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MS Thinks OOo is 10 Years Behind

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the one-office-to-rule-them-all dept.


greengrass writes "In a recent interview with IT Wire, general manager of business strategy for the Information Worker Group at Microsoft, Alan Yates expressed the opinion that Open Office is at the same level that MS office was around 10 years ago. Supposedly only suitable for the single desktop, isolated user. After all, it doesn't even have an e-mail client!"

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Why, I never! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856340)

*monocle pops out*

Perhaps it is... (5, Insightful)

julesh (229690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856341)

Here I am, still using Office 97 because it does everything I need. Perhaps next year I'll be able to upgrade to OO.o. :)

Re:Perhaps it is... (4, Insightful)

Angostura (703910) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856368)

Precisely; it is remarkable the number of people who hanker back to the Word or indeed Wordperfect of the mid 90's. This was a time before feeping creaturitis had led to a situation where the user could spend several minutes navigating menus looking for a particular function.

Sadly, if I were to be brutally honest, I would say that this is one area where OO.o really isn't 10 years behind MS Office, it is jam-packed with seldom used functions, that however is the price of getting involved in a tick-box war with MS Office (which open office really has to).

Re:Perhaps it is... (4, Informative)

CSMastermind (847625) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856410)

Maybe you should try Abiword. www.abisource.com It's an open source and simple word processor. I have three office products installed on this computer. Word Perfect came with it when I got it, I downloaded Open Office, and I bought Microsoft Office 2003. Still whenever I just need a word processor I pop open abiword. It works great.

Re:Perhaps it is... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856437)

Well, I certainly don't hanker after MS's email client. It's an abomination at best. If I needed something more group-aware, I'd use Evolution, but for most purposes it's too much for me, so I'm happy enough with thunderbird. As far as WP is concerned, OOo is more than good enough for me. It's not brilliant for real typesetting, but neither is Word. If I want to do that, there's always LaTex.

Re:Perhaps it is... (1, Offtopic)

StarKruzr (74642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856446)

The OSS community STILL doesn't really have anything like Outlook that combines email with PIM data and talks to handheld/smart devices effectively and reliably. Evolution kinda does, but it seems like no one's gone to the effort of making the thing speak to Windows Mobile devices.

Re:Perhaps it is... (5, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856500)

Perhaps openoffice should gain a configuration tool, like the "make menuconfig" of linux and the ability to load features as modules...

That way, you could build a minimalist version and add the features you want, while leaving off what you don't.. It would be very usefull for secure environments too, where support for such things as macros will need to be removed.

Re:Perhaps it is... (1)

cyclomedia (882859) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856425)

if i had mod points and this wasnt already at 5 i'd mod it up. i too use office 97 for everything, and will continue to do so for the forseeable future. so what i'd REALLY like is for someone to backport some '97 compatible plugins so i can save out in niceTM formats other than MS ones... either that or build an OO.o LITE that does word processing and spreadsheets very very well but with zero other funk built in (after all i install office 97 along these lines: "word -> program files" and "excel -> program files")

Not up to Word 4 in many ways (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856473)

OO is nice, but it still isn't up to Word 4 for the Mac (circa 1990) in many ways.
OO is fine for simple letters or term papers (which is what 90% of the people use), but the more advanced your document gets (styles, multiple line number schemes, sections with different formats, etc.) the more OO fails. Word 4 could do it.

(Really they could have stopped at Word 4. Just ported it to the PC, which I guess is what Office 97 is.)

If you are the type of person that hits the space bar or tab multiple times instead of moving the tab stop OO is prefect for you. (i.e many Admin Assists). But if you know how to use the more complex features, you just can't get there in OO.

I want to use OO, but until I can ... I'll stick with my site licensed version of MSFT Office.

Just one more year (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856344)

This is good news, it means that OO will soon be as good as MS Office '97, which contained all the word processor features I've ever needed. Everything added since then has been unnecessary bloat.

Gates knows best (1, Insightful)

plastic.person (776892) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856345)

He's prolly right. I mean, M$ has pleasing to look at icons, whereas OO has old Windows 3.1 looking icons.

Open source projects need to spend a little cash to get quality artwork that corporations have for all their products. This may seem a shallow analysis, but the truth is the initial appearence of the application does matter.

Re:Gates knows best (2, Insightful)

suntac (252438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856377)

"Open source projects need to spend a little cash to get quality artwork that corporations have for all their products. This may seem a shallow analysis, but the truth is the initial appearence of the application does matter."

In general I do agree with this, opensource is in most cases not about the good look and feel as commercial products do. However spending the bucket loads of money on this as commercial products do is not a good option. I know there are open projects out there helping developers to get nice looking GUI's. I think that in general one of the aims of the opensource community should be to attacked more and more GUI designers to provide work in a GPL or Creative Commons license.

Johan Louwers.

Re:Gates knows best (4, Insightful)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856381)

I would tend to disagree. I would rather use a less aesthetically appealing interface if the program behind it is more stable and useable. Much like when I use Linux I go straight to the plain and simple command line interface if the task is truly important (I do this in Windows also, provided the fucntion I desire is accessable from the command line). Microsoft has shown in the past that integration of more of their applications (such as the email client mentioned in MS Office) has best served to introduce new security holes into applications that normally would not be affected (due to shared paths and resources). Open Office makes for a smaller "target" in this respect, and as posted previously by others, it offers all the functionality most users need in that style of application. Oh, and let us not forget that while Open Office does have a helper as part of the UI, it isn't that obnoxious paper clip. Perhaps if Microsoft would have invested the money they spent on designing that "pretty little interface" into initial code development there wouldn't be as many patches released for MS Office.

