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MS Issues Word Patch To Comply With Court Order

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the wrist-slap-complete dept.

Microsoft 179

bennyboy64 writes "iTnews reports that Microsoft has begun offering what appears to be a patch for its popular Word software, allowing it to comply with a recent court ruling which has banned the software giant from selling patent-infringing versions of the word processing product. The workaround should put an end to a long-running dispute between Canadian i4i and Redmond, although it has hinted that the legal battle might yet take another turn."

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Open Office is there (-1, Troll)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589318)

Since Open Office is there, why would anyone go for this?

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589366)

Because OO isn't compatible enough. If it doesn't look 100% the same, and I mean 100%, it's not good enough.

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

d4nowar (941785) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589906)

Then why does every new version of Microsoft Office look 100% different than the previous version?

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

Fackamato (913248) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589970)

I should have clarified; what I meant was that if the document doesn't look and behave exactly the same when opened in OO (including macros, VBA etc etc which are in use everyday at every corporation) then it's not an option.

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590886)

Because OO isn't compatible enough. If it doesn't look 100% the same, and I mean 100%, it's not good enough.

It's not that it isn't 100% the same. Its that OO tried so hard to make a clone of MS Office and only got it about 80% the same. If you're going to be a blatant rip-off of an existing product, at least try to implement the same features in the same manner. Nothing like having almost identical menus, except the shortcut keys are slightly different.

Re:Open Office is there (4, Informative)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589378)

That's utopian thinking. For home use, I more or less agree with you. Business users have a lot of finely detailed and rigidly laid out documents, sometimes with proprietary macro or VBA coding in them. This stuff would be a huge pain to translate to an open standard, and there's no guarantee that OOo will display them faithfully and with fidelity.

Plus, with a MS Office contract, you have a software vendor to fall back to when things go wrong. You don't get this to the same extent with OSS, which is why business is often slow to adopt it.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589482)

Plus, with a MS Office contract, you have a software vendor to fall back to when things go wrong. You don't get this to the same extent with OSS, which is why business is often slow to adopt it.

That sounds very odd to me considering that to my knowledge, a large majority of the income for OSS projects come from support contracts. Is it that businesses at large don't know about them or is this one more case of using MS Office because everyone else is?

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589746)

A lot of OSS projects don't sell support contracts; you might be able to hire a key contributor to an OSS project on some kind of consulting basis, but they aren't really on call for support.

There may be third parties good at implementing and possibly troubleshooting some OSS software or components, but if you need some fix implemented due to a bug you're back to being at mercy of the OSS developers unless your third party has developers on staff who can fix OSS products.

None of this is to say the existing commercial market is perfect -- its not, we know that -- but it is a mature market and my experience has been that a lot of commercial applications, including MS, have pretty decent support available when you need it.

Re:Open Office is there (5, Insightful)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589692)

This isn't totally honest.

The transition from Office 97 to Office 2000 caused major headaches because of the lack of proper support for .doc format. People got thru that by recreating many documents, or just doing without them, or waiting until a service pack came out many months later.

Ditto with the transition from Office 2003 to 2007. I've dealt with numerous cases, especially with Powerpoint, where opening and saving in Office 2007 totally fucked up a document. Stuff disappeared, or was rearranged. One case, where the boss got a new laptop 2 days before a conference. His old one died and his new one came with Office 2007. He edited his presentation, saved it as an Office 2003 .ppt and sent it to his assistant to finish. It was totally fubar, but she only edited a few slides in the beginning and didn't see the mess later on. When she sent it to him, her edits looked like crap to him and his earlier edits were gone. It was a nightmare that saw the assistant recreate the entire thing from a printout the day before the conference -- and a total office ban on Office 2007 the day after.

Shit happens, even when exclusively in the MS world. People would redo the documents that didn't translate properly. They'd bitch, but they'd do it. I've seen it time and time again over the last 20+ years. Wordstar (dot commands FTW!) to Wordperfect to Word; Lotus 1-2-3 to Excel; god-knows-what to Visio; and don't even get me started on CAD!

And SuSE, Red Hat, TRW or IBM would be happy to take your money for a support contract.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589854)

I work for a fortune 50 company that sadly still uses some shoestringed Excel VBA for production stuff. (It started as a engineering test, and just migrated with everything else).

We're still running Office 2000 and I don't see us changing anytime soon.

Re:Open Office is there (3, Interesting)

couchslug (175151) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589918)

Semi-OT, but a handy way to use different versions of Office on the same PC, and portably on a USB key, is to modify their installation via VMWare ThinApp:

http://www.vmware.com/products/thinapp/ [vmware.com]

I found out about Thinstals/Thinapps/"portable" versions when I accidentally browsed a torrent site where they are popular for various reasons, but the concept works well and it's easier to copy/paste a folder than do a conventional install.

