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Microsoft Accuses Google Docs of Data Infidelity

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the for-this-we-got-a-standard dept.

Businesses 178

Hugh Pickens writes "For years Google has been pitching migrations from Microsoft Office to Google Docs, arguing that Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better because users can store Microsoft Office documents in Google's cloud and share them in their original format. Now eWeek reports that Alex Payne, director of Microsoft's online product management team, says that moving files created with Office to Google Docs results in the loss of data fidelity, including the loss of such data components as charts, styles, watermarks, fonts, tracked changes, and SmartArt. 'They are claiming that an organization can use both seamlessly,' Payne writes. 'This just isn't the case.' Meanwhile, Google defended its original 'Docs makes Office better' in a statement, noting that it has made a lot of improvements to the web editors in Docs with its recent refresh, and promising that functionality will only get better as Google integrates the DocVerse assets into Docs. 'It says a lot about Microsoft's approach to customer lock-in that the company touts its proprietary document formats, which only Microsoft software can render with true fidelity, as the reason to avoid using other products,' says a Google spokesperson."

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Google vs Microsoft (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222742)

Google has too many half-assed projects it cannot or doesn't fully support.

Uh, if Google cannot make their Docs applications compatible with Office formats, how is it Microsoft's fault? That besides the fact that 90% of Google's products are betas...

What they are saying is spot on. From my personal experience Google Docs does break charts, styles, watermaks, fonts, tracked changes etc... Even while the file formats are open now.

Sure it's probably fine for casual users, but it's a different thing within companies and enterprises. That's the difference between Google and Microsoft. It's good we can all decide which one we need, isn't it?

Re:Google vs Microsoft (0, Flamebait)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222780)

I actually have to agree with you on this one. The same problems exist (or existed) with OOo formats IIRC (I haven't used docs in about 2 years, so things may have changed) and they have always been open.

This is one case where Google's claims of "good enough" just don't make the grade.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (3, Interesting)

J Story (30227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224494)

Google's Spreadsheet product is actually in some respects superior to Microsoft's. Yes, it doesn't do data pivots or indents (crucial for accounting layouts), but it's integrated with (online, natch) forms and search. I haven't had much call to use Google's "word", but fire up the spreadsheets daily. In the long run, however, I think that Microsoft has hooped itself by valuing customer lock-in over actual innovation. Google will continue to improve its "office" offering, becoming "good enough" for more and more applications.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (1)

MadMagician (103678) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224722)

We're suddenly back in 1994, and "the job's not done until WordPerfect won't run!"

Re:Google vs Microsoft (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222794)

Even while the file formats are open now

Really? Please point me to the relevant reference for the Office 2007 file format. And don't even think about saying anything related to OOXML because its not even close.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (2, Informative)

Mortlath (780961) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223416)

Microsoft has documented all the binary and XML file formats used by office: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc313118(office.12).aspx [microsoft.com]

Re:Google vs Microsoft (5, Informative)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223552)

except if your paying attention MSFT doesn't actually use those documented features, and instead use an older version.

OOXML that ISO passed is different from the OOXML produced by office 2007 and 2010.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (1, Informative)

Mortlath (780961) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223686)

This isn't only OOXML documentation. This is the current versions used by Office 2007, and also documents the older binary versions.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (5, Insightful)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222796)

That's because the formats are 'open' in the sense that they are poorly documented and difficult to implement. Opening your formats is one thing - assisting others to actively achieve interoperability is another

Re:Google vs Microsoft (0, Redundant)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222890)

Still, Google shouldn't be talking that trash until Docs renders at least as well as OpenOffice does. It's seems that quality and fidelity take the back burner to data-mining.

(Rolls eyes while Openoffice insults pour in)

Re:Google vs Microsoft (5, Funny)

LordThyGod (1465887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222898)

Open formats? From MS. That's a paradocs! They can't even faithfully render some older versions of their own stuff accurately.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222982)

Open formats? From MS. That's a paradocs!

I see what you did there.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (3, Insightful)

Snaller (147050) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223126)

"Uh, if Google cannot make their Docs applications compatible with Office formats, how is it Microsoft's fault?"

Because they keep everything a secret - thats been their way of destroying opposition.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223692)

"Uh, if Google cannot make their Docs applications compatible with Office formats, how is it Microsoft's fault?"

Because they keep everything a secret - thats been their way of destroying opposition.

Logic fail.

If I slept with your wife and keep that a secret from you, that secrecy isn't why you can't give her an orgasm.

In the same line of thought, if you sleep with my wife and keep it a secret from me, that secrecy isn't why you can't give her an orgasm either.

Re:Google vs Microsoft (4, Insightful)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223242)

Google has too many half-assed projects it cannot or doesn't fully support.

So, exactly the same as Microsoft, then?

Re:Google vs Microsoft (4, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223526)

First of all, the DOC format (the original Word formats) are not open, only DOCX are somewhat open. The problems are in: charts, styles, watermarks, fonts, tracked changes, and SmartArt.

Charts, watermarks, tracked changes and SmartArt are not open/documented in the OOXML formats. Styles and fonts are usually converted pretty well unless the document is generated by MS Office because then it isn't according to spec anymore.

Web Based Document Editing (2, Insightful)

fatwilbur (1098563) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222838)

Well, if true, I guess you could count my (rather large) organization as one that would never used Google Docs. Tracking changes alone is a feature used extensively by our business departments.

I honestly don't think any web-based document system will can compete with MS Office (desktop version). If you've ever worked for any type of large business lately, word processing is WAY past the basic formatting options I've seen in any online suite.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32222892)

Well, if true, I guess you could count my (rather large) organization as one that would never used Google Docs. Tracking changes alone is a feature used extensively by our business departments.

I honestly don't think any web-based document system will can compete with MS Office (desktop version). If you've ever worked for any type of large business lately, word processing is WAY past the basic formatting options I've seen in any online suite.

Change tracking in the current Google Docs seems more than sufficient as you can see each change a user made in a timeline and choose to revert to any point in the timeline. You even get to do comments and such very similar to MS Word. In the end Microsoft intentionally doesn't play well with others so that they can continue to lock people into one forced solution. This is typical business strategy and can't be argued. They have done this for years with IE as well as hold the web back as a result.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (3, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223470)

I suspect the issue is preservation of "change tracking" metadata between Docs and Word, rather than change tracking in Docs, or change tracking in Word.

