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Star/OpenOffice XML Format To Become ISO Standard?

Hemos posted more than 10 years ago | from the good-news-if-true dept.

GNU is Not Unix 509

Emil Brink writes "According to this entry in XML spec co-author Tim Bray's excellent blog, the European Commission has formally asked Sun to make the XML file format used in OpenOffice.org into a true ISO standard. Hopefully this will cut down on vendor lock-in and lure people from using Microsoft Office. "

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Why would this lure them away? (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361718)

Why would it lure people from Microsoft? People don't just use Office because they are forced into it. They use it because the alternatives suck. Yeah, Abiword is smaller and faster and takes up a little bit less RAM but it doesn't work as well as Word. Yeah, StarOffice/OO are open-source and free but they don't have the features that Word does.

People use MSFT because they are already locked in. Word does what they want it to do (and sometimes a lot more than they want it to). Just because Sun gets to set the standard in XML doesn't mean that Office users are going to give two shits... As long as their Word documents continue to open and they can continue to email DOC attachments to their email instead of just typing in the body of the email they are happy.

What will lure people away from Office is something that is somehow BETTER than Office. It will be free, it will be marketed, and it will be seven levels above Office in functionality. Honestly, as great as the OSS alternatives seem they just aren't Office/Word. You have to create a superior product and then market it. That's where OSS falls behind.

Everyone thinks that Firefox is so great. People weren't switching because they didn't know about it. Once IE vulnerabilities started showing up left and right they were alerted to the fact by mass media marketing. Sure, some people saw it and moved and even more didn't because they don't get their news from anything but the scrolling ticker below Survivor and The Apprentice...

Re:Why would this lure them away? (5, Insightful)

Alranor (472986) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361773)

Yeah, StarOffice/OO are open-source and free but they don't have the features that Word does.

Which features?

And how many people actually use those features?

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Insightful)

Xoro (201854) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361837)

Which features?

And how many people actually use those features?

Outline mode! That floating navigator is lame.

And the problem with the "how many people use those features" argument is that while almost nobody uses all of them, many people use one or two of them. I make do with OOo, but if I did a lot more word processing, I'd probably spring for word and that crossover thing to run it.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Informative)

magefile (776388) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361928)

I spend the majority of my "working time" on the computer word processing, and I actually prefer OO.o. Particularly because of it's UI (for example, double-space is two clicks, not six). And I can create my own outline, thank you very much. Better that way, too, since it gets you to think about what you've written rather than just pressing a button.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Interesting)

mgkimsal2 (200677) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361865)

And how many people actually use those features?

Enough use individual features that it makes it impossible (or difficult) for those users to switch away. Each niche feature may only appeal to a small % of users, but taken collectively, there are a much larger number of those users who depend on those features too much to move away.

Additionally, it's not even about features for many people - it's about compatibility. Many of my family members use MSOffice at their offices and won't switch because the cost of converting and testing their Excel macros is too much to justify the conversion. And that's being generous assuming that 100% of what needs to be achieved in Excel via macros *could* be accomplished via StarBasic or whatever it's called in ooo.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361786)

Yeah, Abiword is smaller and faster and takes up a little bit less RAM but it doesn't work as well as Word.

Abiword doesn't even work as well as Word Pad, let alone Word. I'm sorry. I really wanted to like Abiword (and OO.o).

Re:Why would this lure them away? (5, Insightful)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361790)

I know it's early monday morning but...

People don't just use Office because they are forced into it.

And then...

People use MSFT because they are already locked in.

Preview button, people!

As a web developer, I would prefer the XML document format to Word's format particularly because I can use different XSLT to display the data, meaning our clients would have greater control over their web sites without having to contact us for a lot of the changes. Just FTP the document to a specific directory and PHP can parse it out into a live page in a few minutes.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361842)

People using MSFT and people using Office are two different things.

You may be locked in to using MSFT via licensing but you aren't always locked in to using Office.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361857)

Just FTP the document to a specific directory and PHP can parse it out into a live page in a few minutes.

It takes a few minutes for PHP to parse XML documents?

Preview button...

Re:Why would this lure them away? (-1, Flamebait)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361904)

It must have had embedded XML images in them.

<color red=121><color green=80><color blue=25><pixel></pixel><color red=121><color green=80><color blue=25><pixel></pixel><color red=121><color green=80><color blue=25><pixel></pixel><color red=121><color green=80><color blue=25><pixel></pixel>....

Re:Why would this lure them away? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361950)

yuo teh win!!!

He was pretty obviously referring to the time the entire process takes - which includes the transfer. So your attempt to return his burn on the original post fails, as there is no language problem or conceptual problem that would confound even a moderately bright 5 year old.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Insightful)

mks113 (208282) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361818)

I don't believe in your arguement. If there is an alternative standard, people could switch to say, abiword, knowing that they can easily move their documents to OpenOffice.org if it doesn't do all they want. It is also an iterative process. The software will become better developed once it is picks up a larger user base.

An established standard will force microsoft to at least read it, though perhaps not write to it. I think that it would open a world of choice.

It would be more like Linux distros. You can have a bunch of them, all competing, but they are standard enough to be interchangeable without a complete change in business practice.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (5, Interesting)

beh (4759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361820)

Well, it depends on what happens afterwards. Government bodies usually request all electronic documents given to them to be in a standard format. If there actually WOULD be an ISO norm format for office documents, you can bet that government agencies (and large companies that exchange documents with them) will want to use such a format.
This could possibly even force MS hand into complying with this format (or at least offer REALLY good import/export filters for these formats).

