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Is OpenOffice.org a Threat? Microsoft Thinks So

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the peter-those-are-cheerios dept.

Businesses 467

Glyn Moody writes "Most people regard OpenOffice.org as a distant runner-up to Microsoft Office, and certainly not a serious rival. Microsoft seems to feel otherwise, judging by a new job posting on its site for a 'Linux and Open Office Compete Lead.' According to this, competing with both GNU/Linux and OpenOffice.org is 'one of the biggest issues that is top of mind' for no less a person than Steve Ballmer. Interestingly, a key part of this position is 'engaging with Open Source communities and organizations' — which suggests that Microsoft's new-found eagerness to 'engage' with open source has nothing to do with a real desire to reach a pacific accommodation with free software, but is simply a way for Microsoft to fight against it from close up, and armed with inside knowledge."

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Frist posat (1)

Neuroelectronic (643221) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592432)

Microsoft makes money, so obviously they would use this as a competitive advantage.

Re:duohce boag (2, Insightful)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592748)

Agreed.

I understand the desire of many slashdotters to have Free software.
I don't understand the desire of many slashdotters to see For Profit software companies fail. (or to point out with fear or mockery that they are trying to make money).

Can't we all just get along?

Re:duohce boag (3, Insightful)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592986)

"Can't we all just get along?"

It would be nice, but most of the For Profit software companies don't seem interested in getting along. They're competing.

As for myself, I don't think Linux needs world domination on the desktop, it does need interoperability though. Because interoperability (through truly open standards) is what gives people choice. That said, I would be happy with 20-30% Linux and/or Ooo on the desktop.

By "truly open standards, I don't mean the OOXML farce that was pulled through the ISO. Rather I mean something like the internet RFC's. Royalty-free, unencumbered, fully laid-out specs that anyone can follow.

Still using old Gnome office suite (0, Offtopic)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592436)

Actually, I more prefer Abiword and Gnumeric over OO.o. They are quick and snappy and suit my needs. Plus, Gnumeric is the backend to editgrid.com, which means that if I upload a spreadsheet there with graphs and stuff, it preserves it.

Re:Still using old Gnome office suite (0, Offtopic)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592794)

As much as I am impressed by EditGrid's honesty and apparently new focus [editgrid.com] , how long do you expect them to survive? I have been searching for this kind of functionality on and off for a while, and this is the first I have heard of EditGrid.

I use it because... (4, Insightful)

misfit815 (875442) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592448)

...its GUI is more like Microsoft Office pre-2007 than Microsoft Office 2007 is, and I have never gotten used to the 2007 interface.

Re:I use it because... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592462)

I still prefer a cock-in-my-mouth, rather than keep up with the modern version, the iphone/ipod treadmill.

Re:I use it because... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592542)

My 5 year old niece uses W2007, how hard can it be? Personally I hate all them GUIs, never got the point, only editor I need is nano or a good old typewriter.

Re:I use it because... (2, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592562)

It can be surprisingly difficult. I'm wondering a few things though: does you 5 year old niece use sections, macros, table of contents, or any advanced aspect to Word? I doubt it somehow, which suggests to me that they don't use advanced features.

Re:I use it because... (5, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592606)

99% of people couldn't care less for the advanced features in anything.

Re:I use it because... (1, Informative)

Bandman (86149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592710)

An interestingly enough, that 1% of the people drive the continual development of those advanced tools.

I don't think it's that 99% of people don't use them, I think it's that 99% of documents don't use them, but for the ones that do, they're very important.

Re:I use it because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592788)

so the new ui for accessing these features is only useful for people who dont use these features?

Re:I use it because... (4, Insightful)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592812)

99% of people want 1 advanced feature in their word processor. Thing is, they all want a different advanced feature which the other 98% will consider unnecessary.

Re:I use it because... (3, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592850)

And that's why we have extensions. Putting everything in at the start just creates bloat.

Re:I use it because... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592884)

No, not really, they're all sheep.

Re:I use it because... (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592720)

I'm wondering a few things though: does you 5 year old niece use sections, macros, table of contents, or any advanced aspect to Word? I doubt it somehow, which suggests to me that they don't use advanced features.

I'm wondering a few things though: did you just answer your own question? This suggests to me that there might be something circular about your logic.

Re:I use it because... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592782)

No, he didn't. Please revise the rest of your post according to your corrected information.

Re:I use it because... (2, Informative)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592834)

My 5 year old niece uses W2007, how hard can it be?

This comment you are replying to is not how hard it is, especially not to a newcomer as you niece, but about familiarity.

One of the key arguments against MS Office alternatives prior to Office2007 was the inconvenience, and possible financial costs, of retraining for people already familiar with Office. It wasn't that the alternatives were harder to use (Office was no paragon of truly intuitive design and neither were the alternatives so the difference in that respect was a close to naught as makes not odds), it was that they were different. Pro MS commenters quietly dropped the argument shortly before Office 2007 arrived and the same argument is now being landed on the newer MS products by promoters of alternatives.

