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Sun Releases ODF plugin for Microsoft Office

Hemos posted more than 7 years ago | from the making-it-easier dept.

Sun Microsystems 50

Verunks writes "Microsoft Word users now can easily import and export to the OpenDocument Format. The StarOffice 8 Conversion Technology Preview, a plug-in for Microsoft Word 2003 that allows users of Microsoft Word 2003 to read, edit and save to the OpenDocument Format (ODF) is now available"

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Just in time... (1)

SavedLinuXgeeK (769306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151782)

for Office 2007 to come out. I wonder if MS will let this plugin be compatible with 2007 or if they will let Sun work it out for themselves.

Re:Just in time... (3, Informative)

sash (107931) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151814)

Well, yes, just in time for those who do not want to upgrade Office :-).
  Those who have 2007 already had ODF converter [] .

Re:Just in time... (1)

davecb (6526) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151888)

Alas, the MS-provided one is a limited-functionality kludge, arguably to discourage the use of ODF.


Re:Just in time... (2, Informative)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151922)

Maybe it's better when using Word 2007, but I tried the 1.0 release with Word 2003 and it wasn't very good. I created a basic letter in Word and exported it as a ODF. When I imported it it looked fine. When I opened it in OpenOffice 2.1 the margins were off. I tried doing the opposite. When importing the new filed created in OO 2.1, the margins were off. Doing the same file with .doc and .rtf works perfectly.

The next test I did was with tabled. I created a three row table with four columns. In the middle row I merged the two middle columns. In the fields I put text with different font sizes, and styles. Ie, bold, italic, bold-italic. I exported it as ODF and then imported it. The bold-italic was just bold. When I opened it in OO 2.1, same thing, but again the margins were off. The table formatting seems okay, though. Same thing when doing the opposite. Again, doing the same file with .doc and .rtf works perfectly.

Hopefully the plugin is better with 2007, but with 2003 I'm not trusting it at all until a new release of it comes out.

Re:Just in time... (1)

khanyisa (595216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152586)

That's curious as AFAIU this contains code directly from OOo that has been cut down to be included in the converter, so its strange if it behaves differently to OOo dealing with Office files

Re:Just in time... (1)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152664)

I wasn't talking about the one released by Sun. I'm talking about the Clever Age [] one the GGP linked to. AFAIK, it contains no OOo code.

Re:Just in time... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151962)

Not "Office 2007". It's the "2007 Microsoft Office system". Because it wasn't enough to completely redesign the UI; they also had to arbitrarily change the name.

Re:Just in time... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152312)

Its still Microsoft Office 2007 Standard, Pro, Enterprise etc, and its still Microsoft Word 2007, Microsoft Excel 2007 et al. They only rebadged the generics - 2003 Office systems, 2007 Office systems. The individual packages are still the same format as they always have been. 51033.aspx []

Re:Just in time... (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153680)

its still Microsoft Word 2007, Microsoft Excel 2007 et al.
Except that in Office 2003, they were named on the Start Menu as "Microsoft Office Word 2003", "Microsoft Office Excel 2003", etc. You know... to be innovative.

Re:Just in time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18153754)

Take a look at how Microsoft lists them on their "downloads" page:

By Version
* 2007 Office System
* Office 2003
* Office XP
* Office 2000
* Office 97/98

Re:Just in time... (1)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153092)

Because it wasn't enough to completely redesign the UI; they also had to arbitrarily change the name.

Going a bit off topic here, but years ago I discovered the workaround to Microsoft's nutty naming and interface issues (Start Menu, Control Panel, etc.) which, I think, started way back when with support for long (non-8.3) file names.

Quite simply, adopt the *nix approach and learn to rely on the name of the executable itself. The same applies to .cpl applets, .msc consoles, and services (which invariably use sentence-length "descriptive" names). For example, running 'desk.cpl' or 'services.msc' at a command prompt is infinitely faster than the point and click nonsense. And if you have Cygwin installed, you can symlink everything and name/categorise things as you see fit. Alternatively, script a numbered menu-based selection screen that provides both a descriptive name and the actual names to choose from; you'll memorise the names in short order.