Re:Why would this lure them away? (5, Insightful)

gihan_ripper (785510) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361825)

The main thing that stops me using OpenOffice is its poor interoperability with MS Office. Perhaps the European Union can twist Microsoft's arm to release details of MS Office file formats? This, above all else, would help to boost the number of OpenOffice users.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (2, Informative)

magefile (776388) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361954)

RTFA. They recommended that MS make their formats open by submitting them to standards bodies; stop using non-XML formats (only some stuff is currently XML); and (I think) read OO.o files. So they didn't twist MS's arm, but they did encourage the release of those formats.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (3, Insightful)

hwestiii (11787) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361826)

Agreed. Anyone who thinks standards compliance is going materially affect anyone's market share should share what they're smoking.

I would go your analysis one step further and say that people use Word, not because it does what people want it to do, but because so many other people use it. It is living proof of MSFT's continued reliance on being the "de facto standard" as opposed to an actual established standard.

Market share is its own reward and its own enforcer. Any competitor to any of MSFT's established application doesn't only need to be better, it needs to be LOTS and LOTS better because any incremental improvement can always be justified away by the difficulties introduced by lower interoperability.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361892)

But if the EU Commission decided that it will require all its office documents from 2007 onwards to be in the ISO standard format, then you can bet that Microsoft would come up with good support for the standard format, and that would be a real step towards levelling the playing field in office software.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (3, Insightful)

nhnfreespirit (809462) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361835)

I use OpenOffice on a daily basis. In short, it does all the things I need it to. If there are features in Microsoft Office that OpenOffice Does not support, I obviously don't need them. But maybe thats just me... I dont agree that shiny new features are whats needed to make people switch to another office suite. I would guess that most people use less than 20% of the features already available in Word (Or OO.o or whatever). Its really a hen and egg situation, people will use what everybody else is using, so while most people are still using Microsoft Office, people have no real reason to use anything else. I guess it still boils down to marketing money, there are simply not enough fancy commercials for OpenOffice, hence very few people other than the /. crowd and other techies know about it. Just my .02 kr. (Local currency in Denmark)

Re:Why would this lure them away? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361838)

I agree with you. But maybe, just maybe, if the OOo format was a standard Microsft would include support for it? To me that would be a huge step in the right direction.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Insightful)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361840)

Why would it lure people from Microsoft? People don't just use Office because they are forced into it.
This, of course isn't true in case of people who must use Office because it's a part of their corporate desktop standard.

People who actually create the standards like having buzzwords like "ISO standard" and "XML" somehow connected to what they pick - it looks good in reports.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (4, Interesting)

bigberk (547360) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361845)

What will lure people away from Office is something that is somehow BETTER than Office.
I use OO for everything because I think it is better than MS Office. Most importantly, it runs on several platforms - whether I'm on a Windows desktop, Linux desktop, or Sun UNIX station I can edit and print the same documents. Second (touching on the article's issue) I know that the data stored in OpenOffice's files will have superior longevity to any proprietary solution.

I don't worry too much about proprietary software and closed source, but where data longevity is concerned I do care. Have you ever taken a look at those SXW word processor files? They're just ZIP archives containing several XML files, one for style, one for content, etc. Extracting the data from OO's data files is easy to do.

Re:Why would this lure them away? (1)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361856)

I disagree. When document formats are standardized and people know conversions work, then "just good enough" will rule and price/performance will dominate buying decisions. Anybody who spends a lot of money for a non-standard office suite is going to be considered crazy.

Broken Linky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361720)

The read-more link isn't working...

Re:Broken Linky (0, Flamebait)

Orgazmus (761208) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361814)

Welcome to slashdot, the land of broken(dead?) links :)

Hmm ... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361721)

fr1st post to become ISO standard, mayhaps?

fp (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361722)

fp!

I hope you ment "forth post" (0, Offtopic)

Iloveyouguam (816758) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361746)

I bet you ate glue as a child right?

Re:I hope you ment "forth post" (-1, Offtopic)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361777)

Hahaha, uh, why?

The best thing about standards... (3, Funny)

provolt (54870) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361723)

The best thing about standards, is that there are so many to choose from!

Re:The best thing about standards... (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361849)

Indeed, standards are so cool, everybody should have his own!

Re:The best thing about standards... (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361933)

Everybody should have at least two if possible. You can't get by nowadays with just one.

Funny!? (1)

shis-ka-bob (595298) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361951)

This may have been funny about 5 years ago. Come on, why must we see this comment on any Slashdot article with the word 'standard' appearing in the text. Perhaps I should write a Slashbot to automates the process.

Patent Threat? (2, Interesting)

jobsagoodun (669748) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361726)

Can the ISO standardize an MS-Patented way of saving documents??!!

Re:Patent Threat? (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361763)

Can the ISO standardize an MS-Patented way of saving documents??!!

Are you saying MS has patents on the way OpenOffice uses XML?

How???

Re:Patent Threat? (2, Insightful)

LousyPhreak (550591) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361772)

ms patented?

the article is talking abou OO.o's [openoffice.org] xml format not the ms-proprietary one

Re:Patent Threat? (2, Informative)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361798)

There is no patent threat here. Sun is immune.
http://www.theinquirer.net/?article=17627

Re:Patent Threat? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361833)

Clickable link :) [theinquirer.net]

No patent threat (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361848)

MS pantented the way of saving documents with all pictures etc in *one* XML file. In fact, OOo documents are ZIP files, containing different XML files and the pictures in for example PNG format.

Furthermore, the patent would not remain valid in court as at least AbiWord has prior art.

I wonder.. (4, Insightful)

Eriky (724600) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361736)

I wonder if microsoft will support that format too. It would be childish not to, but I wouldn't be suprised if they would totally ignore it and continue using there own format in M$ Word

Re:I wonder.. (1)

nwmakel (816545) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361749)

I thought MS office 2003 already incorporate this XM L stuff?

Re:I wonder.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361806)

They use XML, but I dont think it's the same format.

Re:I wonder.. (1)

Eriky (724600) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361817)

Yes but is that the same format or structure as the OpenOffice XML format mentioned?

The interesting part is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361919)

Lots of companies are already compelled to conform to other ISO standards, such as ISO-9660, in order to get contracts etc. If this becomes an additional requirement for those organisations, it would have huge implications.