Re:Gates knows best (4, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856414)

OO 2.0 is much better from a UI perspective but it still behaves pretty clunky compared to other productivity apps. The form designer in particular is evil and reminiscent of something Access 2.0 might inflict on you.

I certainly wouldn't say the UI is 10 years behind - it's probably comparable to Office XP in most areas. And of course underneath the surface some features of OO are cutting edge, such as its support for a clean open document format, cross platform capabilities, export options and more. They just have to keep working on that UI, simplifying the common tasks, working on the startup time, polishing the wizards, improving the drag / drop behaviour etc.

Re:Gates knows best (2, Interesting)

hclyff (925743) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856464)

I have to agree, OOo is nothing short of butt-ugly on KDE. Huge buttons, ugly fonts, colors not matching your desktop settings, etc. But it's not always true that open source community can't provide eye candy.. Baghira [sourceforge.net] anyone?

Perhaps it's ten years (3, Insightful)

castlec (546341) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856349)

because Microsoft hasn't added much in so long.

Re:Perhaps it's ten years (2, Insightful)

rvw (755107) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856391)

Perhaps it's ten years because that's about the time MS had to get their marketshare.

Re:Perhaps it's ten years (4, Interesting)

sg_oneill (159032) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856421)

Well, I'm just going to fire up my MS Word and use its native PDF generation and native support for mysql backends.

oh wait....

I hate to break it to microsoft, with the glaring exception of a decent crossplatform exchange/outlook replacement, frankly I consider MS Office legacy at best.

big deal (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856351)

bob hearn claims [mit.edu] that microsoft office is 13 years behind clarisworks.

Re:big deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856426)

umm, that page was originally written 4 yrs ago...

good (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856353)

i didn't want my manifesto as a spreadsheet anyway...

They think "Free Software" is "Spyware" too (2, Funny)

rebeka thomas (673264) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856355)

This from the company who equates "Free Software" with "Spyware" [danaquarium.com]. Who would expect them to massacre other definitions, like what an office suite is?

"Other computer systems without Microsoft AntiSpyware don't provide the safety that you get with Windows," he explains, in a swipe at the Linux OS. "when you download free software - even a free operating system - you double this effect. You are putting your computer and precious data at risk."

Re:They think "Free Software" is "Spyware" too (1)

maeddi (184281) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856384)

um, Microsoft doesn't equate Free software with spyware... Some analyst does...
And he didn't mention OSS, just freeware. To some extent i agree with him.

Single, isolated users. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856356)

Now i understand why slashdot users tend to promote openoffice.org... :-)

Interesting that he mentions OOo as suitable for single desktop, isolated users.. Isn't that a huge part of the MS office userbase he's talking about? Email client? Outlook express is for free, isn't it? :-)

Re:Single, isolated users. (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856430)

In a lot of large corporations, they just deal with Office in a similar way to "single isolated users". My experience is that the collaboration features are largely ignored in favour of simple emailling.

10 years behind? Sounds about right (4, Insightful)

Sven The Space Monke (669560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856357)

Yeah, right about the time of Office 97 is where I thought to myself "Hmm... how much more could I ever use in an office suite?". Since then, MS hasn't been able to introduce a single feature into Office that hasn't made me wonder why I should care. Mind you, I really never used Office 97, since Office 6 was pretty much good enough for me. Now, it's all OOo, since it's easier to find binary installers for OOo than my old Office 6 floppies.

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (-1)

Baricom (763970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856374)

I'm going to respectfully disagree. Office works really well. The UI is clean and polished, it operates quickly on a decent machine, and it's reliable. I really, really don't like Microsoft for their business practices, and I probably wouldn't shell out any amount of money for Office 12, but I think Microsoft Office is leaps and bounds ahead of OpenOffice.org today. I hope they can catch up eventually, because OpenDocument looks like a superior format. It just needs to be paired with a rock-solid office suite.

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856433)

While I can appreciate your gushing review of office you didn't really address his main point. His point was that he really didn't see any reason to upgrade from office 97 and that if OO offered the same functionality then it was good enough for him

So perhaps you can tell us exactly how ms office is leaps and bounds ahead and is a compelling upgrade from 97.

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856436)

There's one area where Office still wins - Base sucks compared to Access. I also don't do much powerpoint, so can't comment there.

But for me, Writer does what I need to produce detailed technical documents. Calc does all I need for a spreadsheet (which isn't that much, but then I imagine it's more than most people need).

I'd like to know where it is "leaps and bounds" ahead of OOo.

Access (5, Insightful)

CaptainZapp (182233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856475)

There's one area where Office still wins - Base sucks compared to Access. I also don't do much powerpoint, so can't comment there.

Access seems to be a real selling point for Office to a lot of people. To a certain amount I understand why; it's incredibly easy to set up a "database-application" within hours.