Re:Open Office is there (2, Informative)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590084)

Oof!:

http://store.vmware.com/store/vmware/en_US/DisplayProductDetailsPage/productID.105855000 [vmware.com]

Not a big deal for lots of groups, but a show stopper for lots of others.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590460)

That is amazing. I never knew that existed until now. Are they claiming they can make any application portable and you can just throw all of your apps on a drive and access them forever and retain their settings? Do you need their software to run the apps after they have been virtualized? Interesting stuff....for as bad as most of Mac OS used to be, that was one thing they got right. You had a file called preferences that referred to your application. I know unix has this concept as well (and fairly elegantly too), and I wish that windows would follow suit somehow. I don't see why every application under the sun has to write a million keys to the registry that half the time are completely useless and then just hang around after you have uninstalled the application.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590288)

I'd just like to point out that there's no guarantee, or reason to believe, that open source office software is any better in this regard.

And, hell, OpenOffice's presentation software is so weak, even a completely corrupted Office 2007 file probably looked better.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

blai (1380673) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590332)

We didn't have so many computer users a decade ago, nor did we have technology so advanced.

People could just change whatever they liked and others would imagine they were just "another printing problem". With paranoid antiphishers out there, you can't do that today.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590448)

Anyone who has gone through the pre late 90's upgrades of MS Office products have no faith in MS ability to maintain integrity between versions. The transition from .doc to .docx just reinforces their inability to maintain compatibility.

It was the inability of 2000+ versions of office to read my 97 version of office that finally drove me to OO.org. The transition from Macros to VBA in Excel almost did it, but there was nothing like Excel until the recent updates of OO.org.

In all honestly I understand why people stay with MS products. There is often some little thing that they need. It could be a font, or just a way of creating content. I might still have a copy of Office around if I were running on a Windows machine. The presentation creator in OO.org is just not all that great. Fortunately I have a mac, and Keynote, which is way better than anything else out there, at least for me.

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590944)

One case, where the boss got a new laptop 2 days before a conference. His old one died and his new one came with Office 2007.

It sounds like there are some dumb sysadmins where you work. How would they let Office 2007 get to the boss' computer without him knowing? Sounds like they either got the laptop from the manufacturer and handed it to boss, or they have a standard image with Office 2007 and it wasn't tested properly or communicated to boss that he was getting the new version of Office.

Re:Open Office is there (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589728)

That's why they shouldn't have locked themselves into a proprietary solution. But that's an excuse for documents that were made years ago. There is no reason to write new documents using MS Office.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590334)

There is no reason to write new documents using MS Office.

Except that those old docs still exist in the corporate library. Do they now support two office suites?
hmm....what do I use to open this document?

Ugh. If it worked, I'd use it. (2, Insightful)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589796)

Open office's word processor isn't bad. I've been forced to use the powerpoint replacement (called "Impress") recently and the word "SUCK" doesn't even begin to cover just how badly unworkable it is. In fact, I've renamed it "Repress" because that's a more accurate description of what it does.

I'm not trying to do fancy transitions or stupid animations either. Just basic slideware for hour or 90 minute long technical presentations. It can't even do a fsking "replace template" or "master" properly. It just sucks. Totally and completely sucks.

By the way, in case I wasn't clear -- I don't care for it.

When it meets even close to parity, I'll jump all over it. Until then, I'll pay my Microsoft tax (or switch and pay my Apple tax).

Re:Open Office is there (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589940)

What the hell kind of bullshit is that? Oh, we have someone to choke, we can blah blah blah. What is that, some kind of joke? Really, are you a village idiot or something? I've seen that piece of crap spewed so many times and still I see morons spewing it "oh, I have a contract blah blah, you know, for restitution'. NO ONE CAN GET IT FROM THEM! What world are you living in? SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED AS IS WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY, NOT EVEN THE WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY!!! Its been in their license boiler plate for years! Someone to CHOKE???? Thats just a JOKE!!!

Re:Open Office is there (4, Interesting)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590032)

So angry.

Have you ever had a support contract before? At the university where I'm the backup software license officer, we've got a Microsoft Campus Agreement, as well as software site license for SPSS, and multiple other statistical and mathematical software packages. If a widespread problem occurs due to a software fault, such as the calendar issues we were having on the 2003-2007 Office switch, they had someone on the problem and the problem resolved in less than a day.

When a similar glitch occurred in our Evolution users, we had to submit a bug report, then wait for a new version to be released to repository, as we couldn't expect our users to compile from CVS, as the majority of them don't even have a build toolkit.

There's anecdotal evidence for both sides of the argument, but I stand by what's been said.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590074)

backup software license officer

Is that really your title? No one in a university IT department could manage to patch and compile Evolution from CVS if necessary?

Re:Open Office is there (3, Insightful)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590550)

We have a very unique structure at the university. Our clients are our 4000+ staff, faculty and students, all of whom have standalone laptop systems, not part of our managed systems. We are currently looking into putting our own ubuntu repository online for custom packages and updated revisions, but the headaches of this breaking mainline repository updates is daunting.

The bulk of the systems (again, 4000+ laptops) never pass through our hands, so we can't configure them ourselves, and would have to provide documentation on this to the masses, 80% of whom would have no issues, and 20% of whom we'd end up having to handhold through the process of adding custom respositories, 5% of whom we'd have to see in person.

We have a not insignificant amount of users, primarily library staff and long time faculty who are on the far side of 60 years old, and are resentful and afraid of the picture box with the typewriter.

All in all, not insurmountable, just daunting, and it will be tackled some day, but the 2008-2009 school year marked the first year of official adoption by the faculty of OSS packages. We're still hammering out the wrinkles.