With regards to commonly used executables (like Word, Photoshop, whatever), the symlink approach works especially well in that it fixes the goofy path issues on Windows systems -- symlink everything into a single directory (using convenient names, all in lowercase with suffix stripped, of course), add that directory to your path statement, and call it a day.

Sun delivers a punch to the gonads. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18151832)

With the release of this plugin, Sun delivers a real punch to Microsoft's testes.

Hopefully corporate executives and managers take a careful look at this situation. They need to realize what Sun and Microsoft are actually bringing to the table. Sun is bringing openness, compatibility, and portability. On the other hand, Microsoft is bringing proprietaries, incompatibility, and importability. Sun is for what benefits their customers. Microsoft is for what benefits themselves. And I'd rather deal with the vendor who at least partially has my interests in mind. That vendor is thusly not Microsoft.

Re:Sun delivers a punch to the gonads. (1)

Ash-Fox (726320) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154160)

With the release of this plugin, Sun delivers a real punch to Microsoft's testes.
Microsoft were already supporting a import/export odf tool [] ...

They need to realize what Sun and Microsoft are actually bringing to the table. Sun is bringing openness, compatibility, and portability.
Well, technically Microsoft was supporting this before Sun -- so what are IT managers going to think if they hear that?

Microsoft is for what benefits themselves.
Most companies are like that, infact it's expected.

Re:Sun delivers a punch to the gonads. (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#18158082)

Microsoft benefits from this too.

They can tell the EU "see, we're not a monopoly in the office software space".

They can continue to sell MS Word to the increasing number of governments who are committed to making public documents available in a non-proprietary format.

Re:Sun delivers a punch to the gonads. (1)

jonniesmokes (323978) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161100)

If it only worked! I've been testing these ODF readers for MS Word since I can't get OO to export a working .doc version of the file I created in OO. The 2007 MS sponsored one works a bit better than this SUN version. There was another I tried that didn't work too.

In short, there's no reliable way to pipe .odt to .doc right now. My test file has a table of contents, some sections and references, and a few figures with embedded images. Guess its a much bigger deal than it ought to be.

At least the big names are trying to get it to work. Maybe in a year it'll be going, unless MS manages to stop this ball from rolling down the hill. Thing is, I don't mind using MS Office, I just hate not being able to edit the documents on my Linux server, the old mac I keep running, or any number of various non supported by MS computers I deal with. Standards would improve productivity for us, but lower MS' profit margin.

wasefasdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18151906)


Isn't this HUGE?

Doesn't this allow ms office and openoffice users to share files in perfect fidelity and slow migrate away from dependency and lockin of office?

Why isn't this on the front page? Or is this another misleading headline? :)

Re:wasefasdf (1)

Zonk (troll) (1026140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152156)

Isn't this HUGE?
Yes. I trust that Sun will make this plugin work perfectly unlike current alternatives. If this release doesn't, it should soon enough. Next time I fire up VMWare I'm giving this a try.

At least they try (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151908)

For better or worse, at least -someone- is trying to make inroads towards interopability/convenience with ODF. As usual with probably-the-best-way-to-go-but-unpopular-since-it -isnt-microsoft technologies lately, that someone just happens to be Sun. Again...

Re:At least they try (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152338)

Microsoft themselves are supporting an opensource ODF convertor and exporter for Office - []

Re:At least they try (1)

gentimjs (930934) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152400)

I'd be curious to see a comparison of the two, looking at the actual output as well as how "easy" it is to actually -open/read- and not just "export" ODF ...

Re:At least they try (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18154644)

Microsoft themselves are supporting an opensource ODF convertor and exporter for Office

If by support you mean make a version that does not work, then you have hit the nail on the head.