From a practical, DBA perspective Access is the devil though. It's absolutely horrid as a database engine and I'd bet you that umpteen companies curse Access on a daily basis, since that "clever hack" somebody implemented 10 years ago is unreliable, crashes, is virtually impossible to maintain, corrupts the data and for some unfortunate reason it's "business critical" nowadays.

Another horror is the Access front end when it's abused by end users to connect to a real database. The queries submitted are just dreadful and I've seen numerous times ghost locks on pages, or even tables by such applications, which only could be released by rebooting the database server and that's pretty bad news in a production environment.

While MS SQL Server is a pretty fine product, Access really, really sucks shit from a database perspective.

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (2, Informative)

Baricom (763970) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856493)

In retrospect, "leaps and bounds" was probably too strong an assertion. I also have to apologize to the other child poster, because I did indeed miss the original point of the post I replied to. I've been using Office XP since 2002, and just recently upgraded to Office 2003 only because a relative had an extra license. I do think upgrading from Office 97 to XP is a good idea. I've used 97, and I've had problems with documents getting corrupted and other similar problems. However, I was very happy with XP and wouldn't have upgraded to 2003 unless somebody gave me a copy.

I still would select Microsoft Office over OpenOffice.org on a machine that had both installed, purely for stability and speed reasons. Office is better optimized and rarely crashes. With the preloaders off, it takes 2 seconds to start Microsoft Word and 14 seconds to start OpenOffice Writer on my machine. (I've timed it.) I'm really not that fast a typist - I do about 60 WPM on average - yet OOo doesn't keep up with my typing. I can usually get through 3/4 of a line before the letters appear on screen. Menus are equally slow - it takes about two seconds from the time I hit Alt+Letter to when the menu is done drawing. I've also noticed fairly significant display corruption - parts of the screen that don't update until I resize the window, or random lines being drawn across the toolbar. Office (Office 2003, at least) doesn't have these glitches.

I acknowledge that these delays aren't that significant, especially considering that Microsoft is probably using undocumented stuff to speed up Office, but they're just annoying enough to make me uncomfortable using OpenOffice.org on a regular basis.

OOo is a good product, and I've recommended it to people who couldn't afford Office. They've all been fairly happy with it, though they do complain about some of the same glitches.

With a bit of polish, OOo can be a serious competitor to Office someday. I look forward to it.

(I do apologize for my incoherent posts - it's late for me.)

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (3, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856485)

The UI is clean and polished, it operates quickly on a decent machine, and it's reliable.

I'd normally let this go, but I've just finished doing project documentation for a MS only company, and I have to ask you, ARE YOU ON CRACK?

MS Office clean, polished and reliable? It's a fucking dog's bollocks of an interface! Excel has that wierd implimentation of MDI that's inconsistent with everthing else out there. It's cut/copy/paste is borked and wierd as well. Word has crap all over the place. There's bugger-all consistency of purpose. Tools like the org chart designer are almost satanic in their ability to do exactly what you don't want them to do, while Powerpoint manages to hide virtually every funcionality that might allow you to make an interactive presentation.

And reliable? We were trying to paste client-supplied Word tables into Excel to get some total figures. It crashed every time. We ended up sneaking portable OOo in on a thumb drive and pasting them into Calc. Word would choke on some of the documents too - they were table heavy, and word would get stuck in some repagination cycle. It'd be unusable except in "Normal" mode, but then you couldn't see what your output would look like. An Access database would randomly change date formats (US or Aus) depending on which computer it was run on. It wouldn't be so bad if it was consistent, but half the dates would be in US, while the rest were Aus.

I'm not saying OOo is that much better, but christ, the only thing MS Office has going for it is that every man and his dog already has a copy and knows how to work around the freakish bits.

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (5, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856438)

MS hasn't been able to introduce a single feature into Office that hasn't made me wonder why I should care.

Multi-lingual support is better, especially Chinese and such using Unicode fonts. That may well not be a critical feature for many readers here though.

Re:10 years behind? Sounds about right (3, Interesting)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856499)

Multi-lingual support is better, especially Chinese and such using Unicode fonts.

Do you know how that compares to OOo's multilingual support?

Wrong (5, Funny)

Clueless Nick (883532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856453)

With MS Office you have at least evolved to the stage of dinosaurs. OO.o doesn't even consider you to be a lifeform, does it? Show me an advertising campaign that proves otherwise.


Dang (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856358)

This article made me want to try MS OFfice over the open office install I have used for ages. 10 minutes in and I have AIDS!

Not cool.

Alan insulting those people? (1)

Maxhrk (680390) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856359)

for some reason in my mind, that Alan look down at those people who work hard on Open Office, in my opinion.

Of course.. dont take my opinion seriously anyway :D

Its all relative (4, Insightful)

mgv (198488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856361)


If you want a word processor, then you wouldn't need care alot about the last 9 years of development (Office 97 had a pretty good WP).

If you do presentations, then Office is a few years behind Keynote, at least as far as slick graphics goes (and what is presentation software for if not to look slick?)

Its about getting the base function good enough ... if you want the best, you wouldn't use powerpoint anyway. But for alot of people, powerpoint is good enough. Trouble is, OO is getting good enough too

Re:Its all relative (2, Interesting)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856439)

I think that it goes without saying that Keynote is clearly on top on the presentation software front. Keynote makes PowerPoint look downright clunky. Unfortunately, OOo's presenter software looks clunky by relation to PowerPoint.

