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Aussie Government Proposes OpenDocument As the Standard Format

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the need-a-format-that-works-for-all-those-upside-down-computers dept.

Australia 113

Bismillah writes "The Australian government chief technical officer wants some views on proposals for the official standard operating environment, which features OpenDocument as the proposed document format. Otherwise, the Aussie government is pretty much a Microsoft shop, with Windows 7 x64 and IE10 as the standard platform. 'Interoperability and support for several versions of Microsoft Office is cited by the AGCTO as reasons to go with ODF, along with flexibility and the fact that the format is continously updated and developed. Spreadsheet formulae are now included in the ODF 1.2 specification as well and the AGTO believes that this, along with Microsoft Office 2013 supporting the format, will help to reliably transfer formulae between applications.' According to the CTO's call for opinions, 'Standardizing on a format supported by a wide range of office suites provides for the greatest possible degree of interoperability without mandating the use of a specific product, as well as providing the best basis for reliable interchange of information between agencies deploying differing office productivity suites.'"

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113 comments

Aussie Aussie Aussie! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845313)

Oi Oi Oi!

Free copies of office (2)

thetoadwarrior (1268702) | about a year ago | (#43845343)

What this comes down to is they're negotiating for free copies of office, imo. Once MS throws some their way they'll give up.

Re:Free copies of office (4, Informative)

multiben (1916126) | about a year ago | (#43845463)

I doubt it. I worked in R&D for the Aussie government for many years and we were not supposed to accept so much as a free coffee from vendors. There is a very strict set of tendering and purchasing protocols and general sense of paranoia about showing any kind of favouritism or cutting deals. That's not to say it never happens, but for something on this scale I would say it is highly unlikely.

I should also say that this exact question of moving to OpenDocument has come up several times before in Aus gov and got nowhere. The problem is that in the small sample trials they run, the software just fails miserably to deliver on multiple levels. I know this is probably going to upset those of you who are blinded by fanboism, but the fact is that MS office is super super stable and open office hasn't reached that level yet. Hopefully one day it will.

Re:Free copies of office (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#43845829)

Yeah, I don't use office stuff that much at home. But last week I went to use LibreOffice for the first time in a couple months, and it crashed halfway thought the second page. It was version 3.6 or something like that. I've upgraded to 4 and and haven't had any problems, but I haven't really used it that much either. I got annoyed at the crash so I tried out Google Docs, and can't understand why anybody would want to use that over LibreOffice, let alone MS Office. You can't even create your own custom styles. Closest you can get is reconfiguring one of the premade "Header" styles. I understand why so many people don't want to give up MS Office, and it's not just because they refuse to give anything else a chance.

Re:Free copies of office (3, Insightful)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about a year ago | (#43848649)

Been using MS office for years, never had much trouble with it, apart from weird formatting issues that we all know about, (try copying & pasting between Word and PPT, for example).

Same with Open/Libre Office. Never had any stability problems, and in one notable case, was able to open a 'critical' word document for a customer in OO when the various versions of MS could not. Strange.

As for Google docs, yup, until it matures, and maybe is better linked to stand-alone apps, (not everyone has permanent access to the internet), is not likely to satisfy power users.

But that's missing the point - O/L Office and/or Google docs are more than enough for most users - and anyway the point here is about the document format, not the applications(s). One of the problems most of the people here report is the inability of O/L Office to satisfactorily read the formatting of MS Office docs, (hardly surprising; it's a nightmare). But again, for most users, is all that weird formatting and animation really needed?

Forcing a single, truly interoperable document format standard accross Govt. sounds a great idea to me.

Re:Free copies of office (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43850067)

I understand why so many people don't want to give up MS Office, and it's not just because they refuse to give anything else a chance.

I want very much to switch from MSOffice to LibreOffice. Every year, I try the latest version, and I sadly conclude that I have to stay with MSOffice.

Even people who are eager and highly motivated to switch away from MSOffice can't do so.

Re:Free copies of office (3, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year ago | (#43845915)

the fact is that MS office is super super stable

You must have a different version from mine then, because the MS Office I see used in most businesses crashes, locks up, loses formatting, corrupts documents and is generally one of the biggest causes of wasted time in any working office environment.

Look, I get tat you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.

Re:Free copies of office (0)

macshit (157376) | about a year ago | (#43845977)

Look, I get that you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.

Seriously... Every time I have to use MS office, it's a miserable experience. Not so much crash bugs as maddeningly inconsistent and hard-to-control formatting behavior, etc. Well, that and the insanely opaque user-interface...

I think the thing is that people get used to whatever software they use a lot (I don't use MS office a lot), and after a while instinctively work around its foibles and problems without really thinking abou tit. If they suddenly have to use some other software which has a different set of foibles and problems, it will seem like it's much buggier / more confusing, even if it isn't really.

Re:Free copies of office (0)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43846391)

Allow me to introduce you to Styles. Create or download a template you like. Block styles to avoid any weird format to get into your documents, Then applying styles to parts of your text is a matter of selct and click. I can format an extensive document with no flaws in a matter of minutes.

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847881)

Don't be so patronizing. If the MS version of styles actually worked in practice, we WOULD use them. In reality, they're as inconsistent and irritating as the rest of Office.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | about a year ago | (#43850849)

Allow me to introduce you to Styles. Create or download a template you like. Block styles to avoid any weird format to get into your documents, Then applying styles to parts of your text is a matter of selct and click. I can format an extensive document with no flaws in a matter of minutes.

