Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

OpenOffice.org Tries to Woo Dell

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the maybe-they-need-to-hire-professional-wooers dept.

Software 316

Rob writes "OpenOffice.org project members have written to Dell (pdf), hoping to persuade the company to adopt OpenOffice in response to customer demand. John McCreesh, OpenOffice.org marketing project lead, writes 'Let's have a conversation about how we could build an OpenOffice.org supplied by Dell product to give your customers what they are asking for.' Demand for open source products on Dell's IdeaStorm web site prompted the letter. A somewhat obvious question is raised: why isn't OpenOffice already available by default on new PC's and Workstations?"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Why? (0)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331409)

Hmm top secret ... could it be because everyone uses Office and it's proprietary formats? That's why.

No big conspiracy. People are just afraid of change and lazy. Same old same old. What I don't get is why people think you have to run the preloaded crap anyways. The first thing I did when I got my dell laptop was flash the HD and reinstall an OEM copy of windows. (well in the 2nd partition, Linux came first).

tom

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331527)

MS Office isn't installed on a new PC by default either. Even at an OEM type discount, it isn't free.

OpenOffice is freely available to anyone with an internet connection, and Dell simply doesn't see the business case for distributing and supporting it. Even if they tried to distribute with a support disclaimer there would still be a lot of calls to support about it. Also, Dell would have to distribute CDs with the source code since OpenOffice is GPL'd, etc, etc. None of it is a show-stopper, but why go through all the hassle with no reward? Distributing free software that they don't want to support (or don't think they can sell support on) doesn't make sense for Dell.

Yeah, it would be nice, but warm feelings and the respect of the /. community doesn't keep the lights on.

Re:Why? (3, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331707)

First they could just include the source on the hard drive. Or even better, they could just put up an FTP site where the source is available. It wouldn't even have to be high traffic. I seriously doubt more than 1% of people who buy Dell computers are going to want to download the source for OpenOffice. Nowhere in the GPL does it say you have to include the source with the product, just that you have to make it available. You can even make someone send you an email/snailmail, and charge them for a CD and shipping.

Re:Why? (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332069)

The OOo source code set comes to 259MB - thats an extra 259MB Dell has to copy, an extra 259MB that is wasted on the customer hard disk, or 259MB that Dell has to account for in its bandwidth build if it supplies an FTP server.

In short, its an extra hassle that Dell would have to satisfy.

Re:Why? (1)

j-pimp (177072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332319)

The OOo source code set comes to 259MB - thats an extra 259MB Dell has to copy, an extra 259MB that is wasted on the customer hard disk, or 259MB that Dell has to account for in its bandwidth build if it supplies an FTP server.

In short, its an extra hassle that Dell would have to satisfy.

On an 80 gig hard drive that 259 megs is trivial. Considering that the machines are probably RIS installed, the time to copy over another 259 megs is trivial, and dell has the option of putting thes ource on ftp or cd as well.

The average user that would use this, is one that went with the Corel office package previously. So the bottom line question for Dell is how much money they stand to lose for not reselling Corel office, and if they can recover the income lost by not including a demo of Corel Snapfire on new desktops by lets say additional kickback from google if they include picasso as well as the google toolbar.

Re:Why? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332413)

Like I said, the traffic could be minimal. They could even charge for the cost of the bandwidth. I'm sure they could support the traffic they'd generate on at $7.95 a month dreamhost account. The expense would be minimal.

Re:Why? (1)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332547)

Actually as long as they distribute the stock openoffice they can just point customers to an existing repository.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

aputerguy (692233) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331741)

It's obvious -- Dell makes more money *selling* MS Office then *giving* away OpenOffice.

Even when the customer doesn't buy MS Office up front, you can be sure that MS pays Dell for every "60-day trial" version which comes installed on most PCs nowadays. Even if MS didn't unfairly retaliate, giving away OO would take away from subscribers buying or upgrading to paid MS Office so Dell would inevitably get less of a commission back from MS.