I've not used Office 2007 enough to form a definite opinion though I suspect I won't particularly care either way - if it does the job without being too irritating I'll use what-ever tool I have available. I use Office 2003 those few times I need such a thing at work (I'm a developer/DBa/SysAdmin at a small company so have little time to use office applications even when I would want to (documentation and test plans usually falling to someone else with some guidance and later editing from myself and others in my position, and documentation intended for users and/or trainers is definitely better prepared by people not like me) and OO.o for personal stuff (both on my main home PC and netbook). I have encountered Office 2007 at work, but only briefly. I know people who do use it regularly though and their opinions range from love to hate covering everything between, and there seems to be little correlation (after the initial training/retraining period) between the sort of person (in terms of their overall techie-ness and level of previous experience with such applications) and which end of the spectrum they sit closet to - so I suspect that in the long run it simply comes down to difficult-to-objetify personal preference.

Re:I use it because... (1)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592944)

I had a neighbour whose 4, 5 and 8 year old could easily use DOS. Yet so many adults can't use the command prompt and apparently the use of CLI is holding back Linux.

In the case of learning new things it's not always wise to compare an adult to a child whose mind is actually much more capable of learning new things. Children find it much easier to learn two languages where as adults can struggle at it.

I've not had a problem with Win 2007 other than I find it ugly and don't care to pay for it while I'm phasing out Windows on my home PCs.

Re:I use it because... (2, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592558)

...its GUI is more like Microsoft Office pre-2007 than Microsoft Office 2007 is, and I have never gotten used to the 2007 interface.

Ooo has an incredibly ugly UI and some glaring usability issues. I think it would win many more converts if it focused on usability for its next release even if it never added a single new feature. Drag the UI kicking and screaming into the 21st century and smooth some of the rough edges in the process. From my own experience, I tolerate the UI simply because the suite is free and has some excellent functionality like Print to PDF built-in, but I reckon tasks like creating tables, document outline mode and diagrams take me a good 2-3x as long as they do than in MS Word.

Re:I use it because... (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592704)

I frequently hear the "print-to-pdf" feature touted as a major advantageous feature of Ooo - but with the wide availability of pdf 'printer' programs I don't see this as a feature at all. A separately installed pdf-printer program is available to all other programs (print to pdf from esoteric scientific program, notepad, browser, whatever) instead of tying the feature into Ooo itself. In fact, this seems contrary to the mentality of most programming (and by extension, to the open source movement) logics - aren't we supposed to want a single copy of code that can be called by any program, rather than code living in a walled garden that is replicated in each program?

(This post is less of a reply to the OP - but it seemed like a logical place to make the point. Also, I'm speaking of Win-family OS'es wrt the printer programs - I know the other OS's have similar functionality either as a program or built-in. Man, I hate that I feel the need to put disclaimers to head off the rush of "Blah can already do that!!11!" comments...)

Re:I use it because... (5, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592912)

I frequently hear the "print-to-pdf" feature touted as a major advantageous feature of Ooo - but with the wide availability of pdf 'printer' programs I don't see this as a feature at all. A separately installed pdf-printer program is available to all other programs (print to pdf from esoteric scientific program, notepad, browser, whatever) instead of tying the feature into Ooo itself. In fact, this seems contrary to the mentality of most programming (and by extension, to the open source movement) logics - aren't we supposed to want a single copy of code that can be called by any program, rather than code living in a walled garden that is replicated in each program?

I'm aware of PDF printers and I use them, but none of them are as simple to use. The one built into OpenOffice works with a single click a button, and a file dialog. That's it. Most PDF drivers lead you through 2 or 3 dialogs and fail to pick up the document metadata or hinting stuff like column flow because they're being called as if they're printers. The Impress app also exports presentations as Shockwave Flash files which is also a similarly excellent feature. It would be great if Ooo exported into more formats, things like EPUB for example.

It certainly doesn't stop you adding a PDF printer driver (such as PDFCreator on Win32) and using it from other apps though.

amen (0, Offtopic)

Agent Whim (1564975) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592578)

The iPhone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one can call the Father except through the holy handset.

Re:amen (0, Offtopic)

paiute (550198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592596)

And the iSlate is its prophet. (Allah bless it and give it peace and clear wifi connections all of its battery life, may it be long.)

Re:I use it because... (4, Insightful)

JamesTRexx (675890) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592700)

I prefer having a text menu over that ribbon style as well.
Because I had to support so many different programs I can't develop a memory for all the different shiny icons there are. A few of them are alike, but most are just too different for me to know what's what in any program. So, with simple text menus I can just read and find what I need faster. Icons hold no meaning to me.

I installed the latest OO, definitely not a threat (1, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592454)

So I got a netbook for my wife for Christmas and the Dell 10v I got for $266 comes with Microsoft Works--which unfortunately does not, well, 'work' all that well. My wife hates Google Docs (which I use basically for everything that's not work related now) so I installed OpenOffice figuring that it would be about the same. Umm, yeah, it opens shit but the functionality of the software fucking sucks.

Prime example: I open a CSV file on the web. Firefox doesn't already know that CSV should be tied to OO? Shouldn't that have occurred at install time by OO? No, ok, I'll set it up--done. Takes a long fucking time to open OO. I mean a LONG time. It opens, sweet. I select all the fields and go to resize them all with a single click but--nothing happens. WTF? I try again. Nothing. I look on the menu bar quickly--nothing. WTF?