They also create a lot of problems.

Honestly, even when I was using WIndows and Office I would go to OpenOffice to write my document and get all the styles, outlines, etc. correct b/c Word just couldn't do it without screwing things up; then I'd save it as a Word document, open it in Word and check the cross-references (usually having to redo them as Word doesn't like them out of OpenOffice), and deliver to colleagues and clients.

Sad thing is - I wasn't really trying to do something very hard - just get a 1, 1.1, 1.1.1 style outline most of them time - with descriptions (paragraphs) under each one. Doing it straight out as if I was just typing out a written document generally works, but if you're going back and forth on a work in progress document, then it's a never ending cycle of fixing the outline levels. (Yeah, add an outline entry, may be more than one, fill in the outline, add on to the end, add stuff in the middle, and try to keep it consistent by just using tab and shift+tab to go between levels; Word just croaks and messes it all up.)

Re:Free copies of office (1)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43851199)

Actually what you describe works flawlessly for me. I know that getting styles right is complex, but my point is that it is eventually worth it, as you can restrict the document to those styles once ready (avoiding other people messing with formatting) and reuse the template time and again. Let me share and example: http://www.filedropper.com/generictemplate-nocover [filedropper.com] Word could actually improve a lot by separating style definition from content, and making the first one vastly easier and more accessible. Hope it helps :-)

Re:Free copies of office (1)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year ago | (#43848133)

Look, I get that you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.

Seriously... Every time I have to use MS office, it's a miserable experience. Not so much crash bugs as maddeningly inconsistent and hard-to-control formatting behavior, etc. Well, that and the insanely opaque user-interface...

I think the thing is that people get used to whatever software they use a lot (I don't use MS office a lot), and after a while instinctively work around its foibles and problems without really thinking abou tit. If they suddenly have to use some other software which has a different set of foibles and problems, it will seem like it's much buggier / more confusing, even if it isn't really.

I won't pretend to have much experience with the Windows version of MS Office, but I have used the OS X version for 7 years now. I can count the crashes I have experienced on the fingers of one hand and it's hard to believe the Windows version is segfault city for so reason.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846109)

MS Office has this weird ass user interface. For anybody trying to get work done it's a bitch. I don't hear real LibreOffice users complain much compared to MS Office users. What I do hear is a lot of "I used Libre Office once and it didn't work" people bitching.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about a year ago | (#43850059)

Yeah, I imagine people that make the conscious choice to use a product that is not the norm to be happier with it than those stuck using Office for whatever reason, or that didn't like the non status quo product.

The same can be said for Linux users for example, people that use it prefer it over MS, but there's plenty that tried it once and it didn't meet their needs.

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847755)

I will counter your anecdotal evidence, not with facts, but with my contradicting anecdotal evidence! That's a sure fire way to get people on-side!

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43848075)

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43850149)

Yawn.. thats like someone googling linux + crash and posting all the random shit. SHould we now post the millions of those results here to prove linux is crap? Maybe we can get a direct feed from ubuntu forums and post all the shit that breaks in linux every single day.

Provide a *SINGLE* .. *ONE*.. *JUST ONE* example of a major crashing/corruption bug that you faced. And tell us how to reproduce it. You wont be able to because you're full of shit like the other anti-ms trolls.

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43850087)

Oh really? I'm sure you have HUNDREDS of examples of how Office "crashes" or "corrupts documents". I bet you cant even provide ONE example of how office corrupts documents. Go ahead I dare you !

Nah.. I bet you just go and hide somewhere and wait till the next thread comes along to spout your nonsense FUD.

Re:Free copies of office (3, Insightful)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#43846007)

'Erm', I would hope you understand the difference between a document and an application, if you worked in R&D for the Australian Government. Forcing the use of an accessible document format to ensure all commercial and free applications can access that document free of government enforced fees and charges to a private entity ensures adherence to the countries competitive trading laws. Prior to this, playing the, 'tee hee we're just a bunch of dumb fuck ups', might have sort of worked, but continuing to play that card just makes them look permanently like a bunch of 'dumb fuck ups'.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

multiben (1916126) | about a year ago | (#43846375)

You're sarcastic response not withstanding, the point you make is correct. However, in reality a review of something on this scale will necessarily be accompanied by a review of the software. MS has a bad history when it comes to supporting open standards - they like to tweak and extend them - html, css, c++ just for starters. This will make the adoption of ODF by the govt less appealing because they will be relying on MS to behave. So, what are they left with? OpenOffice, AbiWord LibreOffice. If these get rejected as non-business suitable then ODF may follow quickly behind them.

I want to make it clear that I agree with the idea of moving to ODF, but I have seen how these things get killed off in their infancy time and time again because of entrenched systems.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | about a year ago | (#43850895)

You're sarcastic response not withstanding, the point you make is correct. However, in reality a review of something on this scale will necessarily be accompanied by a review of the software. MS has a bad history when it comes to supporting open standards - they like to tweak and extend them - html, css, c++ just for starters. This will make the adoption of ODF by the govt less appealing because they will be relying on MS to behave. So, what are they left with? OpenOffice, AbiWord LibreOffice. If these get rejected as non-business suitable then ODF may follow quickly behind them.

Yes, and MS Office has had support for ODF for a while - however, in a very incompatible manner. All the cells are defined to the values, and the formulas are put in a MS-Excel only section. So other program can provide the calculations without the user going back and re-entering all the formulas.