Standards and standards (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361742)

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see this become a standard, but we still have a long road until we can get rid of 'de facto standards' (read: MS Office). I advocate OO.org every time I can, but it's harder when people are used to get MS's software for free from their friends. Anybody care to comment on what can be done to 'sell' OO.org to these people?

Turbo Smorgreff [www.des.no]

Re:Standards and standards (1)

Spad (470073) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361888)

Two words: No Clippy

Re:Standards and standards (4, Informative)

cbiltcliffe (186293) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361903)

I advocate OO.org every time I can, but it's harder when people are used to get MS's software for free from their friends. Anybody care to comment on what can be done to 'sell' OO.org to these people?
Call the BSA on their ass? Once they get a few million dollar fine for using "free" proprietary software, they'll probably not be such a fan of it anymore... (Only partly joking...)

Re:Standards and standards (2, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361946)

I advocate OO.org every time I can, but it's harder when people are used to get MS's software for free from their friends. Anybody care to comment on what can be done to 'sell' OO.org to these people?

Not a lot. There are four good reasons for using OO.org:

1. Cross platform support -- this is pointless for the people you're talking about.
2. Zero up-front cost -- not a benefit to anyone who's willing to pirate MS's software
3. Access to source code, ability to make your own improvements -- not a benefit to anyone who isn't a programmer and would never consider hiring one
4. File format that is easy to write external tools to manipulate -- only useful if you have an unusual requirement that MS Office doesn't solve itself

I can't think of any other convincing reason to use OpenOffice.

to really lure people away from Office (3, Interesting)

Exter-C (310390) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361744)

To really lure people away from office Staroffice/OpenOffice really needs to have a better office document standard support. I have been having issues with trying to open excell spreadsheets that are password protected. I then have to ask the person to mail me them with the password removed. Thats the penalty for using FreeBSD/Linux and OpenSource office packages. However Im in love with them after using it and cant go back to windows and office.

Its the small bugs that make a big difference to the end user. Especially when opposite products own such a large market share.

Re:to really lure people away from Office (4, Informative)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361822)

It is just that the Microsoft format ist not really a standard. Face it the MSO formats are all undocumented, the Star division did several manyears of reverse engineering of the formats to achieve the results which exist now. And there is no alternative office product currently in existence than the ones from Microsoft which are able to handle the undocumented Microsoft formats better. OOO sometimes handles these formats even better than various office versions in between, which are prone to crash if the document has an error or some weird ole stream within the document cannot be found. The whole file format situation of MSO is a huge mess which Microsoft tries to get away from as well. (hence the move to a documenten but with patents plastered xml baseds office format) Btw. yes I know there exists an official specification to the old office formats, but face it they are nothing more than a nice fairytale contentwise.

Re:to really lure people away from Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361839)

Ask that person to use open file formats. If possible, don't accept documents in proprietary formats.

I for one am tired of people expecting me to have Excell and Office installed on my FreeBSD desktop.

Turbo Smorgreff [www.des.no]

but *-office can read MS files so... (1)

museumpeace (735109) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361745)

...won't M$ will have grounds to complain that a backdoor way of making their proprietary [Word, Exel...] stuff into open source stuff has been created?

Re:but *-office can read MS files so... (1)

kaiwai (765866) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361957)

If they did, they would have no grounds to make such a complaint. What you're claiming is that since Wine implements the win32 api, it is there for bound by the Windows license, which is patently false.

The only *risk* they have is how their programmers implement the standard; ensuyring that the "clean room" implementation is actually "clean room" not influenced by the LGPL implementation.

Then again, nothing stopping Microsoft from using the LGPL version is it would mearly be a library being used by Microsoft Office, which would still allow Microsoft to keep their product proprietary.

Don't hold your breath (3, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361752)

"Hopefully this will cut down on vendor lock-in and lure people from using Microsoft Office."

I doubt that a lot of people will abandon what has been hammered into them for years in favor of an open standard. There's not a lot of perceived value in switching.... yet!

Re:Don't hold your breath (1)

nuclear305 (674185) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361943)

Agreed. I seem to remember some random college class I was in. Towards the start of the semester we were given some lame assignment to type up something. If I recall we were attempting to reproduce the format of an existing document...or something equally stupid.

I remember sitting there while a student handed in his paper. The prof stood there, looked at it, and said "What did you use to make this?" The student replies, "OpenOffice."

The only difference in the documents were fonts, and some spacing--neither of which were a big deal, the document was still in its proper format...it just looked a bit different from the same document produced in Word.

Needless to say, the prick stood there and said... "My assignment was to use Word, not OpenOffice. You do not receive full credit."

Israel did it! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361755)


THERE was ruin and terror in Manhattan, but, over the Hudson River in New Jersey, a handful of men were dancing. As the World Trade Centre burned and crumpled, the five men celebrated and filmed the worst atrocity ever committed on American soil as it played out before their eyes.

Who do you think they were? Palestinians? Saudis? Iraqis, even? Al-Qaeda, surely? Wrong on all counts. They were Israelis - and at least two of them were Israeli intelligence agents, working for Mossad, the equivalent of MI6 or the CIA.

Their discovery and arrest that morning is a matter of indisputable fact. To those who have investigated just what the Israelis were up to that day, the case raises one dreadful possibility: that Israeli intelligence had been shadowing the al-Qaeda hijackers as they moved from the Middle East through Europe and into America where they trained as pilots and prepared to suicide-bomb the symbolic heart of the United States. And the motive? To bind America in blood and mutual suffering to the Israeli cause.

After the attacks on New York and Washington, the former Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was asked what the terrorist strikes would mean for US-Israeli relations. He said: "It's very good." Then he corrected himself, adding: "Well, it's not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy [for Israel from Americans]."