Listen, I'm glad that it opened my CSV and I'm glad it is free but for people to seriously consider it a contender, it better work like I expect it to work and everyone else expects it to work--and that expectation is based on experience with Office. Oh and BTW, Google Docs opened that same CSV and I was able to resize the fields as I expected.

Competitor, maybe, but threat, no.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592490)

Odd... I use OO to manage over 1,000,000 items for an online retail business, and the majority are stored in csv files. Works fine for me.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (1, Insightful)

purplebear (229854) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592526)

Well, I was all set to read a real world review of OO.o to understand the shortcomings. Well, right up till sentence 3. You lost me there. Can't be a very competent review with that kind of language.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (-1, Flamebait)

doti (966971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592708)

It's a fucking /. comment, not a "real world" review, smartass.

So when you find nothing to attack on the content, you attack the form. Nice.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592754)

Can't be a very competent review with that kind of language.

I'll keep that in mind for when I write a review of OO for Wired or the New York Times. In the mean time, since this is Slashdot, I'll keep posting exactly like I have for the last 12+ years. Thanks!

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592810)

And you'll continue to be considered an obnoxious fool that's no better than a screaming fanboy because X isn't exactly the same as Y. We wouldn't expect anything more from a unskilled windows user.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592848)

And you'll continue to be considered an obnoxious fool that's no better than a screaming fanboy because X isn't exactly the same as Y. We wouldn't expect anything more from a unskilled windows user.

Hmm, I wonder if you would have considered me a Linux fanboi back between 1997 and 2002 when I was Linux only? Maybe you'd consider me an Apple fanboi that I use OS X on my desktop? That would be cool. I could be a Google Chrome commercial: "Fanboi for PC, Linux, and Mac."

Pay up GOOG.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2, Funny)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592768)

Well, right up till sentence 3. You lost me there. Can't be a very competent review with that kind of language.

You dislike the word "functionality," too? I understand where you're coming from, I fucking hate that word.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592780)

Can't be a very competent review with that kind of language.

Yeah, exactly. George Carlin was the world's most incompetent comedian.

Re:competent language (1)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592892)

Correction: George Carlin was the most fucking incompetent comedian.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592534)

Firefox doesn't already know that CSV should be tied to OO? Shouldn't that have occurred at install time by OO? No, ok, I'll set it up--done.

In OO's defense, It seems that most of the time, CSV is not associated with any app, which is probably a good thing because CSV doesn't always imply "spreadsheet". True, some people want their computer to make all their decisions about which app to use for what. But those people usually also end up with a boatload of adbars in their browser and spyware and viruses on their harddrives. And they wonder why their computer doesn't work.

"Won't that be grand, the computers will start thinking and the people will stop." - Walter, from Tron (1982)

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592722)

CSV doesn't always imply spreadsheet... However spreadsheet is one of the better ways of viewing the file. If you are double clicking on an icon of a document to open up an app. a CSV file should go to a spreadsheet as it is the best way to view the file. The other uses of a CSV you normally need to load the app then import the CSV as you not trying to view the document but use the information in it.

Excel doesn't even do CSV correctly... (2, Informative)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592988)

OO does a better job, but, still not correct. GNUMeric does no better. They all fundamentally do the wrong thing. Here is what they do wrong. Lets say I have the following CSV: Smith,Joe,E,121 Mockingbird Lane,Metropolis,BS,(330)555-1212,0023456789

Now, the last field there is an ID number. The zeroes are significant. All of the above spreadsheets will import that as a number and drop the leading zeroes. FAIL!

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2, Funny)

hilather (1079603) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592540)

You're hired.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2, Informative)

MathFox (686808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592554)

I have a program that generates CSV output, for import into a spreadsheet. Open Office Calc creates the sheet I expect (slowly but correct). However, Excel sees it fit to mess op the data; it arbitrarily breaks long lines mid-field, creating a mess that requires more time to clean up than waiting for OOo to import correctly.

N.B. OOo suffices for most of my business correspondence; I prefer (La)TeX/LyX for the more scientific documents.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592592)

Fucking up CSV files -- that sounds like they've duplicated Office functionality exactly. What else do you want?

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (5, Interesting)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592602)

"Takes a long fucking time to open OO. I mean a LONG time."
unless you compare it to the full Microsoft office on the same machine it is not really a fair comparison.

"I select all the fields and go to resize them all with a single click but--nothing happens. WTF? I try again. Nothing. I look on the menu bar quickly--nothing. WTF?"
OO does not duplicate all the functionality and gui of MS Office, it is a slight learning experience as it is a different product. But i for one have had more "wow, this such a better and more intuitive way of doing things" then "where have they put that" moments using OO.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (5, Insightful)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592608)

You installed OO on a machine that wouldn't even run Office, then complained about start up times. You then played with the software for 5 minutes. It didn't do what you wanted. You didn't find a menu item and you moved on probably without even consulting documentation or Googling. It's possible that OO is lacking the functionality you wanted to use. Who knows. You didn't bother to find out, so why should I. Regardless, I'd say the problem is behind the keyboard in this case.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592766)

open office sucks.
 
eat a big, giant, turd-covered dick in your moms basement.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592826)

It didn't do what you wanted. You didn't find a menu item and you moved on probably without even consulting documentation or Googling. It's possible that OO is lacking the functionality you wanted to use.