I wish that there were KeyNote for Linux, or an open source presentation package that was half as cool. I've even thought of starting such a project once I get a moment free from school.

you do realize (4, Funny)

zyte (896988) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856362)

that this company has around 60,000 employees. no shit some of them are going to say stupid crap, who cares?

They're right. (3, Insightful)

nastyphil (111738) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856365)

All the big changes to MS Office are orientated around collaboration and integration with MS's looming strike at the middleware market. OOo doesn't do this.


Re:They're right. (1)

Yrd (253300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856450)

Quite so! I would imagine the collaborative functionality isn't really used all that much in a lot of places. There'll be some companies who can't do without it anymore, but most places I've worked people have a hard enough time figuring out what the red wavy underlines mean, therefore most of the new features in Office over the last ten years are things they had better not know about, lest their brains explode.

Microsoft know this, of course, and this is why the hugest and most interesting thing in Office 2007 is the rather odd new UI, which I'm itching to get my hands on just to see if it works.

I suspect they'll also get some upgrades for the shiny new graphics engine, too.

Re:They're right. (2, Interesting)

oliderid (710055) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856469)

Most updates Microsoft did on MS Word are useless. the problem isn't the feature as such, the problem is that less than 10% of Microsoft Word users know how to use style sheet, they can't even build automatically a table of contents. If they don't use them, it simply means that they don't need them or worst they don't understand how to use them and stick to what they know. When you need +300 pages to understand all the features of a "commodity" like a word processor, you've got a problem. I believe in collaboration features but if they want to succeed things have to be fare more easy. Example: if you want an active workflow on a document you share with somebody, the only thing you should have to do is to click on a checkbox. Then you may expect that some users will use it. OOo may be 10 years behind but for most users they won't even notice the "gap" between them (if such thing exists). They don't use the missing features.

OOo and all that (1)

L-s-L69 (700599) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856369)

OOo doesnt have an email client, I find my email client is an email client and my office suite....well is never used....but would be used for typing etc. OOo to me is just a polished as M$ latest offering, the exception is .doc compatability. Whilst OOo 2 does a very good job in this area its not quite foolproof. Using the open standards offered by OOo generally gives a far higher level of 'user satisfaction' IMHO. The other area people may think OOo falls down is integration with other system tools, something M$ does well. But this is down to the structure of the software. M$ uses a common base whereas OOo (firefox, thunderbird etc) all stand much more alone. That said I used office 10 years ago and it was painful, I'd much rather use OOo.

Re:OOo and all that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856400)

I agree with many of the points you have said. I also note that having everything integrated in the past has caused several security flaws within the software from Microsoft. That is not to say that OOo is more or less secure, but at least vulnerabilities and other virii etc generally do not work when the system is totally stand alone.

Funny (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856371)

Becuase I'm using MS Office, and I was just thinking how it seems like it hasn't improved any in 10 years.

Unfortunately for Microsoft.... (1)

MickDownUnder (627418) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856373)

Well I haven't used OpenOffice, but in my view MS Office has been going backwards since Office 2000, its now bloated with numerous useless features and alot of very annoying bugs. Many tech writers I know actually use Office 2000 in preference to Office 2003 or XP, because it's less buggy, quicker and easier to work with.

So if MS Office is ten years ahead, that would make OpenOffice a whole two years better than MS Office already (assuming it hasn't already started to go backwards).

Re:Unfortunately for Microsoft.... (2, Informative)

pythas (75383) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856393)

Oh god help the IT people who have to administer those Office 2000 installations. :(

Office 2000 has to be the biggest pain in the ass to get patched and kept up to date out of any piece of consumer level commercial software I've ever seen.

Re:Unfortunately for Microsoft.... (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856480)

And something is horifically wrong if an office suite needs patching, anyways. You type stuff. You save it. If that introduces a virus risk, the developers should be paying you.

Think what most people do with office - exactly what you can do in OOo or numerous other free (beer or speech) software options. Type, minor formatting (font, size, emphasis, etc) save, the occasional clipart or table, that's about it. Do you really want Clippit asking you whether to check the MS Recipe Database when you type "apple pie" at some point in the file? The continaully add more useless crap in their software and then charge you again for it (and it's a pain to install... serial keys, activation, etc). Honestly, do people like having Word 2031 underline street addresses in purple so you can have driving directions, just after the "formal letter wizard" auto activates? Surely it's smart enough to know that formal letters go in the mailbox... driving directions go with the subpoena wizard.

Most of what I type needs no formatting. I use Notepad2. It can open and save files, and even does find and replace! Heck, I can make ASCII art and tables are infinitely easier than the office suites, as it's a truetype/typewriter layout. And it opens in approximately one CPU cycle. Two on a bad day. Oh n0es, a whole billionth of a second!!111 When I do need to print with specific margins or fonts, OOo is about fifty times more than I need.

But what's obvious is that whoever invents the Stapley office assistant is in the lead. Honestly, a paper clip? Maybe Office 12 will have... Dog-earit? FFS, it's the 21st century, paperclips have longsince gone the ways of the betamax to staplers, but I thought we're supposed to have our personal plasma paper-welders by now.

