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ODF Plugins and a Microsoft Promise of Cooperation

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the playing-nice-or-moth-to-the-candle-flame dept.

262

Andy Updegrove writes "Last week, the Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD) issued a Request for Information (RFI) on any plugins that might be under development to assist it in migrating from a MS Office environment to one based upon software that supports ODF. The RFI acknowledges the fact that it may be necessary or advantageous to see some of the code in Office in order to enable the types of features that the ITD is looking for. Conveniently, Jason Matusow, Microsoft's Director of Standards Affairs, had this to say on the occasion of ODF's approval by the members of ISO and the IEC: "The ODF format is limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice and would not satisfy most of our Microsoft Office customers today. Yet we will support interoperability with ODF documents as they start to appear and will not oppose its standardization or use by any organization. The richness of competitive choices in the market is good for our customers and for the industry as a whole." Presumably such support will include helping the plug-in developers that will assist Massachusetts migrate from a MS Office environment to one based upon ODF-compliant office productivity software."

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262 comments

let me be the 1st to say ... (5, Funny)

xlyz (695304) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280284)


embrace and extend!!

Re:let me be the 1st to say ... (5, Insightful)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280508)

*sigh* OK, if Microsoft don't implement ODF they are rejecting open standards. If they do, they're embracing and extending.

They can't win, can they?

Re:let me be the 1st to say ... (4, Informative)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280540)

It depends on how they do it. If they impliment a working standards compliant version... well, that'll be great.

Based on what they did to Java, HTML and everything else they have ever touched it'll be a almost compliant version, to an out of date standard, that is a massive pain in the ass to use with non-MS products. (Ref IIS/IE/Frontpage etc etc.)

KOffice also supports the ODF format (5, Informative)

UseFree.org (950344) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280799)

The ODF format is limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice

Micro$soft is lying through their nose. They know very well that KOffice [koffice.org] , the Free & Open Source office suite that comes with the KDE [kde.org] desktop environment also supports the ODF format. In fact, they were publically informed [slashdot.org] about KOffice's capabilities last year in a open letter [kde.org] sent by the KOffice developers.

Yet they continue to spread the outright lie that only OpenOffice and its derivatives support the Oasis Open Document Format (ODF) [oasis-open.org] .

KOffice has a much cleaner architecture and a leaner codebase than OpenOffice, making its startup faster and facilitating the addition of new features [koffice.org] . Because improving KOffice to meet the usability needs of governments, businesses and disabled individuals can be done with much less effort, KOffice is an even greater threat to Micro$oft.

Re:let me be the 1st to say ... (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280606)

With their existing track record on interoperability, any such negative reaction is fully justified. They have a chance to fix it now though... we shall see.

Re:let me be the 1st to say ... (1, Flamebait)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280629)

*sigh* OK, if Microsoft don't implement ODF they are rejecting open standards. If they do, they're embracing and extending.

If Microsoft would not pervert the standard it would be alright. The problem is that Microsoft has twisted and attempted to extinguish every standard it "embraces." Yet some still make the cry of "oh, poor, misunderstood Microsoft, they can't win, can they?"

Regardless, Microsoft won't honor it's statement to support interoperability with the OpenDocument standard unless they can do so by forcing any interoperation to first include conversion to the (still unapproved) MS XML standard. That way, Microsoft could still force any document opened in Office to use the closed, proprietary Office binary encoding system that is referenced in every MS XML document. Microsoft thereby controls any ODF extension used in MS Office, and MS wins.

Re:let me be the 1st to say ... (4, Informative)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280715)

That's the disadvantage of being a habitual criminal, trust is hard to come by.

So uh... (5, Insightful)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280285)

Did Microsoft take the time to clarify exactly which features their Office suite offers that Open and Star offices don't?

Gosh, not that I'd like to insult the integrity of a company with such a spectacular record of interoperability and standards compliance as Microsoft, but I really just can't think of anything obvious that their closed document format offers beyond lack of compatibility with anything but their own products.

Re:So uh... (missing features) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280313)

I kind of remember it is about the lack of audio/video support in ODF.

Re:So uh... (1)

ZigiSamblak (745960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280344)

The richness of competitive choices in the market is good for our customers and for the industry as a whole.

I believe this means that any good feature ODF has over Office will be quickly incorporated into the next release. Do you really need to ask what Office has over Open Office? It has closed format feature, meaning you can almost open those 5 year old word documents better than in Open Office.

Re:So uh... (5, Informative)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280371)

Did Microsoft take the time to clarify exactly which features their Office suite offers that Open and Star offices don't?
Excessive amounts of metadata, probably.

Seriously, open up a Word document that you've worked on and modified several times. Select the whole document, copy it, paste it into a new document, and save it. The documents should largely be identical (you might've missed headers and footers or page margins). Now compare the fize sizes. The old document might be several megabytes. The new one is probably a few hundred K.

What's missing? Gobs and gobs of metadata about every keystroke, ever action, every cursor positioning.

Ever open up a Word document, scroll arounda nd read but make no changes, close it, and have Word ask to save changes? Metadata.

Re:So uh... (2, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280470)

Gobs and gobs of metadata about every keystroke, ever action, every cursor positioning.


You can see the same thing if you print it to a file, in PDF format. Instead of positioning the cursor at the start of a line and then printing the line, Word does a separate cursor positioning for each character. A typical PDF file printed by MS-Word is at least ten times as big as would be needed to print the document in exactly the same format using the features of the PDF standard.

Re:So uh... (1)

Unski (821437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280737)

;BF>^@^@d^A^@@d^A^@^@^@^@^@^@^A^@^@^@^@^@^@^ D^@^A^A^O^@^D^A^@ ^@^@^@^@^@^@^@^@No, I don't see your point at all. Could you clarify please? ^M^@^@^ ^@^@^@

Re:So uh... (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280750)

Hmm, why is positioning and keystrokes saved? It sounds like it's to be able to reconstruct the document step by step, or maybe the opposite? Do Word's undo feature work cross-sessions? That would be quite nice actually.

Re:So uh... (2, Interesting)

Bacon Bits (926911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280783)

I think it's part of the document versioning/revisioning system you can do in a Word document, but that has to be enabled and configured to work. So it's not clear why it's saved. Undo would be nice, but Word doesn't save across sessions, AFAICT.

Most likly cause: multiple development groups. One develops the file format, one develops what is saved, one develops what is used from session to session.

Re:So uh... (1, Insightful)

KugelKurt (908765) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280433)

Microsoft IS part of OASIS. If they felt, OpenDocument might not have all the features needed for MS Office, they could have worked with the comitee to extend the specifications - simmilar to what the KOffice representative did.
But Microsoft chose not to participate and bet on their own formats.

But hey, the ODF specifications are not set in stone. MS can join the ODF comitee and work on an improved OpenDocument 1.1 standard.

Re:So uh... (5, Interesting)

qazwart (261667) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280449)

the son of a respected Deal rabbi, is also vice president of the 300-plus student Deal Yeshiva


Oh, there are lots of features only found in MS Word that aren't in OpenOffice. These are things like their document wizard, VBA scripting, object insertion, watermarking, cross-referencing, index marking, and our favorite, Clippy the paperclip.

Ever used these features? No? That's probably why they're not in OpenOffice.