I further suspect that this is a difficult thing because(in addition to probably being crufty, complex, and not as well documented as it might be), "change tracking" is partially a strictly technical problem, and partly a UI/design philosophy problem. It would be, by no means, a surprise to learn that Word and Docs have distinct approaches that simply may not be fully commensurate with one another.

Consider the analogy of programs/UIs that are basically folder hierarchy based, vs. programs/UIs that are basically metadata "tag" based. There are some basic technical challenges you would run into if you wanted to make one approach play nicely with the other(ie. parsing the metadata properly); but most of your challenges would be more about stylistic decisions concerning how best to bodge one style into the other's conventions. Should you parse the metadata and create "virtual folders" that echo a sensible folder hierarchy organization of those files? If you have a hierarchical folder tree, how best to turn that information into meaningful tags?, etc.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224598)

Change tracking is just one issue, and it isn't always as important as some people seem to insist.

FTS: "Docs makes Office 2003 and 2007 better because users can store Microsoft Office documents in Google's cloud and share them in their original format."

For once, they're correct, but mostly because Google Docs' formatting capabilities are so weak, one might as well just use a text editor. If you want to be specific about your formatting, just about any desktop WP program is better.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Interesting)

Dragoniz3r (992309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222904)

I don't know what sort of an organization you work for, but you mention that your business departments use change tracking a lot. What about your other departments? Obviously Google Docs isn't for everyone, but I'd be more than a little surprised if the majority of your organization needed that feature, and I know for sure that my (also rather large) company doesn't (as a whole).

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Interesting)

LordThyGod (1465887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222920)

Mabye in your world, but in our office, we've yet to hit something Google docs is not good enough at. And the ease of sharing documents, and collaborating vs MS tools is light years ahead. No contest. MS Office is too desktop bound to be useful in all situations.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (1, Interesting)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223094)

First one has to ask why one "rather large" organization would even entrust it's confidential documents in the first place to another rather large organization which makes its living based solely on the looking at the contents of one's emails, searches, web browsing habits and documents just to deliver advertising.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223278)

First one has to ask why one "rather large" organization would even entrust it's confidential documents in the first place to another rather large organization which makes its living based solely on the looking at the contents of one's emails, searches, web browsing habits and documents just to deliver advertising.

They don't do this when you get a corporate or institutional account with Google. The company/university pays for the services, and there is no advertising or data-mining.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (0, Offtopic)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224282)

First one has to ask why one "rather large" organization would even entrust it's confidential documents in the first place to another rather large organization

I think that in and of itself is sufficient reason to not use a cloud solution.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224442)

I think that in and of itself is sufficient reason to not use a cloud solution.

What's your reasoning behind this? Entrusting your documents to large corporations basically is business. Do you think you'll get better results with a small business or something?

Re:Web Based Document Editing (1)

causality (777677) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224512)

I think that in and of itself is sufficient reason to not use a cloud solution.

What's your reasoning behind this? Entrusting your documents to large corporations basically is business. Do you think you'll get better results with a small business or something?

I think the intended contrast was between entrusting your documents to large corporations or entrusting your documents to your own solution (developed in-house or purchased) that runs on equipment you administer and fully control.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Interesting)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224940)

I think the intended contrast was between entrusting your documents to large corporations or entrusting your documents to your own solution (developed in-house or purchased) that runs on equipment you administer and fully control.

Realistically, how many companies do that? Most companies use Microsoft Office, which they don't fully control. And most companies use outsourced servers, services, pretty much everything. A company that rolls all of its own technology is basically wasting resources.

Security is NOT an issue with The Cloud. (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223164)

Wait a minute. I'm a manager, and I've been reading a lot of case studies and watching a lot of webcasts about The Cloud. Based on all of this glorious marketing literature, I, as a manager, have absolutely no reason to doubt the safety of any data put in The Cloud.

The case studies all use words like "secure", "MD5", "RSS feeds" and "encryption" to describe the security of The Cloud. I don't know about you, but that sounds damn secure to me! Some Clouds even use SSL and HTTP. That's rock solid in my book.

And don't forget that you have to use Web Services to access The Cloud. Nothing is more secure than SOA and Web Services, with the exception of perhaps SaaS. But I think that Cloud Services 2.0 will combine the tiers into an MVC-compliant stack that uses SaaS to increase the security and partitioning of the data.

My main concern isn't with the security of The Cloud, but rather with getting my Indian team to learn all about it so we can deploy some first-generation The Cloud applications and Web Services to provide the ultimate platform upon which we can layer our business intelligence and reporting, because there are still a few verticals that we need to leverage before we can move to The Cloud 2.0.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Informative)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223266)

I honestly don't think any web-based document system will can compete with MS Office (desktop version).

Have you heard of this thing called the World Wide Web? It is a web-based document system that has quite a few more users than MS Office does. It's even available on the internet!

Re:Web Based Document Editing (3, Insightful)

InfoJunkie777 (1435969) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223316)

Well, if true, I guess you could count my (rather large) organization as one that would never used Google Docs. Tracking changes alone is a feature used extensively by our business departments. I honestly don't think any web-based document system will can compete with MS Office (desktop version). If you've ever worked for any type of large business lately, word processing is WAY past the basic formatting options I've seen in any online suite.

If that is so, why is MS itself releasing a stripped-down version of MS Office 2010 FREE on their cloud (presumably to compete with Google)?

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223670)

releasing a stripped-down version

...

You basically answered your own question or, at least, gave the seed of the answer. Microsoft, (largely correctly), sees enterprises and organizations with complex requirements and/or a substantial Office-based legacy stack as being substantially locked in. This is why enterprise versions of Office cost as much, per seat, as they do, and why Microsoft's answer to the demand for better networked collaboration at the enterprise level is basically "It's SharePoint, and yup, that'll cost you, or nothing, bitches." For some of these outfits, pretty much any program that isn't feature-for-feature compatible(including binary compatibility with plugins and macros and stuff) just isn't going to cut it, Google certainly won't.