1. I gave one specific example so my post wouldn't be 1000 words. I don't have time for that at 8 AM on a work day.

2. If a piece of software is a "threat" to Microsoft Office, then it better function like people who use Microsoft Office every day expect it to function. Resizing all the cells at once is B A S I C functionality, not some out of the way item that should be buried four levels down in the tree.

3. The general public (and I don't fall into that category) won't even give it as much time as I did.

4. As far as PEBKAC, get real.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (3, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592674)

I didn't read your entire post, but, MS Office can't properly handle CSV either. If you have an internationalized Windows and in the language settings of WINDOWS (not of office or anything!!), you have somewhere ";" instead of "," as "separator", then MS Excel can't read a CSV that uses "," anymore! It's called COMMA separated list, and yet excel can't read it and uses your localized settings, so that people with a computer of a different language can't even exchange such files with each other!

Come on, it's called CSV, why doesn't MS Office always use comma's then.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592806)

Takes a long fucking time to open OO. I mean a LONG time. It opens, sweet. I select all the fields and go to resize them all with a single click but--nothing happens. WTF? I try again. Nothing. I look on the menu bar quickly--nothing. WTF?

Lameness of your writing aside, that's complete fud. On my 5 year old laptop on a cold start after reboot, OO calc loads in 6 seconds and about 3 after that... that's a LONG time? That is ridiculous.

In addition, selecting multiple columns and resizing by dragging or by double clicking works like a charm, so I'm guessing you are just trying to spread FUD, because you were dumb enough to pay for office.

I've been using open office for years and it does everything I need it to do and then some... You people that think otherwise haven't not really used it, and I feel sorry for you.

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (1)

c-reus (852386) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592926)

I stopped using Google Docs after I lost all updates to a document (changes were not saved) due to shoddy internet connection

Re:I installed the latest OO, definitely not a thr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592940)

It's slow because it's based on Java (and I'm saying this as a 10 year + Java programmer).

My guess.... (2, Interesting)

bleh-of-the-huns (17740) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592460)

Is that while it currently is no threat, they are preparing for the future. Whether or not the threat actually does arise or not is irrelevant, as MS has the money to throw at this minor inconvenience, to attempt to stop it before it becomes a major threat.

Re:My guess.... (2, Funny)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592482)

Microsoft didn't get where they are by throwing money around just because they have it.

MIscrosoft employs around 20,000 people (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592680)

They employed one person to take a look at OO?

Yep, definitely a threat to their core business model. Not.

Re:My guess.... (1)

kirill.s (1604911) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592922)

They want the candidate to engage in open-source projects, so they could subvert these projects by riddling them with nasty bugs. Reasonable logic on behalf of MS.

This must be a big joke (2, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592472)

OpenOffice.org is a threat? I do not think so and here's why:

1: It looks aged compared to its counterpart from Microsoft

2: Still takes a while to load and looks ugly!

3: It's not as featured as Microsoft Office. Those who profess that the 80%/20% rule is what
      matters do not have a clue on how human beings behave.

4: Most educational institutions and workplaces still accept Microsoft Office as the "default"
      office suite...even for editing simple documents.

5: Its development is just too slow! Compare that with Google's Android. If OpenOffice
      development was at just half the speed of Android, things would be different.

Re:This must be a big joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592530)

... If OpenOffice

      development was at just half the speed of Android, things would be different.

If Androids codebase would be at just half the size of OpenOffice.org, things would be different. Would you like apples and oranges with that?

Re:This must be a big joke (4, Interesting)

Bazman (4849) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592644)

Rebuttals:

1. And Microsoft Office looks aged compared to anything I've seen on CSI. I'm not sure I want my office software looking like something I've seen on CSI, so being aged isn't a bad thing. Oh, and get off my lawn.

2. It takes a while to load because Office has probably already pre-loaded most of itself and just pops up a main window when you open a document. Ever wonder why Windows is so slow to boot?

3. Yeah, I wish I could do python scripting in Open Office, or save straight to PDF from my OpenOffice Writer, or create equations with LaTeX in my OpenOffice Impress presentations. Oh wait...

4. Educational Institutions are normally the first to try new things, since they have a higher proportion of geeks in the place. There's also well documented cases of local governments switching to OO.org and Linux. And some switching back after getting sweeteners from MS, but that's the point of the original article. MS sees a threat.

5. What do you want it to develop into ffs? Emacs?

Re:This must be a big joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592660)

6: My customers demand MS Office. If I want to eat and pay my student loans, I have to use MS Office.

Re:This must be a big joke (1)

pmontra (738736) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592686)

2: Still takes a while to load and looks ugly!

If you're on Linux this will solve any performance problem from the second time you open OO.

$ sudo apt-get install preload

More info here [sourceforge.net] .