If Israel's closest ally felt the collective pain of mass civilian deaths at the hands of terrorists, then Israel would have an unbreakable bond with the world's only hyperpower and an effective free hand in dealing with the Palestinian terrorists who had been murdering its innocent civilians as the second intifada dragged on throughout 2001.

It's not surprising that the New Jersey housewife who first spotted the five Israelis and their white van wants to preserve her anonymity. She's insisted that she only be identified as Maria. A neighbour in her apartment building had called her just after the first strike on the Twin Towers. Maria grabbed a pair of binoculars and, like millions across the world, she watched the horror of the day unfold.

As she gazed at the burning towers, she noticed a group of men kneeling on the roof of a white van in her parking lot. Here's her recollection: "They seemed to be taking a movie. They were like happy, you know ... they didn't look shocked to me. I thought it was strange."

Maria jotted down the van's registration and called the police. The FBI was alerted and soon there was a statewide all points bulletin put out for the apprehension of the van and its occupants. The cops traced the number, establishing that it belonged to a company called Urban Moving.

Police Chief John Schmidig said: "We got an alert to be on the lookout for a white Chevrolet van with New Jersey registration and writing on the side. Three individuals were seen celebrating in Liberty State Park after the impact. They said three people were jumping up and down."

By 4pm on the afternoon of September 11, the van was spotted near New Jersey's Giants stadium. A squad car pulled it over and inside were five men in their 20s. They were hustled out of the car with guns levelled at their heads and handcuffed.

In the car was $4700 in cash, a couple of foreign passports and a pair of box cutters - the concealed Stanley Knife-type blades used by the 19 hijackers who'd flown jetliners into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon just hours before. There were also fresh pictures of the men standing with the smouldering wreckage of the Twin Towers in the background. One image showed a hand flicking a lighter in front of the devastated buildings, like a fan at a pop concert. The driver of the van then told the arresting officers: "We are Israeli. We are not your problem. Your problems are our problems. The Palestinians are the problem."

His name was Sivan Kurzberg. The other four passengers were Kurzberg's brother Paul, Yaron Shmuel, Oded Ellner and Omer Marmari. The men were dragged off to prison and transferred out of the custody of the FBI's Criminal Division and into the hands of their Foreign Counterintelligence Section - the bureau's anti-espionage squad.

A warrant was issued for a search of the Urban Moving premises in Weehawken in New Jersey. Boxes of papers and computers were removed. The FBI questioned the firm's Israeli owner, Dominik Otto Suter, but when agents returned to re-interview him a few days later, he was gone. An employee of Urban Moving said his co-workers had laughed about the Manhattan attacks the day they happened. "I was in tears," the man said. "These guys were joking and that bothered me. These guys were like, 'Now America knows what we go through.'"

Vince Cannistraro, former chief of operations for counter-terrorism with the CIA, says the red flag went up among investigators when it was discovered that some of the Israelis' names were found in a search of the national intelligence database. Cannistraro says many in the US intelligence community believed that some of the Israelis were working for Mossad and there was speculation over whether Urban Moving had been "set up or exploited for the purpose of launching an intelligence operation against radical Islamists".

This makes it clear that there was no suggestion whatsoever from within American intelligence that the Israelis were colluding with the 9/11 hijackers - simply that the possibility remains that they knew the attacks were going to happen, but effectively did nothing to help stop them.

After the owner vanished, the offices of Urban Moving looked as if they'd been closed down in a big hurry. Mobile phones were littered about, the office phones were still connected and the property of at least a dozen clients were stacked up in the warehouse. The owner had cleared out his family home in New Jersey and returned to Israel.

Two weeks after their arrest, the Israelis were still in detention, held on immigration charges. Then a judge ruled that they should be deported. But the CIA scuppered the deal and the five remained in custody for another two months. Some went into solitary confinement, all underwent two polygraph tests and at least one underwent up to seven lie detector sessions before they were eventually deported at the end of November 2001. Paul Kurzberg refused to take a lie detector test for 10 weeks, but then failed it. His lawyer said he was reluctant to take the test as he had once worked for Israeli intelligence in another country.

Nevertheless, their lawyer, Ram Horvitz, dismissed the allegations as "stupid and ridiculous". Yet US government sources still maintained that the Israelis were collecting information on the fundraising activities of groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Mark Regev, of the Israeli embassy in Washington, would have none of that and he said the allegations were "simply false". The men themselves claimed they'd read about the World Trade Centre attacks on the internet, couldn't see it from their office and went to the parking lot for a better view. Their lawyers and the embassy say their ghoulish and sinister celebrations as the Twin Towers blazed and thousands died were due to youthful foolishness.

The respected New York Jewish newspaper, The Forward, reported in March 2002, however, that it had received a briefing on the case of the five Israelis from a US official who was regularly updated by law enforcement agencies. This is what he told The Forward: "The assessment was that Urban Moving Systems was a front for the Mossad and operatives employed by it." He added that "the conclusion of the FBI was that they were spying on local Arabs", but the men were released because they "did not know anything about 9/11".

Back in Israel, several of the men discussed what happened on an Israeli talk show. One of them made this remarkable comment: "The fact of the matter is we are coming from a country that experiences terror daily. Our purpose was to document the event." But how can you document an event unless you know it is going to happen?

We are now deep in conspiracy theory territory. But there is more than a little circumstantial evidence to show that Mossad - whose motto is "By way of deception, thou shalt do war" - was spying on Arab extremists in the USA and may have known that September 11 was in the offing, yet decided to withhold vital information from their American counterparts which could have prevented the terror attacks.

Following September 11, 2001, more than 60 Israelis were taken into custody under the Patriot Act and immigration laws. One highly placed investigator told Carl Cameron of Fox News that there were "tie-ins" between the Israelis and September 11; the hint was clearly that they'd gathered intelligence on the planned attacks but kept it to themselves.

