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Microsoft Office Faces British Invasion

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the in-the-loosest-sense-of-the-word dept.

Businesses 298

jdkane writes "CNet reports that a small British software maker, Ability, plans to challenge one of Microsoft's most profitable markets by selling its low-cost package of productivity applications in North America. Ability Office faces competition from Corel's Word Perfect, Sun Microsystems' StarOffice package and OpenOffice, it's free, open-source sibling. None of these products have captured a significant share of the market from Microsoft's Office. Does anybody have any hands-on experience with the Ability Office suite, or are there any general speculations as to why this move will make a difference in the office software market (if not just for the bottom line of the software company)?"

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298 comments

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Ability Office? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371133)

Never heard of it before. I guess that answers your question.

Re:Ability Office? (1)

t0ny (590331) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371157)

are there any general speculations as to why this move will make a difference in the office software market (if not just for the bottom line of the software company)?

Ability to their investors: Oh ya, guys, we are going toe to toe with 'The Man', and, uh, we are gonna beat them! Ya, thats right, because we are better than they are! Um, we estimate that at least 100% of Americans will be using our software in about six months! Ya!

Do ya think they bought it?

Meh! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371134)

"its free" not "it's free". Zero points for you. Oh, and fp.

Re:Meh! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371267)

it is free?

Fucking troll idiot.

Re:Meh! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371272)

"it's free" was correct. And you didn't get fp. -2 points for the dumbass.

Re:Meh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371286)

Actually, the grandparent was correct. The sentence was speaking of OpenOffice in a relative manner to Star Office, its non-free, commercial counterpart.

Grammar nazi turns out to be a grammar dumbass. Well, it's/its Slashdot!

Re:Meh! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371288)

Hahaha! You are wrong! How does it feel to be such a dumbass? Trying to correct someone's grammar and FAILING! I invite you to have a look at the article, see where the words "it's free" appear, and satisfy yourself that you were in fact WRONG. Suck it down, bitch. Haha!

RTFSA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371303)

Read the summary again. He is correct - it's the possessive form of "it" that is called for, i.e., "its".

-4 points for you, dumberass.

I GOT A GREASED UP YODA DOLL SHOVED UP MY ASS! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371139)

GO LINUX!

ability (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371141)

Do I have the ability to get a first post?

Aawe, too bad. (5, Funny)

Gerad (86818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371145)

Man, what a misleading headline. For a moment, I had this amusing mental image of fully armed British special forces storming Microsoft headquarters.

Curse you, slashdot!

Re:Aawe, too bad. (5, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371200)

Well, depending on how the EU antitrust case shakes out ...

Re:Aawe, too bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371222)

Man, what a misleading headline. For a moment, I had this amusing mental image of fully armed British special forces storming Microsoft headquarters.

I had almost the same vision except it was the Beatles storming.

Re:Aawe, too bad. (1)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371245)

SSHHHH!!...Don't give the plan away...

elFarto

Re:Aawe, too bad. (2, Funny)

sharkey (16670) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371256)

Tomorrow's headline: "Gates and Ballmer pelted by crumpets and used teabags"

Re:Aawe, too bad. (1)

TomV (138637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371269)

Nah, it's mop-topped popular beat combos, surely?

DRM (2, Insightful)

Zeppelingb (609128) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371148)

A new alternative would be great, but what is going to happen when MS office starts including buit in DRM on its .doc files? Hopefully some of this new software will start to bring people away from proprietary systems like this.

Re:DRM (1)

neiffer (698776) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371316)

I'm disturbed at the DRM developments with Office 2003, but...

I wonder if the ultimate end of this will be the development of a good third party file format that Microsoft will have to form to. Perhaps XLM? Perhaps Super-RTM?

Re:DRM (1)

wo1verin3 (473094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371406)

Office 2003 already offers an XML compatible format to save as, although it may be crippled [slashdot.org] .

