoft's dominant document suite? Hopefully IBM supports OO.o past Sun's acquisition by Oracle instead of concentrating on Lotus Symphony."

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331 comments

OOoh (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407407)

O_oo

OpenOffice variant? (1, Interesting)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407435)

In the old days, years before OpenOffice or even StarOffice existed, Lotus Symphony was an office suite. So unless this is another "SBC buys AT&T and then starts calling itself AT&T", how can Symphony be described as a variant of OpenOffice in any way, shape, or form?

Re:OpenOffice variant? (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407461)

IBM discontinued the original Symphony suite in 1992, but revived the name in 2007 for their OO.o variant. Apart from being an office suite from IBM, it's not related to the 1980s/early-90s Symphony.

Re:OpenOffice variant? (5, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407487)

Err, correction--- Lotus discontinued the Lotus Symphony suite in 1992, a few years before being bought by IBM in 1995. When IBM bought Lotus (mainly to get Lotus Notes), they also got all the trademarks, and I guess a decade later decided to resurrect one of them. Either way, the current Symphony isn't code-wise related to the old one.

Re:OpenOffice variant? (4, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407929)

Lotus then created SmartSuite. My favorite office suite off all times, up until now! I wait until something like the InfoBox, but with full keyboard control, is available again. For now, the new Symphony is still far away from that. And it still thinks that default/pure menu bars and button bars make sense nowadays. (Face it: They are an outdated concept.)

Re:OpenOffice variant? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407463)

Obviously because they said so, and no one cares.

Microsoft Bob reborn? (4, Funny)

ClosedSource (238333) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407469)

I guess they felt they should get something from the acquisition of Lotus Symphony so that's what they call their version of OpenOffice. Perhaps Microsoft should offer their own version of OO and call it "Microsoft Bob".

Re:OpenOffice variant? (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407539)

Because it is. IIRC, they basically ported OpenOffice to the Eclipse platform.

Re:OpenOffice variant? (1)

contrapunctus (907549) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407933)

And IBM made it so registration is required to download. I'm not sure what Symphony adds to Openooffice.org that having to give IBM my name/email is worth it.

I tried it on a (to be reformatted) computer a while ago and if I remember, there were features/buttons taken out (can't remember what but I couldn't use it because of it, sorry I can't remember).

Re:OpenOffice variant? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407999)

I don't much care what they call it, as long as it isn't made by MS. Sweet story!!

About fucking time! (5, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407437)

Previously, the used MS Office but actually recommended their customers to use Symphony. That's just a laughable position.

I'm glad the finally changed this, but i'm not sure if this actually means anything. IBM's slow as molasses in regards to everything. Want a server from them? Better wait 4-6 weeks.

Re:About fucking time! (3, Insightful)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407591)

If a 10-day change is "slow as molasses" then I'd like to see what happens when they react quickly to something!

Re:About fucking time! (2, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407627)

The switch to Symphony has been a standing order for a long time. It's just that nobody cared. Now they've set a very short ultimatum, which is something positive. But i've always seen them as an extremely slow company.

Re:About fucking time! (2, Interesting)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407629)

I tend to agree with the GP. IBM are an absolutely typical conservative company. IMO, if they're dictating everything change within 10 days this has probably been brewing internally for the better part of a year or more.

Re:About fucking time! (5, Informative)

magsol (1406749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407661)

After interning with IBM this past summer, I can say without equivocation that 95% of IBM's employees use Symphony. Lotus Notes in particular in a central cog in what is otherwise a pretty complete office productivity package.
For IBM to mandate the use of this package is, truthfully, making official what has already been regular practice for quite some time.

Re:About fucking time! (4, Interesting)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407683)

Well, all the IBM sales reps i've dealt with had to purchase Office 2007 through their expense account, because IBM wouldn't buy a volume license.

None of them used Symphony. All the stuff up on PartnerWorld is in .ppt too, created by PowerPoint.

Re:About fucking time! (5, Informative)

oenone.ablaze (1133385) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408041)

As another intern at IBM this summer I can say without equivocation that I don't think you understand just how big IBM is. I was in Research, and I certainly didn't know anyone who used Symphony with any regularity. There's Global Business Services (IBM's massive consulting arm), too, and I know for certain that people working there use whatever their clients want them to use, which is often MS Office.

How about Oracle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407597)

When will Oracle decide to stop funding anti-competitive ventures and switch fully to ODF and OpenOffice? The trouble that M$ causes Oracle directly, can be added up, probably accurately. For every 1 penny spent on MS Office or helping maintain the market share of MS Office formats, n more is lost from Oracle from M$ antics.

first post? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407445)

and its always good to see people switching to openoffice :)

Wait. What? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407449)

". . . past their acquisition of Sun . . ."