And no, my official title is "Technology Services Consultant", but I act as backup to the software license officer when he is otherwise indisposed.

Re:Open Office is there (3, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589994)

There is even _less_ guarantee that MS format documents will be correctly displayed or formatted by _any_ tool. Microsoft has repeatedly been shown, in court, to publish documentation of their formats so bad that it is useless to other developers. And the changes between MS Word versions are frequently terribly mishandled by even the best of Microsoft's tools.

In general, the few documents that do not display correctly in OpenOffice which I've not encountered were prey to time-wasting layout micromanagers, who specified every single character's position for esthetic effects that have nothing to do with actual content, and the mishandling is a good indicator that the document itself is written by a paper-work pusher collecting their management salary for picking fonts.

And have you ever _tried_ to get MS Office support, as opposed to commercial OpenOffice support or even open source support for OpenOffice? Go ahead: try to get help with Hebrew printing, or Microsoft mishandling of Unicode.

So what? (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590076)

There's no guarantee the next version of Microsoft Office will support them either if history is our guide.

So if you're throwing away your productivity building your business intelligence into office applications, how 'bout just not doing that?

Re:Open Office is there (3, Informative)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590092)

Business users have a lot of finely detailed and rigidly laid out documents

And then they use Word... of all programs... to do that?
That’s like drawing pictures in MS Paint. ^^

For that task, the area is not “word processing”, but “DTP”.
InDesign, QuarkXPress, Scribus and (La)TeX would be the tools for that.

The “quality” of layout that you can do in MS programs, you can do in OOo too.
There is no guarantee that MS documents look right in OOo, true. But on top of there also being no guarantee that MS documents will display right in other versions from MS, there is a guarantee that open documents will not display right in MS at all.

For sending around documents, with a guaranteed layout, you use PDF anyway. Anything else would look ridicoulous and pointy-haired.*

Plus, with a MS Office contract, you have a software vendor to fall back to when things go wrong. You don't get this to the same extent with OSS, which is why business is often slow to adopt it.

Stop spreading that lie. There are many companies out there who gladly sell you professional support.
I wonder if MS will ever change the application and add new code for you... Because they can, and you can afford it too. :)

* Yes, I laughed at my ex-boss for sending me stuff in MS formats. Then I founded my own company, telling them I’d come back when I could buy them for some peanuts. Now they were sold for a single peanut. I was there. I laughed. ^^
In the end you control your own value, what you accept, and what not.

Re:Open Office is there (5, Interesting)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590166)

Plus, with a MS Office contract, you have a software vendor to fall back to when things go wrong.

          That's not worth the electrons you used to type that sentence. Through work, I have had a "platinum" trouble ticket open with these idiots for about 6 years now. It's a pretty serious issue - documents that become corrupted either while they are being edited, or when opened and then closed. Not trivial stuff - characters just change from one thing to another. They haven't even made a decent effort to resolve it. Their solution to document corruption is to get a correct printed copy, somehow, then scan it in as a TIFF file. This from a senior tech at MS. Not only that, they have consistently been unable to get a simple NDA signed and ITAR certification so that I can give them some of the examples. The sticking point is that they seemingly can't ensure that all the people working it are US citizens. That's not asking a lot for the kind of money that my very large aerospace company pays them in support costs, for this serious an issue.

        Brett

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590326)

Business users have a lot of finely detailed and rigidly laid out documents, sometimes with proprietary macro or VBA coding in them. This stuff would be a huge pain to translate to an open standard, and there's no guarantee that OOo will display them faithfully and with fidelity.

I take it you haven't tried to upgrade to the most recent version. Good luck with that proprietary macro support and having things not lose fidelity and work the same.

You don't get this to the same extent with OSS, which is why business is often slow to adopt it.

The majority of what prevents adoption of OO is FUD, plain & simple. Software vendor contract with MS Office? Are you kidding? Most businesses don't HAVE a vendor contract they just have a pack of licenses, and any issues with it working your "support" is to report a bug on their forums.

People are afraid to move to something new, and they've "heard" of issues with other products. Sure, I agree that OOo isn't totally acceptable for many companies, but many companies simply have themselves locked into a proprietary solution and are going to have issues no matter WHAT they try to migrate to. The better long-term approach is to free your company from such things, but managers rarely are able to "justify" real (or imaginary) migration issues.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590430)

When is the last time you ever heard of anybody going back on MS because of some issue with Word, in particular with Word not rendering earlier documents correctly? As to Word 2007 compatibility, I did a number of tests on custom macros for Word 2003 that did indeed break on running on Word 2007, so I wouldn't go around lauding interoperability between versions that much.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590474)

I forgot to add that, at the end of it, the problems with the macros we were using were substantial enough that I pretty much abandoned any plans for an Office 2007 rollout (we have the licenses via Software Assurance) and stuck with 2003. If I'm going to rewrite those macros for anything, it will be for OpenOffice, where licensing won't be a concern at all.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590502)

there's no guarantee that OOo will display them faithfully and with fidelity.

At least there's also no guarantee that future versions won't, which is more than can be said for MS Word.

finely detailed and rigidly laid out documents? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590566)

...finely detailed and rigidly laid out documents...