Re:DRM (1)

staaktdenarbeid (620908) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371321)

Uh ? I'm confused .. so DRM would allow Microsoft to restrict the document types that go with their tools ? Like there would be a restriction on the brand of fuel you can put into a car ?
Actually I would expect that a DRM scheme allows me, as a user, to control who is doing what to my documents.

I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (3, Interesting)

VistaBoy (570995) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371149)

OpenOffice rocks. The new 1.1.0 is even better, since now you can make PDF files. Anyone paying $500 for Office XP needs to visit Openoffice.org.

I wonder what disrespects Microsoft more: pirating their shitty office suite, or hating it so much that you refuse to even pirate it.

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371160)

what about folks paying $50 for Microsoft Office suites?

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371165)

heh. When I discovered OpenOffice, I uninstalled my pirated office copy, and urged everyone I'd loaned it to to do the same; now I plan totell my old school about it since I think they still use 97 from lack of money :) aah.... isn't life great!

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371230)

Directing such a strong emotion like hate to something as insignificant as software seems a waste.

Hate injustice. Hate inhumanity. Hate an office suite? Hate an OS? Sounds pretty foolish.

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (1)

nyctopterus (717502) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371274)

If that sounds foolish, just what are you doing on /., may I ask?

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371372)

Expect a knock on your door from the thought police. Don't you know that in today's climate of political correctness that you aren't allowed to hate?

OO is still missing a good database. (2, Informative)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371238)

Regardless of what people think about it, MSaccess is still a staple of databases for business for the 'average guy'.

A business does not run on spreadsheets alone..

Re:OO is still missing a good database. (2, Insightful)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371255)

I don't understand why they don't just embed SQLite in OpenOffice. SQLite is public domain, so there aren't any problems from licenses, and it runs great. It's got a few minor problems, but they are only minor problems. And, OpenOffice already has the hooks for a database, you just need to set up a server, which is stupid.

Beyond SQL Backend. (3, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371343)

Ok, so i should have defined my statement more, its not the database backend that is the problem. ( i know about its hooks for external database servers )

Where are the forms, reports, etc in OO that a common user can get too and use as easily as they can with MSAcess? Remember they have ZERO training... they are not IT people..

Until then, its not a replacement for MSOffice ( plus we aren't even discussing the missing component of *integrated* groupware. )

Don't get me wrong i would prefer to give people an open alternative. but OO is not ready to **replace** MSO...

Nor is KOffice..

But they ARE getting closer..

Re:OO is still missing a good database. (0, Flamebait)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371271)

any moron who would use Access for some sort of DB application is a moron.

Re:OO is still missing a good database. (1)

TomV (138637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371281)

Oh come on, any moron who used anything for any purpose would would be a moron. Your point being?

So what is the Open Office equivalent for easy secretary-grade querying of multiple data sources? Access the database format (.mdb files accessed using the Jet database engine) is pretty moribund. Access the database client is still tough to beat.

Re:OO is still missing a good database. (1)

Casshan-Robot Hunter (705420) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371292)

lol, what do you think the newer (97 and above) versions of access are? they use Excel (a spreadsheet) as their 'engine' so to speak.

So you kinda are living on spreadsheets alone.

Re:OO is still missing a good database. (1)

TomV (138637) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371404)

they use Excel (a spreadsheet) as their 'engine' so to speak.

Well, I suppose they do to the extent that SQL Server 7, SQL Server 2000 and Excel are the same thing, yes.

In most other respects, they do not. For the old-fashioned 'file-serving' aspect of Access theystill use Jet as the engine, and in all other cases they use ADO to connect to SQL Server either in full-on server guise or local MSDE form.

They can use ODBC to connect to an Excel spreadsheet (as a data source, using Jet as the engine) and can then join columns in the spreadsheet to columns in table on the database server(anything ODBC compliant - SQL7, Oracle 8i, MySQL, whatever), which is very useful. But Excel as the engine? Try harder, please.

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (1)

the_2nd_coming (444906) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371252)

well, until there is a native Coaca version that is layed out like an apple appication, Office on Mac will be standard.