I think someone's been misreading recent headlines.

Ooo's (5, Funny)

ironicsky (569792) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407451)

All these Oo.o's remind me of family guy

Peter: Oh my God, Brian, there's a message in my alphabets... it says Ooooo!
Brian: Peter those are Cheerios.
Sound Clip [entertonement.com]

Re:Ooo's (2, Funny)

Compuser (14899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407759)

Yeah, at first I thought Oo.o is the sound a giraffe makes when it cums. //Not a troll. //Yes, this is a ripoff of an old Russian joke about the letter Ñ.

Re:Ooo's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407785)

I don't get it. Is that character supposed to look like a giraffe having an orgasm?

Re:Ooo's (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407879)

OH MY GOD YOU'RE FUCKING HILARIOUS!

And you're, like, SOOOO clever, too! NO-ONE I know has ever learned Russian, not even the Ukranians and Tajikistanis!

Fuck off and get a life to actually be proud of, you effete little prick.

In my dreams (4, Interesting)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407457)

In my dreams, Microsoft Word got replaced by a word processor that naturally creates beautiful documents, that lays them out consistently every time you open them (and between versions), and has a simple easy to use interface.

Open Office is not that program.

However, the beauty of open file formats is that now someone else can write that program, and there will be no barrier to entry, we can start using it right away. In fact, if I am the only person in the world who thinks emacs bindings in a word processor is a good idea, I can use them, and still interoperate with the rest of the world.

Because we all have different ideas of what the perfect word processor will be, this is one step closer to a happy software world.

Re:In my dreams (4, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407543)

> Because we all have different ideas of what the perfect word processor will be, this is one step closer to a happy software world.

Exactly. Most other data types standardized on one or a handful of formats long ago, it was the Microsoft monopoly that distorted things with formatted text and spreadsheets. Think about it, far more complex data is encoded in standardized formats that a multitude of programs all process and exchange data through. Look at sound, still images, vector graphics, even video! All interoperable. Meanwhile Word docs aren't even certain to be compatible between two different installs of the same version of Word. Buy a new printer and connect it to the same install and previous docs will often need to be reformatted. Good riddence to that!

Oh, and IBM didn't buy Sun; Oracle bought the corpse to loot it.

Re:In my dreams (1)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407815)

Still images, check. GIF, JPG, TIF.
Audio, check. AIFF, WAV, MP2, MP3.
Vector graphics, mmm not much. EPS, CGM. SVG too new really to count.
Video, no way. Couple really popular ones(MPEG1, MPEG2, H261/263, FLV). A gazillion not so popular or interoperable ones such as RealVideo, Sorensen Video, Indeo, Cinepak, TrueMotion, Theora, MPEG4.

I get your point though, the computing world has settled on a small set of file formats, excluding office productivity. MS should have taken a more logical, engineering approach to file formats instead of letting new UI features dictate file format.

Re:In my dreams (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407893)

Also, I can open any of those document formats on my linux computer using open source programs and "display" it correctly. If I get a word document (or excel or ppt) then I am lucky if it has all the functionality (not to mention actually formatted the same).

Re:In my dreams (2, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407857)

Exactly. Most other data types standardized on one or a handful of formats long ago, it was the Microsoft monopoly that distorted things with formatted text and spreadsheets. Think about it, far more complex data is encoded in standardized formats that a multitude of programs all process and exchange data through. Look at sound, still images, vector graphics, even video! All interoperable.z/quote>

I think you're comparing apples to oranges here, with sound or still images or video I don't really care how it's stored as such only that it decodes to uncompressed audio/video frames. It is the decoded version, the simplest of structures, that is the universal intermediary. With documents the whole point is in preserving and manipulating the markup, what it renders to as a screenshot is completely irrelevant. That means to convert from say MS Office to OpenOffice you have to map the content, layout, every setting, every function, every formula, everything. You need to have exact specifications on both formats and things must mean the same, That is completely and utterly the opposite of the examples you make.

P.S. You're horribly, horribly wrong about vector graphics.

Re:In my dreams (4, Insightful)

melikamp (631205) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408089)

[...] far more complex data is encoded in standardized formats [...] sound, still images, vector graphics, even video [...]