You mean Corel WordPerfect Office yes?

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589380)

Simple: some people are extremely risk-avoidant, and they'll pay money even when something else that does pretty much the same thing is free.

I have tried many times to encourage an acquaintance who runs a small business to switch from MS Office to OpenOffice.org so she could save money on upgrades. Her response is typically: 'I have to be sure that my documents are compatible with other MS Office users. Can you absolutely, positively guarantee that they will be if I use OpenOffice?'

And of course, my answer is no. But then, I can't absolutely, positively guarantee that two copies of MS Office won't have compatibility issues either. No matter: MS Office is perceived as the 'safe' route, and don't think Microsoft doesn't pay big bucks to keep that thought in the zeitgeist of MS Office users.

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589462)

There used to be a saying: "no one ever got fired for buying big blue"
-The reference was to buying IBM hardware.

In business, making a choice that costs a bit more, but you know will work is the generally accepted right answer vs making the cheaper choice that should work. Its called risk avoidance.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

nhytefall (1415959) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589652)

Honestly, the compatibility, scalability, and overall functionality is why I pushed my open source shop to implement an Outlook server.

Before I get flamed, the reason was project/meeting scheduling. Until the new, in-house OSS solution is live, work *still* has to get done, and having to check 5 different calendars to schedule a fucking field install is completely unacceptable to me.

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590446)

In business, making a choice that costs a bit more, but which management or the stockholders perceive will work is the generally accepted right answer vs making the cheaper choice that should, and chances are will, work. Its called risk avoidance.

There, fixed that for ya.

Re:Open Office is there (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589414)

Because OO.org is a piece of shit?

Re:Open Office is there (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589450)

I'm not a huge Microsoft fan (just as I'm not a huge Adobe fan either) but the fact is that for all its flaws, Office is a superior product to Open Office, and can't even be compared with Google docs (with a straight face). I suppose if you are a casual user them OO is fine. But as a heavy user of Office, I tried to replace it with OO last year, and it just didn't do all the things I rely on Word and Excel to do for me, or at least not as easily, so I gave up on it. (BTW I'm running Office 2008 on a Mac) Likewise Photoshop and Gimp - I'd love not to have to pay Adobe hundreds of dollars for Photoshop, but Gimp doesn't even come close in terms of functionality and work flow, but again, like Office, I use Photoshop heavily and rely on it for my business.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589752)

I'm curious. I use OO at work all the time (today, in fact). The only time I've ever felt inclined to turn to Google Docs was to toy with shared access (and limited syncing to my Droid). And the only time I've had to turn to MS Word was when someone generated a MS Word doc that OO couldn't handle properly (or rather - once OO saved it, Word couldn't handle the formatting). Maybe I'm missing something very important about Google Docs? And likewise, I've never hit the need for complexity with Word docs that seem to drive some folks.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589878)

It's not complexity. No sane person actually uses most of that crap included in Word. If you're at the point that you're considering adding macros to a text document, it's time to learn real programming and a real markup language.

You've already mentioned the major reason for using Word over OO.o: interoperability. OO.o is great for reading random Word documents that someone sends you. It's also good at creating documents from scratch, to send to Word users. And if you can get your entire office to switch to OpenOffice, more power to you.

But what it doesn't do well enough to compensate for the $200 price of Word, is handle the typical exchange of documents between business users, all of whom add or remove mark-up and editing. In fact, Word didn't really even support this very well itself for a long time. And the result is usually a complete mess of course, but it's passable and it facilitates collaboration among several workers.

Re:Open Office is there (2, Informative)

pwizard2 (920421) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590348)

But what it doesn't do well enough to compensate for the $200 price of Word, is handle the typical exchange of documents between business users, all of whom add or remove mark-up and editing. In fact, Word didn't really even support this very well itself for a long time. And the result is usually a complete mess of course, but it's passable and it facilitates collaboration among several workers.

I've used the markup feature in OpenOffice Writer several times (I moonlight as a technical writer sometimes and I have to deal with documents that have inline corrections originating in Word) and it passes muster. The color coding does not always work right (I sometimes set it, send the document to the client, and then have to reset it when I get it back) but the record of who made each edit is still intact even after several revisions, so it is no big deal. Granted, there's room for improvement, but the feature generally works as of OO.o v3. It used to be terrible in previous versions, so what is there is already a huge improvement.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590542)

I'm glad to know that this has improved. It's been a few years since I have supported OpenOffice.

I guess my argument is, though, that in a business environment when you're passing around important documents such as contracts or technical specifications, it's vital that software be 100% interoperable and that the additions made by all parties are accessible to everyone, and not lost due to incompatibilities.

Of course interoperability has historically been a problem even between different versions of Word, so it's not an ideal situation. And we all know this is due to the fact that there is no real Word file format standard. And we all know the reason for this is to stifle competition and prevent interoperability with 3rd party software. And the result of all of this is that there is little choice for many users but to standardize on the Word brand, jump on the upgrade treadmill and upgrade to every new version that comes out, lest interoperability be threatened and features missing. This is all by design.