There are several reasons for all of these features: You've got one application that's trying to make sure that anyone who uses it can find the features they need. Because MS has hundreds of developers working full time on MS office, and they got to do something to justify their jobs. It looks good in ad copy (millions of features!). And, it is an important element of FUD. (If you switch to OpenOffice, there might be some feature not in OpenOffice that you will need.)

Re:So uh... (1)

ianalis (833346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280572)

document wizard, VBA scripting, object insertion, watermarking, cross-referencing, index marking
Uuummmhhh... I think they are supported by OO.o although I'm not sure how it compare with the versions of Office starting Office 97.

Re:So uh... (3, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280647)

document wizard,

Yes, although rarely.

VBA scripting

Yes.

object insertion

Yes.

cross-referencing

Yes.

Ever used these features? No? That's probably why they're not in OpenOffice.

Just because *you* don't use a feature, or know anyone else that does, doesn't mean that no-one uses it.

Re:So uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280648)

Oh, there are lots of features only found in MS Word that aren't in OpenOffice. These are things like their document wizard, VBA scripting, object insertion, watermarking, cross-referencing, index marking, and our favorite, Clippy the paperclip.

Ever used these features? No? That's probably why they're not in OpenOffice.


My office makes extensive use of VBA scripting, cross-referencing, and index marking. And the only reason nobody in the office uses Clippy is that the boss prefers the little doggie.

Just because you don't use a feature doesn't mean nobody does.

Re:So uh... (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280702)

Cross referencing is present in openoffice, i've used it myself
as is index marking and watermarking, also used them (or seen them in use on documents i've opened)

If by object insertion you mean ole objects, then yes openoffice also supports that but it will result in proprietary binary blobs existing inside your document which is far from ideal.

There is no clippy, but openoffice does sport an almost-as-annoying lightbulb.

And as to VBA scripting, openoffice supports macros written in openoffice basic, java, javascript and python. Personally if i had to write office automation macros i'd rather learn a usefull language like the latter 3, so i have a skill i can reapply elsewhere.
Oh, and there is work underway to implement vba support into openoffice, but its still a proprietary language and a pretty awful one from what i've seen of it.

Re:So uh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280717)

Oh, there are lots of features only found in MS Word that aren't in OpenOffice. These are things like their document wizard, VBA scripting, object insertion, watermarking, cross-referencing, index marking, and our favorite, Clippy the paperclip.

Document wizard - check; OOo is rather primitive on the wizard side.

VBA scripting - check; OOo uses OOo Basic, JavaScript and BeanShell instead.

Object insertion - I guess it depends on what type of objects you meant, but OOo does not have all the OLE capabilities of MS Office. It's a portability thing, probably.

watermarking - huh? Insert -> Picture, set style to Watermark. Tweak style if you need to.

cross-referencing - huh again? Insert -> Cross-reference

index marking - [repeat 'huh' here] Insert -> Indexes and Tables -> Entry

Clippy - drats, now you're telling me I should re-enable the stupid Help agent? man, that's one feature I wish they didn't attempt to duplicate in OOo. And Clippy looks better in an annoying sort of way.

Re:So uh... (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280738)

Dunno about the rest but I find VBA scripting incredibly useful, it saves me so much time and boredom.

Re:So uh... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280462)

Did Microsoft take the time to clarify exactly which features their Office suite offers that Open and Star offices don't?

Although I can see that that's an interesting question in its own right, don't get misled and ignore the separate question of which features ODF doesnt support.

He's trying his tired old rhetoric of implying that ODF==Open Office. Don't fall for it. If ODF is lacking then ODF needs to be improved. Whether Open Office supports the features isn't so important.

Decent performance; extended XML (4, Informative)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280521)

Lots. One that's not specific to the file formats, though probably affected by them, is performance. OO.o can be very slow at accomplishing common tasks, particularly loading and saving files. I am constantly amazed as I use OO.o day-to-day by how much RAM it manages to use on simple documents, and how long they can take to open and save. I have it sitting beside MS Office, so I can make a very direct comparison on the same hardware and OS. There are lots of things I do like about OO.o, but its performance is not one of those things.

Beyond that, I can't say there's too much I've run into that I can do in Office but not OO.o . A lot of things are much smoother in Office, though ... one could argue that except where OO.o has gone and done something new and intersting, most of its UI is a bad clone of an old version of a bad UI (Office '97). Office has moved on, and while its UI is still pretty poor, it's a lot better than it was ... but OO'o's really hasn't moved much. Frankly, it sucks badly to use, and that's despite my being more familiar with OO.o than Office.

I think MS's argument is a lot weaker with regards to the file format, though I'm certainly no expert. I do expect that they'll be able to implement their own formats with better performance in Office than the ODF formats, but that's hardly surprising given that they designed them with that as one of their key goals.

More interestingly, the Office XML formats require implementing programs to preserve unrecognised valid markup from other namespaces. This lets you do things like embed (eg) an order record in an Office document, embed a JDF specification (when Publisher gets around to going XML as well), and so on. It's not exciting for the end user, but for developers and larger businesses it's a really nice thing to see. One could argue that Microsoft are getting XML "right" in a way that few have so far. Most interestingly by far, you can link the foreign markup in to your Office documents, so that (eg) a user can fill in a form in a document that's actually an XForm with your own structured data. Alternately, a newspaper could insert some custom metadata when exporting stories from a database, so it can tell what's been done with it, keep the DB up to date when the story is imported again, and so on. It's quite interesting stuff. Check out Brian Jones' weblog for some interesting use cases and discussion (and some persistent questions about the licensing issues from me).

The ODF spec only briefly refers to this issue at all. IIRC it permits apps to do this perservation, but does not require it or provide any facilities to support it. If apps aren't required to preserve your markup, then in my view it's not much darn good - it's somewhat like saying that apps may preserve your document text and structure. OpenOffice doesn't preserve foreign markup at all. If it's not directly in the ODF spec, you can't use it. This really loses one of the great advantages that XML has, and is very disappointing.

If we had a standard office document format that I could rely on having these features, there are some very interesting things I could do with it, especially at work. This fragementation and the ODF limitations are extremely frustrating, especially given that the ODF folks are always banging on the XML gong while missing one of the key abilities of XML entirely.

I think MS screwed up very badly at the start by attacking ODF with rhetoric and poorly thought out garbage, not a solid arguement over capabilities and other real issues. Insufficient audiovisual support indeed...

Personally I don't care much whether ODF or MS Office XML wins, so long as the resulting standard:

  • can be reasonably supported in all office-style apps
  • isn't too much of a moving target
  • is royalty free, including automatic royalty free licenses on any required patents
  • is controlled by a standards body
  • specifies enough core functionality that incompatibilities won't become too much of an issue, and provides an extension mechanism to make sure that the format can grow without repeated drastic overhauls.
  • Really uses XML, instead of just sticking an "XML" label on the front while ignoring its most crucial capabilities. I want it to be able to carry, preserve, and interact with my own data and schema.


Re:So uh... (1)

Metteyya (790458) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280597)

Did Microsoft take the time to clarify exactly which features their Office suite offers that Open and Star offices don't?
They don't have to, there is a bit of them that John Doe will never use, but bother some more advanced users. Like plotting experimental data with different error (uncertainity) value for each measurement. In OOo it's possible to do just the basics - i.e. same error (+/- value or percentage) for each measurement.
This of course could bring questions like what sick people use Excel for plotting experimental data - well, believe me, there are faculties where such methods are taught.