Re:At least they try (1)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#18157946)

How exactly can they deliberately make it not work when it's open source and on SourceForge? If it is deliberately made to not work, someone will fork and fix it. It's just not in their best interests. In fact, Microsoft has a few projects on SourceForge (such as Wix [] for Windows Installer)

ods - excel (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18151912)

is it possible to import ods (Oo,kspread) based spreadsheets into MS Excel as well?
i hate having to fire up O.o just to convert the ods spreadsheet i created in kspread, sorry Sun
guys kspread is just more responsive and faster to load, to xls files for others to view.

RTFA (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152710)

From the posted link [] :

This initial plug-in application will support the conversion of text documents (.doc/.odt) only and full support of spreadsheet and presentation documents will be available in the final version, expected in April.

Re:ods - excel (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18155038)

Seriously, save your self some effort and either save it as HTML, or PDF if you simply want others to view it.

HTML is good because nearly everyone has a webbrowser, PDF is good because it is hard to change for most people and nearly everyone has access to a PDF viewer.

If you actually do want people to edit your files, then it depends on what you are doing. If you have the whip hand, tell them to get, else continue what you are doing.

I know a few people who switched to for the one touch "save as PDF", but PDF Creator can be used in any Windows program. And I'm sure that there is an equivalent for X/GNU/Linux.

Re:ods - excel (1)

goarilla (908067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18156084)

well i usually save as pdf too and i like Oo for just that reason as well
but when i exported it to pdf, it kinda exported it like this: 1 column gets printed first
2nd column get printed next, all sequential and that was not what i was aiming for i needed to export
it so it would still look like a spreadsheet, there probably is a way of doing this but
i had to act fast at that time since a friend was waiting for the info
so eventually i chose to export it to excel which in the long run proved more
valuable than html or pdf

in case you're wondering i was making a spreadsheet which holds info about tv-shows i used to watch
when i was little. the spreadsheet itself hold several columns with info like:
  • title
  • video samples
  • origin
  • studio
  • publisher
  • date
  • seen on #tv-channel
  • website (if applicable), ...

they are mostly cartoons and a lot of them are from here (belgium), but there are some universal classics
in there as well like: dungeons & dragons, thundercats, dommel, snorks, smurfs, he-man, king arthur and the knights of justice, ...

a friend and me already collected 91 and i can only think about one i just can't seem to find although i can still remember it visually

any other parties making such a product? (0, Troll)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152212)

My experience with Sun products - Star Office before being open sourced to Open Office, Java, Solaris, have all left a bad taste in my mouth for stability/reliability reasons.

Re:any other parties making such a product? (1)

georgep77 (97111) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152416)

What? Solaris not stable or reliable? I call troll.

Re:any other parties making such a product? (4, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152696)

Big time troll. We're talking "The Hobbit" troll -- all three of them wrapped up into one with a nice coating of bullsh*t on the outside.

I've been using OpenOffice ever since it was released - on both Solaris and Windows - and I've never had "stability" issues. In fact, I haven't voluntarily used any MS Office product, with the exception of MS Publisher, in years. I've had Solaris boxes that were heavy-use, web development servers with uptimes of more than 13 months, as in 13 months without rebooting but getting heavy development usage every weekday. It's been a long time since I've run into a Sun server that crashed for no apparent reason. Anyone who has seriously worked with Sun hardware and Solaris knows better. This guy probably tried it, had no clue what he was doing, and gave up, or else he tried to run Solaris on some crap x86 hardware that was barely compatible.

Referring to Solaris as "unstable" is like referring to a Mack truck as a "Yugo".

I'd trust a Sun-released version of a Word export filter far, far more than I'd trust Microsoft to release the same because you know that MS would never make it fully compatible in order to protect their monopoly.