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371378)

A couple of l's were left out in the above sentence. It should read "until there is a native Cloaca version that is layed out like an apple application."

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (1)

GOPWillC (720979) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371268)

I just love OpenOffice!:) I use it everyday, though I question the usefulness of the PDF feature.

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (1)

wwwillem (253720) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371388)

I use it everyday, though I question the usefulness of the PDF feature.

Don't know your environment, but as a consultant using Linux and StarOffice, sometimes I come across customers that use Windows and MS-Office :-). In which case you can either save your doc as an "MS dot-doc", but better is to send customers a pdf file. It prevents lots of "font not found", "disappearing images" and related problems.

Re:I'm a die-hard OpenOffice user (4, Insightful)

bwalling (195998) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371313)

OpenOffice rocks. The new 1.1.0 is even better, since now you can make PDF files. Anyone paying $500 for Office XP needs to visit Openoffice.org.

I use OpenOffice at home. I won't use it (or recommend it) at work. MS Office exposes components that are used in many of our applications. Click a button in these apps, and your data is in an Excel spreadsheet open on your screen, or your customer list has just been pushed into Word, ready for your mail merge. Sure, I know how to do all of these things without the whiz-bang one click, but most of the users don't. Even if they did, why should I reduce their productivity by making them configure an export, run it, then import the text file into StarCalc?

One of the benefits that Microsoft gets by being the market leader is that software is written for it. StarOffice/OpenOffice has a large hurdle to overcome there.

Great (5, Informative)

flibble-san (700028) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371150)

I first used Ability office a good few years ago and I found it to be very fast and use less resources than the likes of MS Office. However I feel Ability has very strong competition from the likes of OpenOffice.org, which in my personal opinion is much better and "polished" although Ability's interface is a lot better for those brought up on MS Office.

Re:Great (2)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371212)

Ability? Wow, talk about a blast from the past, they've certainly been off my radar for a while, having last used their software ages ago. Anyway, Ability is in no way a competitor for MS Office, I think there is a little CNet inflation going on here. Ability Office was an integrated office application like ClarisWorks or Microsoft Works, not an application suite like Microsoft Office or OpenOffice. Against the former, it might make an impact, the latter is a more difficult proposition IMHO. Where Ability really used to shift boxes was with the low-end PC software bundle market, and I don't see this time around being too much different.

Re:Great (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371297)

Why do you automatically assume that an integrated suite is better than a load of separate applications? I used to use Claris in the 1.0 days (on Windows 3.1, where it was 5MB, and Word 2.0 was 10MB), and I loved the way I could insert a spreadsheet in a wordprocessor doc (and have the toolbars and menus become those of the spreadsheet app when I selected it). I recently had a nightmare experience trying to insert a Gnumeric sheet into an Abiword document (both parts of the Gnome Office suite, but separate applications). I don't use Office style applications much (I use TeXShop for text processing), but on the occasions I do, I would much prefer to use a tightly integrated package.

As an asside, I recently bought a copy of AppleWorks 6, which is the successor to ClarisWorks, and I was surprised at how little it's changed (although not entirely disappointed, since I still maintain it to be the best Office suite I've used. Although the lack of Aqua widgets in some places is slightly jarring)

Re:Great (1)

Zocalo (252965) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371393)

Why do you automatically assume that an integrated suite is better than a load of separate applications?

I don't, it's an apples to oranges thing, and for some an apple is better than an orange while for others it's the other way around, and I actually prefer seperate applications. Thanks to the Slashdot effect, I've not been able to ascertain whether Ability is still a monolithic application or not (it used to be a single binary called "ability.exe"). That approach would be non-starter for a feature bloated program like MS Office, but as you point out it does offer the possibility of much tighter embedding of objects, something Ability did indeed excel at, if you will excuse the pun.