Text is far more complicated than any of these, with vector graphics being the most complicated left, IMHO. Sound, raster graphics, and video are just arrays with a fixed data type. There are other data fields, of course, but they are vastly less important. A rich text document, on the other hand, may have to deal with concepts like page layout, paragraph options, text options, text positioning, hierarchical styling, embedded objects, and everyone's favorite embedded scripts. That's why all off their files look like two or more markup languages are colliding in a spectacular explosion. That is if you are lucky and they are not, on top of all that, compressed binaries.

Re:In my dreams (3, Informative)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407567)

In my dreams, Microsoft Word got replaced by a word processor that naturally creates beautiful documents, that lays them out consistently every time you open them (and between versions), and has a simple easy to use interface.

Open Office is not that program.

Of course not. That's a good LaTeX editor.

But what OO.o does do is provide a more liberated document format for businesses and other organisations around the world to interchange documents with, and to implement document management and other business processes around. That's a big enough thing in its own right, albeit nothing but an internationalised return to the status that we had years ago with ASCII.

Re:In my dreams (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408087)

Problem is: LyX (the good LaTeX editor) lacks any layouting capabilities. You can't visually design the basic classes (document, paragraph, text, etc). That is a no-go for me, because I don't want to learn yet another layouting language, no matter how good it is. (I don't want to learn any of those, but unfortunately I already know one.)

What I really really wonder is, why everybody creates this false dichotomy of "text/console = keyboard controlled" and "graphics/GUI = mouse controlled".
I meant just give me a visual layout designer that you type into like you would write code or in VI, but that renders everything graphically.

Example input: "NbLsfancy\ncvchw50%h25%IHello\nS" (where \n = <Enter>)
Resulting instructions executed: New { box (and put cursor on it) }, layout mode { inherit style from class "fancy", center vertically, center horizontally, width 50%, height 25% }, input mode { insert "Hello" }, save file
It's not hard to code something like this. It's extremely fast, to work with it. And with a list of possible commands in a given state always visible, the key highlighted, auto-completion, context-help and update of that on every key press (basically like in a good code editor), it's also very intuitive.

Symphony vs OO (0, Redundant)

ArkiMage (578981) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407459)

According to this article Lotus Symphony is based on OpenOffice.

http://www.linux-magazine.com/Online/News/IBM-Throws-Out-Microsoft-Office [linux-magazine.com]

Re:Symphony vs OO (5, Informative)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407497)

According to the summary Lotus Symphony is based on OpenOffice.

... Lotus Symphony (IBM's OO.o variant) ...

Re:Symphony vs OO (4, Informative)

zlogic (892404) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407513)

It actually uses Eclipse for the GUI and OpenOffice for opening/saving/formatting/displaying documents

Re:Symphony vs OO (3, Interesting)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407611)

Hmm, I'm an eclipse user but I shudder to think of the slowness that marrying eclipse and OO.o would bring about.

Re:Symphony vs OO (4, Funny)

zlogic (892404) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407779)

It uses 200+ megs of RAM just after starting. Take that, Firefox!

Re:Symphony vs OO (1)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407829)

Yeah, actually for me Firefox seems to plateau around 200MB, so I don't have many problems with Firefox on my desktop (6 GB total RAM). Strangely, on my laptop with 3GB RAM and a CPU in the same family, Firefox is ridiculously slow, and I have no idea why. Actually, the same goes for eclipse on my desktop and laptop. Meh.

Re:Symphony vs OO (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408097)

On the other hand, Firefox is fine in my 512MB Desktop. Figure that out

Re:Symphony vs OO (3, Interesting)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407827)

The speed of Symphony shouldn't be your most serious concern - it's fairly snappy on a fast desktop, aside from the loading time.

It should be noted that Symphony is a HEAVILY modified version of OO.o. Symphony has a very clean UI and is extraordinarily easy to use. However, it does not offer all of the same features of OO.o.

Re:Symphony vs OO (1)

i.of.the.storm (907783) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407839)

Eh, I was joking mostly. I really don't know why I got modded insightful, if I were metamodding I would disagree with that. In any case, I actually use MS Office (blasphemy, I know) because I can get it cheap and I actually like 2007.

Re:Symphony vs OO (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407913)

And as long as you use Sun's ODF plug in, it shouldn't matter to anybody at all. Using MS Office isn't necessarily bad, but using their file formats causes a lot of head aches. And for some things like email, the format is just not safe. Ideally everybody would be using some sort of open or well supported format so that it wouldn't make any difference.

I can explain that (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29408055)

Eh, I was joking mostly. I really don't know why I got modded insightful

Let me explain.

Practically everyone on Slashdot is a linux loving, MS hating, pro-GPL geek with no social life.

Now, everyone knows that the previous paragraph is not true. That stereotype applies to rather small portition of slashdotters. However, many here think that the other Slashdotters believe that stereotype to be accurate.