I want to make it clear that I agree with the idea of moving to ODF, but I have seen how these things get killed off in their infancy time and time again because of entrenched systems.

Yes. And it's cool to see a First-world country adopting it. (Though parts of Australia are certainly Third-World....)

Re:Free copies of office (1)

spasm (79260) | about a year ago | (#43846175)

No-one is suggesting you'll have to move to open/libre office. Just that documents need to be in odf format. You can get a plugin for MS office which lets you open and save-as in odf formats if you want to keep using MS Office, whether because you have concerns about the limitations of open/libre offfice, or for some other business-case reason. However your fellow Australian citizens will no longer be obliged to pay a US-based multinational a bunch of cash to be able to read government documents or submit documents to government departments (or put up with not-always-so-brilliant conversions from .doc and .docx).

Re:Free copies of office (1)

mjwx (966435) | about a year ago | (#43846533)

I doubt it. I worked in R&D for the Aussie government for many years and we were not supposed to accept so much as a free coffee from vendors. There is a very strict set of tendering and purchasing protocols and general sense of paranoia about showing any kind of favouritism or cutting deals. That's not to say it never happens, but for something on this scale I would say it is highly unlikely.

This is very, very true.

Govt IT workers need to get permission just to attend vendor events on the off chance they will receive a free bag and/or pen.

However govt departments who already have the software in will use these tactics to lower licensing costs. It's not unusual for them to present the costs of switching to a competitors product to a vendor in order to get them to lower their prices (I.E. they'll tell Microsoft that a SQL Enterprise license is $10,000 more than the cost of switching to PostgreSQL until MS drops the price by $10K).

Re:Free copies of office (2)

Clifton Beach (809210) | about a year ago | (#43846899)

It's not about individuals receiving free copies (which, you are right, would not be allowed). It's about the government office negotiating free copies or a bigger discount so that they can make their budget go further.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year ago | (#43847079)

Sure, it doesn't CRASH, but it can really fuck your documents to pieces. If you're not careful you can end up spending countless hours trying to get your document to auto-number paragraphs in a reasonable fashion and use consistent style that doesn't look like dog shit and get figures to appear where you want them in a document.

That said, the thing I expect they are trying to fight is not the usability of the software, but the usability of the DATA.

There are major problems with using any proprietary format for data.

  • Lock-in -- once you records are in a proprietary format, you can only work with programs that read the proprietary format. You are tied to Microsoft if you are using Microsoft formats for your records. Or you can try to use third-party import filters that may or may not import the proprietary-formatted files correctly. Microsoft has been pretty good about making their document format specifications publicly available, but there are no guarantees.
  • Forced migration - Every few years, Microsoft and others change their document formats. If you allow use of the new version, new documents get created by default in the new format. Unfortunately, everybody in the organization has to deal with them and when their number reaches a critical mass, it becomes necessary for everybody to upgrade to the new software. This is very expensive, including licensing costs and lost time retraining people to use the new version efficiently or not retraining them and suffering even more lost time while they retrain themselves. And Microsoft removes the older version from the market so that if you add people or machines, you have to upgrade. They will get you to spend that money one way or another.
  • Public accessibility -- The Australian government is not a corporation owned by stockholders. It belongs to the Australian people, some of whom own Microsoft Office and some of whom do not. Public documents therefore must be accessible in free-to-the-public formats.
  • Security -- Microsoft Office documents allow macros that can access system functions. This is a serious security problem. Even Adobe Acrobat has that problem -- maybe worse than Microsoft.
  • Downgradeability -- Microsoft and every other software company I'm aware of focuses on getting you upgraded (at a cost) the the latest and greatest (for them) version. They make no provision and may actively interfere with your efforts to use an older version instead of a new one. Maybe for some reason you need to run an old version of a program -- because it has some feature MS thought was unimportant and wasn't carried to the new version. But it's important to YOU, the Australian government. How do you get a copy of the obsolete program up and running? This isn't a problem with open-source software. You can archive every version. If 30 years from now, you need to run it, you unarchive it, compile it and run it on a virtual machine. (If it's far enough in the future, you will also have to run your virtual machine on a virtual machine and so on until you get up to something that runs directly on current technology.)

Re:Free copies of office (1)

exomondo (1725132) | about a year ago | (#43847845)

The simple answer to avoid that is if you want to use any vendor's proprietary office suite you write your own file exporter or use one of the pre-existing ones that go to ODF or something.

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847879)

Downgradeability -- Microsoft and every other software company I'm aware of focuses on getting you upgraded (at a cost) the the latest and greatest (for them) version. They make no provision and may actively interfere with your efforts to use an older version instead of a new one.

Bull-fucking-shit! I'm no fan of microsoft but dont spread crap like that. They released the compatibility packs for 10-year-old versions of office to be able to work with current ones, that kind of support is one of the few things they actually do well!

Re:Free copies of office (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | about a year ago | (#43847473)

I should also say that this exact question of moving to OpenDocument has come up several times before in Aus gov and got nowhere. The problem is that in the small sample trials they run, the software just fails miserably to deliver on multiple levels. I know this is probably going to upset those of you who are blinded by fanboism, but the fact is that MS office is super super stable and open office hasn't reached that level yet. Hopefully one day it will.

In other words you don't expect the Australian government to use Microsoft Office because it's stable? Remember that the reasoning behind using ODF ist because they want to use it with MS Office and apparently it's better supported by Office than OOXML is. (Well, and as an added bonus everyone but Microsoft seems to have an easier time implementing Office 97's file formats or ODF than OOXML, which seems to favor ODF over OOXML, all other things bein equal.)