Re:Great (1)

Davak (526912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371319)

The download versions from our web site last for 10 days following installation. Re-install will not allow an additional 10 days. Sorry. If you download and install Ability Write in January and then download and install Ability Spreadsheet in May, then Spreadsheet will not run since Ability shares the trial period across all Ability applications.

10 days? 10 days?
Who just allows 10 freaking days for evaulation these days?

However... according to their FAQ, the software can import/export Microsoft documents upto XP. Looks like 2003 is not supported yet.

FAQ (google) 110k [216.239.39.104]

Anyway, good luck. I think we all agree that it does not matter if it's OpenOffice or this software package, any competition against the giant is good competition.

Re: Great (5, Informative)

g0_p (613849) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371342)

Just downloaded it from their site.
+ Seems lighter and faster.
+ Look-and-feel is very much like Office which might huge win points with non techy people who dont want to learn a new UI.
+ It also has an export to PDF functionality.
+ Its just 14MB as compared to OO1.1 63 MB.
- Almost no standard templates. Maybe you can download them separately.
- The Spreadsheet does not seem as functional since the charting utilities seems a little too plain.
- .doc files import functionality is as bad or worse than OpenOfice. I had doc file that would be displayed totally warped on OpenOffice1.1 and this one does the same. (Its got 2-3 nested tables and stuff, I think that is what screws it up.)
+/- A lot of buttons that are usually visible in Word are not visible on this one. You could say it avoids button clutter. But that could either be because some of the functionality is not there, but the essential editing buttons are all there..

Overall I think junta might take towards it because it has a look-and-feel that is not very different from M$Office. Though functionality wise , and polish wise OO1.1 is WAY better. (I love the new uncluttered OO1.1 UI.)

Let's just hope that.... (1, Funny)

elid (672471) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371159)

...they're not into the web server business (slashdotted already!)

Re:Let's just hope that.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371305)

They arent. That was the stupidest fucking attempt at humor I have ever seen.

I might try it.. (4, Funny)

Mondoz (672060) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371161)

If only it would integrate itself into my OS, my handheld, my car, my toothbrush, my toaster, and my TV Dinners.

I'm not sure I could cope with an Office suite that didn't...

Re:I might try it.. (1)

Vengie (533896) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371296)

.....the first time i read that, i thought you wrote "my sister".....and then realized that MS office actually is that invasive....

yeah...right... (3, Funny)

jusdisgi (617863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371163)

In other news, fear is struck into the heart of Hillshire Farms, as a small British consortium has announced plans to import "bangers" to the United States.

Re:yeah...right... (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371215)

From the country that dreamed up C.M.O.T. Dibbler [bigpond.net.au] , purveyor of alleged sausages and meat pies?

Re:yeah...right... (1)

stewwy (687854) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371266)

Well we used to call them sausages, but now due to the EU rules we have to be more honest and call them 'HIGH FAT OFFAL Tubes' .... at least we have proper bacon here tho' :-)

Re:yeah...right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371347)

You wankers don't know shit about bacon.

Re:yeah...right... (1)

Tony Hoyle (11698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371405)

It was 'Emulsified High Fat Offal Tubes' - although quoting Yes, Minister is a bit obscure for Slashdot :) I don't think it ever made it across the pond (they'd have never understood it anyway).

Slashdotted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371164)

Ability.com slashdotted already? Can't be, though it's taking ages to load. Ping is around 380ms.

Doubtful (4, Insightful)

moehoward (668736) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371167)

People want to use at home what they use at work. MS Office is the "standard" for corporate America. When people change jobs, employers and the employee do not want to have to learn something new. A "standar" like MS Office offers certain benefits like this that are difficult to overcome, even given cost concerns.

Then, you have the educational dimension as well. Schools don't want to have classes for both. These days, community colleges are filled with people seeking Office certification (MOS/MOUS certification). Some companies and employees value these certifications. Schools play to that market and won't offer 2 totally different word processing courses. Too expensive. They cater to the market.

These factors are complex and difficult to overcome. Don't just scream "Stupid CEO! Office is too expensive!" before you understand all of the factors.