Personally, to be system-independent I've searched and found GnuPlot, which is plain great for what I wrote above, but a lot of fellow students just stick with MS Office.

Re:So uh... (3, Informative)

belmolis (702863) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280638)

Another alternative is R [r-project.org] , which is much more powerful than anything MS Office has to offer, is Free, and runs on most platforms.

I smell a rat! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280289)

I definitely smell a rat. It's MS... there's something to this. It's always the same old story with them...

1. Announce cooperation for ODF
2. (???)
3. Profit!

The OpenDocument Foundation already has a plugin (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280295)

As groklaw has already reported [groklaw.net] there is a plugin for importing and exporting ODF files for MS Office all the way back to Office 97. It was recently finished and is in testing.

Re:The OpenDocument Foundation already has a plugi (1)

6079 - Winston S (933883) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280345)

Not only that but reading deeper:

Yet we will support interoperability with ODF documents as they start to appear and will not oppose its standardization or use by any organization. The richness of competitive choices in the market is good for our customers and for the industry as a whole.

My guess it may be from Word 2007 forward.. because why would they give ODF a leg up on WordXML? Even then, it'll be "OMG, you'll lose the formating of you don't save as Doc!!1!"

slashdot covered the plugin too... (4, Informative)

Xtifr (1323) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280432)

On May 4th, slashdot covered the followup to this story [slashdot.org] . Now, three days later, they get around to mentioning the original story. I guess this doesn't actually qualify as a dupe, but it's definitely some sort of mutant nephew of a dupe, or something.

Excellent (3, Insightful)

extra the woos (601736) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280297)

While we cannot and should not assume that Microsoft has OpenOffice's best interests at heart (of course they don't) this is still excellent news.

This is extremely significant news. What this means is that, after years and years of MSO having no competition, years after they basically wiped out wordperfect etc... There is now significant competition to Microsoft Office, and they are being forced to acknowledge it.

Hopefully this will mean that Microsoft will start developing some new revolutionary stuff in Microsoft Office instead of just resting on their laurels (sorry but I don't think any version since 6.0 has been that huge of an upgrade compared to going to 6.0). This is good news. We are all going to get better products instead of everyone just copying each other's minor features.

Open Office is here to stay. They have succesfully gotten a multi-billion dollar company to acknowledge them as a serious competitor just like Linux forced them to acknowledge that windows has competition. Microsoft no longer has the monopoly they did a few years ago.

Re:Excellent (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280452)

Sorry to nitpick, but Microsoft didn't exactly squash Wordperfect, really it's Corel that went to the dogs ever since Cowpland left. Wordperfect in 1998 did things that Word still sucks at today, but in these 8 years they haven't made any significant improvements. They just bump up the version number, spiff up some UI elements and resell the same old crap for another 100$ bill.

Re:Excellent (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280868)

Microsoft no longer has the monopoly they did a few years ago.

If that's true, then they never had a monopoly in the first place(Unless you think the scolding they have gotten from various governments change the corporation).

The key feature of a monopoly isn't that it has a large market share, but that it has complete control of the market. Perhaps microsoft was only ever monopoly-like?

"Microsoft promise" (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280309)

"Microsoft promise".. you're kidding, right? Since when has Microsoft ever kept a promise?
The sad part is that lots of people are going to believe they will.

Genuinely interested (4, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280318)

I'm genuinely interested to know what features of Microsoft Word "most users use" that are not in OpenOffice or KOffice (which also does ODF).

Nearly all the users in our office are doing standard officey things in MS Office. None of them use features that aren't present in OpenOffice - in fact, hardly any of them use MS Office as anything more than a glorified typewriter with a handy spell checker.

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280323)

Prepared to be flooded with "Office is full of bloat" posts.

But I would say most if not all features in MS office are there because someone, somewhere needs those features on a regular basis. You might not know of any of these people but there are probably people out there who would kiss Bill Gates personally for the inclusion of this feature that makes their task so much easier.

People don't need most features (5, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280493)

I would say most if not all features in MS office are there because someone, somewhere needs those features on a regular basis


No. About ten years ago I read an interview by a top executive from Microsoft (Nathan Myrwold, iirc) that most features do not come from customer requests, but from magazine comparisons. When someone wrote an article comparing different office suites they would include a table with tickmarks showing which features were included in each software. It became an obvious competitive advantage to have more tickmarks than the competition.


In that interview, Myrwold mentioned that MS-Word had over a thousand different commands, and that was a problem because most of those commands would never be used by the majority of users and it had a big impact on usability. That's how Clippy was born, it was an attempt to concilate the wants of marketing who insist on putting useless features with the needs of users who want to perform simple tasks most of the time.

Re:People don't need most features (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280581)

About ten years ago I read an interview by a top executive from Microsoft (Nathan Myrwold, iirc) that most features do not come from customer requests, but from magazine comparisons. When someone wrote an article comparing different office suites they would include a table with tickmarks showing which features were included in each software.

That may have been true way back in the heyday of the nineties, but as you yourself pointed out, that was ten years ago. This is 2006, not 1996, and things have changed. I am confident that there is not a single feature (Excel flight simulator aside... But I hear that doesn't work in recent versions...) that does not get used somewhere by someone to accomplish something they're trying to do at least once in a while, if not every day. Wake up, the nineties are gone, so is clippy (ok, almost gone from Office 2003, and will be gone from Office 2007 for good), as well as your reality. After all, do you really think that the Office team doesn't get enough feature requests so instead they spend their time coming up with worthless features solely for the purpose of adding more checkboxes to the list? And if you really can't come up with enough new features to occupy a dev team for a couple more product cycles, that's the best compliment I've ever heard that you can make to a product team: your product is done, it's perfect, time to retire!

Office is the bloated one? (1)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280547)

You're kidding, right? <i>MS office</i> is the bloated one, when compared to <i>OpenOffice.org</i>?

Office might've been bloated once, and arguably still is, but it's nothing compared to the awe-inspiring bulk of OO.o in action.

Re:Office is the bloated one? (1)

pallmall1 (882819) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280658)

Office might've been bloated once, and arguably still is, but it's nothing compared to the awe-inspiring bulk of OO.o in action.

The massive bulk of MS Office is loaded at startup and it's true size is hidden among the memory reserved by Windows. Ever wonder why so much system memory is unavailable in Windows? Because of the preloading of things like MS Office. OpenOffice.org has to use resources left available to the user and therefore appears to be more bulky than MS Office.

Re:Office is the bloated one? (1)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280778)

Yep, MS Office loads some code at start-up, or at least older versions did. I can't actually find any running programs or services with Process Explorer or Autoruns to suggest that that's still true in Office 2003, and the first-time load time is quite a bit longer than subsequent executions. I wouldn't be surprised if it just pre-reads the DLLs from disk into cache and leaves it at that (just like most Linux distros now precache the login environment and common programs during boot). Anyway, in the Windows 95 days, when 4MB of RAM was a lot, that preloader was a giant resource hog. I see no evidence on my system that it's still even detectable. Of course, my system with XP running, firefix, thunderbird, and a leaping mound of OEM crap weighs in at a little over 200MB of memory used, so I'm not too stressed. Quitting thunderbird freed 70MB anyway (hooray for memory-efficient IMAP clients?).