So the consensus, based on a corporate culture of outsourcing accountability and a lack of incentive for IT investment in most companies, seems to be that standardizing on the most recent version of a single program from a single provider provides the most reliable interoperability. This is the basic outcome of the powerful monopoly force provided to software providers. And while it's good to see that monopoly being cracked open, the nature of the beast means that Microsoft can move the goalposts almost at any time it suits their interests.

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589510)

The same exact reason why people still pirate Windows when Linux is free.

Re:Open Office is there (0, Troll)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589560)

Chocolate exists, why would anyone go for vanilla?

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589992)

Lame mod. But maybe shame on me for lack of detail. Let me rephrase it in better terms.

Nissan versa's exist, why do people buy the more expensive mini cooper?

Re:Open Office is there (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589704)

Since Open Office is there, why would anyone go for this?

Open Office, while good, just isn't an option for a lot of business users.

I've got business clients who can't handle the minuscule UI changes from Office 2000 to XP to 2003... They've actually avoided 2007 like the plague... There's no way in hell they'll go to a whole new program.

And then there's the issue of things opening and rendering correctly. I don't know how good OO.o is these days... It may be nearly perfect... But the first time someone opens a document that looks wrong, or the first time someone sends a document that nobody else can open, will be the last time they use OO.o

Plus, when things go really wrong you can always call Microsoft and complain... Pay for some technical support or something... Does OO.o offer support contracts?

Re:Open Office is there (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589788)

Since Open Office is there, why would anyone go for this?

The legit copy of MS Office for home use is free to many who use MS Office at work. Microsoft Software Assurance Home Use Program [microsoft.com]

The MS Office "Ultimate Steal" for a full or part time student with an .edu e-mail address is $60. Win 7 Pro $30. the ultimate steal [microsoft.com]

Since Word 97 or theabouts Microsoft has offered a Home office bundle for around $100-$150 list. Currently with a three-seat license. That's the price of a serviceable multifunction printer or four ink jet cartridges.

MS Office skills are marketable at any age.

The senior volunteer, the disabled, the kid just out of school knows this. It beats flipping burgers, pays better than Wal-Mart, and there is always someone who needs you.

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590536)

If it's not actual Stealing, how is it Ultimate? :P

Re:Open Office is there (1)

JohnBailey (1092697) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590654)

MS Office skills are marketable at any age.

What exactly are MS Office skills?

Re:Open Office is there (5, Funny)

stoborrobots (577882) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590896)

MS Office skills are marketable at any age.

What exactly are MS Office skills?

Typing, and bold.

"Advanced skills" include italics and

  • bullets

I use OO.o with business documents; works fine. (3, Insightful)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589960)

I do exactly that with business documents every day. I open them in OpenOffice.org, print them from OO.o, and if something doesn't import/open correctly due to mistranslation, I make do with what I've got just like millions of users have done across decades of opening important documents in various versions of Microsoft office programs. Microsoft's office programs don't always open and work flawlessly across operating systems or even versions of Microsoft Office. Any talk about "guarantees" and 100% perfect conversion, that's the utopia.

Re:I use OO.o with business documents; works fine. (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590520)

This has been a complaint since even before WYSIWYG. In the olden days when I first started with computers, if you wanted that you used TeX or Postcript (which PDF is a descendant of) or some other typesetting format. Word processors alone could never, and were never designed to allow absolute 100% rendering every time. Differences in operating systems, software versions, printers and other rendering/printing devices are so substantial that it would be impossible. Even with modern printer abstraction layers, you just can't deliver that assurance. WYSIWYG has always been a certain percentage bullshit, and the kind of bastardized monster that the Microsoft doc format (or rather formats, the whole thing even up to and included OOXML is just a mishmash) is no different.

Re:Open Office is there (2, Insightful)

ghjm (8918) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590284)

Outlook, group policy, VBA macros, Active Directory deployment, Sharepoint integration, widespread compatibility with third party software.

I'm not a Microsoft troll. But you asked and that is the answer.

-Graham

Re:Open Office is there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590294)

You obviously haven't spent a lot of time with "users". Must be nice.

Re:Open Office is there (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590780)

I'm using Open Office on my gaming PC to track my Warhammer Online auctions.

I've actually considered buying whatever the cheapest version of Microsoft Office for Windows is, just to make that less painful. That's how bad Open Office is.

"Wrist slap"? (5, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589350)

This is a civil lawsuit. The point is to make the plaintiff whole and cause the infringement to cease. It is not about any sort of punishment.

Re:"Wrist slap"? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589622)

Well, willful patent infringement can result in treble damages being awarded, which is about punishment even though it's a civil suit.

In this particular case, though, damages weren't trebled, but the district court judge awarded i4i an additional $40 million as sanctions against Microsoft for courtroom shenanigans (which is also about punishment).

Re:"Wrist slap"? (1, Insightful)

OnlineAlias (828288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589904)

I would like to know where my damages are. How can Microsoft sell a product with a feature, lose an intellectual property case, then take the feature out of my copy by way of "patch". Didn't I pay for that feature? Microsoft has done this before, and I didn't get a refund. How can they keep doing this without eventually even acknowledging that they are removing features from *my* product, not *their* product?