Re:Unfortunately for Microsoft.... (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856460)

Lots of large companies are still running Office 2000 for 2 reasons:-

1. There's nothing worth having since then.

2. Switching people costs money and time.

I used Office 2003, and all I got was something that impaired me, because my brain was trained for Office 2000, and o2k3 broke that. And, I used no new features.

In other news... (4, Funny)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856378)

Apple Computer thinks Microsoft is five years behind.

really? (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856467)

Hmmm. And nearly everybody I personally know who uses Apple does so because he/she doesn't want a windows-based computer, but has bought into the same headspace of the belief that they "have" to run MSOrifice to exist in the world. So much for thinking differently.

Right on the money (4, Funny)

Unsus (901072) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856379)

Yes, OOo is certainly missing all the ground-breaking word processing technologies that emerged within the last 10 years. Honestly, both OOo and MSOffice have nothing on notepad, which sadly starts-up and runs faster than both of them.

Not sure I understand them (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856383)

Article is already /.'ed, but I'm not sure I grasp the problem with OO.o being behind Microsoft Office.

Here in the UK, MS has been running ads with people wearing dinosaur heads making comments like:

    "I'm either here for the 11:00 meeting on the 12th or the 12:00 meeting on the 11th"

      - Microsoft Office has evolved. Have you?

The thing I don't understand is that all the "problems" the ads show haven't actually existed since around Office '97. A simple PDA with Outlook integration (which has existed for... oooh, some time now) would solve the problem above, for instance. The only reason I've heard anyone in business give for upgrading for years is "we're receiving a lot of email attachments in the new format".

I would argue that, this being the case, OpenOffice doesn't need to get "on a par with Office $NEXTVERSION". It just needs Office '97 equivalence and good import/export filters.

Re:Not sure I understand them (4, Insightful)

illtud (115152) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856482)

Here in the UK, MS has been running ads with people wearing dinosaur heads making comments like:

        "I'm either here for the 11:00 meeting on the 12th or the 12:00 meeting on the 11th"

            - Microsoft Office has evolved. Have you?

The thing I don't understand is that all the "problems" the ads show haven't actually existed since around Office '97.

Exactly, because it's Office '97 that new Office (what's it even called now?) is competing against. If you look at some of those adverts, it even has a dinosaur saying "We've got Office 97, is that good enough?" and the other replies "not nearly!". People have been saying for a while that MS's biggest competitor are their own old products, well now we see MS 'fessing up to that. Googling around you find bloggers and commentators annoyed and insulted by the ads. I don't think they're a great idea.

Re:Not sure I understand them (5, Insightful)

bentcd (690786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856484)

We get the same ad campaign in Norway, and I find the message conveyed amusing to say the least. What Microsoft is actually telling us is "if you're still using our software, you're such a dinosaur". Added to the implicit insult directed at their existing customer base, I don't quite see what good they think this campaign might be doing them :-)

Snarky Response (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856388)

This is really just a duplicate of comments posted so far, so feel free to mod it as such, but I can't help thinking if someone said this to me the snarky response is:

"Say, haven't you been having trouble convincing people to upgrade ever sicne Office 97? Does that mean OO is just one year away from being a software package everyone will feel comfortable with and have no need of new features, right about the time you totally change the interface for the newest Office and require offices to retrain workers?"

Come on.. (1)

techefnet (634210) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856390)

A lot of schools and companys use OpenOffice exclusively, including my school! I think it's MS who is behind, the future is portable applications available for everyone, isn't it? ;)

What's the wizz-bang features it's missing? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856392)

I'm not a heavy office user, but like other people here I recall thinking that Office 97 was meeting my every need. Can some heavy user of Office 2003 tell me what the big wiz-bang features that it has that I'm missing in either Office97 or Open Office?

Honestly, the only thing Office has that I really miss in Open Office is Access. Access is a great program to interact with other databases with via ODBC drivers, and I've yet to see a good open source replacement.

Re:What's the wizz-bang features it's missing? (5, Informative)

brusk (135896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856428)

Its international support (for East Asian languages, at least, which I use heavily) really doesn't seem to be up to snuff. It's better than Office 97, by far, and probably better than Office 2000, but not as good as Office 2003 with the Proofing Tools pack installed (adds fonts and utilities for a variety of language needs). OOo basically cloned some of the Chinese/Japanese formatting from MS Office, but not all of it and not well enough. There are lots of very specific things it's nice to be able to do with East Asian text (notably vertical text and interlinear/supralinear comments) that OOo doesn't do very well.

Not a big thing for everyone, but essential for some.

Re:What's the wizz-bang features it's missing? (1)

Quirk (36086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856432)

I run Office 2003 pro, but like you I'm not a heavy Office user. I'm use to having it on hand to make presentations and, along with Visio play with ideas. I picked up Visual Basic 5 pro when I picked up Office 97 and I thought the match up a good one, along with vba, the tools gave me an easy way to personalize the Office Suite.

Honestly I think 97 offers everything a casual user needs. I'm not moving onto Vista as I feel Ubuntu meets my needs, and, with 7 more years of support for XP, I think the only killer app MS can come up with to win me back would be in voice recognition and there's much competition in that field. Although msh is fun to play with and MS has made strides in the area of security but given where they were coming from giant strides were in order.