Re:This must be a big joke (1)

xannik (534808) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592918)

Interesting. I'm going to try this out when I get home. Thanks for the tip. :-)

Re:This must be a big joke (2, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592696)

It's not a threat to the advanced Office user market, but it is a threat to Microsoft's dominance in the "I want to send a recipe to my friends" type casual users. There's room for both, just like Paint is not a threat to Photoshop but Photoshop is not a threat to Paint.

Re:This must be a big joke (1)

what about (730877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592732)

Hey, astroturfing ?

The points you make can be rebutted, someone already did it, for me the main point is that OO gets the work done, end of story.

Really, I have something else in my life to do beside running after forced endless Microsoft upgrades...

Cheers :-)

Re:This must be a big joke (3, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592784)

1, many MS customers are still using old versions which by definition *are* aged...
2, looks are not terrible important, and load time less so... in the win9x days when you had to reboot constantly and reload all your apps it mattered a lot, these days people will leave it running all day.
3, it has a slightly different feature set and in some ways is more featured than the ms offering, that said many customers use old versions of ms and most only use a small subset...

Remember that when MS took over from wordperfect, it was MS who had the inferior product considered a joke by any serious users of wordperfect...

Traditionally, using OOo has been considered detrimental because of the prevalence of proprietary ms formats, but this is gradually changing.. And despite the best efforts of MS the world is moving towards more open data formats which makes alternatives to ms seem less risky.

At the same time, the economy isn't doing so well and companies are looking for ways to cut costs... For many of those companies, IT is a cost and not part of their core business so faced with the choice between several "adequate" products may well go with the cheapest.
The best product rarely wins, as MS have proved time and time again... It is usually the cheapest or best marketed product which wins. The people making decisions are rarely even qualified to judge which product is best, they will merely choose and expect everyone else to put up with it.
Staff at such companies will complain whatever you do, but ultimately their complaints will get ignored anyway.

Re:This must be a big joke (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592860)

It is, for almost all users, inferior, sometimes markedly so.

However, that doesn't mean that it is not a threat. The punchline is Margins. It isn't good enough for Microsoft to get Office onto a given person or organization's computers. They aren't a charity. It is only good enough if they make money, preferably for them a lot of money, doing so(or, in certain cases, sell it cheaply to reinforce its status as the "standard" for office software). Every time an organization or municipality plays the "Well, we could just switch to OpenOffice" game right before they renegotiate a site licence, or an end user has to be enticed with impulse-purchase pricing, Microsoft's margins suffer.

By hitting your margins, a competing product can cost you considerable money even if it doesn't end up making all that many sales. Lower margins also mean more flack from shareholders, and potentially less money for investment in product areas that aren't currently profitable.

Re:This must be a big joke (1)

Locutus (9039) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592868)

It looks like they've got one of their guys doing online training here.

FYI, none of that matters because there are enough people, businesses, and governments using Open Office that it is a threat just for its potential. It is a classic "innovators dilemma" situation. Besides, it also runs across platforms so that one there there puts it on the 'it is a potential threat' list with its uptake bumping it to the 'it IS a threat' list.

time for a short break from this training session.

LoB

Re:This must be a big joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592894)

Excuse me while I respond while laughing...

1: It looks aged compared to its counterpart from Microsoft

Most people don't like the new look yet so this point is ridiculous and I have to laugh...

2: Still takes a while to load and looks ugly!

It loads faster than office in every case I've seen.... and wah it looks ugly... eyes beholder blah blah stupid point...

3: It's not as featured as Microsoft Office. Those who profess that the 80%/20% rule is what matters do not have a clue on how human beings behave.

First of all that's just retarded because it is the studies on human behaviour that came up with those rules. You obviously have no idea what most people do with an office suite.

4: Most educational institutions and workplaces still accept Microsoft Office as the "default" office suite...even for editing simple documents.

So what? That's the whole point is that this is a thread to replace that ridiculous dominance.

5: Its development is just too slow! Compare that with Google's Android. If OpenOffice development was at just half the speed of Android, things would be different.

Okay this is just silliness, like you had to come up with a fifth point or something. OO has created all of the important features of office in half the time and so you bring up Google?

Every time someone comes up with this whole Open Office can't attitude, I wait to see what is going to be said and then as always, it turns out that the person's competence was the problem and no one should listen to them.

Makes a change for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592492)

Typically MS would engage with its open-source competitors (ie figure out how it could outsmart them) shortly after those competitors gained market share, so they'd by then be in the back foot. Not a good place for a company such as MS to be in. From their point of view it would make more sense to do this now for OpenOffice, while people are in the main still using MS Office. I guess they've learned from their mistakes /shudder

J

Flip Flop (3, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592510)

The problem is they continually flip flop, one week they are seeking open source interaction and the next week they are attacking it and it's supporters. It all seems to be driven by nothing more than the current marketing image they wish to present. Although it does seem that M$ leans more to open source when they get screwed over by some patent dispute.

Really for them to put a foot forward they actually need to release their own branded version of a recognised open source software package and adhere to the requirements of the licence, even should their version substantially vary and they choose to host and make it available.