On the other hand adding a preloaded OO is unlikely to shift share to Dell so not much upside -- particularly, since the relatively small minority of users who consider this as a factor could easily download it themselves.

Plus supporting OO would add support costs.

So, while I would love personally to see more OO, I don't see the business case from Dell's perspective

Re:Why? (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331789)

Branding. I've been saying for years that Dell and those who compete with Dell could take a Linux distro and brand it with their logo. If they make their own distro or even just their own version of OpenOffice they can co-brand and it and get more customer loyalty. Also, if Dell is in more control of the whole package (instead of just re-distributing Microsoft software) they can produce a better product. That's part of Apple's niche, but someone like Dell could easily do the same by using open source.

Re:Why? (1, Troll)

rbochan (827946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331829)

...Dell simply doesn't see the business case for distributing and supporting it...

So Dell provides support for that stupid Weatherbug that they include(d)? That godawful McAfee "security suite" they include? That evil Sonic bloatware? Quicktime? RealPlayer?
No?
I didn't think so...

Re:Why? (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332065)

No, instead Dell has deals with those companies to do the support themselves. If Dell pays some company to support Open Office for them, it's no longer free to Dell. If they don't, they're distributing software that their customers have no support for.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

billcopc (196330) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331959)

You hit some often-ignored but obvious points there, but I'm afraid it's a near-miss. The #1 reason why Dell will not supply OpenOffice isn't the cost of shipping media, nor the support nightmare that would inevitably ensue. The #1 reason is because OpenOffice would compete with MS Office.

If the average joe's computer came with a free word processor and spreadsheet, they no longer need to spend $250 and up on MS Office. Not only would Dell lose money from those lost software sales (which are far more profitable than the PC sales), but they would be hurting their #1 partner: Microsoft.

If people want to use OO.o, they can get it freely on the net without Dell getting involved. The "large number of customers" who want this are just a small fraction of the residential crowd, which itself accounts for maybe 10% of Dell's business. Their big fish is the corporate sector, where one sales pitch can net thousands of system orders. If one of those big guys wants OO.o, they will have a sysadmin to load it into the Ghost image, or they can pay Dell's solution integrators lots of money to do it for them. Either way, the home user doesn't get squat.

On a more general tune, I get irritated whenever some free software project whines about big-business partnerships. Those big partnerships exist because there's big money going back and forth. You have to pay to play, that's how it works in corporate america. The free software loudmouths are like a poor family with a retarded son, bitching because Mensa won't let them join. The reality is we don't need Dell, HP and friends to bundle Linux, OpenOffice, or any other free software, it's a losing battle. If/when free software truly exceeds Microsoft in functionality, ease of use and installation, and enterprise support, that's when the big guys will COME to us. We're not there yet.

Re:Why? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332185)

...except Mensa is a matter of merit that even a poor family can aspire to be included in. "Pay to play" and "old boy relationships" on the other hand are the exact opposite of the sort of meritocracy that Mensa is supposed to represent.

In your rush to craft a bad analogy, you captured precisely why it is that those of us that gravitate to the notion of meritocracy find "selling shelf space" so galling.

The open source crowd isn't complaining that their retarded child can't get into Mensa. They are complaining that their child genius is being excluded from Mensa for not being sufficiently blue blooded (or some other similar BS).

The invisible hand of capitalism is supposed improve economic efficiency and improve product not enable graft and corruption. Your philosophy is the essence of why banana republics don't get anywhere economically.

Re:Why? (4, Informative)

CaptainTux (658655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331975)

<i>Even if they tried to distribute with a support disclaimer there would still be a lot of calls to support about it. Also, Dell would have to distribute CDs with the source code since OpenOffice is GPL'd, etc, etc.</i>

1: So Dell gets a support call about Open Office. They handle it the same way they handle most technical questions about MS Office: go to the software vendor. Problem solved. No additional work required.

2: Why would Dell need to distribute CD's with source on them? Nowhere does the GPL even mention that you have to do this. All they have to do is include a piece of paper in each box that says "Want the Open Office source? Email: xxx@dell.com", or set up an FTP site, or make someone mail in a source request form, etc, etc. Problem solved.