The Fox News source refused to give details, saying: "Evidence linking these Israelis to 9/11 is classified. I cannot tell you about evidence that has been gathered. It's classified information." Fox News is not noted for its condemnation of Israel; it's a ruggedly patriotic news channel owned by Rupert Murdoch and was President Bush's main cheerleader in the war on terror and the invasion of Iraq.

Another group of around 140 Israelis were detained prior to September 11, 2001, in the USA as part of a widespread investigation into a suspected espionage ring run by Israel inside the USA. Government documents refer to the spy ring as an "organised intelligence-gathering operation" designed to "penetrate government facilities". Most of those arrested had served in the Israeli armed forces - but military service is compulsory in Israel. Nevertheless, a number had an intelligence background.

The first glimmerings of an Israeli spying exercise in the USA came to light in spring 2001, when the FBI sent a warning to other federal agencies alerting them to be wary of visitors calling themselves "Israeli art students" and attempting to bypass security at federal buildings in order to sell paintings. A Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) report suggested the Israeli calls "may well be an organised intelligence-gathering activity". Law enforcement documents say that the Israelis "targeted and penetrated military bases" as well as the DEA, FBI and dozens of government facilities, including secret offices and the unlisted private homes of law enforcement and intelligence personnel.

A number of Israelis questioned by the authorities said they were students from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, but Pnina Calpen, a spokeswoman for the Israeli school, did not recognise the names of any Israelis mentioned as studying there in the past 10 years. A federal report into the so-called art students said many had served in intelligence and electronic signal intercept units during their military service.

According to a 61-page report, drafted after an investigation by the DEA and the US immigration service, the Israelis were organised into cells of four to six people. The significance of what the Israelis were doing didn't emerge until after September 11, 2001, when a report by a French intelligence agency noted "according to the FBI, Arab terrorists and suspected terror cells lived in Phoenix, Arizona, as well as in Miami and Hollywood, Florida, from December 2000 to April 2001 in direct proximity to the Israeli spy cells".

The report contended that Mossad agents were spying on Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehi, two of leaders of the 9/11 hijack teams. The pair had settled in Hollywood, Florida, along with three other hijackers, after leaving Hamburg - where another Mossad team was operating close by.

Hollywood in Florida is a town of just 25,000 souls. The French intelligence report says the leader of the Mossad cell in Florida rented apartments "right near the apartment of Atta and al-Shehi". More than a third of the Israeli "art students" claimed residence in Florida. Two other Israelis connected to the art ring showed up in Fort Lauderdale. At one time, eight of the hijackers lived just north of the town.

Put together, the facts do appear to indicate that Israel knew that 9/11, or at least a large-scale terror attack, was about to take place on American soil, but did nothing to warn the USA. But that's not quite true. In August 2001, the Israelis handed over a list of terrorist suspects - on it were the names of four of the September 11 hijackers. Significantly, however, the warning said the terrorists were planning an attack "outside the United States".

The Israeli embassy in Washington has dismissed claims about the spying ring as "simply untrue". The same denials have been issued repeatedly by the five Israelis seen high-fiving each other as the World Trade Centre burned in front of them.

Their lawyer, Ram Horwitz, insisted his clients were not intelligence officers. Irit Stoffer, the Israeli foreign minister, said the allegations were "completely untrue". She said the men were arrested because of "visa violations", adding: "The FBI investigated those cases because of 9/11."

Jim Margolin, an FBI spokesman in New York, implied that the public would never know the truth, saying: "If we found evidence of unauthorised intelligence operations that would be classified material." Yet, Israel has long been known, according to US administration sources, for "conducting the most aggressive espionage operations against the US of any US ally". Seventeen years ago, Jonathan Pollard, a civilian working for the American Navy, was jailed for life for passing secrets to Israel. At first, Israel claimed Pollard was part of a rogue operation, but the government later took responsibility for his work.

It has always been a long-accepted agreement among allies - such as Britain and America or America and Israel - that neither country will jail a "friendly spy" nor shame the allied country for espionage. Chip Berlet, a senior analyst at Boston's Political Research Associates and an expert in intelligence, says: "It's a backdoor agreement between allies that says that if one of your spies gets caught and didn't do too much harm, he goes home. It goes on all the time. The official reason is always visa violation."

What we are left with, then, is fact sullied by innuendo. Certainly, it seems, Israel was spying within the borders of the United States and it is equally certain that the targets were Islamic extremists probably linked to September 11. But did Israel know in advance that the Twin Towers would be hit and the world plunged into a war without end; a war which would give Israel the power to strike its enemies almost without limit? That's a conspiracy theory too far, perhaps. But the unpleasant feeling that, in this age of spin and secrets, we do not know the full and unadulterated truth won't go away. Maybe we can guess, but it's for the history books to discover and decide.

Cutting down on vendor lock-in (3, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361756)

This kind of move cuts down on vendor lock-in if and only if the dominant vendor (in this case m$) chooses to conform to the standard rather than do their own thing. So don't hold your breath.

Re:Cutting down on vendor lock-in (4, Insightful)

civilizedINTENSITY (45686) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361886)

Well actually its as important what the dominant consumer does as the dominant vendor. If goverenments around the world want the standard, then they will use a standard compliant system. If that occurs, what MS does matters less. No leader can lead without followers.

It won't lure anyone from Office (2, Interesting)

tgd (2822) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361767)

Why? Businesses don't care about interoperability. They care about integration around business practices, workflow, rights management and collaboration.

OpenOffice has a long ways to go before it offers the sort of functionality that real businesses need, not mom-n-pop or real small businesses that don't actually manage their best practices.

I know I'm going to get modded into the toilet for saying it, but this is from years of experience in enterprise applications. OpenOffice might get there some day, but not until the people working on it and with applications around it are people who actually have made a living building advanced Fortune-50 caliber integrated information systems.

Re:It won't lure anyone from Office (5, Interesting)

julesh (229690) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361850)

Businesses don't care about interoperability.