So what will it be, VLC, Firefox or maybe something Ruby. I think OpenOffice,org or a Linux distribution is way, way to far a stretch for them, they just lack that kind of mental flexibility and out of the box thinking.

No Flip Flop (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592610)

They are quite consistent. They support Free Software when they talk, and atack it when they act.

Nothing different from what you should expect, since FOSS is competition and have quite a powerfull "PR department".

Re:Flip Flop (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592626)

Like IronPython?

Re:Flip Flop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592716)

I think it's you who lacks metal flexibility and out of the box thinking.

In this holy war of OSS vs MS it seems that the open source crowd can only see two sides instead of a bunch of products and the end users. Microsoft seems to see it as a land of opportunity to deal with open source in a constructive manner and still keep their products competitive. Microsoft can gain from open source the same as anyone else but they still need to maintain profitability with their foundation of products. Why is this such a hard concept for the open source jihadists?

And if you think for a moment that they wouldn't be investigating another office product that had as much market share as OO does even if it wasn't open source you'd be dead wrong.

Re:Flip Flop (1)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592726)

That screams to me that there are two separate groups, each with their own agenda. That happens pretty frequently in large companies/organizations - though it's more fun for most people to describe it as some tactic on the part of MS. Maybe it really is a plot (maybe, they really are all out to get us...), but I prefer to apply Hanlon's Razor...

Protect the Cash Cows (3, Insightful)

hodet (620484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592514)

Of course, these two products compete directly with their two big cash cows. OO may not seriously compete today, but these things change and Microsoft can't get complacent. Is it any surprise that they would take any competitors seriously? I think they are smart enough to know that both Linux and OO are strong products and you really only need a few leaders out there to use these things successfully before others start slowly migrating these products into their environments, and what was once guaranteed profits start to trickle away slowly. Even if companies target areas to use these free products in less critical areas this hurts them. I know in our organization we could easily replace some of our 1500 servers with Linux where right now no matter how light the load or low priority the system is we dump W2K3 or 8 on it. We couldn't do it on all, but easily on some and nobody would even notice. The only thing that stops it is fear of the unknown.

This is how it's done... (2, Insightful)

MikeRT (947531) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592518)

which suggests that Microsoft's new-found eagerness to 'engage' with open source has nothing to do with a real desire to reach a pacific accommodation with free software, but is simply a way for Microsoft to fight against it from close up, and armed with inside knowledge.

Would it be any different if WHOEVER_MAKES_WORDPERFECT_RIGHT_NOW did this too? Microsoft is not going to reach an "accommodation" with anyone trying to directly steal their business from them anymore than Apple is going to reach an accord with clone vendors, Japanese car companies are going to wink and nod at Chinese manufacturers trying to import cheap cars that use their designs into the US and Japan or any other scenario where an incumbent would "just welcome" competitors.

Be glad that Microsoft wants to fight in the marketplace first and foremost. 10-15 years ago, if you suggested that Microsoft would fight more or less above board rather than letting slip the dogs of war and running a scorched Earth campaign, you'd have been called a fanboi.

What doesn't MS consider as a threat? (1, Troll)

je ne sais quoi (987177) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592546)

Show me something that MS doesn't consider a threat. I mean really, MS' goal has always been dominance of the market for their products, never accepting something less unless forced. A corporation (or person for that matter) in that position must always see everything as a threat. As evidence I offer that they continually push their OS monopoly to help their other products sometimes doing so in an illegal manner so as to shut out competitors rather than compete on the merit of their own products. Sometimes it works, like using the xbox to run directX (which anyone would do in their place, it only makes sense) or for web browsing, other times it doesn't, like for the Zune where their OS monopoly couldn't help them very much.

Re:What doesn't MS consider as a threat? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592910)

A corporation (or person for that matter) in that position must always see everything as a threat.

We typically call people who act like that paranoid and mentally unstable. It's not that different for corporations. Responding to real threats is one thing, batting at hallucinations is a whole other kettle of fish. Even corporations need to have some confidence in their ability to survive.

I think MS has lost the battle already... (2, Interesting)

jkrise (535370) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592568)

I've been in IT for over 20 years now; and until 7 years ago, Office was my mostly used application. Nowadays though I hardly ever use Word or Excel, I've used Powerpoint more often though. At a hospital I consult; we changed to OOo and after changing the default save format option to the corresponding Office equivalents; the users hardly noticed the difference.

These days the only application used in offices is the browser, and Firefox has already won the battle and the war on that front.

Duh, of course (2, Informative)

ewe2 (47163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592574)

Check the tables at the end of this Comes exhibit [groklaw.net] , its Linux/OO (when it was still StarOffice) in every region. Because the target is future developers and government contracts, obviously.

They should be scared (5, Informative)

bignetbuy (1105123) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592576)

For years, Microsoft has raked in money with Office. It's been THE leading revenue generator for ages with $4.4 billion in 3Q 2009. Office and related business products bring in more money than their Server/OS division. However, that number is trending down to the tune of almost 500 million from the same time last year.

Maybe it's just the recession. Maybe it was the Vista impact. However, the decline is noticeable.