Re:"Wrist slap"? (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590158)

Strangely, my understanding of the injunction was that it wasn't supposed to interfere with Microsoft's contractual obligations to its present customers, only that it was supposed to enjoin Microsoft from continuing to sell the unpatched product to new customers. Maybe they figure that new customers buying software already on the shelves would get an unpatched version in violation of the injunction, so they're patching everyone.

Re:"Wrist slap"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590206)

It's not your product, you're paying them for the privilege of using it, peon. Welcome to closed source software land.

Re:"Wrist slap"? (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590262)

I would like to know where my damages are.

Fortunately, i4i is not asking you to pay damages.
(Strictly speaking, they could. In turn you might be able to recover those damage payments from MS)
IANAL, YMMV, etc.

Re:"Wrist slap"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589820)

I smell a 1L....

Re:"Wrist slap"? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590080)

One way to make the plaintiff whole is to force Microsoft to stop distributing word, in addition to forcing them to pay the royalties they should have paid to license the technology legally.

Re:"Wrist slap"? (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590814)

This is a civil lawsuit. The point is to make the plaintiff whole and cause the infringement to cease. It is not about any sort of punishment.

Civil suits sometimes involve punishment, hence punitive damages, which are awarded in order to discourage infringing behavior when the actual compensatory damages are insufficient to do so.

Copyright? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589358)

It's patent-infringing, not copyright.

Re:Copyright? (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590796)

That's the problem with sites like Digg and Slashdot, where people submit things and they show up without any editorial review.

What? Slashdot is edited? That's a joke, right? Nice try, but I'm not falling for something that far out of whack with empirical evidence.

Copyright? (3, Insightful)

roguegramma (982660) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589372)

Don't submit something if you can't tell the difference between patent and copyright.

Mod parent up. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589818)

n/t

The appeal decision is worth reading in full (5, Informative)

toby (759) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589374)

Groklaw has it. [groklaw.net]

It's very hard not to agree with the court that Microsoft wilfully infringed. Furthermore, it seems they expected to be caught, and to lose the inevitable suit - and didn't care either. Not hard to see why: The damages awarded are equivalent to just two days' revenue for Microsoft (although they infringed for five years). As a commenter pointed out, that's why such cases are unlikely to change their posture on software patents; even when they lose in that arena (and they are serial infringers, frequently losing such cases) - they have already made a huge profit on the whole dirty business. Same old Microsoft.

The way damages were calculated is detailed by the document linked (and was upheld by appeal, as it most likely substantially underestimated the real damages).

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (1)

crazybit (918023) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589400)

The way damages were calculated is detailed by the document linked (and was upheld by appeal, as it most likely substantially underestimated the real damages).

Next time court should hire RIAA lawyers and let them make the math of the damages.

Damages weren't upheld as reasonable (1)

Petersko (564140) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589614)

"The way damages were calculated is detailed by the document linked (and was upheld by appeal, as it most likely substantially underestimated the real damages)."

The damages were not upheld because the estimate was worth a shit (and after reading how they arrived at them I think they were WAY high) they were upheld because Microsoft failed to file a pre-verdict JMOL on damages. Or so it says under B. Reasonableness of the Damages Award.

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589626)

I imagine Microsoft has no problem with being "forced" to remove support for custom XML elements now that the enterprise threat posed by OpenOffice has waned. Others [blogspot.com] saw this coming and warned that Microsoft's OOXML was a marketing gimmick pretty much from the start.

Though I do use Word periodically for my work, I have not been foolish enough to rely on it in any sense. At one point I did consider that perhaps OOXML was a step in the right direction (of interoperability). But as we can see, Microsoft can't manage to support anything, that doesn't directly increase lock-in and their bottom line, for longer than a single upgrade cycle. This is precisely the reason I and others haven't wasted any time taking Microsoft's "open" document standards seriously.

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (4, Insightful)

jbengt (874751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590518)

I imagine Microsoft has no problem with being "forced" to remove support for custom XML elements now that the enterprise threat posed by OpenOffice has waned. Others [blogspot.com] saw this coming and warned that Microsoft's OOXML was a marketing gimmick pretty much from the start.

ODF vs OOXML has little or nothing to do with this lawsuit. The custom XML capabilities of MS Office application that were the object of this lawsuit are not part of the OOXML file format specification; by definition it could not be a custom schema if it's defined in the spec.

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (2, Informative)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590572)

Well, yes, obviously any "custom" XML added by others could not have been specified as a part of the OOXML file format. But the ability to support and ignore (rather than silently remove) custom XML in the OOXML file format is a vital part of it being the extensible and interoperable format that it was advertised as. Pulling the rug out on that interoperability years later is completely consistent with Microsoft's modus operandi.

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590794)

If OpenOffice has waned, why is Microsoft hiring a compete group leader [74.125.155.132] to cozy up to the community and bring back knockdown arguments for their marketing team?

This may be off topic (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590738)

But I also learned at Groklaw today that Microsoft is looking for somebody to reach out to the open source community [microsoft.com] ...

The whole thing is quite amusing. Somebody should probably cache that - I'm sure it will be gone by morning.

Re:This may be off topic (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590754)

Perhaps this google cache link [74.125.155.132] will be a little more persistent. We still need a long term archive and I'm not doing it.