My experience is that in real-world use MS Office just uses less memory and CPU time to accomplish tasks than OO.o does. MS Office is certainly not lean compared to some of the lighter, smaller and less functional options around, but I've found it to be much less hard on a system than OO.o.

Of course, now I have a 2x2GHz laptop with 2GB of RAM, so I don't really care ;-) I just think the "Office is bloated" argument is old, tired, and no longer relevant due to changes in systems and the programs concerned. Heck, I think these days it might be smaller than emacs ;-)

Re:Genuinely interested (4, Interesting)

jmv (93421) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280343)

There are many areas where OO.o is still lacking badly. One of them is the math editor. I still think writing a scientific document in MS Word (and not LaTeX) is a dumb idea in the first place, but OO.o is far worse than even MS Word. Support for sound (works but buggy) and video (inexistant AFAIK) in presentations is another example. These are "just" implementation issues (not ODF-related), they will need to be fixed if OO is to compete with MS Office at the feature level (I refuse to us MS Office because the format is closed, but not everyone care about that).

Re:Genuinely interested (2, Insightful)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280360)

But those aren't the features most people are using. Sure, people ARE using them, but not most as Microsoft asserts. Perhaps less than 1% of our company ever makes a presentation, and so far zero has included video - the vast majority (i.e. the "most people" Microsoft are referring to) in our office use Word and nothing else. Finance use spreadsheets, but they aren't using features in Excel that are not present in OpenOffice either.

I don't disagree that people use features in MS Office that aren't present in OpenOffice - however, I disagree that it's "most people".

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280379)

It's fairly typical for IT in large organizations to customize some stuff in Office, usually very sily things like having default templates that for some reason include macros, adding buttons to the menus to insert logo's and "confidential" marks, that sort of thing.

Those silly scripted pieces of annoyance are rolled out to every user in a large organization, and hey presto, most users of office are using "advanced" features, mostly because they can't be turned off easily.

I've not been in a large enterprise organisation that did NOT have office customization. (Nor in one where the customizations were NOT silly, or NOT dependent on ancient VB macros - it must be on page 1 of the MCSE book)

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

moranar (632206) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280409)

I've not been in a large enterprise organisation that did NOT have office customization. (Nor in one where the customizations were NOT silly, or NOT dependent on ancient VB macros - it must be on page 1 of the MCSE book)


That's like saying that you haven't been in a large enterprise organisation that did NOT have shell scripts in their unix machines, or that didn't depend on C programming - it must be on page 1 of The Unix Programming Environment.

Seriously, if you buy a tool and don't use its features... Sure, you might be able to accomplish what you want in some other way, maybe Perl, but still...

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280816)

however say 1% of your workforce are people who actually need to use formulae to express what thier doing (IE are mathematicians or true engineers of some sort) and the facilities for doing so in oo.o are considered inadequate.

you either have to deploy ms office everywhere or live with the huge pain of multiple almost but not quite compatible office suites. Much the same thing happens with different versions of office itself in fact.

Re:Genuinely interested (2, Interesting)

odie_q (130040) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280569)

Interesting. I study theoretical physics and, as you suggest, write all my papers in latex. However, the computer labs at school for some reason run Windows with MikTex, which is said to suck (I use my laptop, and wouldn't know), so a lot of people use either MS Word or OO Writer for their papers.

Now, the way it goes seems to be they start out with MS Word, as it is most familiar. After having lost a couple of papers to its mysteries, they switch to OO Writer. Now, OpenOffice seems to lose just as much data (I'd say it's probably Windows which is at fault here, not the applications), but has a much nicer equation editor, so they stick with that. The amount of cursing is pretty much constant.

What makes you say OO Writer is far worse than MS Word? Last I checked (Office 2k, I think), equation support in MS Office was a joke. I have no idea what version they're running at school, but I suppose it is fairly current.

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280831)

... MikTex, which is said to suck
I don't know who says this, but I have been using MiKTeX for 4 years now with no complaints. It's a good, solid package with everything you might need to produce LaTeX documents, and then some.

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

SlamMan (221834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280828)

Video in PowerPoint is just about the least portable feature in it. Its incredibly fickle about paths, and doesn't handle going cross platform (Mac and PC) since the PC version doesn't show Quicktime files well, and the mac version can;t seem to show wmv at all.

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280399)

I'm curious if the commenting/version-tracking stuff is in there. This is one area where Word really shines, and has noticably improved in the past few versions.

Granted, I rarely use OpenOffice, but am curious to see how it stacks up. I actually do enjoy the fact that many of the more "advanced" features in word work extremely well when I need them. The features for managing large documents are appreciated as well with support for tables-of-contents and excellent footnote support.

I'm no big Microsoft fan (heck, I jumped ship on windows in favor of MacOS back in the OS 8 days), but I've got to say that Office has struck me as an application that was done right. Once I started writing, editing, and organizing extremely long papers, I was pleasantly surprised to find the features I was looking for actually present in the application, and even more surprised when they worked exactly in the way I expected them to.

Granted, the programs can suck when used for purposes other than the ones they were intended for -- desktop publishing in MS Word sucks, but it's an excellent word processor, just like Apple's Pages is amazing for publishing, but terrible for word processing. Ditto for using word to write scientific papers (although since pretty much the entire scientific community uses LaTeX, this really isn't an issue).

So I'd say that there actually may be a fair number of legitimate features that didn't get included, and microsoft's cause for concern is valid. Would someone else like to comment?

Re:Genuinely interested (3, Insightful)

Tom (822) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280426)

I'm curious if the commenting/version-tracking stuff is in there. This is one area where Word really shines, and has noticably improved in the past few versions.

Can I get some of what you're smoking? The commenting is one hell of a mess. Oh yeah, it looks all shiney and look! colours! on the surface, but have you ever tried to really _work_ with it? The only use is within small workgroups where a little bit of improved communication would make it superfluous anyways.

I've tried working with both commenting and versioning in a non-trivial environment where several different - and at times hostile - parties are involved. You can forget about it. We're currently using .rtf because .doc contains too much hidden information the parties don't want revealed to each other, just as one example.
In .odf I could at worst write a small script to get it out, if it were stored at all (I've done scripts to touch-up .sxi files before, it's easier than it sounds).

And let's not even speak about versioning. 20 year old CVS beats it with one arm tied behind its back.

Almost all of Words advanced features are half-assed at best. I'll celebrate the day its market share plummets to insignificance.

Removing personal info in OOo (1)

Quizo69 (659678) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280484)

Not sure if you are using OpenOffice.org or not, but just in case you are (and for others out there concerned about version changes staying in sensitive documents):

Tools - Options - General - OpenOffice.org - Remove personal information on saving (tick it)

You can also go into File - Properties - General and then press the Delete user data button on any existing document to clear revisions, user data etc.

HTH

Re:Genuinely interested (2, Informative)

Tarwn (458323) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280705)

So your saying commenting/version-tracking does work for small groups of people? Thats been my experience as well. Sharepoint has a lot of promise in extending these, but unfortunatly I think Sharepoint has fallen fairly wide of the mark in terms of usefulness and useability.
I believe that the granparent's point was that this feature (commenting/version-tracking) is useful in some circumstances and is not included in Open Office. And I am willing to agree that it is useful in many cirucumstances. However:
OOo Writer -> Tools -> Options -> Text Document -> Changes
And of course File -> Versions for saving new versions of a file.