Re:any other parties making such a product? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153768)

Notice I said *PRE* open soucring, and Star Office? I'm perfectly happy with Open Office, except for the rare few occasions it has had trouble with MS Word docs, and I can't blame them for the lack of MS documentation. But Star Office, the version before being open sourced wouldn't last 20 minutes without a crash in Windows or Linux for me.

As for Sun, maybe I just had bad luck, but I had two different situations where I had Solaris servers (various variants of the Sparc processor around 2000-2004, either multi-dev - web, java, C, and one was a mail server) that crashed daily, but the True64 servers didn't crash, and the Windows server normally got at least a week of uptime.

Re:any other parties making such a product? (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153802)

note: I wasn't the admin of any of those servers, I left that to the professionals in the various places that they were located.

Wanna make any more innacurate assumptions about me and the situation?

Please, just stop. (3, Insightful)

WidescreenFreak (830043) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154036)

Wow. Care to dash your credibility any further? By admitting that you weren't even the admin means that you clearly have no idea what you're talking about.

So, let me get this straight ... you are critical of a company for software/hardware that someone else was administering, so who knows how it might have been installed or configured. Additionally, you don't even know the architecture that was being used with a vague statement about a server sometime between 2000-2004. Do you have any idea of how many dozens of different styles of servers that Sun released in that time? Was it even a server that was released in that frame or was it an older box that was still hanging around? You might as well say, "I had reliability problems with a car made by [insert company here] sometime between 2000 and 2004, but I was just a passenger."

And you expect us to take your statements about Solaris/Java/OO with any seriousness? You accuse me of inaccuracy when you yourself have no credible knowledge of the environment that you were criticizing?

Re:Please, just stop. (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#18154220)

I'm just stating my experience with them. As for OO and Java, I have installed them and worked on them with my own machines.

And if you bothered to read, I never complained about OO, it was Star Office PRE-OPEN SOURCE.

As for the server, I knew there were several variants, all sparc, some pre-2000, some not, sorry I can't tell you more than that. I know one of the admins handled several sets of *nix boxes, and only the suns had problems, and in that situation, they were the lowest yeild.

Maybe I had bad experiences, maybe I got the worst end of the lot, but they were my experiences, and, honestly, with those experiences, would you trust /your/ valuable time, data and effort to such a company?

Sorry that my oppinions and experiences differ from yours. Sorry I'm not a lemming, but I'm not saying others shouldn't use this, I just said I wanted something else.

Damn (2, Informative)

LordVader717 (888547) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152350)

Why does it want me to register?

Re:Damn (3, Interesting)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 7 years ago | (#18152514)

Seriously. Why must Sun make me 'login' for everything I download at their site? Downloading at Sun sucks. You login, get a link that only works for X minutes, and get pestered to use their own crappy download utility.

They just don't "get it."

Re:Damn (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18153470)

Eh pretty standard really. Same with downloading from IBM or Oracle. That is what gmail accounts are for.


Re:Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18154842)

Oracle ain't exactly it-getters. They really *really* hate their customers.

Wrong tool (1)

Ernesto Alvarez (750678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18155652)

Learn to use the right tool for the right job, people!

Wasting a gmail account for that will only end up making all semi-decent accounts unavailable, just like hotmail.

Mailinator is the right tool for that, remember it.

(and don't forget to leave a copy of the account details on bugmenot, too)

Re:Damn (1)

jZnat (793348) | more than 7 years ago | (#18156560)

If you don't already have a dedicated download manager (e.g. KGet, FlashGot), Sun's download manager is pretty good in my experience.

Also, you can use [] for throwaway email, and [] for an account that's already set up for you.

Re:Damn (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18152532) [] is your friend.

GAWD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18153602)

That was really unpleasantly painful. Put "new york, ny, 10002" for city and zip because it will bitch if it thinks city, state and zip don't "match". Just unbelievable. It didn't seem to need my real email address either, because I was able to progress to the download (after a few more clickthrough loops) without being mailed anything.