However, enterprises in that situation are by no means the entire market. For other market segments, Google has a dangerously appealing product(in my observations of nontechnical users, for instance, they find that having their documents "just there" wherever they sit down to be a revelation. Unless you are an office drone somewhere where IT has dumped serious time and effort into making it all magically work, or your techie nephew spent the afternoon playing with Dropbox or something on all the computers you use, you don't get that with Office, even if you pay for one of the fancy versions). Further, the history of technology is littered with admittedly superior technologies that were gradually eaten from below by their "definitely not as good; but a lot cheaper/more versatile" competitors. Given that, at one point, MS was one of those competitors, they probably know this lesson.

If Google gets a viable toehold in these easier markets, this gives them plenty of time to gradually evolve their way up, picking off whatever targets happen to be softest at the time. If their document fidelity isn't good enough now, it'll probably be a bit better next year, and a bit better the year after that. Since software costs basically nothing to reproduce, the larger your audience, the cheaper (per customer) implementing a feature or improvement is.

There is probably a secondary reason as well. Even if Google's Docs ends up being a dead end, and gets quietly put on life support, and relegated to light list-making duties forever, the general lesson that people want better networked collaboration is inescapable. Microsoft will want to deliver that(though they will probably prefer to do it with an installed Office version and SharePoint Server, and fat licence fees for both). Rolling out a web-based Office 2010, cheapskate edition, allows them to test and refine their interfaces, models, and ways of doing things for distributed collaboration. Since the users won't be paying customers, they will be able to take some risks with them(and, if dissatisfaction arises, letting the message be "Oh, the web version is feature limited by design. Upgrade to Office 2010 for the Full Office Experience.") and figure out what they want future iterations of their enterprise collaboration stuff to feel like.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (1)

InfoJunkie777 (1435969) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224542)

Okay, I guess you got me there. I didn't think it through. I myself have not had use for most of the fancier features of MS Office, nor could I afford the cost for the piddling home projects I was involved in. I found OpenOffice to be the ticket for me, even if some of the features were weak. The Google Docs programs are severely deficient in features to me, but, as you said, I LIKE the idea of my document always being available on any computer, never to be lost. I recently had my thumb drive goes tits up. My LIFE was on there, and that info is unrecoverable. I think the "cloud" is the future, and MS is building huge cloud facilities to take advantage.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (4, Insightful)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223704)

...If you've ever worked for any type of large business lately, word processing is WAY past the basic formatting options I've seen in any online suite.

If a significant fraction of the employees in your large business are wasting time on fancy formatting options, you're going to find yourself using the phrase "too big to fail" sometime in your future. Specialization is good for your business, and the fanciest needs really fall under the auspices of marketing. Let them take care of it using real tools (page layout software, for instance).

Don't settle for every secretary, intern, and team member in the company spending 28 hours each week churning over which fancy formatting options make the minutes of the other 12 hours of meetings look the best.

Re:Web Based Document Editing (2, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224180)

Well, if true, I guess you could count my (rather large) organization as one that would never used Google Docs. Tracking changes alone is a feature used extensively by our business departments.

Well, I think you will prefer Google Docs/Spreadsheets then. With Google Docs/Spreadsheet, revision tracking is turned on by default. Google Docs / Spreadsheets is really a collaborative platform built from the ground up.

You'll just have to be careful when you import any ongoing existing Word/Excel documents into Google Docs. It's only the importing process that will lose that info. After that, Google Docs/Google Spreadsheets will track any changes that are made within it.

And if you're really worried about losing existing tracking information, or having to maintain a large backup of old Word/Excel files separately (which you should have anyway), then don't migrate to Google Docs / Spreadsheets, and don't even migrate to any new versions of Microsoft Word or Excel. I really doubt that Microsoft's own converters between different major releases are even that smart, that they will retain that meta information during the conversion process.

That guy's online offering obviously will, otherwise, he wouldn't be bragging about it right now, but I really doubt this type of feature was working that well in the past, or that it will continue to work that smoothly in the future. Converting Word Documents between major versions was never an elegant process. In my case at least, it always seemed to lose my original formatting (and god only knows how many other things it lost, that were not immediately visible to me at the time).

Re:Wiki? (1)

xonicx (1009245) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224286)

I work in a medium size semiconductor company. We use to document chip spec, board parts, software procedures and other stuffs in ms word. Slowly management realised that wiki is best tool for this. Chip spec can be generated from doxygen comments. Any single change in register spec get available to software on fly through automated tools. No single engineer knows all the parts of a board/software procedures so collaboration is must. When you are looking at wiki you are sure that you are looking at most up to date content. Now I hardly open ms word and we don't have google docs.

But is this a real usage scenario? (5, Interesting)

Dragoniz3r (992309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222866)

On the one hand, it seems anyone who's ever used a computer before in their life would half-way expect this sort of incompatibility to arise, given the drastically different natures of Google Docs and Office (Web based vs standalone app).

On the other hand, how often do the people Google is trying to cater to actually use these features? Google Docs has always struck me as a quick and easy way to get Word documents from anywhere. And I've gotta say, not many of my office reports use fancy styles, or SmartArt. Charts occasionally, yes, but the rest of those items just strike me as "meh" and SmartArt particularly strikes me as "yeah, that was cool when I was seven."

I dunno. It just doesn't seem to me like this is going to be a problem in common usage.

Re:But is this a real usage scenario? (0)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223376)

Try doing contracts for the Federal government. We have to write documents for documents for the love of God! And of course we have to use advanced formatting for all of them. None of the formatting we use is supported by Google docs.

Re:But is this a real usage scenario? (2, Interesting)

kelanden (1680090) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223780)

On the one hand, it seems anyone who's ever used a computer before in their life would half-way expect this sort of incompatibility to arise, given the drastically different natures of Google Docs and Office (Web based vs standalone app).

Lowering your expectations is a great way to ensure the underlying problem is never addressed . The fact that we still don't have dependable multi-vendor support for some of the world's most common document interchange formats over 15 years after they were first introduced is a bit sad, don't you think?

Google Docs has always struck me as a quick and easy way to get Word documents from anywhere.