I haven't actually used that option in OOo before (maybe because I never noticed it among the other 100 options you can change in that menu), so I couldn't say if it works beter or worse then the color-coded bubbles and underline system that Word uses. But it is in there.

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

kermitthefrog917 (903403) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280455)

Have you ever tried to write up a lab report using OpenOffice? Excel is (sadly) so much easier to use in this task than oocalc2. The simple task of finding the equation of a best fit line isn't built into the chart system.

Re:Genuinely interested (2, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280593)

Remembering that the slashdot audience is primarily composed of programmers, sysadmins and other geeks*, I really suspect that you're asking the wrong people that question. Most of us here will be using Word as "a glorified typewriter with a handy spellchecker" because that's all we need from it. You might have a better response about Excel, but I think you'll be out of luck with regards to Word, Powerpoint, etc.

(* Note that I said primarily; please don't take me to task because not only geeks read slashdot, or because you personally are not a geek but are a regular - I didn't say that no non-geek reads the site, just that most of us are geeks...)

Re:Genuinely interested (2, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280678)

And infact a significant proportion of msoffice customers are still using versions as old as 97, which also don't support many of the feature they're talking about.

Re:Genuinely interested (1)

tacocat (527354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280867)

After 15 years using MS Office, I've never found a "common" (to me) feature that OpenOffice can't replicate. YMMV.

I think what this announcement translates to is "Resistance is futile! You will be assimulated." Meaning: We will ensure that every time you us a MSFT product to open a ODF file, it will be converted to the superior technology without delay and we will repeatedly question the intelligence of any motions to continue with this puny ODF format. This is typical behaviour for their software applications and I don't think they will miss a beat taking this one in like any other.

Unfortunately, exportation to ODF will be something of a hit-n-miss procedure by design.

Of course, if ODF and OpenOffice is so great, why are we even wasting our time concerning ourselves with the press releases of MSFT? When was the last time, since the 1980's, that anyone stood up and took notice of what Lotus or Novell was announcing? I think MSFT's time is passing quickly.

Some day people will look back and try to identify the turning point in MSFT's history. Some will say it was Mac OSX, other Linux 2.4. I think it's the combination of Mac OSX, Linux 2.4, Mozilla, and OpenOffice that formed the greatest software tide. The hardware tide is a bit different. In that regard, the fact that 64-bit hardware was first supported by Linux and Mac rather than Windows is the true hardware turning point.

Kooks. (0, Troll)

inexorablewanderer (960358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280341)

Presumably such support will include helping the plug-in developers that will assist Massachusetts migrate from a MS Office environment to one based upon ODF-compliant office productivity software.
How did you derive this standard according to which it's advisable or "moral" for a company to help its own clients defect to competitors? I hate Democrats.

Re:Kooks. (5, Insightful)

chronos (3076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280388)

It is more like Microsoft must provide ODF compatibility or the state government as well as local governments will not be buying Office. Notice that this promise came after they tried to bribe and threaten the state government to back down on its ODF requirement.

Failure to reverse the ODF decision means that no matter what decision Microsoft makes they will lose the Office monopoly. Bill Gates can choose to keep a piece of the action or lose everything.

Re:Kooks. (0)

inexorablewanderer (960358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280443)

Again . . .

"Presumably such support will include helping the plug-in developers that will assist Massachusetts migrate from a MS Office environment to one based upon ODF-compliant office productivity software."

"Presumably such support will include helping the plug-in developers that will assist Massachusetts migrate from a MS Office environment to one based upon ODF-compliant office productivity software."

"Presumably such support will include helping the plug-in developers that will assist Massachusetts migrate from a MS Office environment to one based upon ODF-compliant office productivity software."

He's not talking about Microsoft adding ODF compatibility to Office--Microsoft said as much. He's talking about Microsoft helping to develop his competitors' competing products. I hate Democrats.

Buy stock (1)

inode_buddha (576844) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280342)

Buy stock in chair companies. Else, take up plastering in Redmond, WA.

Time for the obligatory Admiral Ackbar quote (4, Funny)

TAZ6416 (584004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280349)

It's a trap!

Jonathan

http://www.justgofaster.com/ [justgofaster.com]

good enough (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280373)

Jason Matusow, Microsoft's Director of Standards Affairs, had this to say on the occasion of ODF's approval by the members of ISO and the IEC: "The ODF format is limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice and would not satisfy most of our Microsoft Office customers today."

OpenOffice has enough features and performance to satisfy my parents for their document needs at home, and that is primarily for work. I bet most people use their Microsoft Office for similar purposes. OpenOffice is good enough and the price is write, thus satisfying most of the Microsoft Office customers today.

Slowly (1)

tsa (15680) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280389)

Like an old castle, Microsoft is slowly being abandoned and crumbling away. Like the old castle, they will probably be around for another thousand years or so.

Acronyms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280408)

"RFI" is the common acronym for "Request for information" ?

God, I hate you americans with every cell of my biased european body.

Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Responses (-1, Troll)

TheNetAvenger (624455) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280418)

Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Responses

This is 'exactly' what Microsoft has been saying all along about ODF.

ODF does not support advanced features, nor provides a 'standard' or uniform implementation for advanced features, which makes the adoption of this document format very premature.

Basically, even a product like Microsoft Word uses and stores information that there is NO way to store this information in ODF. At least not with any standardization.

Microsoft made it clear that an open format should be adopted, just NOT this specification, as it is limited and its feature set is targeted at lower end document structures.

ODF takes non-standard data and splits this off from the ODF Document itself. How can this help interoperability?

Lets use a real world example. Microsoft Word uses technologies like 'Ink' and as well as even voice structure, in addition to rich media formats that there is no STANDARD way of storing this in an ODF.

So if Open Office doesn't support concepts like Ink, if the document is saved using ODF the 'ink' being non-standard would not be put in a format that Open Office could understand and this information would not MATCH changes to the document even if Open Office preserved the 'ink' data. Rendering this information and data useless.

Ink may not seem important, but there are companies that do use ink technology in Word Processor documents, even Apple is moving for better Ink technology support. Also realize that there are a large population of people that use 'Ink' in Microsoft Office documents on a daily base. I even use it, and retain my notes and even my documents with the intact Ink. It is quite impressive to be able to edit and use Microsoft Word with Ink. You are basically using your own handwriting, but editing it with Wordprocessor tools, like doing spell check on it, move words around, etc etc.

And Ink is just a 'tiny' example of a feature that ODF does not support that you will find in other document formats, not even just stuff from Microsoft.

Microsoft tried to use a similar example like Ink several times, but the press and the people pushing for ODF would not listen.

You cannot have a universal document format if it does not have the capability to support features in the current products that would be using like Microsoft Word. Nor can you have a universal document format that does not have a structured way of standardizing new technologies that will be added to it in the future.

What happens when I drop a XAML animation or XPS document in my Word Document. These are simple binary or non-binary XML document structures, but yet, ODF would choke on this already. And you will see people using XAML/XPS based animations and images and document constructs even in applications like Microsoft Word within the year.

So this then breaks ODF for everyone but Microsoft Word users, and defeats the whole purpose of a standard document format. And Microsoft is NOT being evil with this, XPS/XAML is how the entire Vista OS works and passes information. Adobe also has many 'embedded' media technologies that fail in the ODF specification. We won't be able to use ODF easily with even something as simple as InDesign.

Now if you have read this far, please take note...