Re:This may be off topic (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590836)

Looks like the standard "Reach out and hand bombs to OSS types". I'm sure part of it will be "Get an interview on Slashdot where you lie about Microsoft's intentions to the Open Source crowd. Maybe this time they won't send you packing and will actually believe the pure unadulterated bullshit we're making you shovel as part of the deal where you sell your soul for a paycheck."

It's a marketing position, or more precisely a FUD position.

Re:This may be off topic (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#30591008)

Yeah, it looks like that to me too. But a team leader position with a group of OSS bashers is probably the wrong way to go. Probably involves some input to the scripts for the blog center in Bangalore. I hope they get somebody good for that - the astroturf has been pretty weak the last few years.

They really need several people for this gig. A cuddler or two to get up close to the community, a handler to dump their data, some "perception change agents" (PCAs) to pump the results to their pets in the press. Maybe a blogging coach to fly to Bangalore and teach people not to paste all of their talking points into every post or ask obviously knowledgable people to cite. They're probably trying to hire the handler, but don't know what they need.

I'd probably add to that a whole herd of temps from the local LUGs in focal regions as focus groups to laugh at the pitches the PCAs come up with and so refine them -- you could probably get those guys for pizza and Bawlz, and a tour of the Campus of Serene Giving.

If they don't structure this so that some of these folks are consultants who provide input as "consultancy" under their own corps and deliver the rest gratis, they're going to get outed through lack of plausible deniability and a few years from now the next version of the Halloween Documents [catb.org] or Comes Documents [groklaw.net] will burn them yet again. They're really flailing up there. Since BillG left the subtlety just isn't there, which is probably why the stock is flat over the last decade.

Hey, maybe I'd be good at this - except for the whole dancing with the devil part.

For sure the HR department needs a performance review - "MICROSOFT NEEDS A MACHIAVELLIAN JERK TO BEAT OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE" isn't really the type of job ad you want to hang out there where everyone can see it.

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (3, Insightful)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590742)

(and was upheld by appeal, as it most likely substantially underestimated the real damages)

I won't argue that i4i doesn't legally "deserve" $290 million because of what MS did or that MS shouldn't be "punished" by that amount; the courts are supposed (in an ideal world at least) to determine the proper amount based on patent and contract law.

But I'm assuming that you are using the term "real damages" in the non-legal sense of what i4i actually suffered (in the sense of what they would have that that don't have now, had MS not used their patent). I highly doubt that "real damages" in that sense have been "substantially underestimated". Small companies rarely sell $290 million of any kind of software, patent or not.

Re:The appeal decision is worth reading in full (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590818)

It's very hard not to agree with the court that Microsoft wilfully infringed. Furthermore, it seems they expected to be caught, and to lose the inevitable suit - and didn't care either. Not hard to see why: The damages awarded are equivalent to just two days' revenue for Microsoft (although they infringed for five years). As a commenter pointed out, that's why such cases are unlikely to change their posture on software patents;

Why would they change? Microsoft's position on software patents is that there is nothing wrong with them in principle, but the patent office needs to do a better job of not granting patents on things that are not non-obvious or that are not novel. Their position would be that the i4i is one of the ones that would not have been granted under what they would consider proper standards of novelty and non-obviousness.

The way damages were calculated is detailed by the document linked (and was upheld by appeal, as it most likely substantially underestimated the real damages).

Considering how few people actually make use of Custom XML in Office, it's hard to see how the real damages are underestimated. If Microsoft had left that feature out, leaving it for i4i to provide as a plug-in, i4i would not have had big sales.

PATENT you dum mofo (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30589412)

What a maroon !!

Why patch? (2, Interesting)

l2718 (514756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589426)

Existing copies of Word were expressly grandfathered in by the ruling -- only the sale of new copies was prohibited. Is the patch intended to be applied against shrink-wrapped copies bought after Jan. 11th?

Re:Why patch? (5, Insightful)

LOLLinux (1682094) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589446)

Because they want consistency across all copies of the same version of Office?

Re:Why patch? (1)

benjamindees (441808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589694)

I imagine Microsoft would like to make it easy for IT departments to scuttle any attempt to use the "Custom XML" feature to extend their file format in ways that would be difficult for Microsoft to control and compete against.

Re:Why patch? (1)

Ephemeriis (315124) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589714)

Existing copies of Word were expressly grandfathered in by the ruling -- only the sale of new copies was prohibited. Is the patch intended to be applied against shrink-wrapped copies bought after Jan. 11th?

I would assume that the patch is intended to be applied to every version of Word possible. If for no other reason than to have a unified codebase.

Re:Why patch? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590208)

It'll probably be optional for existing installs of Word. So you could just not install it. It might be a good idea if you have to interoperate with a lot of other people who may or may not have it, at least you know you won't be sending them incompatible files.

For new installs, though, it'll have to be burnt on the DVD, so you're out of luck.

Microsoft Word recalled due to contamination (4, Funny)

David Gerard (12369) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589470)

CENTER FOR UNEASE CONTROL, Seattle, -- A federal court has banned Microsoft Word from sale as a poisonous substance [newstechnica.com] , suspected of causing millions of brain-deaths around the world.

Microsoft Office has long been considered potentially hazardous to health, despite advertising claiming that "four out of five CEOs prefer Outlook" and most of the billions of dollars sloshing around in major banks' credit-default swaps before the Great Recession actually having been calculated in macros in Excel.