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43848815)

Libreoffice has nothing to do with this. Applications don't matter, users can use what they like, the only thing that matters is that the application can use a standard format, in this case ODF.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

Stonefish (210962) | about a year ago | (#43848979)

The Australian Government knows that its being screwed by the likes of Microsoft and upper middle management are allowing this to happen.
Unfortunately the people assigned to fix this don't know shit from sugar and will allow themselves to be bent over a barrel.

You are also confusing two issues, this is about creating a competitive market and nothing to do with "Super stable" Any idiot can tell you that where there is competition in the market the price of desktop products has dropped orders of magnitude, ie antivirus and where there is no competition due to a format lock in products have increased in price ie MS office suite. The shell game of doubling the price and then offering a 35% discount is growing old fast.
A couple of side notes
Word is meant to be a communication tool and in the enterprise it fails dismally, wikis work more effectively as they are multi user.
The Australian Government would be much more productive if they were only allowed to use notepad as people waste most of their time playing with formatting.
I've also worked with researchers who use office as one of the tools of their trade and once expressed similar sentiments to yours and was howled down. Apparently it is unstable, sucks for writing book size projects and also sucks when collaborating with other authors. Word is a toy for playing round with formatting, MS would love for it to replace the browser as a wiki interfaces but that isn't going to come for some time yet and hopefully

OpenDocument sample trials .. (1)

dgharmon (2564621) | about a year ago | (#43849235)

"I should also say that this exact question of moving to OpenDocument has come up several times before in Aus gov and got nowhere. The problem is that in the small sample trials they run, the software just fails miserably to deliver on multiple levels."

Do you have a link to these trials?

Re:Free copies of office (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43850015)

the fact is that MS office is super super stable and open office hasn't reached that level yet

It's much worse than that.

OpenOffice (or LibreOffice) simply cannot be used as a drop-in replacement for MSOffice at the enterprise level.

For example, OO/LO still fails to correctly render even some of the most basic document formatting for docx, such as indentation, margins, paragraph spacing, centering, and so forth. If you're considering OO/LO as a general, drop-in replacement for MSO in the enterprise, it's not even ready for alpha testing.

Try MSOffice and ODF out of the box. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43850133)

Oh, it fails to render even some of the most basic document formatting.

Hell, try the "Standard" version of MSOOXML. Oh, bugger, not even Microsoft support it.

Sorry, citation needed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43850079)

" but the fact is that MS office is super super stable "

Do you know that if a claim is preceded with "the fact is" it almost never is one.

Re:Free copies of office (3, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about a year ago | (#43845529)

Not free copies, a big discount on their network license. When ODF was being "looked at" in several European governments said governments got HUGE discounts on their license renewal. It's a great strategy to save money even if you have no intention of switching.

Re:Free copies of office (2)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#43845815)

I'm not sure why people don't switch. I always hear about things it can't do, or thongs it can't do well, but in my experience, for almost all genera cases, OpenOffice or LibreOffice works fine. My current dev team has been using it (although mainly to read documents) for the last year with no problems. Perhaps the few people that need the 'special' capabilities that Word or Excel has should get a licence for it and the vast majority of others use open software?

Re:Free copies of office (2)

shutdown -p now (807394) | about a year ago | (#43847137)

They are not announcing that they're moving away from MS Office, they are only talking about standardizing on ODF. Office supports ODF these days, you know. It's right there in the summary.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#43845661)

By "Free copies" you must mean a broader discount rate for their Office 365 suite, right? Because if the documents are web-based, and imported/exported as OpenDocument, then the AUS gov't wouldn't have to bother with desktop installs to anything except MS Project.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

deniable (76198) | about a year ago | (#43847031)

Australian governments can't use Office 365. The data centre in Singapore and the Patriot act make it impossible. There are moves to remove some restrictions but I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | about a year ago | (#43847461)

The data centre in Singapore and the Patriot act make it impossible.

While we might be willing to accept the USA as our seventh state, you'd need to adopt our laws, not the other way around.

Good luck with your application to join though.

Re:Free copies of office (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about a year ago | (#43846449)

This announcement, yesterday, did coincide with the visit of Bill Gates to Australia.

Coincidence?

AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (4, Insightful)

number17 (952777) | about a year ago | (#43845367)

The price of software in Australia is ridiculous and they can't justify it.

"Microsoft Office Professional 2013 costs $599 in Australia and $US399.99 ($A383.54) in the US"
http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/evasive-microsoft-adobe-fail-to-justify-prices-20130322-2gjkr.html [smh.com.au]

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (1)

_4rp4n3t (1617415) | about a year ago | (#43846037)

Software isn't the only thing Australians pay through the nose for - digital or physical books, music and movies, electronics and clothing all spring immediately to mind. Unfortunately seems to be a matter of charging what the market will bear.

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846133)

Its because they have to ship it so far. Moving those electrons is a costly business don't you know

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (2)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | about a year ago | (#43846343)

Unfortunately seems to be a matter of charging what the market will bear.

How much can a koala bear?