Even if you only use Docs as a distribution system, its unreliable import / export conversion can be infuriating. Things as simple as line spacing or paragraph indentation frequently get broken, and I've yet to see an embedded object that didn't get converted to an uneditable image or just dropped without any notification. Exporting from Docs can easily reduce a professional looking document to careless looking garbage.

On the other hand, how often do the people Google is trying to cater to actually use these features? [...] And I've gotta say, not many of my office reports use fancy styles, or SmartArt. Charts occasionally, yes, but the rest of those items just strike me as "meh" and SmartArt particularly strikes me as "yeah, that was cool when I was seven."

SmartArt might be dispensable, but decent styles support is essential for all but the shortest and simplest of documents. Without it, anything but flat text quickly turns into an manageable soup of conflicting format attributes.

I dunno. It just doesn't seem to me like this is going to be a problem in common usage.

The fact that many large organizations are passing over Google Docs in favor of continued dependence on Microsoft's offerings is evidence to the contrary.

What fidelity (5, Insightful)

fermion (181285) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222876)

It really is quite amazing that vendor lock in would be the defense. I stopped using MS Word because it would not read my old files accurately. I see students failing papers because the Word on one machine does not read word files created on another machine in a different version. Rather than automatically updating MS Word from MS servers, there is a complex process on has to go through to read files from different versions. It would be nice if they had an online tool to switch versions. At least with Google you are never going to be in a case where you fail a class or lose a contract because you the software won't read the document. Sure they may be data loss, but what is worse. A few mangled graphs, or no product what so ever?

The unfortunate thing is that teachers and professors all see the student issues due to the failure of the MS products, yet continue to insist on their use, blaming it on the incompetency of the students rather than the incompetency of MS.

MS products are good in firms that have the resources to insure all machines are homogeneous and up to date, firms that require a high level of collaborations of complex non-technical documents(This does not include most educational places). Otherwise, at least for documents, OO.org, Google docs, or LaTeX should be the norm. For spreadsheets OO.org, and especially Google, has some stuff lacking. For presentations, I think everything but Keynote pretty much sucks.

PDF? (4, Informative)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222928)

I see students failing papers because the Word on one machine does not read word files created on another machine in a different version.

And this is why my resume is in PDF format.

Re:PDF? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223174)

This also works as a good filter for companies I wouldnt want to work for; if they ask you to re-send in .doc format you probably dont want to work there anyway

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223218)

It is a good filter for those you don't want working for you too.

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223262)

It is a good filter for those you don't want working for you too.

why is that? isn't that a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

Re:PDF? (1, Interesting)

Score Whore (32328) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223432)

why is that? isn't that a bit like throwing the baby out with the bathwater?

No it's like throwing out an idiot who thinks that their personal crusades are more important than doing the job I'm hiring them for.

Employers aren't interested in your ideologies. When they are paying you, they expect you to stay within the bounds of your job description and your interests should be put aside and the company's interests should come to the fore. And no, some newly hired developer isn't in a position to have better perspective of the business' needs than the people who hired him.

Re:PDF? (3, Interesting)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223960)

Employers aren't interested in your ideologies. When they are paying you, they expect you to stay within the bounds of your job description and your interests should be put aside and the company's interests should come to the fore.

I love the way the term 'ideology' is used to co-opt the debate.

There are correct uses of the term, of course. But in this example, it means, "I don't care if you're right and I'm wrong. I'm paying you to do your job my way, so shut up and do it."

In any area of business, this makes the employee exactly as smart -or as stupid- as the boss. Statistically speaking, therefore, it's a stupid approach.

Let's be clear, though: Here on Slashdot, 'Ideology' is really just code for FOSS and the principle that there is indeed a Right Tool For The Job, but that tool isn't always the most expedient. 'Ideology', therefore, sometimes means more work and potentially delayed gratification.

Of course, sometimes it means the opposite. Sometimes it means, 'quit floundering about using third-rate tools. Apply a little original thought for once in your life and accept that there are better ways to get things done.'

The wise boss knows about the risks on both sides of this equation and remains open to persuasion (though appropriately skeptical). The unwise boss, labels every thought not originating between his ears 'ideology' and ignores it.

Re:PDF? (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223998)

No matter how small of a piece of the puzzle you are in a company you influence things.

The important thing is to know how to limit yourself. I personally like trying to introduce the "open" philosophy in my work. When I have a chance I try to go with an open alternative instead of a closed one.

This is the key. Do what you have to do to get the job done in the best way you can, but always try to keep in mind where you can pick an open alternative! Dont degrate your work or force the change, make the change happen because it is the best way to do the job. I personally feel this is the way to get a huge company to slowly change. If the open alternatives are just as good or better, and less costly than the closed options... win-win no?

Re:PDF? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32224008)

Fuck you and fuck your piece of shit company you pompous asswipe. Nobody gives a fuck about your OCD need to fellate Ballmer and co.

FOAD.

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32224330)

If the "business needs" include revealing critical proprietary information (or even state secrets) by using and reusing old docs as templates such that running the req through "strings" over it just spills their guts, yeah sure.

Re:PDF? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224576)

So, how's that job search coming along? :P

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223264)

PDF is not easily editable, so it does not help for ongoing working documents. For completed documents, it is very useful. This is another reason I like Keynote. It can export to a movie which can be then played on almost any machine, or streamed.

I do find it funny that I get so much stuff in .doc format, stuff that I do not and should not have the authority to edit. I am surprised that someone has not gotten fired from a side effect of this.

Re:PDF? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223690)

You mean the Portable PDF Document Format?

Re:PDF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223948)

It's also why universities (at least mine (which is just one in Germany)) accepts everything only in PDF format.
How could they not?

Re:PDF? (1)

antdude (79039) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224548)

And some people want it purely Word documents like job recruiter, teachers/professors, etc. :(

Do what I do make PDF, Word doc, printouts, etc. avilable for them and pick the best for them.

Re:What fidelity (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223362)

I think google docs is a fine class requirement, it's not like people will have trouble getting it to run. There's always chrome. If you're worried about privacy, use it only for google apps.

For spreadsheets, there's gnumeric. You can even run it on Windows.