Re:Doubtful (2, Interesting)

simetra (155655) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371216)

I agree that MS Office is the standard, and it is where I work. However, one would hope that end users wouldn't need to take a class to learn the other. Unfortunately, my experience is that end users do not think about what they're actually doing, but memorize steps needed to accomplish their goals. Most of them anyway. There is the small, say less than 10 percent of end users who do actually think, and are able to figure stuff out on their own.

Anyhoo... I've tried Ability Office, and it seems pretty slick, and it does have the PHB "It's got to be better than that free crap if we have to pay for it" factor. Unfortunately, the infrastructure set up whereby all pcs for organizations are pre-installed with MS operating system and productivity suite would be hard to sway. Also consider that the office suite isn't the main reason why people use pcs in many environments, like mine. As such, it's just easier to go with whatever's fed to us without having to think about it very hard.

But, having dabbled with AO, yes, it does seem pretty nice.

Re:Doubtful (1)

mutewinter (688449) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371227)

Thats right, things won't change until companies take a look at the bottom line and say, "hey, were spending x thousands of dollars on Office, we will probably have to continue paying for upgrades just as we have for the last 5 years, and at the same time we could be using comparable software for nothing." It will happen, just give it time. At bare minimum its going to seriously squeeze Microsoft. On the other hand, those of us who aren't paying for microsofts two money makers are getting deals on just about everything else they make and sell unprofitably (unless of course you work(ed) at a company who tried competing.)

Re:Doubtful (2, Interesting)

Synesthesiatic (679680) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371244)

When people change jobs, employers and the employee do not want to have to learn something new.

Learn something new? Okay, OOo isn't EXACTLY like Word, but why would anyone need significant retraining? As long as you know what you want to do, you've got online help. On a basic level, word processors haven't evolved much since the Word for Windows 2 days.

Schools don't want to have classes for both. These days, community colleges are filled with people seeking Office certification (MOS/MOUS certification). Some companies and employees value these certifications. Schools play to that market and won't offer 2 totally different word processing courses.

Okay maybe I'm elitist here, but classes for MSOffice in 2003? Everyone under 25 grew up on Office, and everyone over 25 who needs to know it should've learned it by now (on the job). This might make more sense for Excel, but not for Word.

Re:Doubtful (1)

PPGMD (679725) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371341)

Actually the classes I went too (required pre-req) mostly covered Excel, Access and Powerpoint skills that even the under 25 crowd don't understand.

Personally I go with Office for it's intergration, Solomon, Project, Outlook, Office, Pocket PC, and CRM all work together, something Open Office or any other Office suite doesn't have right now.

Re:Doubtful (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371302)

I see this kind of bullcrap al the time on slashdot... and it is bullcrap!

As a long-time user of Office I have been thru 4.2, 97, 2000 and XP as well as a hundred "minor" updates that scrambled the user interface horribly. Items are moved from one menu to another, defaults on the shortcut bars are shuffled, changed and moved without regard to any learned experience with previous Office versions. Things that worked one way in one version of Office work entirely differently in the next version. Macros crafted for 4.2 needed to be rewritten entirely for '97 and then required major changes again for 2000. Don't even get me started with the endless work retooling existing document formatting to work with the latest version of Office!

I now use Open Office. The work required to get used to OO was about as much as the work required to get used to the newest version of Office.

This is a null argument and needs to be modded Funny rather than Insigfhtful!

Re:Doubtful (1)

brrrrrrt (628665) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371327)

Arguably people don't need courses to learn working with a wordprocessor. Though it may be beneficial for some companies to promote that idea as part of a fud-campaign.

Us nerds of course never need courses to learn working with an application.

But even for ordinary mortals, changing to a different word processor only requires changing a couple of habits, not learning new skills..

Mirror of Ability's site (-1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371169)

Mirror here [bayou.com]

Re:Mirror of Ability's site (1)

kplex (120698) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371306)

Prick !!