Re:Why? (1)

minus_273 (174041) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332155)

1: So Dell gets a support call about Open Office. They handle it the same way they handle most technical questions about MS Office: go to the software vendor. Problem solved. No additional work required.

2: Why would Dell need to distribute CD's with source on them? Nowhere does the GPL even mention that you have to do this. All they have to do is include a piece of paper in each box that says "Want the Open Office source? Email: xxx@dell.com", or set up an FTP site, or make someone mail in a source request form, etc, etc. Problem solved.
1. MS office is not shipped free with a dell computer. Open office would be like windows, something dell provides and thus their responsibility.

2. The source is the major cost. Clearly the FTP server is not free, the bandwidth is not free some one needs to reply to the email address. The thus it will cost dell money to include open office with no measurable increase in revenue because of the inclusion of open office. the source requirement in the GLP is the biggest hurdle.

Re:Why? (1)

cyclop (780354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332133)

OpenOffice is freely available to anyone with an internet connection, and Dell simply doesn't see the business case for distributing and supporting it.

Yes, but how many know about it? As for the marketing, why shouldn't a "Complete office suite included -for only 5$ more!" work? They would even profit from it if they charge a minimal amount.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332345)

The traditional method for a business to handle additional costs is to charge a higher price. If it were up to Dell, they could simply charge support costs + delivery costs + a mark-up that's higher than what they get on Microsoft Office, and offer that as an option. The only problem is that this would affect their partnership with Microsoft, and in particular the terms they get Windows and Office on.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332459)

Also, Dell would have to distribute CDs with the source code since OpenOffice is GPL'd, etc, etc. None of it is a show-stopper, but why go through all the hassle with no reward? Distributing free software that they don't want to support (or don't think they can sell support on) doesn't make sense for Dell.

I'm actually kind of here to moderate, but, what about the reward of more customers? You know, I bet a lot of people aren't particularly happy that you don't get any real office software when you get your computer. I can imagine people having conversations such as the following taking place:

Person 1:Computers are such a rip-off, I just bought a new computer and now I have to buy office because my kids can't use what they gave us for schoolwork.

Person 2:I don't know, I bought my computer from Dell, we got office for free and it works pretty well.

People don't know the real difference between office packages. There's people who have used works for years until they run into incompatibility issues with others. People will use what is shipped. They don't have to pay Microsoft anything to ship a version of OpenOffice with their Dell, and they can advertise that they include a full office suite with their PC. Word gets around, it could become quite a little bonus for Dell. So to say there's no benefit is a little misleading.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331537)

could it be because everyone uses Office and it's proprietary formats?

Yet they offer the incompatible (and amusingly named) Microsoft Works package. If they can offer Microsoft Works by default, why can't they offer OpenOffice as an option?

I believe that is the point the author is trying to make.

Re:Why? (2, Interesting)

Kelz (611260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332047)

My theory is that Dell gets a lower OEM price on windows because they bundle MSW with their PCs (and what is MS works really besides a promotion to buy office?). It could be that any money they save by bundling Open Office may be lost because they stopped bundling MSW with Windows.

Re:Why? (4, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331555)

The first thing I did when I got my dell laptop was flash the HD and reinstall an OEM copy of windows.

Your Dell laptop came with a solid state hard drive?

Re:Why? (1)

zaydana (729943) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331587)

I know i'm going to get modded down for this but... if you have the wisdom to use linux, why are you using a dell laptop? Those things have precision engineering aimed at getting them to die 1 month after the warranty expires :-/

Re:Why? (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331645)

Mine has been running fine [in Linux] for a year now. It seems like a solid design. Can't really complain about it.

In fact it works better in Linux than Windows as I can't find the damn Intel HDA drivers for this thing. Sound and wifi work out of the box with the Linux kernel.