Huh? I hear interoperability concerns cited as the number one reason that businesses still use Windows & MS Office. It has become standard practice in recent years for business documents (e.g. proposals, invoices, etc.) to be passed around as MS Word documents. People are nervous to move away from MS Word because they are concerned that they might not be able to open these documents in another system. They get worried about MS's FUD about OpenOffice not being able to open some huge percentage of MS documents.

Sure, your Fortune 50 companies may need some features that OO doesn't provide, but the number of office suite users in those companies is a small minority compared to those in SMEs.

An interesting point about OO's file format is that it is very conducive to being manipulated by external programs. And if it becomes ISO standardised, then that would provide some level of assurance that the format will be supported long term. This kind of thing can be important when it comes to building an information management system around the files.

Office allure (1)

guet (525509) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361902)

Is Word a true replacement for a CMS ? Shouldn't 'real businesses' be buying a CMS solution which will keep their information in a format that is easy to access, easy to search, and easy to move between different processes - ie presentation/email/database/html? One that includes true version control, rights management, and open storage.

Word binary files are most definitely not a part of an 'integrated' solution - you can't even read the documents with any other tool but Word!

Re:It won't lure anyone from Office (4, Interesting)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361905)

Your argument supports itself, but little else.

I will lure lots of people from Office, potentially. It's at least a step in the wrong direction toward bigger things.

Realistically, no big enterprise rollouts of Office are going to drop it in favor of OO.org just because of this, but those small mom'n'pop and small businesses out there that you conveniently ignore don't need Office. They mostly don't need even the bulk of OO.org's features really. They run Office because of lock-in and hopefully won't have to forever.

Those large businesses by the way probably love ISO standards. What if ISO standards dictate that any ISO 9001 certified company must maintain all its data in open formats - it's a stretch just now, but I see a lot of huge companies who love to put banners on their buildings bragging of being ISO 9001 certified.

This may have an influence enough that MS adds the ISO standard formats to Office, then OO.org really has no barriers to the majority of the Office market that doesn't need anything from Office but the file filters.
-N

Tell me... (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361915)

...which are you able to integrate better, a standard well-documented XML format, or an undocumented, proprietary DOC format? I'm not saying that it is there yet, but I don't the potential is any less, quite the opposite. I see so many possibilities with generating OO compatible documents on-the-fly. Imagine using databases, spreadsheet data and whatnot to create reports, offers, contracts, pie charts and whatnot. It has the potential to surpass anything I've seen.

Kjella

Re:It won't lure anyone from Office (1)

Too Much Noise (755847) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361929)

You seem to be making the common mistake here. It's not about Sun/OpenOffice per se, but about their document format. Which means, if it gets standardized upon by EU, then someone (presumably MS) will come up with a MS Office plugin to allow it to work with it - after all, how hard is it to make an XSLT sheet set?

The tool will be whatever integrates best with the organisation's workflow, but the format that tool will be using is the matter here.

mac (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361781)

now all we need is a native Mac OS X Quartz version

Bad decision. (1, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361782)

One of the problems open/star office has is that it takes forever to save or open a document due to its gzipped xml format. I know people here are willing to embrace anything that is an alternative to a microsoft product, but i really think that we could come up with something much better than this. Lets not lock ourselves into a stupid format.

Re:Bad decision. (2, Insightful)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361968)

I use pretty old machines and never noticed. I'm sure I'm not alone. My machines were maybe top of the line around the turn of the millennium and documents are saved and opened really quick, compared to things I used to do in Windows/Office.
-N

This isn't a magic bullet, but its a good idea (-1)

SalsaDoom (14830) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361783)

Ok, so yeah, this won't be instantly winning the desktop war for us, but I mean, it is a step. If its an ISO standard then at least we have a nice proper ISO standard document format that we (all? mostly?) agree is a good solid format.

When someone says "Standard document format" we can say, "Oh, you mean, OO.o format?" even if its just to throw the name out into the userspace. In addition, it might push Microsoft into putting OO.o's format into office by the time their next release rolls by. That'd be nice, since, well, we wouldn't need MS Office document compatiblity then, really.

--SD

lure people from using Microsoft Office.? (2, Funny)

Prince Vegeta SSJ4 (718736) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361787)

lure people from using Microsoft Office.

Then what will I do to get my morning Clippy Fix.

Re:lure people from using Microsoft Office.? (1)

ClippyHater (638515) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361939)

Then what will I do to get my morning Clippy Fix.

Use XP and do a file search (you know, open explorer, right-click and choose search). You'll be greeted by a cute lil' puppy that makes search oh-so-efficient you'll wonder how you searched without it!

Remember those Clippy-is-dead articles? They failed to mention that he lives on IN THE OS! Clippy didn't die, he was promoted, for God's sake!

Yeah, right. (5, Insightful)

goofyheadedpunk (807517) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361788)

Hopefully this will cut down on vendor lock-in and lure people from using Microsoft Office.

Right, because all those office workers are going to think "Oh God, we're using non-standard XML?!"

Call me a pessimist, but having a non Microsoft standard isn't going to matter much, what with Microsoft being able to make its own standard.

Besides, how many times have you heard office workers say "Oh God, IE doesn't support CSS properly or render transparent PNGs?!"

It does indeed make a difference (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361870)

First of all an extended version of the format is bound to become a defacto standard in non Microsoft offices anyway. IBM, Corel and others already have formed a group. The open source offices are moving towards it already. And last but not least at least it used to be, that many governments if they have public business deals, often have, if there is an iso implementation of something we are going that way clause in their contracts.

Microsoft Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361792)

Hopefully this will cut down on vendor lock-in and lure people from using Microsoft Office.

Or better yet, maybe it will encourage Microsoft to make these document formats available for use in Microsoft Office!

Ha, I crack myself up sometimes.