I think the ODF concept is grand, and there is NO reason Microsoft should hold the rules to any standard document format. We need a standard, but considering Microsoft truly DOES have the majority of the technologies used in document formating to extra concepts used in their documents like Ink, the ODF standard needs to USE Microsoft's knowledge on this subject.

It isn't like Microsoft isn't offering to help, they are. It also isn't like Microsoft has done something much like this before. RTF was a Microsoft creation, and even many of the XHTML and other 'web document' specifications have been written by or have been greatly improved by smart people at Microsoft.

In reading through the press, buzz, FUD, and even talking with the developers at the Microsoft Office development team, ODF is currently NOT the answer. It could be, and we need to HOPE that Microsoft does become fully involved for it to ever have a chance to be.

Heck even let Microsoft use their XML/XPS concepts for this. Microsoft is already giving out all the information on this document structure, and it is the key of communication and storage and presentation that Vista is built on. This would be a grand solution, as the non-Windows world would get access to and could even use the same mechanisms for document and presentation that Vista uses. (And Vista really is ahead of anyone else in this field.)

I hope that Microsoft is trying to take an active role in ODF that we will see the specification move forward and find a way to support at least the current technologies on the market.

If not, people will STILL not use it. It will be the 'default lowest common denominator', which you can draw parallels to RTF in this regard. We need a true standard that is far more rich than ODF.

So instead of dogging on MS, lets try to encourage their support and let them help get the ODF off to a better start. Right now all we have is an ODF that supports the basics of Open Office, which is far from technologies from Microsoft Word and Adobe.

Please don't even take my words on this, research it (on the MS side) and send email to Microsoft asking for them to give over ideas on how to fully support all the technologies MS Word and future documents might use.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (2, Insightful)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280478)

Lets use a real world example. Microsoft Word uses technologies like 'Ink' and as well as even voice structure, in addition to rich media formats

The two examples that you provide are probably used by 0.01% of Microsoft Word documents. I would not call them "real world" examples.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (0)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280518)

And? Microsoft has put R+D money into Ink, voice etc, and would probably not want to piss that down the drain for the sake of ODF. But then, I bet Slashdot would jump on them again for removing useful reatures...

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280595)

Typical slashdolt logic: "I don't use it now, therefore it is useless and would never be useful in the future."

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (1)

islanduniverse (925110) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280839)

Well, let's just go back to using Notepad then. I'm sure the functionality of Notepad is included in over 99.9% of Microsoft Office Word documents. The fact is, the features such as Ink and voice are there if necessary. I may have only used them once or twice, but they are there.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (4, Insightful)

vidarh (309115) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280491)

The fact that nobody pays attention to the issues you mention should be a clear indicator that most people don't care about those features. Even so, none of the products using ODF as default storage supports them, leaving plenty of room for adding specifications later.

If Microsofts wants to support ODF, and needs more features, all they'd have to do is propose extensions and present a well founded argument for why they should be allowed. They haven't.

In essence, Microsoft likes to whine about this, because it serves their purpose to keep ODF adoption rates down, but they show no interest in doing anything about it.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280615)

In essence, Microsoft likes to whine about this, because it serves their purpose to keep ODF adoption rates down, but they show no interest in doing anything about it.

Why should they do anything about it? What logical reason can you think of for them to expend a bunch of effort re-doing what they've already done? Work, I might add, that benefits their competition and hurts them. Seriously; the the "market" for ODF is smaller than the market for storage of "ink" related technologies in Word documents ...

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (1)

Hope Thelps (322083) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280515)

Please don't even take my words on this, research it (on the MS side) and send email to Microsoft asking for them to give over ideas on how to fully support all the technologies MS Word and future documents might use.

What would be the point in us emailing them? Microsoft has its own representatives on the committees responsible for this standard, at least with respect to the OSI. I'm sure they would be welcome to participate elsewhere too. If they want to contribute their suggestions then there's nothing stopping them. How would me emailing them help? This is silly.

That's fine (5, Informative)

rhizome (115711) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280532)

The issue with ODF as it's come up (and Massachussetts in particular) is that they wanted to be able to publish information for the public in a format that they could use regardless of several factors, the big two of which are choice of representation and futureproofing. As has been related many many times before, there are aspects of Microsoft's own Office formats that do not get imported - or get imported in a broken state - when opening documents in more current versions of Office than they were saved in. This is where future-proofing come in.

The idea is that the constituents of the Commonwealth should be able to read the digital documents produced by their government. It is FUD in the most classic sense that the idea was to mandate some ODF-only office suite that allowed people to work only in ODF. This is not the case. The point is accessibility for the final product.

Think of a magazine. Magazines are commonly laid out in Quark XPress (as a common example). Quark has features like revision control, graphics control, text kerning and leading and flow-control. Myriad tweakable parameters that allow the people who work on the magazine to make it look and read the way they feel is best. We as magazine readers do not need this functionality at all in order to read the magazine. We just want to be able to pick up the publication and flip through the pages and read stories, look at pictures, and so on. These are two completely different modes of interacting with the document that are not mutually exclusive, but that intersect in the act of publication. ODF is this simplified translation for uses that do not require things like XAML.

This is where Microsoft sought to sow seeds of doubt that the sky of document creation and workflow was falling. This is not the case, and what we read here is that what ODF proponents predicted has come true: Microsoft would not stand in the way of their users choosing to "Save As..." in the ODF format. It's just bad business for them to do so and I for one see this story as Microsoft acknowledging a big, fat "I told you so."

I don't even want to touch the accessibility/ADA aspects of embedded media, which is entirely uneccessary for the purposes that Massachussetts wants to use ODF for, but that Microsoft purported to be 110% necessary for anybody to create documents in the future. They were trying to embrace and extend their reach into the very act of creating a document. Is any government document dependent on the creator being able to publish their Inkitudes in a native format? I don't think so! The fact remains, however, that government employees can use whatever techniques they like to create a document, but if it's going to wind up being a public document then people need to be able to access it forevermore. I certainly didn't see them promising THAT in the runup to MA's decision to use ODF.

ODF is just another output format and there's no reason that the laws and other byproducts of governmental communication can't be published in a format that people can be confident can be incorporated into future products - it being an open and documented format - and won't be aged out in favor of Microsoft's decision that maybe Ink should be the lingua franca of Office formats (downsampled into Palatino if desired). Microsoft did not want to cede control of one iota of their Office franchise and they preferred to be able to hold the reins on just what software would be able to read a Microsoft Office document.

Office 2007 formats are standards (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280691)

"Microsoft did not want to cede control of one iota of their Office franchise and they preferred to be able to hold the reins on just what software would be able to read a Microsoft Office document."

Is that why Office 2007's default formats will be open standards, recognized by ECMA, and later ISO?
Is that why the OpenXML developer's group already provides Java sample code that manipulates that file format without any need for Office 2007 being used?
Is that why a Novel dev is already working on a spreadsheet that uses that file format?

Read the following sites for enlightenment. :-)
http://blogs.msdn.com/brian_jones/default.aspx [msdn.com]
http://openxmldeveloper.org/default.aspx [openxmldeveloper.org]

Couldn't agree more (1, Troll)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280543)

Well said. The biggest flaw in the ODF standard as its stands is that it doesn't really use XML's capabilities for, well, extensibility. There is no way in ODF to include your own data with your own schema (in a separate namespace) and have OO.o preserve that data, keep it with the appropraite document elements, delete it if the associated document elements are deleted, and so on. Let alone anything so interesting as interact with it or access it via plug-ins or extensions to add new capabilities.