Re:What fidelity (1)

RowD1 (1252634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223372)

On the other hand, I've tried on a few occasions to share an MS doc on Google Docs, and Google Docs has failed catastrophically with a "file too complex" message. And, they aren't all that complex. Just long, with embedded hyperlinks and extended bibliographies (e.g. any typical scholarly journal article with a reasonably complex linked references list). The reality is, Google Docs is good for some simple things and decidedly underpowered for other more complicated tasks. I have lots of docs Google Docs simply can't handle.

Re:What fidelity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223452)

Students don't fail papers because of incompatibility between versions of MS Word. Students fail papers because they procrastinate to the point where incompatibility becomes a crises. Get your papers done a day or so early and test for any compatibility problems before deadlines approach.

Re:What fidelity (4, Informative)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223794)

MS products are good in firms that have the resources to insure all machines are homogeneous and up to date, firms that require a high level of collaborations of complex non-technical documents(This does not include most educational places).

Nothing could be further from the truth. MS products are generally terrible for the creation of collaborative, complex, non-technical documents. It's just that organisations are for the most part incurious and unwilling to depart from the well-trodden path.

This isn't exclusively Microsoft's fault. Almost without exception[*], WYSIWYG editors suck [imagicity.com] .

This is just another example of a phenomenon that remain inscrutable to hackers and geeks the world over. Generally speaking, people are incurious. They don't particularly care about the best or even the right way to do something. In fact, as long as they create the surface impression of having done something (e.g. using Word to create an unparseable, ungodly hodge-podge of visual formatting and calling it a 'complex document'), they're generally satisfied to let things lie.

Of course, this is the fundamental principle that animates the Dilbert universe and makes it the serio-comic tragedy that it is.

--------------
[*] I only say 'almost' because I'm willing to admit that in some parallel universe, some Leonardo of the keyboard might conceivably have invented a WYSIWYG word processor that actually does an adequate job at non-trivial tasks. In that same alternate universe, however, I can skate across a giant butter lake wearing a frilly orange tutu, then mount my flying unicorn and float away over cotton-candy clouds to my home in an enchanted toadstool.

Re:What fidelity (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224314)

I'm not sure it's a matter of being incurious. These products have reached a certain critical mass, where a business analyst from Company A can easily integrate into Company B's workflow without too much training.

The good thing about monoculture is that you can pretty much take your knowledge and go anywhere, and likewise, as an employer, you can hire anyone and expect a certain competency in your systems on day one. There are a lot of downsides, but for a business, whose only interested in results and the speed of attaining those results, any downside to monoculture is largely marginalized.

Re:What fidelity (2, Insightful)

grcumb (781340) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224932)

I'm not sure it's a matter of being incurious.

You would be if you'd were curious enough to consider the issue a little more. 8^)

These products have reached a certain critical mass, where a business analyst from Company A can easily integrate into Company B's workflow without too much training.

'Critical mass' is exactly my point. Companies A & B call their awkward, borderline anarchic process of batting emails and Word attachments back and forth a 'Workflow'. And to some degree they're right. But they never consider how else the information exchange could happen. They don't have to, because nobody else does, either.

Efficiency or appropriateness are not important. Word isn't the tool of choice because it's Good. It's not the tool of choice at all. It's just What We Use.

And that, children, is why geeks inevitably find themselves at odds with most of humanity: They simply cannot comprehend why someone would choose to continue polishing turds when there's so much else that could be done.

And they're fools, because they think there's a choice involved, when in fact what's important to most people is that no-one ever be forced to choose.

Re:What fidelity (2, Insightful)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223880)

I see students failing papers because the Word on one machine does not read word files created on another machine in a different version.

I'm calling bullshit.

The specified format that teachers/professors use is generally the format that the on campus computers use (if you are in high school, the format is printed, not electronic), so if you are a student, you have access to write your paper, save it in the appropriate format, and electronically convey it to the professor using your school email address. Or if you live off campus, you can write in the format of choice, send to your school email address, show up on campus, convert it from the text, and send it to your professor through email. Other teachers use turnitin or some other web based service that formats text for the recipient automatically. If you are taking online classes, the format for papers will be specified, and it is the student's fault, not Word, for failure to adhere to it.

As for using googledocs for a paper, if it has graphic requirements (charts, analysis, specified formating), the student can and should be penalized for not adhering to the requirements. This makes googledocs a non-solution. Think of it as training for the real world. If your boss wants a one page, double spaced, times new roman, 11 font summary of what you did this month, you damn better well not be surprised when you get fired for turning in a 4 page email complaint about how you wanted to use googledocs instead of wasting paper.

  The unfortunate thing is that you want to blame Word for your personal failures.

Err right? (4, Interesting)

Adambomb (118938) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222888)

So this basically just states that Google Doc's data fidelity is only as good as Google makes it. So the only question businesses have is "Are Googles data fidelity policies better maintained than our own".

If yes, use it, if no, stay internal.

What Microsoft has to do with that question other than warping the question into an assumption to fear i sure dont know.

Re:Err right? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223370)

So this basically just states that Google Doc's data fidelity is only as good as Google makes it. So the only question businesses have is "Are Googles data fidelity policies better maintained than our own".

If yes, use it, if no, stay internal.

What Microsoft has to do with that question other than warping the question into an assumption to fear i sure dont know.

First sentence: Missing comma after "So." Remove the word "just."

Second sentence: Missing comma after "So." Missing apostrophe in Google's. Improper subject/verb agreement; are should be is. Quotes are not needed; if used, there should also be a comma. Poor word choice, fidelity isn't maintained. Missing a question mark. The period should be in the quotes.

Third sentence: Between "it" and "if" should be a semicolon, not a comma.

Fourth sentence: Missing commas to separate the clause "other than warping the question into an assumption," although an em dash or parenthesis would also be acceptable. Missing an apostrophe in don't. I should be capitalized.

You're welcome.

Re:Err right? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223464)

if you're going to be a grammar troll you could at least be right. Policies is the subject in the second sentence and it's plural, are is correct.

Re:Err right? (5, Funny)

greentshirt (1308037) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223626)

You fail at being a Grammar Nazi.