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846753)

Australiana

By Austen Tayshus

Sittin' at home last Sunday mornin' me mate Boomerrang Said he was havin' a few people around for a barbie, Said he might Kookaburra or two.
I said, "Sounds great, will Wallaby there?"
He said "Yeah and Vegemite come too".
So I said to the wife "Do you wanna Goanna?". She said "I'll go if Dingos".
So I said "Wattle we do about Nulla?"
He said "Nullabors me to tears, leave him at home."
We got to the party about two and walked straight out the kitchen to put some booze in the fridge. And you wouldn't believe it, there's Boomer's wife Warra sittin there tryin to Platypus!
Now, I don't like to speak Illawarra, but I was shocked, I mean how much can a Koala bear.
So I grabbed a beer, flashed me Wangarratta and went out and joined the party.
Pretty soon Ayers Rocks in and things really started jumpin'. This Indian girl, Marsu, turns up, dying to go to the toilet but she couldn't find it. I said to me mate Al, "Hey, where can Marsupial?" He said "She can go outback with the fellas, she's probably seen a cockatoo".
Well just then Warra comes out of the kitchen with a few drinks for everybody. Fairdinkum, you've never seen a Coolabah maid. I grabbed a beer and said, "Thanks Warra - tah".
A couple of Queensland at the party, one smellin' pretty strongly of aftershave. One of 'em sat down next to me and I turned to him and I said, "Ya know mate, Eureka Stockade!"
It was a really hot day; Oscar felt like a swim. He said to Ina, "Do you want a have a dip in the Riverina?" She said "I haven't got my Kosciusko".
Well Bo says, "Come in starkers, Wattle Lake Eyre!" Ina says "What, without so much as a Thredbo?" Ah, Perisher thought! Has Eucumbine in yet?
Well a few of the blokes decided to play some cricket. Boomer says "Why doesn't Wombat?" "Yeah, and let Tenterfield".
He said I should have a bowl but I was too out of it to play cricket so I suggested a game of cards. I said to Lyptus "Wanna game of Eucalyptus?" He said "There's no point mate, Darwins everytime."
Well Bill said he'd like a smoke. Nobody knew where the dope was stashed. I said "I think Merinos." But I was just spinning a bit of a yarn. Barry pulls a joint out of his pocket. Bill says "Great, Barrier Reefer, what is it mate?" "Noosa Heads of course. Me mate Adelaide 'em on me." And it was a great joint too, Blue Mountains away and his Three Sisters.
Well I thought I'd roll one meself, I said "Chuck us the Tally Hobart". He said "They're out on the Laun, Ceston, can you get em for us?" Burnie says "Its okay mate, she's apples, I'll get em for ya"
Just then Alice Springs into action, starts to pack Billabong. And you wouldn't believe it, the bongs broken. I said "Lord Howe!"
"Hay-man" somebody says "Will a Didgeridoo?" I said "Hummmmm mummmm mummmmm mummmmm maybe it'll have ta."
I look in the corner and there's Bass sittin there, not getting into it, not getting out of it, I said "What, is Bass Strait or somthin?" Boomer says "As a matter a fact mate, he's a cop" I said "Ya jokin mate, a cop, I'm getting outta here, lets Goanna." She said "No way, I'm hangin round till Gum leaves. Besides, I dont wanna leave Jacardanda party on his own. Have you seen him? I think he's trying to crack on Toowoomba, he's already tried to Mount Isa And he'll definitely try to lead you Australiana!"

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (1)

DeathElk (883654) | about a year ago | (#43847543)

Sweeet! Haven't heard that for years! Bit of a **whoosh** moment for our overseas friends it seems... Come on! Any Aussies with mod points?

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846205)

To be fair, the government here purchases licenses for a fraction of the retail price (can't remember off the top of my head what it is but I know it's less that a 5th of the retail price)

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#43846585)

Are you maybe comparing 2010 to 2013?

The retail box version of 2010 is US$499; add the 10% Australian GST and the 5% Duty on the license, and that gets you to US$575, not including the shipping cost + 10% GST on the shipping cost, which could, combines get you up that high.

http://web.ita.doc.gov/ITI/itiHome.nsf/9b2cb14bda00318585256cc40068ca69/c321b1b57a1a598985256d010070bf9e?OpenDocument [doc.gov]

I was unable to find a boxed retail version of 2013 list price online; I guess I could look next time I was at an office store or Fry's, and see what price they have crossed out to show me what I'm saving.

Before the general technology agreement, it was incredibly expensive to export software to Australia (I worked for several small software houses which jumped through the necessary hoops). This could be a leftover, but you should expect 15% higher for boxed copies just from your own taxes and duties down there.

What does Amazon charge you for the download version? I think they pretty much don't care where they ship.

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year ago | (#43850075)

add the 10% Australian GST and the 5% Duty on the license

That's the thing people forget most often - it appears in most countries, sales tax is hidden inside the price - North America being a notable exception where sales tax is explicit and added TO the price.

The former is nice (the price on the shelf is what you pay), while the latter does allow some flexibility in taxation (the few states that have no sales tax, for example).

And naturally, everyone who compares prices forgets this fact - when getting North American pricing from EU prices, they forget to subtract VAT and import duties (easily 25%+) before doing the conversion. And going the other way, they forget to build it into the price to begin with.

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (2)

Absolutely.Geek (2913529) | about a year ago | (#43846713)

Bitch bitch bitch....us Kiwis pay even more for software....$NZ859.99 = $AU722.87 = $US696.85....

Crazy bastards have been over charging because it is priced at what the market will accept

http://www.noelleeming.co.nz/shop/computers/computer-software/business-home-software/microsoft-office13pro-office-pro-2013/prod109934.html [noelleeming.co.nz]

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847475)

"The price of MS software is ridiculous and they can't justify it."