I doubt they'd even consider an import-only option in MS Office. Their general policy with such things these days (i.e. with a monopoly) seems to be "pretend it doesn't exist".

Thin end of the wedge (2, Insightful)

wren337 (182018) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361794)

It doesn't have to "lure people away from Microsoft Office". All we need to break the Office monopoly is a setting in Office to change the default save-as file type. Ever wonder why there isn't one?

Sure you can save as RTF, but only if you change the file type every time. That makes a corporate policy of portable file types impossible to enforce. MSFT can say they support X number of formats but until you can specify a non-MS default format you will never get the majority of users to save in cross-platform files. The network effect makes sure that once a mojority of users are using office, then everyone needs to use office (and the latest version of office at that). You can make a suite that's MS compatible, but it will always be at best 99% compatible and likely a version behind.

If you could specify a portable format as the default corporate wide you'd be in a position, after the new format had some time to soak in, to begin looking at alternatives.

Re:Thin end of the wedge (1)

leperkuhn (634833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361923)

Office 03, Windows.
Tools -> Options -> Save Tab

save word files as word doc / xml / rtf

there is is.

Re:Thin end of the wedge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361959)

It's the same in all Office versions, the original poster was an ignorant troll, modding up by clueless, sycophantic moderators.

Re:Thin end of the wedge (2, Informative)

Carthag (643047) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361956)

It is possible to do this, at least in a corporate environment that uses common installs or images. This method is for 8.0, but I'm sure it's possible ith other versions too.

[HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\8.0 \W ord\Default Save]
"Name"="Default Format"
"Value"="SEE BELOW"

Where it says SEE BELOW, insert one of the following (or google for other options, there are many):
(nothing) (default, Word 8.0)
HTML
Text (ascii encoded text)
Unicode (text format with unicode encoding)
rtf

We did this while transitioning to WordPerfect (with the code WrdPrfctWin) when I worked at an unnamed government institution in Denmark.

Re:Thin end of the wedge (2, Informative)

claar (126368) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361958)

Hmm.. upon googling [google.com] , the top link sent me to a microsoft documentation piece [microsoft.com] telling me how to set the default save format (Pretty tough; Tools->Options->Save->"Save Word files as" drop box). Works like a charm in my MS office XP (2002) install. You can even use the System Policy Editor to set it organization wide. So I guess we've got All we need to break the Office monopoly.. woo hoo! Or not..

Re:Thin end of the wedge (1)

Orgazmus (761208) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361964)

If you could specify a portable format as the default corporate wide you'd be in a position, after the new format had some time to soak in, to begin looking at alternatives.

And that is why Microsoft will never even consider making that an option :)
Hooray for monopoly!

I know what would do it... (2, Funny)

Aceto3for5 (806224) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361800)

You know what would lure people away from Microsoft Office? Forget Clippy, get some nice ani Gif's of a bikini-clad Carmen Electra showing you how to properly format an interdepartment memo. Maybe an oiled up Brad Pitt for the ladies.

Eh? (2, Insightful)

NoInfo (247461) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361802)

I don't see standardization as a method to draw end users to a new technology. Sometimes it will draw developers, but I'd be surprised if anything as minor as getting a new ISO standard would hurt the MS Office market.

Could be a cunning ploy to hobble OOo. (2, Interesting)

Dr_Barnowl (709838) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361805)

Standard /. conspiracy theory follows : It's all a plot by Microsoft.

ISO can tie a standard down in a tangled mess of beaurocracy ; while this might bring credibility it also runs the risk of preventing OOo evolving its formats as fast as it would like to.

Which is something that M$ sure would like, as OOo is now getting to the point where it can start to compete with MS Office.

Re:Could be a cunning ploy to hobble OOo. (2, Informative)

McCall (212035) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361952)

ISO can tie a standard down in a tangled mess of beaurocracy ; while this might bring credibility it also runs the risk of preventing OOo evolving its formats as fast as it would like to.

This wouldn't happen. There isn't anything to stop the OOo developers from starting an OOo v2 document format with new features, but still retain the OOo ISO options within OOo.

The OOo v2 document format could then go on to form the a new updated ISO format, and the OOo developers could then add the new features to the OOo v3 format... repeat until nausea.

Feature set? (1)

ceeam (39911) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361807)

Admission first: I know pretty little about OO and its document model, but I know enough I guess about that other office suit to say - the main problem w/ MSWord format is not the format per se but that the app itself is crappy. I mean - you don't even put a line of text an 45deg slant w/o 3rd party objects embedding. More importantly - the frames are embryonic to say the least.
So, question now - would the format in subject be suitable to export, say, FrameMaker document to it and not loose anything important?

OLE Embedding Re:Feature set? (2, Insightful)

samjam (256347) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361863)

This point can't be under-emphasised.

Fat lot of good an open format is if users start embedding freaky OLE objects in, like "windows bitmap" as OLE instead of as bitmap, or windows metafile, or word art, or various other formats that only have windows servers for them.

Sam

OASIS standard too? (5, Informative)

eGuy (545520) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361809)

There exists a technical committee at OASIS [oasis-open.org] to make the OpenOffice format a standard (OASIS OpenOffice) [oasis-open.org] . How does this differ if it's a ISO standard as well?

Microsoft (2, Interesting)

bunburyist (664958) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361811)

I wonder if this will actually change anything, because Microsoft still dominates the market. I bet i'm still going to end up having to go file->save as. and then convert it to .doc all the time i want to share anything with anyone else. Sure they can make it a standard, Microsoft won't care, as witnessed by their screw-ups with DHTML and CSS. and i heard about them messing with standards in C# or something too.