You begin by launching a colon without satisfying the grammatical prerequisites: A colon must always be preceded by a complete sentence. You followed that up with another neat trick: You inexplicably added phantom periods into some of your quotes. Periods are people too, and I’m sure they would be rather annoyed at being dragged into quotes they have no business being in. Moving along, it is also incorrect to capitalize the first word after a colon unless the word is a proper noun, or it is the first word in a complete sentence.

You'll be interested to know that you fail at using semicolons, too; semicolons must be preceded and followed by complete sentences.

Finally, your third sentence sounds like something out of a third-grader's journal, you might want to add a "there" in there.

You should probably focus less on correcting the zomg-grammars-of-the-internets, and more on solidifying your grammatical command.

A good day to both you and your horse, sir.

Re:Err right? (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224010)

Do a diff next time

Seriously? (1, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222910)

"'It says a lot about Microsoft's approach to customer lock-in that the company touts its proprietary document formats, which only Microsoft software can render with true fidelity, as the reason to avoid using other products,' says a Google spokesperson.""

While M$ bashing is commonplace here I really think this attitude towards them is short-sighted as hell. Office is one of the one things I'll give credit to Microsoft for doing fairly decently. They're a for-profit software company, don't forget that.

Microsoft's approach involves selling software and client retention. That's not even something I could call evil in the same terms that google seems to be claiming. You want free? You lose functionality. That seems perfectly reasonable.

Google, however, is an advertising company, not a software company. Will they offer a product that doesn't in some way use your data for their means? I highly doubt it.

Henceforth - google's argument is similar to ford being angry that they can't use a honda engine in their vehicles while also admitting they have a superior product.

Re:Seriously? (2, Insightful)

LordThyGod (1465887) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222944)

Microsoft's approach involves selling software and client retention.

No, their approach involves getting a monopoly on something by hook or by crook then keeping the riff raff out. The only markets they make significant money on, are the monopolies.

Re:Seriously? (0)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223010)

Both companies make it clear: MS will sell you a product for money, and now it appears they're being forthright about the vendor lock in too. If you actually read Google's ToS (the non-legalese version even) it makes it quite clear what your data is being used for: being mined to hell and to serve targeted ads. It also makes it clear that it lives in a little box in Google that no human is ever allowed to see*.

I choose not to accept either of these options, but I don't feel like there's any serious deception going on.

* Except the US government, of course, and that on a regular basis

Re:Seriously? (5, Informative)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223152)

Why would Google mine the data when it doesn't serve ads on Premier Apps (that's the kind businesses use, FYI) unless the customer specifically requests it? I've read the ToS, and it doesn't mention mining data AFAICT.

7.1 Obligations. Each party will: (a) protect the other party’s Confidential Information with the same standard of care it uses to protect its own Confidential Information; and (b) not disclose the Confidential Information, except to affiliates, employees and agents who need to know it and who have agreed in writing to keep it confidential. Each party (and any affiliates, employees and agents to whom it has disclosed Confidential Information) may use Confidential Information only to exercise rights and fulfill obligations under this Agreement, while using reasonable care to protect it. Each party is responsible for any actions of its affiliates, employees and agents in violation of this Section.
...

8.1 Intellectual Property Rights. Except as expressly set forth herein, this Agreement does not grant either party any rights, implied or otherwise, to the other’s content or any of the other’s intellectual property. As between the parties, Customer owns all Intellectual Property Rights in Customer Data, and Google owns all Intellectual Property Rights in the Services.

Where are you getting this information of yours?

Re:Seriously? (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223170)

My recollection of the ToS when I first signed up for gmail back in '04. I should add that I'm referring to the personal accounts.

Re:Seriously? (1)

Daengbo (523424) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223202)

The free, personal accounts serve ads -- it's how they support the service -- but the paid-for version (and the free, education and non-profit ones) don't serve ads, though you could turn ads on if you wanted to. Why a business would do that, I have no idea, but I guess Google figures someone will, and that's another penny in the coffer.

Re:Seriously? (1)

J Story (30227) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224838)

I know it's a stretch, but some may well view unobtrusive ads as a bonus.

We say we hate ads, but I bet that the ones that really irk us are the "in your face ones": boring TV commercials; popups; ads that make you scroll past them; etc. The ads that stay in prescribed spaces are not a problem for me, and have sometimes actually turned out to be relevant and useful.

Re:Seriously? (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224972)

Sadly, it may be implied. Microsoft used to use similar language on their online services to spell out that they could and would sell what information collected from you to their "business partners" - namely anyone who wanted to buy the information to use for advertising.

Whether such a meaning IS implied in Google's ToS, I dont know. But if it is, it would be in the section I have bolded below.

7.1 Obligations. Each party will: (a) protect the other party’s Confidential Information with the same standard of care it uses to protect its own Confidential Information; and (b) not disclose the Confidential Information, except to affiliates, employees and agents who need to know it and who have agreed in writing to keep it confidential. Each party (and any affiliates, employees and agents to whom it has disclosed Confidential Information) may use Confidential Information only to exercise rights and fulfill obligations under this Agreement, while using reasonable care to protect it. Each party is responsible for any actions of its affiliates, employees and agents in violation of this Section. ...

8.1 Intellectual Property Rights. Except as expressly set forth herein, this Agreement does not grant either party any rights, implied or otherwise, to the other’s content or any of the other’s intellectual property. As between the parties, Customer owns all Intellectual Property Rights in Customer Data, and Google owns all Intellectual Property Rights in the Services.

Where are you getting this information of yours?

Now... I tend to agree with you because Google adds this part: "and who have agreed in writing to keep it confidential"

Re:Seriously? (5, Insightful)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223024)

Microsoft's approach involves client retention. Okay, fine. But the way they're going about doing it - making it nearly impossible to write an application compatible with their formats - is anticompetitive and very evil.

And the car analogy simply does not hold. Image files are standardized, and I can expect a .png made in Photoshop to still look the same in GIMP or MS Paint. Sound formats are the same. Even for formatted text, there exists the completely open ODF format. MS's actions in making a format so closed and proprietary that often even different versions of their own software show the same file differently are simply inexcusable.

Re:Seriously? (0, Redundant)

jelizondo (183861) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223888)

Microsoft's approach involves client^H^H^H^H ANAL retention.