As such, they easily mod anyone posting against that (anti-GPL, "MS has done good stuff too", etc.) as insightful. By doing this they believe that they are helping others see that the stereotype doesn't really apply to everyone here.

Conversely, it is very easy to get funny mods by using that stereotype. If you claim that Slashdotters have no social life, you get modded either as troll or funny. The latter is not because mods think you actually are funny. It is because they think "Hah. That guy joked about our lack of social life though he really knows it's not that accurate. He is one of the people who get that! I'll give him a funny mod."

Think this post is not correct? I bet you that you could post practically identical posts to each and every Linux or MS related story about how MS products are occasionally rather useful and get modded insightful every single time.

-AC

Re:Symphony vs OO (5, Funny)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407645)

Was this the result of a focus group reporting that OO.o was too fast?

Re:Symphony vs OO (4, Funny)

zlogic (892404) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407799)

Perhaps IBM want their regular employees to kick Team Eclipse's ass until they make it fast.
Or make people quit out of frustration instead of laying them off.

1/3 of a million employees (1)

smooth123 (893548) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407473)

Way to go IBM. But I am guessing that the support staff is going to have a huge job on their hands. Nice to see a big company take the plunge of moving out of M$ Office. I like the statement in TFA that they are just practicing what they preach and not doing the switch to save on license fees ROFL.... I like the idea but there is no need make saints out of IBM. B U T is in the I of the Bee Holder

Re:1/3 of a million employees (1)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407587)

But I am guessing that the support staff is going to have a huge job on their hands.

Which may not be a bad thing if IBM has to patch things and send those patches upstream.

Re:1/3 of a million employees (2, Insightful)

lorenlal (164133) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407971)

Very true. Forcing a company to eat their own food could certainly benefit all of us who use it.

WordPro? (1)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407521)

Not long ago, IBM's standard word processor was Lotus WordPro.

I have a load of .LWP files lying around from my IBM days, that I can't read...

It goes to show that a company like IBM can function using a "minority" office suite.

Re:WordPro? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407545)

How to read Lotus Word Pro:
http://word.mvps.org/FAQs/General/WordProConverter.htm

Re:WordPro? (1)

josgeluk (842109) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407599)

OO.o will happily read your .lwp files.

Just another feabile attempt (-1, Troll)

holophrastic (221104) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407531)

This is just another in a very long line of people wanting something for nothing. Software isn't better just because it's free -- especially in business, where value is in the return on investment, not the initial cost. The point of open software is to use the code, not the program. Very few users dive into OOo code, nor care to even consider doing so.

This will be yet another short-term effect, whereby large groups of people try to use something that isn't microsoft, only to discover that decades of effort and billions of dollars later, microsoft has developed a program better than most -- and certainly better than OOo, but about five years. It's a small better, but it's a better better.

Re:Just another feabile attempt (2, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407619)

And software isn't worse just because it's free.

Re:Just another feabile attempt (3, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407907)

But it is worse when its worse, in spite of it being free.

Re:Just another feabile attempt (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407663)

Are you as stupid as your post appears? IBM are switching to Lotus Symphony which, although it shares a lot of code with OO.o, is an IBM product, developed by IBM staff. This is not 'getting something for free' this is 'using your own products'.

Honestly, Microsoft needs to pay its shills more. The current crop really aren't trying.

Re:Just another feabile attempt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407743)

Well, since with FOSS, the investment is zero, then any return makes infinity percent return so that's a pretty sweet deal for any business, right. Right?
 

See, we can both make ridiculous claims about FOSS, but I suspect the truth is somewhere between the two viewpoints.

Re:Just another feabile attempt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407767)

A paid for Word Processor would have suggested Feeble

Re:Just another feabile attempt (2, Interesting)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407943)

This is just another in a very long line of people wanting something for nothing.

Give me a break. It's more important to have the capability of reading and writing documents everywhere and not having to worry about information surviving past the arbitrary economic lifespan of some corporation.

By focusing on the ROI on document software, something that should be as prevalent and available as air, you're letting a fixation on the rocks in the road cost you your awareness of the horizon. Look up for once and stop muttering at your shoes.

Now is not the time to celebrate (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407533)

I want to see them succeed beautifully first, and to actually show meaningful improvement after the switch. :)

I'm all for switching to open source software. But MS Office works extremely well. And OO.o is no Firefox.

Re:Now is not the time to celebrate (2, Interesting)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407969)

I'm all for switching to open source software. But MS Office works extremely well.