Who cares about the desktop office suite anymore? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18155776)

I know that Google's word processing and spreadsheet offerings are hardly as feature-rich(?) as Microsoft's, but isn't it only a matter of time before most business software goes online? We used to balk at the idea of putting our data "in the cloud" and using online solutions for these applications, but with the growth in webmail usage greatly outpacing the use of desktop clients and the many many cost benefits of using online services rather than desktop-enabled sotware, isn't it really a matter of time before document formats become a problem of the past?

Next time I want to send a coworker a copy of that great new budget spreadsheet I just finished working on, I'll just give him a link to it on Google. No more software compatibility issues as long as he's using a fairly recent web browser. If I'm using software features that weren't available in last year's release, it doesn't matter, because all users of the software upgrade simultaneously, so I know he'll see my graphs exactly the way I want them to appear.

I don't expect all user applications to go online, but surely the office suite is perfectly suited for it. Sun's efforts to get ODF supported in Office are admirable, but I'd rather people worry about open access and formats for the online applications in this market since that seems to be the real future (and the real threat to MS). Let's push for multi-browser support in Google (already pretty good really) and the ability to download documents in ODF format if necessary or the ability to encrypt them on the server and have some assurance of privacy. Taking on MS Office with another desktop suite or a document standard seems kind of old-fashioned at this point in time.

Re:Who cares about the desktop office suite anymor (1)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18159886)

Business software isn't the be-all and end-all. As long as there are home/private users there'll be a market for standalone software. Not everyone has internet access; of those who do, most are still on dial-up; and of those who are on broadband, a non-negligible number have bandwidth caps. Standalone software isn't going anywhere.

Finally, the tides are turning! (1)

borfast (752138) | more than 7 years ago | (#18155860)

Now I can send documents in OpenDocument format to everyone and when they say "hey, I don't know how to open this thing you sent me", I can tell them "well, you can either use OpenOffice or get the converter".
The rest of the conversation would be something like this:
- Hey, but the converter is only available for Office 2003 and 2007, I only have XP and I don't want to spend $100+ on a new version of MS Office!
- Well, you can either buy it or switch to the another Office software, if you want to read the documents I sent you.
- I will not! Why should someone be forced to buy or use something against his will, just to open someone else's documents??
- Exactly... ;)

Re:Finally, the tides are turning! (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 7 years ago | (#18159268)

Too bad (for your scenario), that Microsoft's own sponsored open-source ODF plugin works with Office XP, 2003, and 2007. Oh, and it works better, as it converts between two public standards (ODF and OOXML) rather than between ODF and OO.o's best guess as to what the binary Office formats are.

Re:Finally, the tides are turning! (1)

cofaboy (718205) | more than 7 years ago | (#18161620)

Last I heard OOXML was an ECMA approved specification that had received 19 contradictions from around the world when put forward to ISO for approval as a standard.

ODF on the other hand is a standard, ISO/IEC 26300:2006, the confusion between specification and standard has been 'enhanced' recently.

Can't think why that might be :)

features? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18157148)

OK, has anyone tried it yet? Does it fix the glaring flaw in the Microsoft-sponsored plugin which doesn't add ODF as a format in the "Save As..." menu? In other words, does the Sun plugin work properly as a file format among others, and can it be set as the default file format?

And what about ... (1)

DJ_Art (669538) | more than 7 years ago | (#18157364)

... [] ?? It's already out there for a while now!!

Re:And what about ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18158202)

It doesn't actually work and the developers seems adamant that they won't reach feature parity (eg due to different layout methods they've implemented a minimal subset and are now arguing about what's possibly compatible rather than working on the software).

Most OSS developers agree that they should be more lenient and that formatting non-exact matches should still be mapped. At least then it will look somewhat like the source document.

Technology Preview (1)

ankordinated (1013717) | more than 7 years ago | (#18159830)

Shame it's not supported - governments won't use it.

I'm pretty sure Australian governments are just about to declare they are standardising on .doc formats again for another term (not sure how long the term is though).
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