FTFY.

They've used their 85% profit margins on Windows and Office to fund the rest of their business for decades. Monopolies aren't cheap to maintain, especially for those being extorted.

Re:AU Software Prices are Ridiculous (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43848321)

539 EUR in Finland. That's about $694 with todays exchange range. UK prices have been traditionally preposterous but now the office suite is a bargain at $585.

Seen it first hand (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845369)

I worked in government for a few years. They heavily rely on documents. The amount of time spent on re-formatting broken documents (particularly between versions of Office) is -staggering-. Microsoft office incompatibility is a major issue and costs the Australian tax payer an absolute fortune.

I do not promise that using ODF will fix the problems, but I constantly heard people (not a person, but people) fighting Microsoft Office, broken templates, formatting, etc. Constantly means "pretty much 8 hours a day, 5 days a week". I cringed every time I would open up a document, because in all likelihood, the formatting was kludged together.

I have been using Office suites for about 20 years, and I can tell you that "paste as text" is not enough to avoid the dreadded Microsoft Word "spiral of death". I use styles, I don't mess with indents and outdents, nor do I change the formatting of individual paragraphs - but I have been caught out more times than I can count - even when following these rules. The most hardcore users I've come across all say that it comes down to experience, and knowing what to avoid ...

I think the Aus government are making a good call - hopefully they've considered their migration plans - and chosen their tools well.

For the record, iTunes and Microsoft Office are two of my most hated applications, with good reason.

Re:Seen it first hand (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845597)

Office is a damn fucking nightmare when it comes to things like consistency and accuracy. Using cut and paste directly between documents isn't just a crapshoot, it's an inevitable disaster.

You'd think the clipboard would be a nice, program agnostic buffer for transposing information between programs. Not with office. Office actually has it's own internal clipboard that runs in parallel with the system one so the rules don't apply. (Thats a very common theme with office. It breaks all sorts of UI conventions, uses numerous undocumented system hooks, etc) When you copy-paste in office you don't know what kind of bizarre binary constructs can be dumped in to your document. What you can know is that they'll cause inconsistent behavior and broken documents that cannot be fixed inside office.. Because copying the data out silently brings the corruption with it.

The only way to achieve any kind of consistency is to work in an outside program, and put off bringing the data in to office at the very last possible moment. It's pretty sad when you have to treat word docs like they're PDFs.

Baring that, using some autohotkey scripts to wash data through a more sane text editor (I like notepad++), works reasonably well. It's an ugly hack, but so is MS Office.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about a year ago | (#43845679)

And Microsoft basically makes little attempt to be compatible across versions. They honestly expect that everyone will upgrade and be using the latest version, so they see no need to accurately support exporting to older versions or to allow full interoperability with other versions. They don't even understand basic concepts like forwards compatibility.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845883)

I'm not even talking about old documents made in older versions of office. You'll run in to zombie document hell using the latest version. And you'll have the same problem in the next version too. Why? Because Microsoft sells you the same office over and over again, just with a newer shell on top of it. At it's core, it's the same legacy engine. Decades of old code still there. Just look at excel. Even running version 2010 on windows 7 is a jarring experience because it's window management behavior has not changed since the bad old days of win 9x, and it's purely for legacy reasons. Don't even get me started on outlook and why the mail control panel exists.

Why? Because if they fix it, it will break everything. You REALLY won't be able to bring your old documents forward.. And that is all Microsoft has to keep it's users locked in. They have no incentive to fix office, because the moment they do their competitors products become superior. The last thing Microsoft wants is Office that works well.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | about a year ago | (#43845825)

The funny part is that OpenOffice/LibreOffice styles work very well and quite consistently.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

Bert64 (520050) | about a year ago | (#43848073)

The problem is that users are used to ms, they have spent years working around the bugs and inconsistencies and have colleagues who do the same...
So if you introduce them to LibreOffice, they will use it as if it was msoffice and thus avoid functionality which they expect to be buggy, rather than spending time getting used to LO on its own merit.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

atom1c (2868995) | about a year ago | (#43845685)

Truth be told, not every desk monkey is sufficiently qualified to NOT break any computer file they touch -- including those who rename files hoping the target application would simply open it (not realizing the file NAME is not the same as the file's actual FORMAT).

Alas, the snippet makes point about spreadsheet formulae which is the bane of any bean counter's computer existence.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43846409)

Restrict formatting to existing styles. That way, styles are enforced by Word and copy/paste never introduces a new style. It is a somewhat hard to find feature, but priceless IMHO. To the point that I don't get why software is not separated into a formatting mode and a content mode.

Re:Seen it first hand (3, Interesting)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#43846821)

The idea of separating format and content is beyond most users of word processing software. That is why the fight is MS Office vs. OpenOffice instead of talking about what Latex interface everyone uses.

Styles have the same sort of issue. I know how to use them, and the style toolbar introduced in Word 2003 was a major improvement to how I interact with a word processor. Sadly, I almost never come across another document where styles have been applied thoughtfully. I wrote my last book with careful style-oriented formatting, and every editor and reviewer it passed through destroyed some portion of that while collecting up feedback. Made me feel like the only person on earth who actually pays attention to rogue style additions.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

loneDreamer (1502073) | about a year ago | (#43846991)

That's what "restrict" is for. It simply does not ALLOW other to mess it up.