I think that was in the past, Office 2007 is a super slow dog. I thought the days of typing and then looking at the screen to see the letters draw themselves was something I'd never have to see again (unless it was over a particularly slow WAN link), but no - Office 2007 brings that "Retro" feel right on back.

I'm not sure about the others now, no graphical consistency, no real integration with Windows, settings hidden away in menus that are themselves hidden... its all become a bit of a over-engineered mess. Too much code has been added over the years to it.

OO.o may not be the perfect alternative however, but MSO is not the perfect office suite either.

Having had close experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407535)

Firstly, this is nothing new. Getting a license for Office 2007 at IBM is an impossible task and has been so since it was released. Office 2003 was the last version that IBM had a volume license for.

Lotus Symphony is an unholy abomination. Coming from the same people who gave us that paragon of usability Lotus Notes, now they mixed eclipse RCP with OO.o and came up with what can possibly be the worst productivity set of tools ever. The only benefit it has is it integrates well with Lotus Notes and that's about it.

/rant

Re:Having had close experience (1)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407595)

Many IBM sales reps here are using Powerpoint 2007. Most of them bought MLK licenses through their expenses account.

Instant feedback (1)

dbcad7 (771464) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407549)

It's genius.. by actually using the product day to day, they will discover it's strengths and weaknesses and know what changes they need to focus on. That they have not done this from day one is the amazing part.

Re:Instant feedback (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407789)

They didnt use it because they knew the weaknesses already. That hasnt changed.. so I guess a new manager decided to justify himself?

Heh, some things never change... (5, Informative)

supremebob (574732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407577)

I used be an IBM employee, and I can remember the corporate mandate that ALL IBM internal documents had to be made in Lotus SmartSuite instead of Microsoft Office. Guess what... most folks still used Office instead. The primary reason was that SmartSuite sucked, and was about five years behind Office in terms of ease of use and functionality. IBM never bothered to regularly update it as well, leaving it in some 1997-era timewarp when the rest of the world was using Office 2003.

I haven't tried Lotus Symphony myself, but if it's anything like OpenOffice 3, I doubt that most IBM'ers will be raring to convert all of their documents over in a timely manner. Combine that with thousands of customer facing workers that NEED to use Microsoft Office to ensure total compatibility, and you're going to have a hell of a time getting everyone to switch.
 

Re:Heh, some things never change... (4, Insightful)

slim (1652) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407621)

Guess what... most folks still used Office instead.

Not in my department. How on earth did "most folks" get an Office license from the IBM beancounters?

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

supremebob (574732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407947)

Your department actually bought licenses for all of the software that it used? ;)

Re:Heh, some things never change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29408045)

When they have any kind of probability of receiving files from Customers.

Or use WWGPE.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

EvilMonkeySlayer (826044) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407669)

Actually the user interface to Lotus Symphony is pretty decent. (better than OO's anyway)

Its problems are that it takes an ice age to start and its OO.org code is from OpenOffice 2 so it's always playing catch up for the file formats.

What's needed is someone to do similar what Apple did with khtml. Get something like koffice, improve the code even more, stick a good user interface on there and make sure it launches relatively quickly.

At the moment i'm in the process of gradually moving over the company I work for from Office 2000 to Open Office. The single consistent biggest complaint (apart from a certain office suite file compatibility) is the speed (and lack thereof) of its launch time.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

yuna49 (905461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407837)

The single consistent biggest complaint (apart from a certain office suite file compatibility) is the speed (and lack thereof) of its launch time.

Just curious since I don't use OpenOffice on Windows (I use Linux), but doesn't having OO preload its libraries speed up launch times?

From what I recall, what made Microsoft Office appear to launch so quickly was that most of the dll's it needs are started at boot time. (Helps when you control both the OS and the apps it runs.) I thought the prelauncher, or whatever it's called, was introduced with OpenOffice 2.0 or perhaps even one of the later releases in the 1.x series.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407675)

Ah, Symphony, written in Java, based on SWT and the Eclipse framework. I just can't wait to try it.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

larien (5608) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407713)

I got Smartsuite bundled with a PC in the 90s and have to agree it sucked - it was OK for basic letters, but not much more than that...

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407957)

Really? 90s? You do realise it is 2009, right. Software can change A LOT in 10+ years.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408149)

I got Smartsuite bundled with a PC in the 90s and have to agree it sucked - it was OK for basic letters, but not much more than that...