The ODF spec gives almost no consideration to the perservation and manipulation of third party markup. OO.o currently just discards it silently when loading a document, and the saved copy omits any unrecognised markup.

The MS Office formats do offer all these features, and for that reason alone I'm starting to hope MS wins this one. Both formats seem like uninspring choices for different reasons, but at least the MS one won't artificially limit features and give the "universal" format the reputation of being limited, unreliable for more than basic uses, and crap.

I'm actually really interested in the new Office features for embedded third party markup and interaction with it via forms, etc. It has some interesting possibilities for use at work and with some other tools I'm involved with, and it's something I'd very much like to expore. If OO.o could support the same capabilities I'd be a very happy man, but I just don't see it happening.

Re:Couldn't agree more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280675)

WTF are you smoking?
>The ODF spec gives almost no consideration to the perservation
>and manipulation of third party markup. OO.o currently just
>discards it silently when loading a document, and the saved
>copy omits any unrecognised markup.

Are you trying to tell people that any processor of an
ODF document MUST preserve some NON-ODF
funkytown tags? Why in hell should an ODF processor
preserve NON-ODF data?

It sounds to me like you're looking for an avenue to
silently insert spyware or malware into some
document without anyone being the wiser.

A word of advice: put the crack pipe down and join
the rest of us who live in a place called sanityland.

Why am I replying? (2, Interesting)

Craig Ringer (302899) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280748)

While your comment doesn't really deserve the dignity of a reply (especially since you posted AC), I'm going to waste some time and do so anyway.

The simplest reason to want to preserve your own markup is to integrate with other systems. Here's a simplistic example: A content management system may want to store the identity of a document in the document in such a way as that it can be reognised as the same document when re-imported into the CMS after someone's been working on it on some disconnected laptop. Existing metadata may not offer that facility.

Another good case is a plug-in that adds significant functionality to the application and needs to store its data in the document, have it travel with the document, and have its data associated with specific parts of the document. Consider a bibliography editor - if you delete the text with the reference, the editor needs to be able to tell that's happened and not output the associated reference in the full bibilography. Currently such tools maintain their own databases and/or use opaque blobs in the document for this, but these approaches aren't very good - in particular they mean that if the document is edited by a tool that doesn't have the bibliography editor, the information can be lost or damaged.

That's a simplistic example, but in the broader sense it comes down to wanting to be able to do things with a format beyond those that the original designers explicitly considered. Imagine if we still had to use X11 as it was written originally? What a mess. Thankfully, X11 is extensible and well designed so that additions the original designers didn't imagine can be added over time.

A generic, universal "office" document format needs to satisfy that requirement too.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (4, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280550)

Microsoft Word uses technologies like 'Ink' and as well as even voice structure, in addition to rich media formats that there is no STANDARD way of storing this in an ODF.

"Ink" information can be stored in an ODF document using the Gif format as a metatdata container. This can be specified by using the Gif parameter of the Ink.Save Method.
From MSDN;

Gif
2

Specifies ink that is persisted by using a Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) file that contains ISF as metadata embedded within the file.

This allows ink to be viewed in applications that are not ink-enabled and maintain its full ink fidelity when it returns to an ink-enabled application. This format is ideal when transporting ink content within an HTML file and making it usable by ink-enabled and ink-unaware applications.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (2, Interesting)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280669)

Ink is just one example, but your solution even for that falls short of working.

You say, ... "This allows ink to be viewed in applications that are not ink-enabled and maintain its full ink fidelity when it returns to an ink-enabled application."

Here's the problem. Someone gives me a document with ink and associated content. I decide to use a "not ink-enabled" app to alter the document, and then pass the altered document to someone that views it with "an ink-enabled application". The document that I passed on is now "corrupt" in that the ink that was "preserved" is no longer consistent with the rest of the document's data, because the "not ink-enabled" app that I used to alter the document didn't have the ability to alter the ink accordingly.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280731)

In which case the app you use is at fault, not the format.
And you'd be foolish to edit something in an app that doesn't support it!

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (2, Informative)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280817)

You say, ... "This allows ink to be viewed in applications that are not ink-enabled and maintain its full ink fidelity when it returns to an ink-enabled application."

I didn't say that, Microsoft did. It's a quote from their Tablet PC API documentation.

Wouldn't PNG.. (1)

Unski (821437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280735)

..be a better choice? Madobramedia uses it to great effect as the default format of Fireworks, and it retains all sorts of vector, layer, font/text and other metadata, whilst also resulting in something that can be viewed without it's metadata being understood e.g. in Finder/Explorer.

Re:Before we get the usual FUD and Tinfoil Respons (2, Insightful)

slux (632202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280777)

I value interoperability much, much more than some newish Word processor features that few know about and almost no-one uses. Even if they're really useful, they can't possibly be moreso than enabling people to exchange documents independent of what word processing software they happen to be using.

Fix the huge problem first and then aim for new features. I'm a little doubtful that a significant amount of the population will start using much of what is added at this point to the very mature product that is an office suite but even if some do, they'll still have the option of using a document format that only Word can read for it and using ODF when they don't need those features.

delusions about ms office (5, Insightful)

joevai (952546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280425)

I am constantly amazed by the sort of mass-delusion people seem to have about MS office, intentionally perpetuated by ms - the idea that ms office is a framework of acceptably workable office productivity applications. Wrong wrong wrong.

Each and every office application is buggy, has gaping holes in terms of usability (for example the Access report designer makes adding columns to data a nightmare - you have to align line elements to the pixels manually, or use the severely clunky grid system), and makes any use beyond bare minimum severely frustrating (my job is to work with Microsoft Office and I'm at expert level with it so I know those only too well).

Microsoft dominate the market, and they have abused it as most public companies in a monopoly would do. The software is incomplete and as far as I'm concerned unacceptably faulty but it's the best out there given that they have had virtually no competition. Now that's changing, they act as if their so-far monopolised customer base would find other software unacceptably bad. It's ridiculous.

Thank God for open source giving people a more usable, workable solution not only for portability's sake but to finally give us an alternative so we can all show ms what is and isn't acceptable. In my opinion it isn't there yet - but it's only a matter of time before Openoffice exceeds MS in terms of functionality I'm convinced of it.

I know I'm probably gonna be modded down for trolling/off-topic/etc. but I feel so strongly about this - please can we all stop acting as if their software is acceptable. In any other industry a company producing such faulty goods would have gone out of business, and rightly so from the customer's point of view. We're only encouraging Microsoft to not bother fixing anything time and time again if we stay complacent, and yet again us customers' will be cheated out of decent software. They could do it. They have very talented people working for them. But they only understand the language of commerce - so let's make the competition strong and force them to change their ways. It's time for change.

/rant

Re:delusions about ms office (1)

Tedium Unleased (764661) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280782)

I don't mean to criticize too much... but you feel so strongly about this, yet your job is to work with Office and know it at an expert level? Have you considered you are helping perpetrate the concept that Office is acceptable? In fact I'd say it's arguable that people like yourself are the biggest proponents of the idea that Office is acceptable, other than Microsoft itself. I'm guessing you are smarter and more capable than what should be required for whatever it is you are doing with Office. And the main reason for this is that the software's shortcomings need to be made up for, and in a big way beyond the capabilities of most of who the product is intended. So in a sense, your job is to make up for Office's shortcomings and make it acceptable - which at some level it must be (after applying your know-how) if someone's paying you to do this. Even if this isn't really the case, it doesn't sound like you could like your job much.