I have given my templates to others who had never seen styles and after a 10 second surprise at not being able to hit the "bold" button and 30 seconds of explanation they usually love it. And I'm not talking technical people at all. So it is not about styles being beyond what users can understand, on the contrary, it is a fairly easy concept to grasp IMHO. It is just that interfaces could do a much better job on facilitating more productive and less error-prone techniques.

I agree though, that Latex is beyond most people and I personally hate it. While the idea of context-style separation is good, actually changing styles is excruciatingly complex (that's why everyone mostly just downloads something) and event content requires excessive syntax and a CS mentality. Once styles are defined, WYSIWYG is irreplaceable. Same with additional tools like reviewing, spell and grammar checks, easily adding other media, etc. Learning curve is extrmely high and it fails on the old HCI mantra: "recognition instead of recall" (same reason why consoles have poor usability). Nevertheless, deficiencies in Latex should not mean that the whole idea of content-style separation is flawed or advanced.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about a year ago | (#43848243)

Styles have the same sort of issue. I know how to use them, and the style toolbar introduced in Word 2003 was a major improvement to how I interact with a word processor. Sadly, I almost never come across another document where styles have been applied thoughtfully.

Yes, 1000 times yes!

This is the stupid thing about "oh we already know word", in 99.9% of the cases NO YOU DON'T!

What people generally know is a marginally glorified typewriter.

But then you get the odd lunatic who makes complex parameterised forms in word.

The mind boggles.

Re: Seen it first hand (1)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#43846645)

I don't disagree with you, but I think there is something wrong in the govt culture that puts so much emphasis on pretty formatting of documents. (Documents which often, in reality, are never read!)

Re:Seen it first hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846799)

The first thing Word does when it opens a file is format it for the your default printer. You can't stop it doing that, so as soon as it is sent to someone attached to a different printer model the fomatting is almost bound to go haywire somewhere. Yet people continue to treat Word as a desktop publishing program and spend hours and hours formatting and re-formatting documents - and then dealing with complaints that it doesn't look right when Jim's PA opens it. It's the greatest productivity waste in the Western world.

Re:Seen it first hand (1)

deniable (76198) | about a year ago | (#43847065)

Wait until you have a corrupt printer driver. "Word keeps crashing!" It's easier to PDF the thing and move on.

So? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845387)

Slashdot had this discussion 10 years ago.

Windows 7 x64 and IE10? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845393)

Seriously? All the government departments I've done work at (and it's quite a few) are on Windows XP, IE6 and Firefox (some old version).
It'd be a dream to be working with Windows 7 x64 and IE10

Re:Windows 7 x64 and IE10? (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about a year ago | (#43845459)

Agreed. I don't believe this IE10 statement at all.

Re:Windows 7 x64 and IE10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845789)

Seriously? All the government departments I've done work at (and it's quite a few) are on Windows XP, IE6 and Firefox (some old version).

Agreed - I work for an Aussie semi-government org, and we were only "upgraded" to IE8, a year or so ago. As far as government is concerned, they've never even heard of IE10. Naturally, I run FF Portable instead.

Re:Windows 7 x64 and IE10? (1)

walkerreuben (2837841) | about a year ago | (#43846621)

As someone who runs a business and has to deal with government websites, most of them don't even work in IE10 unless you specifically enable compatibility mode.

In other news .... (1)

whoever57 (658626) | about a year ago | (#43845451)

The Australian Government has just appointed a new Chief Technical Officer, while Microsoft announced a new discount program for Australian government computers.

Key word: Proposes (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | about a year ago | (#43845481)

All this tells me is that Australian politicians are fund raising, nothing more.

Win7/IE10? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845625)

Try WinXP/IE8...

Hahaha Windows 7 and ie10 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845633)

I work in the Australian federal government and Windows 7 x64 and IE10 as the standard platform is funny.

The truth is we use systems running XP and IE6 that are always connected to the internet and they have access to almost all Australian records of health, finances and more. I found it funny when they trained us in security yet never once mentioned the fact they were running IE6 and each computer had open web access.

bah humbug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845675)

they should all go back to ascii format, notepad is free, vi is free.

Re:bah humbug (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846091)

I sincerely hope you mean UTF-8,

It should be 'ODT', not 'ODF' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43845799)

ODT is 'open document text'
ODF is 'open document formula'

Re:It should be 'ODT', not 'ODF' (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846101)

ODF is actually the Open Document Format for Office Applications [wikipedia.org] . Not all initialisms are file extensions.

Re:It should be 'ODT', not 'ODF' (1)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about a year ago | (#43846261)

I'm pretty sure you goofed. Don't worry, nobody listens to AC.

Good news (2)

readingaccount (2909349) | about a year ago | (#43846069)

I work for the Australian Government (researcher). If this proposal is accepted (big IF), it'll mean I can choose to use either LibreOffice or Office 2013. For the first time, I'll be able to work on Linux and Windows machines and exchange documents without worry about format incompatibilities or screwing up existing documents. Heck, I might willingly decide to use LibreOffice instead of Office 2013 because I despise the cursor animations, general animations and hence lag Office 2013 introduces which LO doesn't bother with. Could never do that before since compatibility has always been paramount.

Of course, even if it's implemented it'll take forever for existing documents to disappear (or at least enough of them to go out of service) before something like LibreOffice is feasible in corporate use.