That was the response from a lot of people who didn't understand how to use it. In fact, Word Pro (and it's predecessor, Ami Pro) were far more powerful than WordPerfect or MS Word, and were actually easier to use once you understood why all formatting had to be done through styles. As for not being good for more than letters, I know several people who published beautifully laid-out, high-quality manuals for years using these tools. They argued that they Ami Pro and Word Pro were almost as powerful as desktop publishing systems, but far easier to use and much less expensive. MS Word and WordPerfect weren't even in the same ballpark.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407771)

This won't go over well in the accounting and finance offices where some of the spreadsheet jockies have a bunch of ODBC links between Excel and Access, or complex pivot tables and lists.

Re:Heh, some things never change... (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408105)

I haven't tried Lotus Symphony myself, but if it's anything like OpenOffice 3, I doubt that most IBM'ers will be raring to convert all of their documents over in a timely manner.

From my perspective, this mostly just means that I no longer have to provide MS Office versions of my work to my colleagues. Because Linux is my platform of choice, I use OO.o, and it's been annoying me for years that I have to save to .xsl, .doc and .ppt before I can send my documents to my co-workers. No longer. I'll send ODF files and anyone who complains will get a polite referral to the new policy (probably along with an MS Office version of that particular file, just because I'm a nice guy).

Every Product Requires Support (5, Interesting)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407583)

Those parts of my career that were in support of software, either as a help desk or as network admin with additional duties, required a large amount of support for every program we used. In corporate environments to small business the use of Office required significant support efforts by everyone. Claims that OOo requires more support than others is specious. One can make a heavy bet and know that you'd win in judging that those people making that claim have no experience supporting others on either platform or have never used Open Office. I've watched many firms take OOo, and though there was a learning curve, use it to good advantage.

Because you don't like OOo doesn't mean it doesn't work and do the job it is supposed to do. I use it. Millions of others use it. The few people here disrespecting it (without showing proof they actually know anything about it) demonstrates the specious nature of anything they might write about it or any competing product.

Whooopeeeee (1)

tengeta (1594989) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407585)

Not like IBM's "version" of OpenOffice is free. Its proprietary and costs you money, like Microsoft's Evil Office. Seriously stop calling it OO.o, it makes 90% of military acronyms actually make sense, and that is messed up.

Re:Whooopeeeee (2, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407727)

The important part is that it uses the same files as OpenOffice and is fully compatible.

To Microsoft, their proprietary formats are the most valuable part of the office suite, it's where there control stems from.

Re:Whooopeeeee (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407977)

Exactly. While I can choose to pay money for whatever improvements that IBM has made to OpenOffice, I can also choose not to and get a free alternative. This gives me the choice to only pay IBM if their product is good, instead of paying for a program that plays nice with a file format. If I want to edit MS Office documents, I have to buy the program from Microsoft. No matter how good or bad it is.

Re:Whooopeeeee (2, Insightful)

rivercityrandom (626724) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407911)

I downloaded Lotus Symphony for free off of their website. [ibm.com] I had to give them my email address, but it didn't cost me money. It is definitely proprietary, however, and in my experience it really doesn't do anything that OpenOffice.org doesn't already do. But it does support open formats, and if enough big companies like IBM promote ODF and things like that, it might make it easier for non-Microsoft office suites to compete in the market and share data with each other.

Implications (3, Insightful)

under_score (65824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407593)

This goes far beyond IBM's employees. Many other large organizations are strongly influenced by IBM still. In my work as a process improvement consultant, I have seen many people using the Lotus environment, particularly in financial institutions. Does this mean that they too will start using ODF?

As well, as a Mac user myself, and for others using non-MS systems, it will be nice to be able to tell people that IBM uses OpenOffice.org (which will be the shortcut way of telling them that they are using an in-house customized version...) as an incentive / emotional proof that OOo is viable for their own use.

Re:Implications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407697)

As well, as a Mac user myself, and for others using non-MS systems, it will be nice to be able to tell people that IBM uses OpenOffice.org (which will be the shortcut way of telling them that they are using an in-house customized version...) as an incentive / emotional proof that OOo is viable for their own use.

Of course! How nice it is to see that Apple users are above proprietary bullshit like MS.

Fucking hypocrite.

Your rant has nothing to do with open anything. It's just another wild bash at MS.

Re:Implications (4, Interesting)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407731)

At my school, the business teacher's argument is that everyone uses MS. Office and therefore must be taught to all students without consideration for alternatives will no longer be a valid point! It will be much easier to support Open Office, when such a big player is using it. Not to mention that we can get it for free -- surely that is a compelling selling point in these times of economical difficulty, especially at schools.