Source: MS Annual Reports and Earnings Releases

Oh it will be (0, Flamebait)

Alarindris (1253418) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592590)

...or something will be after the baby boomers die off and gen X and Y are in control.

Seriously, once the people who grew up with computers have the votes and money and all the free time in the world to write angry letters, Microsoft should be very scared. Our parents couldn't adapt to new OS's, but we can. We don't need Microsoft.

Economy creating the threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592598)

I think the main threat is coming from a poor economy. People are much more willing to try out free products when money is tight.

OO may be slow and ugly compared to MS Office, but people rather eat than go hungry in order to buy a Microsoft product.

 

OO is a work-alike-mostly-sorta to MS Office... (2, Interesting)

kclittle (625128) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592604)

I have OpenOffice installed on my main PC (XP64), because I don't need much more than the ability to open docs sent to me or that I download. Works fine for what I ask it to do.

But, my wife, who is an MS Office expert, can't stand it. It is just too limited and clunky compared to Office, she says. So, for her PC, I fork out the $$ and buy Office. Oh, and MS Office is on our shared MacBook.

For the "serious user" market, OO is not currently a threat to MS Office. But for the casual, "use it once in awhile" market, it is. Now, given Microsoft's history of competing against incumbent, entrenched players by targeting the bottom end of a market and improving over time with increasingly competitive but still cheaper technology, they are probably very sensitive to seeing OO become the easy choice for the entry-level user.

All M$ news are carefully worded to show some hate (0, Flamebait)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592614)

To the point of competing with the worst tabloids out there. Who ares if M$ thinks OO is a threat ? It sure is so what's the news ? "OMG M$ admits OO is a threat.. wow! OO is super powerful now. See!"

Whats so wrong with 'engaging' ? (1)

((hristopher _-*-_-* (956823) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592632)

Which suggests that Microsoft's new-found eagerness to 'engage' with open source has nothing to do with a real desire to reach a pacific accommodation with free software, but is simply a way for Microsoft to fight against it from close up, and armed with inside knowledge."

Newfound eagerness to 'engage'?

Seriously, has everyone who writes posts about Microsoft been living under a rock for the last 5 years?

As far as this competing role goes... “Know thine enemy better than one knows thyself” -Sun Tzu

The suitability of OO depends on target audience (2, Informative)

gregarican (694358) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592636)

I've recommended OO for a fair amount of home users who are casual users of office productivity software. For those folks it's _okay_ and fits their needs. Albeit the OO suite isn't lickety-split fast in terms of launch and whatnot for "Joe Six Pack" you can't beat free for someone who's looking to type up a quick letter, create a quick budget spreadsheet, or whip up a simple school presentation.

That being said, I've also tried implementing OO for my business users, in cases where their new PC's didn't come pre-loaded with Microsoft Office. I would preface their introduction to OO by mentioning that most of the familar menu commands and navigational elements were practically identical. A few weeks later I had no choice but to ante up and purchase full versions of Microsoft Office. Power users in a business environment required elements outside the scope of "Joe Six Pack." Anything from VBA to macros to other features weren't available or else didn't work as expected. And yeah, having budgeted expense goals had me wanting to purchase more Microsoft Office licenses like I'd want a hole in the head. :-/

And I know there are navigational and feature issues upgrading users from Office 2003 to 2007. I know with a mixed version environment opening documents is a PITA, and saving documents can result in formatting FUBAR's. Frankly I am dreading when I myself have to make the jump. That is almost as daunting as trying to migrate my power users at work to OO. Still all things taken equal it apparently will be awhile until OO is really an equal competitor, although it's closer than it was back in the days with Sun's Staroffice 5.x and whatnot.

Perhaps Microsoft is just keeping OO in its rearview mirror to protect its interests. Although the hints of Microsoft's covert infiltration into FOSS circles (while supposedly doing so for collaborative purposes) reeks of insidiousness. Now the cat's out of the bag I wonder how many FOSS projects will welcome them?

Re:The suitability of OO depends on target audienc (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592930)

There are really only three limitations - that people are used to a different program, if you want to run macros from the other program or if you want to import information created in the other program. Beyond that the differences are effectively cosmetic.
I don't understand why anyone thinks either suite is special. It's a simple word processor not a desktop publishing program, a simple spreadsheet with a basic and confusing to use graphing package, and a toy single user database. The graphing is so bad that engineering students that grew up on MS Excel produced far worse results in more time than the previous semesters groups that were using graphing in MS Works for the first time - consistent over around 300 students and I had to eat my words of "they all know how to use Excel".
It's really like comparing an orange car to a blue one of the same model - the things still drive the same way and get the same fuel consumption. The only people likely to have any trouble with either of them at first sight are those that will sit and wait for somebody to show them things instead of RTFM and trying it out. I have a few people like that but they have great trouble with MS Excel as well (and ask questions like - "somebody sent me this zip thing, how do I get the spreadsheet out?").

Oblig. Gandhi quote (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592638)

First they ignore you,
Then they laugh at you,
Then they fight you,
Then you win.

We've moved to stage 3 pretty quickly.

Engage? (1)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592670)

Isn't that what soldiers do with the enemy?