I beg to differ (3, Interesting)

Underholdning (758194) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361813)

"Hopefully this will cut down on vendor lock-in and lure people from using Microsoft Office."
uhm - what planet have you been living on for the last decade? It's very simple. People use MS Office because people use MS Office. Not because of the file format. I'm forced to use MS Office at $DAYJOB because my customers use it. They don't know the first thing about what file format they save their drivel in. They just hit "send as email" and forget about it.
I dislike MS Office as much as the next guy. If I had my way, LaTeX would be the standard. But if anyone thinks that an ISO label on a file format will lure anyone away from MS Office they're plain wrong. Period.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

bhima (46039) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361864)

In my case it's not because our customers use it but because MS products are on the list of software we are allowed to use AKA "validated, approved & licensed"

and getting new stuff on this list has inertia associated with it that can only really be understood by freight train engineers and captains of oil supertankers.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

icke (661710) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361944)

But at least the argument to move away from Office becomes stronger. At least using OO you will be able to read email attachments sent to you from external organisations who use MS Office.

Settlement... (4, Insightful)

kaiwai (765866) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361851)

This would be great! the EU *SHOULD* back this move by mandating that any Office Suite that is to be sold in the EU or used by any government within the EU MUST conform to that ISO specification.

That would EXCLUDE extensions, meaning, the format, if embrassed by Microsoft would have to be 100% ISO XML compliant - No embrace and extend for you! (Microsoft)

About standards (0, Redundant)

just_gecko (794095) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361862)

XML may be an aproved standard and so on, but having support for true xml in any open source software won't lure users from MS Word, no matter how standard XML is. As far as most businesses are concerned, .doc files ARE STANDARD, and the emails very often have .doc attachements. Heck, they could mail PDF, but they don't. They keep using Word. Talk about the power of the habit.

Another small step (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361868)

This is a good first step.
The next step will be for some radical organisations, ie Munich City Council, to require that all their organisations files be stored in non-patent-encumbered standards.

I think this is great, and I am very pleased that the European Commission seems to be headed in the right direction for once.
However, following the publicity of the MS-SUN agreement I do not expect that Sun will actually do this.

My mom loves it... (1, Funny)

fetus (322414) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361872)

...once she's hears about an ISO standardized XML file format, she'll never go back to MS Office!

RTF is the way to go ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361873)

XML document does not come close to
RTF Document !

all that wasted money... (-1, Troll)

js290 (697670) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361889)

The US Govt. could have fought Microsoft's monopoly by pressing this issue instead of the useless court battles. The government is probably one of Microsoft's largest customers. If the government had told Microsoft it would only buy software that used standardized file formats, I'm sure Microsoft would have complied in a hurry. But, as usual, the government only knows how to waste money, and in the end, the lawyers get rich, and Microsoft still has a monopoly.

Well... (2, Insightful)

PhoenixFlare (319467) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361908)

Hopefully this will cut down on vendor lock-in and lure people from using Microsoft Office. "

Maybe for businesses, but not for the home users. The vast majority of them could care less about what file format things save in, assuming they even understand the concept of a file format in the first place - and really, why should they care about it?

The way things stand right now, 99% of the people common user's going to send files to is going to have Office available.

Re:Well... (2, Insightful)

octaene (171858) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361945)

That's true, generally the home user doesn't care. But it is still very important for the sake of document interchange! Wouldn't it be cool if it never mattered what tool was used to save a document?

If I have the ability to create a document in OpenOffice.org and I send it to you, and you open it in Microsoft Word, add something, and then send it on to your buddy who is using StarOffice and nobody notices the difference, then that is powerful.

That's the point of open source and open standards: choice.

XML in Office 2003 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361927)

Doesn't Office 2003 use XML already? That is what I heard....

Won't help the Microsoft addled read text files (4, Insightful)

shoppa (464619) | more than 10 years ago | (#10361931)

I send out flat text files to co-workers, and they complain that they cannot open them because they don't have the appropriate reader on their (Microsoft) E-mail system. Yes, I know that notepad and Word and probably other applications can "open" a text file, but none of the defaults are set to do this automagically.

If it's an ISO standard it won't do a damn bit of good until the Microsoft OS's and Microsoft mail system and Microsoft Applications all know to do the right thing. Whad'ya think the chances of Microsoft cooperating are?

Innovations I'd like to see (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10361936)

Slightly OT, but hey, here goes:

What's the number one reason people under 21 use Word?

To write reports.

So, you'd think it would be good at it, right?

Nope. Word sucks for reports. Writing even one, there are a couple really obvious things. First, there should be an EASY way to text as no-spell/grammar check. Every good report has a bibliography. But bibliographies are always covered in wavy red & green underlines. Why? (Yes, I've seen allusions to there being someway to do this with the Find/Replace dialogue in the Help files, but yeah, that's idiot. What does marking text as no-check have to do with Find-Replace? Anyhow, I could never get it to work reliably...) Meanwhile, if Word is really a tool for writing reports, shouldn't there be a wizard for constructing simple bibliographies in say MLA and Chicago style. There should be no reason to go to a website like noodlebib for such things, as my school encouraged me to do.

Next, adding auto-captions to documents is worthless in the current implementation of Word, since there's no obvious way to put a reference to that auto-caption in the text and have it auto-updated too. (Again, there maybe some way to do it, but I struggled through the help files, to no effect.)

Other issue:

Title pages -- I shouldn't have to press enter a bunch to put my name in the approximate middle of the page. There should be a wizard of some sort that lets you choose between different layouts for title pages.

Bullets & numbering-- the auto functioning on this is a nightmare. If you could give lists names, then it would be much easier to say this bullet is part of list A, have it continue the numbering of list A not list B, which it is also adjacent to.

Blockquotes-- HTML has a tag for blockquotes. Why not Word? Blockquotes are a pretty standard feature in reports, but Word doesn't have a built-in style for that.

Meanwhile, I have constant struggles with fonts reverting to the default paragraph style at near random. (It seems to crop up when backspacing one paragraph into another?...)

I'm sure there's a lot more, these are just some issues off the top of my head. Star/OOo.org should tackle them if it really wants to make headway as an INNOVATOR instead of just an MS wannabe.
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