Re:Implications (2, Informative)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407769)

This goes far beyond IBM's employees. Many other large organizations are strongly influenced by IBM still. In my work as a process improvement consultant, I have seen many people using the Lotus environment, particularly in financial institutions. Does this mean that they too will start using ODF?

If they use Lotus Symphony, they are using ODF already! [ibm.com]

Facts wrong again (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407671)

I just have a hard time taking /. seriously. Oracle is buying Sun. IBM isn't.

How the hell are we supposed to trust this source for any news when it's always wrong.

Re:Facts wrong again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407853)

Are you an idiot? Where in the article did it say IBM was buying Sun?

There is a LOT that uses MS Office (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407741)

It rather annoys and even pisses me off that so many important business tools are written with dependencies on MS Office. That is, of course, Microsoft's intention and the primary reason for the existence of a programming language built into the office suite.

I once worked for a firm where a contract writing program that requires MS Office and, if I recall correctly, Adobe Acrobat Professional. What a huge waste of money!? Not only was this "application" quite expensive, but so are the dependencies involved... and on top of that, the application was only valid for a year. Upon learning about this situation, I had two thoughts. One was related to the old saying about a fool and his money, and the other was that my hopes of saving the company any money by going to OO.o was a lot more challenging.

Using more F/OSS in business requires that people are mindful of the applications and the dependencies [lock-in] that they bring. Moving away from commercial and proprietary isn't as simple as replacing one app with another. There are often deeper considerations.

The danger of lock-in isn't usually apparent or obvious to people who buy apps. Quite often IT isn't even involved in that decision.

Re:There is a LOT that uses MS Office (3, Insightful)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407849)

That is, of course, Microsoft's intention and the primary reason for the existence of a programming language built into the office suite.

If your contention is that VBA isnt useful, then explain the billions of lines of VBA code in the world. Integration with the suite is just one of the things that makes the alternatives like Open Office non-competitive. Your idea that VBA is just there as a lock-in is silly.

To translate your argument to reality: "Features that customers use extensively, when the competition doesnt have them, is only a lock-in"

Re:There is a LOT that uses MS Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29408009)

With an open format you write applications that do *stuff* to a file. With a closed format, you use the tools in the proprietary suite to do your *stuff*. In the first case, it's simply a matter of a stand-alone application, in the second case, any "applications" require Office to be installed. You don't think Microsoft chose the second for a reason?

Re:There is a LOT that uses MS Office (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408079)

My contention is that the reality of the presence of VBA is not necessary for an office suite. It never has been and never will be. Various external APIs say so.

I don't say it isn't useful -- don't be so defensive. But it is a problem in that VBA applications are a great deal more costly because they are not stand-alone and as a result, the user has to buy other things in order to use the application they want to use.

Customers do not often use VBA. Customers use applications that use VBA.

VBA is actually a dangerous thing as it takes an ordinarily trustworthy document and transforms it into a potential carrier for malware infection. It has been done before and continues to be done. There are certain things that shouldn't be done and including a programming language as low and as powerful as VBA gives even entry-level script-kiddies the ability to cause major problems. VBA is bad just as Active-X is bad.

The reasons that other office suites do not provide similar functionality isn't because they "can't." It's because they know they shouldn't. People who care about security and the like concern themselves with the limitations they can provide in order to protect the users. VBA (and Active-X) grant user level access to the machine and quite often require administrator level access which users have been shown more than willing to grant. (This is irrelevant since there are known exploits that cannot be patched in Win32 without breaking every application ever written that enables privilege escalation)

The purpose of VBA is to take an office applications suite and convert it into an operating platform.

If it is somehow appropriate for documents to carry executable code, then why not pictures, sounds and video? Should email carry executable code? Is it appropriate for web pages to carry executable code that isn't sandboxed and limited? From where I sit, for the same reasons all the other common file types shouldn't contain executable code, office documents shouldn't.

Re:There is a LOT that uses MS Office (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408129)

On the other hand, most professional publishers insist on .rtf format, which is somewhat cross platform.

OP making up his own story (1)

saleenS281 (859657) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407765)

First, i4i in no way "absolved" OO.o of anything. What they DID do was say they don't "believe" it infringes. That's code for "we're going milk all the money we can out of MS, then we'll figure out who else we can sue".

Second, the MS i4i suit has absolutely NOTHING to do with the topic at hand. Why was it even brought up? Cmon guys, enough of the MS bashing. It's to the point it has to be brought up in stories about completely different products now?

Re:OP making up his own story (1)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408121)

I believe the OP was attempting to add some analysis to the article by suggesting that the MS i4i suit might play a role in helping this to break Microsoft's hold on the word processor market and start a new standard format. Or at least a diversity of formats.