Summary: What if!? (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592672)

What if after all is said and done, (brace yourself) it was revealed that (steady, don't let this shock you)Microsoft was a company in it for the money!? (Gasp!)

Peaceful accommodation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592694)

With people who have it as their stated goal to destroy you, people who hate and despise you and see you as the greatest evil on earth? People who have created viral legal agreements with the intent of reaching that goal?

The FREE SOFTWARE CROWD COMPLAINS THAT MICROSOFT DOES NOT SPEAK WITH THEM IN FRIENDLY TERMS?

Wow. Just wow.

Foundstone sees it as a threat as well (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592724)

OpenOffice Word Document Table Parsing Heap Overflow Windows XP (Service Pack 3, [++]) 3.0-9358 3.0-9358 3.0-9358 51 Upgrade to OpenOffice 3.1.1

That was just one of the vulnerabilities Foundstone sees. I would have more examples, but we scrapped OpenOffice off the network about a month or so ago, as OpenSource software is forbidden at our company for legal reasons. Apparently someone reinstalled it.

There is no "inside knowledge"! (1)

Nerd42 (1710288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592736)

There is no "inside knowledge"! That's the point of GPL!! If Microsoft is looking for some, that'll be a long search!

Microsoft makes money in three places (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592740)

Windows, Office, and X-Box. Even if you don't think OO is much of a contender, the fact is that it's threatening 1/3 of their income-producing capability. It's in their best interest to fight it now.

Embrace, Extend, Extinguish. (4, Interesting)

mdm-adph (1030332) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592746)

Sounds pretty normal for Microsoft.

I use IBM's Lotus Symphony [lotus.com] package, myself. Good support, and it "looks" far better than OpenOffice (which sometimes makes all the difference when you're trying to convince someone to use it. That, and it's got native Mac, PC, and Ubuntu versions.

13 out of 90000+? (1)

freak (82241) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592802)

So out of 93000 employees, they have 13 dedicated to looking at OpenOffice and Linux? Yeah, sounds to me like they are covering their bases more than anything else.

I really wanted to like OOo (1)

crunchly (266150) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592838)

When I switched to a Mac as my primary machine, I decided to move away from MS Office on my PC and try OpenOffice. It was ok for some casual things, but when I started creating more serious documents (like my resume), I ran into many issues. Formatting was not always consistent and printing did not always match what was on screen. Often times, there would be display problems, like incorrect screen redraws when scrolling. These are important on any platform, but were particularly annoying on OS X where display/output consistency has traditionally been a stong point.

Another issue, although not OOo's specifically, is that .doc is still the format required by many sites and the filter used by OOo doesn't always produce correctly formatted documents.

Now I realize that these issues may be specific to the Mac port of OOo, but they were enough to deter me from it. I tried very hard to avoid MS Office (even tried iWork, but lack of .doc was a killer), but until other file formats (like OpenDocument) become more accepted, it will be hard for other products to be competitive.

Wanted: FUD Specialist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592840)

From the job description
"2. Be a Perception Change Agent"

our big barrier (3, Informative)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592864)

I work at a medium size non-profit, and a couple of years ago I tried to get all of us to change to oo.org. I still use it for all my own use instead of ms office but everyone else rebelled and I had to drop it as an idea.

Like I said, it's been a couple of years now, and when we tried it what basically killed the whole thing is its problem doing mail merges. Arguably it had a BETTER interface to databases than any office product, but the problem is that everyone here has no technical inclination except for me and it requires thought. Plus back in version 2 it was buggy and it wouldn't match up formatting correctly. At lot of the research I did at the time pretty much seemed to indicate that the oo.org staff didn't care much about getting mail merges to work and it wasn't much a priority.

Maybe someone here can bring me up to date on any progress in this area. I hope that at some point oo.org can provide a really simple mail merge "wizard" (I hate that term) that works with spreadsheets that the plebeians can understand along with a database interface that can give programs like Crystal Reports a run for its money...

pacific? oh, really.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30592914)

is this Slashdot? noone condemned the article because he said pacific instead of specific?

Everything's a threat when you have 100% share (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592958)

When you're at the very top, and your business model has come to depend on having 80%+ of the market share, even a small competitor can be a real threat. Even if Openoffice were to capture just 10% of the market, it would be a huge blow to Office's profits (and Office is one of MS's real cash cows, along with Windows). This isn't like IE and Firefox (MS doesn't make money off IE, it certainly does off Office).

"Better" (1)

Jodka (520060) | more than 4 years ago | (#30592968)

Most people regard OpenOffice.org as a distant runner-up to Microsoft Office, and certainly not a serious rival.

It is not about the performance of the product, it's about performance-per-dollar. And the question the customer should ask himself is is not "does this product do everything" the question he should ask is "does this product to what I need it to do." And the issue is not the present but the future, not about whether Microsoft Office is "better" than OpenOffice now, but whether OpenOffice gains more momentum and continues to improve.

Can a low-priced inferior product overtake more expensive better-quality products in the marketplace? Yes. Microsoft should know, that is pretty much the entire history of the company.

Should Microsoft worry about OpenOffice undermining Microsoft Office market share? Yes. Can they do anything about it? Probably nothing except lower their prices.

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