Re: goatse link (0)

foobar31337 (702156) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371329)

parent is a goatse link, dont click

MOD PARENT DOWN - its a nasty nasty picture!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371371)

Mod the parent down please! Someone?!

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371171)

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+TUESDAY MORNING+
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+WEDNESDAY EVENING+
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+SATURDAY MORNING+
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+SUNDAY MORNING+
Cmdr Taco: Today is the Lord's day.
+SUNDAY AFTERNOON+
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Re:HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371294)

That could quite possibly be the worst troll ever. Honestly. It's not even funny. Please sit down.

Slashdotted already (0)

m_evanchik (398143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371172)

The website for Ability is slashdotted already. If a company can't keep a server from getting bogged down, this always makes me wonder if they are ready for the big time.

Doubt it'll make much difference (5, Insightful)

jratcliffe (208809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371180)

If StarOffice, with Sun's clout behind it, can't make a dent in the MS Office monopoly, what makes anyone think a tiny house like Ability will be able to. So long as MS keeps its licensing fees just below the threshhold where it becomes worth it for an enterprise to switch (and retrain a huge number of people, and deal with the % of files where the formatting won't transfer cleanly, etc.), the biggest competitor for Office 2003 is Office 2000.

Ehhh ... (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371182)

It only runs on Windows. And its interface, which the manufacturers coyly call "industry-standard", is a Microsoft Office clone.

I wish them luck, but I have to wonder when people are going to realize that the way to challenge Microsoft is not to try to be Microsoft. Any product (yes, this includes a lot of Linux software) that slavishly imitates Microsoft is going to be written off, with some justification, as an inferior knock-off. IMO the M$ Office interface is a lousy one; how 'bout trying to write something better, guys, and see how that does? And while you're at it, make Linux and OS X versions -- in fact, try starting in those markets first. Yes, the pool of potential customers may be smaller, but there's no 900-lb. gorilla to compete with. I can almost guarantee that a fast, cheap, reliable, feature-rich office suite with a good non-M$ interface on those platforms would rapidly build up a dedicated customer base, and provide the company with a solid US revenue stream and name recognition while they get ready to tackle the Windows monolith.

Re:Ehhh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371229)

"the M$ Office interface is a lousy one; how 'bout trying to write something better, guys"

The fact is that MS has used thousands of hours of focus groups and user testing at a cost of $$millions to develop the current UI. There is no way an OSS project could do that type of development without massive resources.

Re:Ehhh ... (2, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371270)

The fact is that MS has used thousands of hours of focus groups and user testing at a cost of $$millions to develop the current UI. There is no way an OSS project could do that type of development without massive resources.
This is one of the stock answers to criticisms of Microsoft, and to a lesser degree of other big software vendors: "They spent all that time and money on R&D, so they must be better!" And yet somehow, miraculously, they aren't. Microsoft spends shitloads of money on R&D in all areas of software engineering, not just UI -- but their products are still insecure, buggy, crash-prone, and a hell of a lot harder to use effectively than they should be. The obvious conclusion (and I don't claim this as an original observation, at all) is that software quality does not scale linearly with the effort expended. Throwing more money at the problem has proven, time and time again, to produce software that is no better than -- and indeed, is often worse than -- that written by a small group of dedicated developers who know what the hell they're doing.

Re:Ehhh ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371284)

This is the same group of people that put the 'OK' button on the left hand of the dialog box and 'Cancel' on the right. Most linux apps look like the UI was designed in Visual Basic in under an hour.

Re:Ehhh ... (1)

aldoman (670791) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371265)

Yes, Microsoft Office v.X must of been a dream for me...

Re:Ehhh ... (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371298)

Um, you might have heard that Microsoft is really pissed off at Apple because Office X isn't selling nearly as well as they'd expected? It's my sense that the Mac community as a whole is getting really tired of using a lousy product made by a company that wants to destroy Apple just because it's the "standard." If a new standard comes along, they'll switch in droves.