Why is this article tagged "opensource" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407841)

From Wikipedia: "OpenOffice.org version 1.1.4 was dual licensed under both the GNU Lesser General Public License and Sun's own SISSL, which allowed for entities to change the code without releasing their changes. Therefore, IBM does not have to release the source code of Symphony."

This is about as open as MS Office. I defy anyone to find me the source code for Symphony posted on the net.

While this only makes sense that IBM uses it's own office suite it's not a win for open source.

Re:Why is this article tagged "opensource" (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408119)

Actually this is a big win for open source users.

Now you're completely safe using OOo when you interact with IBM and not have to worry if they're using Microsoft Office. And that means other companies can switch more easily as well. It's like dominos.

It's about the formats, stupid! :)

Cunning... (3, Funny)

welshbyte (839992) | more than 4 years ago | (#29407851)

...one third of a million employees being told to use Lotus Symphony...

This is actually an ingenious way for IBM to stress test its hardware - a third of a million internal Symphony bug reports all hitting the server at the same time. Beat that, Oracle.

A Bit Misleading (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29407987)

A bit of a disclaimer here: I work for IBM.

With that said, the change wasn't as much as an ideological shift to OO software more than it was a licensing issue. The simple fact was that it is quite expensive for MS Office licenses for the entire company. Lotus Symphony has been available to employees for years, but it hasn't really been forced until three or so months ago when a program was pushed to workstations that removed MS Office and installed the Symphony suite if you did not already have it(default builds come with Symphony on it anyway, so it didn't really need to be installed on many workstations). Now if you want a copy of MS Office on your IBM workstation, you have to have a legitimate business need to order it or you can use your own personal copy if you so choose. There are hardly any instances of the former case happening.

It was stated before by another thread here by an ex IBMer that SmartSuite was the default for IBM documents and that people used Office anyway. Yes, that is true. The reason that is true is that Office had become the defacto standard across other industries, and that IBM offered it to employees for free on their workstations, so it was the logical choice to make. Couple that with the fact that SmartSuite was not nearly as developed as Symphony was a few years ago, people couldn't be hassled with converting between file formats, or sending files to other employees or clients and pray that the recipient could actually open it. SmartSuite was a boon on productivity and hence the broader use of Office within the company.

Now IBM is in the market for software. As was stated earlier, the best place to start promoting your own product is from within. In all honesty, a LOT of employees never used Symphony simply because no one knew it existed, and if they did, they did not have the time to learn it. Now that IBM has shifted away from Office for internal uses, our customers may see this and may want to investigate -- that's the theory at least.

The article is a bit misleading in that Symphony is an OO.o variant. Here's a hint: it's not in no more than a humvee is a variant of a boat. The real only similarity is that they both use open standards as their default file types. With that said, however, Symphony still supports MS Office formats and many people DO switch to using those formats as the default anyway. Having said that, there is not much of an uproar as one may think about this switch. Symphony supports both open standards and Office standards, which is the best of both worlds for us.

I guess the bottom line is that this was a BUSINESS decision and not one further the development of open standards. IBM is a business and the business will do what is in its own interest to stay in business. I'm sure it is saving us lots of money, and to be honest I thought this sort of change would be forced down years ago. Either way, it gets the word out on Symphony and gets us off office which saves money. It's the best of both worlds, no?

Re:A Bit Misleading (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408103)

Actually, I'm pretty sure Symphony uses forked OpenOffice code directly. It's not just implementing the same formats, a lot of the tools are very OOo like.

While it may not have been an altruistic move for open standards, having such a large and visible software company switch is going to be an eye opener for other big and small shops. Plus IBM has been a terrific open source citizen for a while now, so this doesn't stray from their previous altruistic actions (open sourcing all kinds of stuff, eclipse, libs, etc).

Document formats... (4, Informative)

stagg (1606187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29408093)

I'm not sure what the consequences of this would be at the consumer level. The OP talks about breaking MS's monopoly on word suites, and the largest benefit of that would be moving away from .doc formatting. I think the largest concern I have about Microsoft's dominance of the market is that most people seem to assume that .doc is a standard format, and think that it supports any kind of interoperability. Of course it really doesn't and isn't. As far as I can tell however that's only an issue at the consumer level. Sure my friends, and my boss might send me .doc, but any kind professional publisher expects .rtf formats. Basically anything with any legitimacy at all will call for .rtf, which while still spawned by microsoft is at least a standard format that encourages interoperability. A much bigger win would be OpenOffice suites actually supporting .rtf formats properly, so that legitimate work could be done through them.
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