There, fixed that for ya!

Re:Seriously? (1)

Dumnezeu (1673634) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223070)

Office is one of the one things I'll give credit to Microsoft for doing fairly decently.

Yeah! Backwards compatibility is the best features in the Microsoft Office suite and... oh, wait, never mind...

Re:Seriously? (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223138)

Microsoft's approach involves selling software and client retention. That's not even something I could call evil in the same terms that google seems to be claiming.

Indeed. Just because Microsoft's past behaviour was universally considered unethical (when it wasn't ruled illegal) does mean we should be using terms like evil.

You want free? You lose functionality. That seems perfectly reasonable.

Well, that's certainly a better-phrased bullet point than the one that reads "License agreements, upgrade treadmills and vendor lock-in offer a Genuine Advantage to our customers".

Re:Seriously? (1)

RobertM1968 (951074) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224996)

Microsoft's approach involves selling software and client retention. That's not even something I could call evil in the same terms that google seems to be claiming.

Indeed. Just because Microsoft's past behaviour was universally considered unethical (when it wasn't ruled illegal) does mean we should be using terms like evil.

You want free? You lose functionality. That seems perfectly reasonable.

Well, that's certainly a better-phrased bullet point than the one that reads "License agreements, upgrade treadmills and vendor lock-in offer a Genuine Advantage to our customers".

You are correct. Fortunately though, for those fond of the term "evil", Microsoft's current and recent behavior fits the same categories that earned them that title years back. Ya know... EU cases and all, failing to release any accurate/real docs for their new open document format, and on and on...

Yah, right, whatever... (5, Insightful)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222932)

Because you know damn well that the moment Google Docs achieved true fidelity with MS Docs, then MS would turn around and change the specs again, thereby breaking fidelity...

Is the year 1900 a Leap Year? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223056)

Link [wikipedia.org]

Does Google Docs treat the year 1900 as a leap year?

Microsoft is really really desperate to be blowing this kind of smoke.

Re:Yah, right, whatever... (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224698)

Microsoft is severely limited by the installed base. What you hypothesize simply would not happen. When a new Office version supports a new format, it takes a long time for the new format to gain widespread use. By the time any such changes were important enough to matter, third parties would have them covered. Heck, that is even how it worked when the formats were completely undocumented.

Grasping at straws (3, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222974)

Wow, Microsoft is really digging deep on that one. I don't have any problems tracking document changes. We use the strike-through and different colored text for each contributor. So I know at a glance who changed what.

If you need legal change tracking, you're not going to be using web-based software anyway. Besides, if there's a big call for that feature, I bet Google can figure out how to supply it.

I think the days of desktop software are winding down. Google can be far more nimble with Docs than MSFT can be with Office. And the features that the MS guy mentioned, only small minority of users find those at all useful.

Taking a swipe at Google just informed thousands people that you can move .docs around with GoogleDocs. Doesn't seem real bright.

Too late (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 4 years ago | (#32222990)

'It says a lot about Microsoft's approach to customer lock-in that the company touts its proprietary document formats, which only Microsoft software can render with true fidelity, as the reason to avoid using other products,' says a Google spokesperson"

Which is why I am sticking with Office. Its frustrating and I wish the internet with opendoc was available 15 years ago before MS could lock everyone in but its too late now. If a customer can not read your data in a professional format he/she will think you are incompetent and go with a competitor. If my resume looks unformated it says alot about my professionalism.

Google just stated their own case not to use their product.

You can argue that ... well just have everyone on their Google doc cloud. At the end of the day in business if its a hassle then do not bother doing business where time is limited and everything has to be done yesterday.

Re:Too late (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223088)

If a customer can not read your data in a professional format he/she will think you are incompetent and go with a competitor. If my resume looks unformated it says alot about my professionalism.

I can see why you might need to send a customer a document for them to edit, but a resume? Why aren't you using pdf for that?

I simply don't believe this: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223292)

From the Technet article:

  Now, what if I told you that every time you opened one of these documents in Office it converted this document to a different file format for viewing/editing and that this new converted document actually was missing some of its components (which were there before the conversion). ....snip.... Well, the good news is that Office doesn’t do this.

Call me a skeptic, but I believe Microsoft office products do exactly this. Each version of office does have a different file format, and it is very unclear about which format it is using at any one time: "I saved it as a .doc file" is meaningless because the actual filetype is embedded in some voodoo bytes (or black magic bytes) and the user generally does not care to try to determine what they are actually saving.

Technet can't get fonts right (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223304)

Amusingly, the Technet blog entry [technet.com] has text marked as "Calibri" font, with no alternatives. Calibri is a Microsoft-only font that comes with Vista. So non-Vista systems render the text in Times Roman. Calibri is a sans-serif font, and all the other fonts in that Wordpress theme are sans-serif, so the page looks awful.

Now that font downloading works in essentially all the current browsers, that's not necessary, at least if you stick to public-domain fonts. However, there aren't many public-domain fonts that don't suck at small type sizes. (Here's a page of mine with some downloaded fonts. [aetherltd.com] ) If you have anti-aliasing on, it looks OK; if not, the text font looks ugly. Interestingly, Linux and Macs do anti-aliasing routinely, but older Windows systems do not.

Google Docs has the same problem. Currently, it works like classic HTML; if you have the font locally, you can use it, but if not, you get some default. The stock fonts in Google Docs are the lowest common denominator: "Normal", "Normal/Serif", "Courier New", "Trebuchet", and "Verdana". If Google is going to make a big push on competing with Word, they need to do better than that. Google could make progress on this by buying twenty or so really good body fonts outright from a major font foundry, and setting them up for download on demand for Google Docs.

Re:Technet can't get fonts right (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224338)

Google could make progress on this by buying twenty or so really good body fonts outright from a major font foundry, and setting them up for download on demand for Google Docs.

Or, they could go the way of Arial and just make up their own set of fonts that are close enough to the popular Microsoft ones. It would be kind of playing dirty, but who knows if Google's typeface creators could come up with some stuff that's better than what Microsoft has.

Bad Uploads (3, Informative)

hhawk (26580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223364)

When you open a DOCX or DOC file in Google Docs it converts them and Google Docs doesn't have the same functionality either.