This almost happened before, BTW. Back when Novell owned WordPerfect, they came out with a Mac version that was quite possibly the best word processor I've ever used on any platform. And it sold like hotcakes. Then when Corel took it over, they kept it going for a while but stubbornly refused to upgrade it in any meaningful way. And most of those Mac users who had been thrilled to have a M$ Word alternative looked at the handwriting on the wall, sighed, and said, "Oh, well." If Corel had kept pushing WP/Mac instead of trying to lead in the Mac market with their graphics products (which are okay, but don't compare to Adobe's; at the very least they should have tried to build up brand loyalty and name recognition among Mac users with WP and associated products first) IMO Corel would be a healthier company, and OS X would have the world's best office suite, today.

Actually the latest MS Office kicks ass (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371184)

MS Office 2003 is very nice. I needed to make a flowchart the other day, so I used Visio 2003 (Visio was good before MS bought it; now it's even better). Then, when I was done, I wanted to show it to my boss, so I saved my drawing 'as a web page'.

I expected a .jpg file or something, wrapped in an HTML file. What I got was this uber control on the left side that lets you zoom in and out, pan, etc. It appeared to be 100% script when I looked at the source.

Anyway, it was an extremely and surprisingly rich experience that I hadn't expected.

Re:Actually the latest MS Office kicks ass (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371189)

Did the paperclip give you a free blowjob too?

Re:Actually the latest MS Office kicks ass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371282)

oowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.... Your comment violated the "postercomment" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition. Comment aborted.

Someone has to say it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371194)

The British are coming! The British are coming!

Noticed.. (2, Informative)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371195)

The first thing I noticed is just how much it looks like Microsoft Office. With that degree of visual compatibility, you could probably drop it in place with MS Office and users not even notice the difference....

Looks like we actually have a competitor now guys..

georgewellian fuddites deepending on corepirate (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371201)

nazi payper liesense softwar gangster stock markup fraud ?pr? ?firm? hypenosys bullshipping industrIE execrable, to help US 'understand' yOUR 'problems' around the wwworld?

they should try the pateNTdead eyecon0meter kode, as it gives accurate results, & wwworks on several (more than 3) dimensions, as well as being an unbreakable component of the creators' wildly popular newclear power, & planet population rescue initiatives.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator.... the lights are coming up now.

And more and more (1)

jmerelo (216716) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371204)

KOffice, Gnome Desktop...
If the rest haven't made so far a dent in Office's imperium, I don't think anything will.

Don't Forget Lotus. (1)

m_evanchik (398143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371206)

The article fails to mention Lotus Smartsuite [lotus.com] , which, miraculously, is still around.

Re:Don't Forget Lotus. (1)

Maserati (8679) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371223)

Wow, OS/2 versions still available and being patched.

How about Linux and OS X versions IBM ? I'd love to see an AmiPro running in Aqua, always did like that - especially compared to WinWord.

Re:Don't Forget Lotus. (1)

admbws (600017) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371399)

Yes, come to think of it, I wonder if IBM, our favourite corporate open source advocate, would be prepared to open source it so it can be updated and ported. I really can't see Lotus shipping an awful lot of copies anymore to be honest, their biggest product now is probably Domino.

In the meantime, Smartsuite 5 works just fine in WINE.

Re:Don't Forget Lotus. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371336)

Lotus is like the herpes of the software world. When you go to check them out, they disappear. Then, when you least expect it and after you went with a Microsoft solution, they flare up on you.

I tried it a while ago (3, Informative)

keesh (202812) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371207)

I tried a free trial of it a while ago (came on the front of a magazine). It was usable, but not as good as OpenOffice. Unfortunately, after installing it, I was unable to print anything from any application, and opening Control Panel would cause a system crash. It seems that the program was installing dodgy system controls. Hopefully that's fixed now... I'm MS-free now, though, so I guess I'll never know...

Necessary Abiword plug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371213)

Still better and much much faster than OpenOffice Writer.