Workers whose computers are infected with Microsoft Office are advised to press "escape," step slowly away from the desk, break into a run and gather at the official hazardous substances meeting point, in the pub around the corner from the office.

Symptoms include nausea, irritability and short temper, hostility, homicidal impulses, loss of mental clarity, diarrhoea, mental confusion and liver damage from excess alcohol consumption.

Doctors have recommended victims of Word use OpenOffice instead, its "majestic" startup time giving one healthy pause to catch one's breath, make a cup of tea and nip off to the loo, and its fibrous composition providing the same health-giving effects and taste sensation as eating a bowl of sawdust with milk every morning for the rest of your life. Many sufferers have instead opted to write on toilet paper with a burnt stick.

Re:Microsoft Word recalled due to contamination (0)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590212)

Something ab out the “majestic rise” of the great “OOo” made me crack up. I imagined such an animal, in the woods, standing up, gracile like a 80,000 pound sperm whale, ramming against the giant beast of Word. And after having won, beginning its elaborate mating dance with a seduced Emacs cow.

Oh man, if imagination were downloadable, there would already be a YouTube video out there. ^^

What did I want to say...? ... Ah, I know: I prefer...

Emacs! The word processor of CHUCK NORRIS!
It feels like eating his favorite morning cereal: Gravel and nails. Without milk!
It’s blazingly fast, just as Chuck Norris is... If you have completed the 10 years it takes to find out the most basic functions.
You can do everything in it, just as Chuck Norris can do everything.
And I mean ev-ery-thing! (The only thing missing, is a good text editor.;)

Yay. Software patents. (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589600)

Hooray! Now we can all stagnate. See: Melancholy Elephants [spiderrobinson.com] but instead of standard writing, apply it to programming writing. From a comment in: This Story [techdirt.com] (which I'm in too ;): "To protect all artists you must disadvantage some. Those some rarely see the logic." which leads to: "Its a horrible future where the copyright maximalist dream (copyright forever and ever) is near at hand, and is finally shown to be a nightmare. The "some" artists that are disadvantaged are the ones who cannot profit from their works in a reasonable time period and refuse to cope with the markets. The Vast Majority who are protected are the Other artists of today and the infinite future, protecting their freedom to innovate, rebuild and even reinvent without some ancient monopoly power looming in the shadows to spank them and call them thieves." Software patents are basically "copyright" for ideas so all of this applies. Now, I'm not saying software patents shouldn't exist but rather in the context of stagnation especially with the pace of development that they should be much shorter than they are now.

Patch was available to OEMs in October (1)

garg0yle (208225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589658)

This isn't really news - Microsoft started making the patch available to OEMs in October [microsoft.com] in anticipation of a losing legal battle. Is it any surprise they could make it available to end-users so "quickly"?

Steve Ballmer screams (4, Funny)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589696)

YOU HAVEN'T HEARD THE LAST OF MEEeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!!!

* /steve shakes fist angrily.

Canadian i4i? (1)

garg0yle (208225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589758)

The workaround should put an end to a long-running dispute between Canadian i4i and Redmond

Oh, hey, I know that guy! He lives down the street from me, right next to C3P0 and THX1138.

Will this be a foreced patch? (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 4 years ago | (#30589868)

Will this be a foreced patch? that can not be blocked?

Re:Will this be a foreced patch? (1)

mysidia (191772) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590598)

The order essentially says MS can't license any new copies of the software with the Custom XML editor.

So, I understand this to mean, if for example, your enterprise has a volume license, and you buy more copies after the effective date of the order... the new copies might not be able to support Custom XML, according to the order..

Similarly, if you upgrade from a trial version of Word via an online license purchase, after the effective date, MS must not convey you the ability to use the Custom XML feature. It seems like enforcing the patch might be a requirement in those cases for MS to comply...

I wonder what predicament this puts people in who rely on the Custom XML feature to build templates for programmatic population of documents and segmenting the presentation?

MS is religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30590508)

I have disliked MS products for many years, but many schools and businesses require submissions to use MS products. If you use an alternative you run the risk of compatibility issues, and this can be a deal breaker or grade deduction. The recipient says,"Can't open it." It's a simple .txt file! Can't or won't?

Re:MS is religion (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590710)

I have disliked MS products for many years, but many schools and businesses require submissions to use MS products. If you use an alternative you run the risk of compatibility issues, and this can be a deal breaker or grade deduction. The recipient says,"Can't open it." It's a simple .txt file! Can't or won't?

You mean sort of like what happened when all these Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003 shops suddenly started getting these weird .docx and .xlsx files that they couldn't open.

Yes, you could download a stunted embedded version of Office 2007 called the Office Compatibility Kit which would allow you to, for the most part, load and save these weird formats, but then again, Sun has had a similar feature available for MS-Office software to open ODF files.

No worries for me! (1)

dufachi (973647) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590808)

Office 2007 has refused to update itself on my machine since March, so I'm not worried about losing functionality. Sorry, i4i, I will still be violating your copyright unwillingly! :D

The Patent, itself, is a joke. (1)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#30590984)

So essentially, Microsoft got sued for, putting extra data in a file. What a joke.

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