Re:What's the wizz-bang features it's missing? (5, Funny)

dracocat (554744) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856478)

The UI in the new versions of Office feels much more modern. Every time I upgrade I feel like I am getting a better piece of software since the UI is updated each time with a new look & feel.

Feature wise I can't say that I can name a single one, but like I said, it sure feels like the software is getting better. In fact whenever I look at somebody using the old Office 2000 I shake my head at the poor soul stuggling his way through life without the newest version. After all, his software is 3 years older than mine! Some might say that its more about the features and the color scheme or layout isn't all that important; but that wouldn't be true. I know this because I see many other people just like me who have paid hundreds of dollars for an updated version, this lets me know that I made the right decision in the upgrade. Ok I better stop now, this could go on forever.

Re:What's the wizz-bang features it's missing? (1)

16K Ram Pack (690082) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856490)

I do pieces of occassional work in Access, and I'm still doing it in Access 2000. In part, because I know that everyone will have that version or better, but also because there's been little good added since.

Anything that's new already has been dealt with by 3rd party products, or developers finding another way.

Someone might say "but now it's built in!", but so what? If I'm geared up with 3rd party greatness already, why do I want to spend time switching to something else?

10 Years ago the world was a different place (1)

djsmiley (752149) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856395)

Ten years ago, hum... I was 12 ~:o just starting to getting get into computers, a few people were getting AOL and (teh) internet.

If openoffice, and office97 came out 10years ago, at the same time, does anyone think that all teh noobies, who went out and brought office, because they knew of nothing better, would do the same if they could download this "OOo" thing?

Plus, they are doing an awesome job of catching up.

Re:10 Years ago the world was a different place (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856423)

Of course, I'd hate to think how long it would take to download OOo at 28.8kbps.

Or, for that matter, how long it would take to boot on a 486 DX2/66.

Oh, get be back 10 years. (5, Interesting)

WWWWolf (2428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856397)

I'll take a word processor from 10 years ago any day over any new word processors, thank you very much.

Back when I first got to PC world in early 1990s, we had some great word processors that were good for word processing. You wrote stuff. If you wanted it printed, you carried it to that Mac person with who did those "DTP" things. People realized the word processors sucked at typesetting. They were tools you used to produce ASCII files with for someone else to process properly.

While modern word processors try to be the ultimate solutions to all electronic communications. Microsoft wants Office users to be able to do everything - and only succeeds at users being able to do some tasks at some level. Want to write a little bit? Can do. Want to typeset? We suck. Want to add tons of numbers up? Can do. Want to do something a bit more complex with numerical data? Not that easy or flexible, come to think of it.

I'm not saying OpenOffice.org is much closer to Microsoft's utopia though.

My point is, I've written some stuff all of my life. I can sit in front of my Commodore 64 and be productive, dammit, all I need is disk space. I don't care if Microsoft comes up with new features. Word processing was finished 10 years ago. All you stack on top of that is glitter.

The only reason I'm not going back to WordPerfect 5.1 for DOS are that I think OpenOffice.org's style-definition stuff is niftier, OpenDocument rocks when you think of the future, and thirdly, I don't think I can find an easy way to get a proper license with the means available. Plus WP's file manager UI is kind of crappy.

Maybe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856412)

we ought to say that MS Office is ~10 years behind Emacs?

That has an email client, media player, gaming platform.... :-)

Re:Oh, get be back 10 years. (1)

Veneratio (935302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856443)

Back in my day, we just used chisels on stone tablets ! You young'ns are so spoiled! *shakes cane*

Re:Oh, get be back 10 years. (1)

Potato Battery (872080) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856463)

I had an Amstrad word processor that I picked up at Sears in the late 80s that rocked hard. It served the college paper needs of me and three friends, who all remember it fondly. The green on black screen was easy on the eyes, and it had to be one of the most easy to learn interfaces I've experienced. Incompatible with the whole rest of the planet, of course, even down to the funky little 3 1/4" floppies. But who cared? There was no electronic submission of papers back then, so everything was going to print anyway, and the Profs were fine with dot matrix.

I was so down with that machine, it really took me a while to feel comfortable using a Mac with its blah black on white WP. I passed the unit on to someone else who needed it for papers. Never should have done it.

Re:Oh, get be back 10 years. (2, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856488)

People realized the word processors sucked at typesetting.

Actually, it was perfectly possible to do seriously good typesetting with WP5.1. In fact, it was quite common.

In any case, you wouldn't necessarily have to run DOS; IIRC, WordPerfect was originally written for Data General platforms. I don't remember, though, whether it was for their Aviion unix clone, or whether it was AOS/VS only...

Here is a chance for Evolution or Thunderbird (4, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856399)

Evolution and Thunderbird have the potential to render Outlook obsolete. Evolution has the Exchange support and calendaring but no XP version. Thunderbird is cross-platform but Exchange support and Calendaring are ongoing.

If both upped things up a notch we could be in a position by the end of the year of having not one but two enterprise level cross platform email clients, both of which would work pretty well from Open Office.

Anyway, I reckon that Microsoft have realised that Outlook is pretty superfluous for most people. Windows Vista (finally) comes with a calendar app which would be sufficient for most people. Or perhaps they haven't - Vista does seem to be lifting a lot of features from Mac OS X.