Re:Good news (3)

greg1104 (461138) | about a year ago | (#43846853)

Switching to OpenDocument won't make format incompatibilities go away; it will probably make them worse. The page rendering in OpenOffice is not the same as Microsoft Office, and both suites can change formatting between versions. Formatting on Linux and Windows isn't quite the same either, because of subtle font changes as a start. If you want formatting that is relatively stable, you can't use an Office-style tool at all. They are just not well suited for the job.

Even if you did have a tool that never screwed things up, I am confident you'll still find users who break documents by having no idea how formatting works. I've lost track of how many documents I've had to fix because the user did indenting with a hard carriage return and hitting space a few times. And then there's people who format tables by putting spaces between each column .

Re:Good news (1)

readingaccount (2909349) | about a year ago | (#43847261)

If you want formatting that is relatively stable, you can't use an Office-style tool at all. They are just not well suited for the job.

So what do people use then? LaTeX? Good luck. Even with editors like LyX it's still a pain in the ass and only geeks would be inclined to give it a go when it's counter-intuitive to what most people are used to (what? I can't create multiple blank lines by hitting enter several times? Word can!)

Funny that for something that's supposedly not stable with formatting, my wife's Scout group can interchange files with her, me and the group members' separate versions of Word (and possibly different versions of Office/Windows) without fucking things up. The only issue is when you decide to use exotic fonts not likely to appear on other machines. But if you're using Office's Calibre default font, which looks nice enough, or any of the other typical fonts like Arial and Times (or anything with Windows really), you're golden. Mac users are fine as well because Office there installs the same matching fonts.

It's imperfect, but it's the most accessible option available so far.

Re:Good news (1)

temcat (873475) | about a year ago | (#43848373)

LibreOffice may not have animations, but its context-sensitive toolbars (like for images or tables) that make your text jump when they appear and disappear are annoying as hell. More than any animations.

Re:Good news (1)

readingaccount (2909349) | about a year ago | (#43848497)

Yeah. I've found the only real solution for those context-sensitive toolbars is to affix them on a permanently visible toolbar, such as one of the top two. You can also enable showing of the drawing toolbar at the bottom and put them there. Less distrations and no moving around of the page.

Ha (1)

asamad (658115) | about a year ago | (#43846303)

The people who make the desiscions about this don't are what the people who use it actually think.
Don't think they are talking of swapping out of MS office, just dictating the format. step in the right direction

make the first step to freedom... break the MS chains....

Aussie government is pretty much a Microsoft shop" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846411)

Made my day :D

worldwilde governments ODF commitments? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#43846459)

We have several governments around the world that more or less decided to standardize on ODF. Is there somewhere on the web an overview of decisions and advancements of this kind of projects?

New moving target for chinese govt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846649)

Moving away from Microsoft Office means moving away from Microsoft Windows in general. Which means one can use an operating system that is not a Microsoft operating system?

If so then does this mean the chinese will have slightly harder task of putting malware on visiting foreigner's laptops via hotel wifi networks? Could this be the start of the Australian govt taking notice about how vulnerable they have been for so long and are taking steps to minimise their risk?

What A Minute ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43846789)

"The Australian government chief technical officer wants some views on proposals for the official standard operating environment".

Does this idiot know that just yesterday "Australian Intelligence HQ Blueprints Hacked".

If anything is needed to happen it is the corralling of the Aussie Government's Bureaucrats, i.e. the Unelected Government.

LOL.

Open Document in Australia and pigs flying. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43847649)

Here in Oz, we regard ourselves as a nation of sun-tanned, egalitarian blokes. Actually, when it comes to the U.S., we're a nation of arse-lickers and cutting the umbilical cord with Microsoft, or Apple, will never happen. We'll pay whatever the master race demands for imported software, because we're not smart enough to use free, Open Source stuff and bend it to our needs. I've used Linux for 17 years and had to change Banks twice, for example, because of WindowsExplorer-only web-sites.

Thank god... (1)

PuZZleDucK (2478702) | about a year ago | (#43847933)

... It's not Austria, as i was expecting.

WriteNow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43848459)

You know it makes sense! Bring back WriteNow!

Canada show follow (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#43848897)

I think the Microsoft Office DOC format and DOCX format needs to be phased out entirely. I can't tell you how many times someone sends me a DOC or a DOCX and when I open it in any other program such as Abiword, LibreOffice or OpenOffice, the document is entirely screwed.

Why hasn't Google standardized on OpenDocument (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43849093)

Google Docs' ODF/ODS import didn't work very well when I last used it, forcing me to save to DOC just to import into Google Docs. My mind was sufficiently boggled.

DHS just got into MS bigtime (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43849181)

Aussie DHS just signed a contract with microsoft which gives them unlimited licence for microsoft server sql server and associated software including the whole range of office and other microsoft products

does not matter that the dhs has ibm novell and a bunch of other software and platforms. microsoft is the 'dominant stack' now with ie8 lync outlook windows7 and office 2010 soon the other products and software will fall by the wayside because there is money to be saved when you have a full enterprise licence versus some individual software licences

lotus notes was taken out recently except for some old databases. SAP is being put in to replace cobol and java for business processing

there is only one catch and that is what happens in five or ten years time when the microsoft contract runs out and the dhs has to pay for each and every single server licence seat licence and office licence. do the maths on that for thousands of servers running windows server sql server and thousands of office licences

Tasmanian Devil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43851653)

Like in the old Bugs Bunny cartoons? Well, that's the spittin' image of M$ spooling up to FUD this proposal into extinction.

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