But in terms of the data, it's not Google's fault that MS hasn't created an open standard for the document files..

Re:Bad Uploads (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224166)

Actually from what I read, what I would consider the data is not lost at all, (except for change tracking info, if you're using that). Everything else they mentioned seems to be about formatting.

Re:Bad Uploads (1)

hhawk (26580) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224230)

Change tracking is important in my line of work. I know there are a few other features as well. Not mention graphics, etc.

MS wants recognition for their effort (4, Funny)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223380)

says that moving files created with Office to Google Docs results in the loss of data fidelity including the loss of such data components as charts, styles, watermarks, fonts, tracked changes, and SmartArt.

... and it took the Office team months of hard work to achieve that.

Laughing out loud (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223434)

Microsoft openly bragging about trying to enforce lock-in by making formats nearly impossible to implement! That's priceless.

Wake me up when I don't need a windows license to use MS' google docs alternative.

Simple solution (1)

Jorl17 (1716772) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223448)

Just edit wherever you want and save it as PDF. If you need RTE, then find something that suits everybody, but that's a different case. Other than that, PDF is, and always will be, my reference format for document interchange.

As to TFA, one can only say "Oh my, Google and Microsoft are fighting!...Go figure."

Google has a point (4, Insightful)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223454)

This just goes to show that when you use Microsofts software, you are locked to using their products and their products only. Because the format is closed, other parties will always be playing catchup and can never guarantee 100% compatibility. So Googles snarky comment at the end reveals just how lethal lock-in can be. You are locked in, with no way out.

I can understand that you might resent loosing data in a migration or usage of another tool, but put the blame FIRST with Microsoft and THEN with yourself for having allowed yourself to get locked in.

In any other part of your business, you would avoid lock-in at all costs. Would you tolerate that your floors could only be provided by ONE company and that it means no body else can put in a carpet without it breaking gravity? Would you allow your truck fleet to be provided by only ONE company and have that company know it? A common trick in the trucking branch is when it is time to place a new order is to invite the truck company to your place of business and have a few rival trucks parked in sight. Just a hint that you and the sales rep know there is competition out there.

In IT? You happily invite the MS guy to give you a new deal in your all MS office that can only deal with MS formats... yeah. What is the word in the sales rep mind? Bonus? Sucker?

Governments do this all the time, they give their divisions rules that they must buy from a supplier who has won the bid. And gosh, once they have the bid for the next couple of years, service just goes out of the window. How surprising. Especially when you just know that the quality of service under the previous contract will play no role whatsoever under the new bidding round. Ever wonder why government often does so badly in efficiency? They think lock-in is a GOOD thing. You know how you get good service from a supplier? Make him sweat as to whether your next order will be going to him. It is how the game is played.

Really, take a long hard look at your own company. How certain are you that you can access your own info without aid from a third party? A paper archive is easy. No matter who supplies the binders, you can read it. Tape drives? How certain are you they continue to be compatible? Are your records required by law actually readable? Can you afford to ditch a supplier who doesn't make business sense anymore? Can you get the best deal if the supplier knows you need him?

Why do you think MS sells Windows for ever higher prices? They know they got you by the short and curlies.

Re:Google has a point (1)

kramerd (1227006) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224020)

Would you tolerate that your floors could only be provided by ONE company and that it means no body else can put in a carpet without it breaking gravity? Would you allow your truck fleet to be provided by only ONE company and have that company know it?

If I could have a company come install carpet and break gravity, I would do so immediately. Then I would open weightless world. Who the hell wouldn't?

I would absolutely allow my truck fleet to be provided by one company. I would have them entered into a multi-year contract, with prices set at specified rates or linked to prevailing market rates (determined by an unrelated 3rd party) and have very strict delivery requirements with penalties enforceable to the effect of non-payment and the ability to end the contract as of a specific year or delivery (ie if delivery x is late, I don't pay for that delivery, and if y number of deliveries are late or aggregated late by a specified amount, I don't pay for any deliveries). This cancellation point will be set at a higher standard than I actually demand from my singular truck fleet. The fleet would in turn get a minimum required service level (number of deliveries I pay for whether I ask for that many or not) with pricing structure to their benefit when I need higher usage than a specified level. All of this would be determined annually based on my expected needs. Under contract law, if they were ever unable to provide the contracted service level, I could just get service on the open market at prevailing rates and charge off the difference between contract price and market price (it would be a slam dunk in court to collect, including court costs).

In short, you are missing a huge number of details about how I would enter into a long term contract.

MS is not all that different than truck fleets; the software is a service that I pay for based on usage. If I need 1000 seats, I pay more than if I need 100. There is nothing that is stopping me from getting competitive software (SAP for accounting, for example) on MS's end. If I can influence my clients (they really, really, need me to do the work and can't go to a competitor), maybe I can require that they use whatever I want them to use. Generally, I am going to have to put it in my client's preferred format (and make them provide me with the tools to do so if I don't have it). The industry standard is going to be word, excel, and powerpoint for the majority of companies because it is both easiest to use and train on, but also cheaper than most other formats (cost of training is often much more expensive than cost of software, even if free).

"nearly identical" is not good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32223512)

The manufacturer of two applications, who claims to cleanly import content from one of these applications to the other, simply has to do better than "nearly identical" when it comes to content.

cb

Microsoft Google??? (2, Insightful)

Helldesk Hound (981604) | more than 4 years ago | (#32223654)

This is rich! Microsoft's software has the poorest interoperability capability of all Office Productivity suites.

Why should MS bitch about this when it's own software cannot even open basic documents created in other office productivity suites?

Hmm (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224340)

Maybe Microsoft could pull out the Word file format specification and show us exactly what Google is doing wrong?

Hubris (1)

hachete (473378) | more than 4 years ago | (#32224718)

I'd've thought MS's FUD department would have come up with something better seeing as they're just about to release a competitor to Google Docs - you know, something like a coordinated campaign of spurious patent trolling, adverts etc. But fidelity? Not exactly a rallying cry for the troops. Maybe it's a case of hubris - the MS Office team have had the playing field to themselves for such a long time, they can't really contemplate a successful competitor. Sucks to be them.

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