Re:Here is a chance for Evolution or Thunderbird (1)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856458)

I think that the Mozilla calendar app will smoke Evolution. You have to remember how long we've been hearing about Evolution... Just how many generations do we have to kill before we see any useful mutations!!??!?!

But, seriously, Evolution was pretty cool when it first came around, as was Ximian, but I hopped to KDE and didn't look back, never boarded the train for their email client, straight to Thunderbird from Mozilla, and I imagine that their calendar client will pretty much rock my world too once it's finally ready (and by finally, I mean they haven't had long yet!).

It doesn't matter (4, Insightful)

artixlin (959153) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856402)

It doesn't matter! Cause I only use 10% of the fundamental features of every office suite.

what OSS needs is a collaboration client (1)

mcn (112855) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856405)

Can't RTFA, 'cos problem loading. anyway, probably he's right. It goes to show that OSS needs a solid (or at least a pleasant, workable) collaboration client to counter Exchange/Outlook/Office. Too many corporate users are stuck with this combination (except those on Lotus Domino/Notes).

Eh (5, Insightful)

NitsujTPU (19263) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856406)

Brutal, honest, truth. I'm not fond of OpenOffice.org

It's ok. It's not as great as people say it is. Organizations that have the money for MS Office and want it, honestly, have a bit better product.

I do most of my writing in LaTeX if it requires any formatting, and coding in gedit. I use Kile, though it's buggy as it gets, just for the completion feature.

If I need a presentation, I use PowerPoint. I find the OOo presentation software to be a bit clunky. It'll open a PowerPoint presentation, but it doesn't look very good on the other side (this is stock Gentoo Linux... perhaps there are other bells and whistles).

OOo seems to run slow and with a lot of overhead. The interface is a little clunky too.

Now, I don't do much in MS office, but if I'm not using LaTeX, and have a Windows box with it installed handy, I'll usually use MS Office prior to using OOo. Usually, I'll use KWord if I need to open or write a doc. Honestly, the KDE presentation tool seems better than the OOo one, but PowerPoint still smokes those two.

ThunderBird smokes Outlook, honestly... if it's compatible with your installation (I'm thinking university Kerberos auth still doesn't work). The guy is right about the lack of email integration, but, honestly, all that ever did was irritate me. It facilitates group writing... lovely.

Most of my writing with multiple authors is handled via CVS, in LaTeX.

For spreadsheets I use gnumeric.

Plots and charts, gnuplot, which I think everyone on the planet uses.

Did I miss some crucial thing that OOo does? It's a nice product and all, but, the truth is, it doesn't match the hype. Firefox probably made a big ripple for open source apps under windows, but Firefox is an awesome browser. Firefox offers a real improvement over IE.

My Linux solution barely involves OOo. I think that I uninstalled it it a while ago so I wouldn't have to wait for Gentoo to emerge the update. I don't really think that the hype is justified, and I used StarOffice back in the day and everything. There's just, simply put, better stuff available.

Re:Eh (4, Insightful)

seanellis (302682) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856444)

You're probably right. But for me, there are three killer points about OOo:

1. Price. There's no way I'm going to shelling out £100+ for something I use occasionally.
2. Open Document Support. I am very wary about storing things in proprietary formats.
3. It's not Microsoft. Well, I am a Slashdot reader, after all :-)

For these, I'm prepared to stick with it; as others have said it's improving fast.

Re:Eh (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856449)

"Did I miss some crucial thing that OOo does? It's a nice product and all, but, the truth is, it doesn't match the hype."

What OO does is scare MS. All those other things? MS doesn't give a fuck about. OO scares them because it threatens to cut off their other monopoly, to cut off their air supply.

We are now in the "then they laugh at you" phase of the trip now. It won't be long.

They are probably right... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856408)

MS Office is ahead of OOo in alot of feilds. Modular design is one that comes to mind. But they fail to answer this:

While MS Office is '10 years' ahead of OOo, why are you afraid to compete with it head on through Open Formats? I'm betting MS has the resources to still stay ahead for a long time in the future and pave new ways of thinking.

The real answer I guess is that they find this to big a risk for their likings...

Oh grow up! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856409)

Dissapointment. That's what I feel when pretty much anybody with an opinion opens their mouth these days.
When you're a kid you look upon the 'real' world of 'grown ups' with a kind of awe. All those sensible intelligent people seemingly going about serious worldly affairs. At some point along the way you realise the awful truth. Very few people ever truly mature. Most of us remain in a bigger version of the schoolyard, name calling, playing popularity contests, getting into pissing competitions. I sometimes feel like the last adult left on Earth. And I'm only in my 30s!! So many politicians, so many lawyers, so many execs in big powerful companies - I feel their words and behaviour are beneath me. Is it me or are we all kind of regressing backwards as a society? Don't any of these twits have a modecum of self respect left?

I have one thing to say in reply. Mehhh ner na ner ner!

Isolated users? (3, Interesting)

suntac (252438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856417)

So looking from a Microsoft perspective open office is not as good as MS office because we do not have a e-mail client embedded, meaning that the entire open office is crap because of this?

I still have the opinion you should not embed a e-mail application in open office as this is a mail application and has nothing to do with the things you do in a office application. The beauty of opensource projects is that the final application is build upon users input, not only code but also expectation. If, please read IF, there was a need for a e-mail application within open office the community would have made sure this was a building option.