It's not about cost, but controll (3, Insightful)

argoff (142580) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371224)

Open Office is attractive, not because of the cost, but because it does not lock people into closed vendors and closed technologies. IMHO the whole goal is provide an escape to the abuses of copyright and EULA's. Offer people a way out, and they will come. They did with Linux.

IMHO we are looking at these packages in the wrong way. Instead of looking at them as a competitive alternative to Microsoft, we should be looking to them as a transitional tool to get people over to free (not as in beer) standards and software.

Re:It's not about cost, but controll (3, Funny)

Jameth (664111) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371291)

Oh, yeah, because Linux is just all over the desktop. I mean, damn, that 3% marketshare is frickin' enormous. Just, wow. We sure got attention real quick over the last five years that we had a usable desktop.

Maybe, sometime down the road, we'll hit 5%. Then, with Apple's help, we might knock Microsoft's monopoly down to 90%.

Yeah, that's a bright lookin' future!

Must deal with Outlook (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371243)

Until someone breaks the Exchange Server lock on Outlook clients, and until some office suite offers something way better than Outlook -- which is entirely possible, there's no going to be much buy in to another office suite.

Re:Must deal with Outlook (1)

GuardianBob420 (309353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371349)

I competely agree - a Windows port of Ximian Evolution [ximian.com] would go a long, long way towards solving this problem... I need to go do some research as to why this hasn't happened (or maybe why it can't?) but regardless, for Linux, it's a great mail client/PIM that's a breeze to pick up for an Outlook user.

Market Fragmentation (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371259)

The reason that MS Office is popular is that it is the de facto standard. People need to be able to open MS Office documents (mainly Word files, I suspect). How much of the market does MS need to lose before people stop expecting everyone else to be able to open .doc files, and start sending PDFs, or similar? 10%? 50%? Does it make a difference whether they lose the market share to one or to many different competitors?

My belief is that fragmentation in the office suite market must lead to a greater reliance on open file formats, which can only be a good thing.

Does it come with format painter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371273)

This feature is what keeps me from switching from Word.

Reviewed by PCW UK (3, Informative)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371277)

You can read a (very favourable) review of Ability Office here [pcw.co.uk] . In their monthly "best buys" guide, they actually rated it above Microsoft Office 2002.

BSD-licenced .doc import/export library (1)

hey (83763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371287)

Is there a BSD-licensed .doc import/export library?
If there was all office produces could use it
and it would be a commodity thing. That would be a nice move.

Wv : OpenSource Word File Library (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7371362)

http://wvware.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

This an open source library for Reading and writing .doc formats. It is used both by Abiword [abisource.com] and Kword [koffice.org] . Try it today, and in the unlikely event one of your documents dosen't import, You can report it so the library can improve [abisource.com] .

The biggest task in breaking the Office monopoly is the file formats, so help break it.

Lacks Presentation (1)

Duckman5 (665208) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371386)

I was just looking at the product information on their website, and the product seems to be exactly like a clone of MS Office.

The big difference seems to be the trading of presentation software like Powerpoint for some photo editing software which they claim is like Photoshop. What gives? I thought that Powerpoint was one of the more used programs in MS Office. I know i've been forced to use it in more than a few instances. I would have thought they would come up with at least something to replace it.

Another company making an Office clone (4, Informative)

GRH (16141) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371392)

A German company called Softmaker [softmaker.de] is also working on an Office compatible suite. They have the word-processor done at this point (TextMaker). The benefit for a lot of us is that there are Windows/Linux/FreeBSD(!) versions.

I had never heard of them either, but I gave the free trial a spin, and it's a heck of a lot faster than OO. The Word import capability isn't quite as good as OO, but it's more than acceptable for most docs (and being improved).

I'm not connected to the company in any way, but I am a customer of the Linux version.

GRH

They should first... (1)

ninejaguar (517729) | more than 10 years ago | (#7371408)

...complete taking over their hometurf in England before trying to invade another market.

= 9J =

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