Re:delusions about ms office (1)

joevai (952546) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280798)

ah yes no i don't like it :-) but i don't have the power to change this at the moment unfortunately. I'd prefer openoffice but hey there it is. I am doing my best to move away from using office as much as possible, and although it's still ms should be using asp.net and sql server - infinitely preferable to Access which is the most appallingly buggy horrible piece of software I've ever had the misfortune to use (n.b. ms legal - this is my opinion which anyone in their right mind would share but hey from a legal perspect I say nothing!). Generally just trying to grind them down into using proper software. Rome wasn't built in a day!

Disruptive Technologies (1)

Paul Johnson (33553) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280440)

I've just been reading Clayton Christensen's book "The Innovator's Dilemma" about disruptive technologies. Actually "technology" is a bit of a misnomer: it ought to have been called "disruptive marketing". While technology is often a key part of the story, the real driver is generally the discovery of some small niche that is either not served at all by the incumbents, or that is over-served because the incumbents are always releasing bigger, better and more expensive versions and something simple, small and cheap isn't on the market.

So it seems to be with office productivity. Microsoft says that ODF lacks the features of its higher end product, and "the majority" of its users would not find this acceptable. Even if this is true (a big "if") there is still a substantial minority of users who do not want to pay hundreds of dollars for all the bells and whistles. These people will rapidly migrate to ODF, especially once they can be certain of sending it to an Office user and have it look the same. From there ODF will rapidly migrate up-market.

OpenOffice 2.0 all the way for me now :) (1)

flobberchops (971724) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280446)

What more is to say? OpenOffice 2.0 and other offices are on par with commercial offerings. The only way commercial offerings can add value and compete for revenus is their "Live" backend services. That is the playing field now. Not the consumer / enterprise desktop only applications.

OO = Basic (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280506)

OpenOffice itself is very basic and cluttered; It probably doesn't have a need to use a format that supports more than the basic TEXT GOES HERE system.

Re:OO = Basic (1)

PeterBrett (780946) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280672)

OpenOffice itself is very basic and cluttered; It probably doesn't have a need to use a format that supports more than the basic TEXT GOES HERE system.

Please wait while I wet myself laughing at your ignorance.

From your post I have extracted the following metadata:

  • You installed an early (1.1.x) version of OpenOffice, looked at it once or twice (without actually doing anything with it), and then decided you didn't like it because it didn't look exactly the same as MS Office
  • You have absolutely no technical knowledge of the ODF format whatsoever

Believe me, describing the ODF format as a "basic TEXT GOES HERE system" is like describing an immersive visualisation facility as a "computer display".

</flame>

So last week... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280610)

...Massachusetts Information Technology Division (ITD), in requesting more information, have publicly admitted that they haven't thought through their adoption of ODF. They decided to adopt it, and now they're asking how? Exactly how much did they investigate the business case for adopting ODF?

Say what? (3, Insightful)

myxiplx (906307) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280652)

Gotta love that. MS say they will support OpenDoc? Makes a change from last year "Yates reiterated the Microsoft does not intend to natively support the OpenDocument format" - Sept 05 (ZDNet) Also a little confused about this line: "The ODF format is limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice". I thought OpenDoc was created by an open consortium of companies and was based on real world needs instead of an artificial construct to match the features of a particular program. Surely MS' doc format is the only one limited specifically to the features of a particular program? And last, a real doozy: "we will support interoperability with ODF documents ... and will not oppose its standardization or use by any organization." Hmm... so how come MS spent so much time & effort lobbying Mass. in an attempt to derail their attempts to implement OpenDocument?

ODF is indeed geared toward OO.o's needs (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280742)

Also a little confused about this line: "The ODF format is limited to the features and performance of OpenOffice and StarOffice". I thought OpenDoc was created by an open consortium of companies and was based on real world needs instead of an artificial construct to match the features of a particular program.


Allow me to quote from http://xml.openoffice.org/ [openoffice.org]
OpenOffice.org XML file format: The OpenOffice.org XML file format is the native file format of OpenOffice.org 1.0. It has been replaced by the OASIS OpenDocument file format in OpenOffice.org 2.0.

OASIS OpenDocument file format: The OASIS OpenDocument file format is the native file format of OpenOffice.org 2.0. It is developed by a Technical Committee (TC) at OASIS. The OpenDocument format is based on the OpenOffice.org XML file format.

Read the above slowly until it sinks in. ODF is created with OO.o in mind. It was built with OO.o, OO.o's features, and even OO.o's code structure in mind. It's derived from OO.o's previous format.

Let's cut to the chase here. ODF was created so as to provide a way for MS Office competitors to compete, not on the basis of functionaity, but on the basis of, "Use us because we've opened up our format as a standard!". That's good, because it caused Microsoft to respond by opening up Office 2007's formats as a standard too (a move that OO.o and their allies didn't foresee).

So, neither side can honestly play the "use us because of our document formats" game.
Microsoft can't say, "You must use us because because we're the only ones that can understand our formats!" and OO.o (et al) can't say, "You should use us because our format is open and theirs isn't!"
They both have to compete on functionality/price.

Why the OOo Obsession? (1, Interesting)

xenoterracide (880092) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280710)

Seriously WHY does everyone think Open Office is so...... great. KOffice is way nicer. And has more applications.

I have to say I have used Open Office enough to know it's good enough, but I run into formating problems do to a very buggy user interface. seems like I'm constantly fighting with open office in the same way I have to fight with M$ Office in fact I have to fight with it more just to do what should be simple tasks.

Did I mention it takes too long to load and is slow to be responsive. I think it's assinine that if I want it to start in a respectable amount of time that I have to "preload it". I don't use KDE and koffice still loads faster than open office by 10 fold.

And koffice has one feature I've wanted in an office suite for a while now. TABS. I requested in in OOo 3.0 and they told me it wouldn't be implemented because they put it in a beta or some such version and people didn't use it so it won't make it in.

Acronyms Madness!! (2, Funny)

Kuku_monroe (753761) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280761)

"Wow (WW), this (THS) story (STR) has (HS) so (SO) many (MNY) acronyms (ACMS) that (THS) it's" (ITS)kinda "(JND) imposible" (IMPBL) to (T) read (RD) it (IT) "without (WTT) getting (GTNG) dizzy" (DZZ), dont (DNT) you "(YU) think (THK) so? (SO)"

Re:Acronyms Madness!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15280853)

TLA 4 "without" is WTO !WTT.

Embrace & Destroy (3, Insightful)

gvc (167165) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280830)

Nothing new or encouraging about this. Microsoft ruined html, Java, and so on by embedding non-standard features supported only by their software. They're well on the way to embedding Windows dependencies in Windows-generated Postscript and PDF files, too.

Transparent as it is, the strategy is remarkably effective. The masses blame the standards-compliant software for "not working", not Microsoft for having poisoned the standard. The courts will sit on their hands and a couple of billion-dollar buyouts will silence the commercial opposition.

Let's see now ... (3, Funny)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 8 years ago | (#15280848)

a Microsoft Promise of Cooperation

... and you can take that to the bank.
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