In my opinion is the fact nobody has implemented this evidence that there is no need for this in the open office user community. The moment it will be embedded it will be done because of users requesting this and start building this. Maybe Microsoft should pay some more attention on opensource to look what people are building if they have the freedom to do this themselves... and maybe Microsoft should find out that some of there products do not "completely" satisfy the needs of there users...

Johan Louwers.

After all, it doesn't even have an e-mail client! (1, Insightful)

vakiotyyppi (892443) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856418)

Server seems to be slashdotted, so i havent read FTA, but... I can't see any reason to bundle everything including kitchen sink or email client to office suite, that just makes software more unsecure and slow.

Which share... (4, Insightful)

tmk (712144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856454)

....of Desktop users does need more than an single user text processor? Three percent? Perhaps one?

MS WORD is like MS Outlook, it might have very useful features, but 95 % of the users do not need them. They buy a PC and Word is included, whether they need it or not. And office solutions developed for huge enterprises are probably not the best choice for private desktops.

Re:Which share... (2, Funny)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856483)

95 % of the users do not need them.
Another 4% use them to write viruses.

It's about the same (1)

Kunt (755109) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856466)

OO is about the same as MS Office. I had it installed on my IBM Thinkpad X31 before I sold it, and it did the same job as Microsoft's bloatware. (I used my Mac 90 percent of the time. I figured money is better than a piece of black plastic, so I got rid of it.) I have Office 2004 installed on my Mac, but the only really useful part is Excel. That's all I ever use of it. For writing, I simply use TextEdit. Muchg faster and more reliable, and saves the documents in RTF format.

OOo is great but Office 2003 is a master piece (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856468)

Ok so my subject will probably get me flamed but I love Office 2003. Why? InfoPath and SharePoint.

SharePoint is an amazing product that does so much. The main reason it is so great though is that it replaces horrible network drives with 10,000 folders and impossible to organize folder structures. With SharePoint everything is online, automatically version'd and instant to search (including file contents) on custom filters. WinFS will supposedly bring some of these features to the desktop however SharePoint has it now and I am living now. SharePoint is part of the reason that I don't care much for desktop search, network based search is much important to me as I don't work on my own, I work with hundreds of people all over the world. Having a web based solution (with AD intergration) makes working with people in different companies and countries much easier (can't really be done with network shares, unless you VPN).

I realise not everybody uses Office like I do though and I am sure a lot of the new features are not used and the only reason companies update is because support for the older version has stopped. I believe for small to mid sized organizations can benefit from OOo whereas larger corporations probably won't so much. However I would also argue that a lot of small to mid sized companies lose a lot of money from not organizing correctly and SharePoint could help them a lot in that are.

Just my 2c. Not bashing OOo, they did a great job.

Missing the point (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856486)

The problem with (most) applications in an office suite is that most people don't ever really bother to learn it, or look into the feature set.

I'd be rich if I received a penny every time I notice someone trying to align text by just typing enough spaces to get the text where they want it to go instead of using properly aligned tabs, or selecting text over and over to change a font while they should be using formatted styles, the list goes on to infinity.

It's not that everyone only uses 10% of the feature set because that's all they need, it's because 10% of the feature set gets the job done decently enough to not want to bother learning about the other 90%.
It's only when someone thinks "a word processor should be able to do X or Y" and they go looking how to accomplish it that they stumble across a new feature and then use it consistently whenever it's appropriate.

Most of the comments I've seen so far indicate that all office application are just becoming too bloated and they stopped looking into them at version so and so but at the same time they show their ignorance about future versions. There has indeed been very little innovation for a long time, but if a new version can accomplish something in half the time it used to take you than that's a significant improvement by itself; the fact that people are set in their ways and will continue to use the wrong tools (eg features) for the job is a problem of education.

Integrate OOo with stuff we know works... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856495)

One thing I hope doesn't happen is that the OOo folk (or KDE, Gnome for that matter) fixate on replicating the entire MS product set.

E.g. one area where things always seem to get bogged down is in the area of office/groupware integration. It amazes me when talk of groupware on slashdot turns into an exchange-copy-fest. Instead, I reckon integrating OOo, XForms and Wiki technology would create something really powerful - more akin maybe to Notes than Exchange or Sharepoint.

In short - use OOo to pull together existing, strong, open source technologies that we know work.

Well... (2, Interesting)

Vo0k (760020) | more than 8 years ago | (#14856498)

OOo may be 10 years behind MSO, but MSO is 10 years ahead of whatever would most sophisticated users need.

The answer is simple:
Private users, small firms, medium-sized firms: OOo. Cost of ownership, fulfilling all needs.
Big firms: MSO. OOo doesn't fulfill their needs, cost of custom solutions too big.
Huge firms: Custom-modified OOo tailored to their needs. (after all, it's open source. You can't modify MSO because you don't have the sources.)

So if OOo grabs 90% of the market and MSO retains the remaining 10%, I'm perfectly fine with it :)

So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14856501)

Hmm: large company hypes one of its core revenue generating products over the competition. Slow news day?

As for being ahead I had an Acorn BBC Model B - 2Mhz and 32k of computing power - with an additional 32k ROM that contained a dictionary with software that identified spelling errors in real-time. I think this was 1988ish. When did Office get check as you type spelling?

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