My first laptop was a Compaq [forget the model] Athlon 1.8Ghz. It too was solid. I dropped it [in a metal case] twice, left it in the cold [in transit] and even poured about 100mL of water on it [by accident] and it kept going [after drying out].

In my experience Sony and Toshiba laptops are the flimsy'est even if the specs are otherwise nice. IBM laptops [lenovo now I guess] are also pretty tough though the ones I saw also weighed like 12lbs.

Tom

Re:Why? (1)

petabyte (238821) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332251)

I don't think that is the case. I've had 3 dell laptops - 2 of them latitudes I bought at the end of corporate leases so they were behind the times when I got them. A Pentium, a Pentium 2, and now I have the ultra-cheap B130 Inspiron. It was 500 bucks shipped to my door. I, like tom, took the liberty of booting with a ubuntu disk and dd'ing the partition table into oblivion. My difference is that I'm not running windows at all on the laptop - it runs kubuntu feisty without issue at the moment. I also replaced the 802.11 broadcom with an intel chip and everything on the machine works perfectly out of the box. The system's I've built (2 desktops) have more issues.

Could it die? Sure, but so could any other system and with a laptop, its not like I can go to any store and pickup some spare parts to change out. The data on the hard drive is mirrored on my freebsd mini-itx fileserver and my athlon64 so I wouldn't be out much if the laptop went anyway. I've bought, and built computers and experienced plenty of hardware failures (usually hard drives actually). I've learned, cheap and redundant is usually the best policy.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Nerd4News (661915) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331675)

Hmm top secret ... could it be because everyone uses Office and it's proprietary formats? That's why.

Or maybe it's because Dell can't make any money off OO?

Re:Why? (1)

dantal (151318) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331821)

And why can't they make any money off of OO? There is nothing in the GPL that says you can not sell it or the service of just installing it. What you can't change for, other than a small duplication fee, is the source.

Re:Why? (1)

Larus (983617) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331771)

The preloaded crap for HP is Microsoft Works, which is enough for people really but expires in 30 days. Yet almost everyone I know asked to install Office over Works, despite the fact that Office more bloated and expensive. It also has license conflict with existing Works.

What this proves is that the non-Slashdot hoi polloi like the name 'Office' better than 'Works'. And the same is true for 'Microsoft' over 'Open'. These are the prime customers for Microsoft, and I consider it adverse selection anyways.

I've been using OO for years, and nobody I collaborated with ever complained of format problems.

Re:Why? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332151)

So if I really want to fail, I should call my product "Open Works"?

B.O.R.I.N.G. (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332113)

Yawn. Nobody cares about OOO, and Dell isn't going to make any money pushing their crapware onto computers. What would be their incentive? They get bulk discounts from MS, and probably even make money from selling MS Office.

Not only that, but customers aren't even demanding OOO: I would guess only 1-2% of customers have even heard of it. And why should they? If it breaks, is Lunis Tugballs going to come fix it? No? Didn't think so.

This is just a rehash of the Browser Wars, and nobody cared about that. The only winner was the consumer, becuase Netscape and their buggy POS brower were finally killed by a stable... and free!... and clearly superior alternative. Your web browser longs to be free, and that wasn't going to happen under Netscape.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332501)

I have just recently made the dive into Linux and have been using Ubuntu (Dapper first, now Edgy) for about 6 months on my new laptop and am loving it. I am keen, I want to be able to use no expensive products at all for any official stuff I do from now on.

So, I am working on my new CV. I dig out my old one done in MS Office2003 in the midle of last year. Open it in the latest OpenOffice.org and blam, utterly fucked up formatting. I'm not just talking about a slight difference in font sizes etc, but much worse. The borders were so screwed that they hung off the left side of the page - section headings were meant to be in grey shaded regions but now this was screwed up with blocks and lines all over the shop. It also managed to screw up the page flow such that the concise 2-page document now took up 2.5 pages with the page breaks in awful places.

Now I am no Word formatting expert, maybe I really hosed the document in the first place but it did display OK in Word and I am sure there are many others that format in such ways (the formatting style came from my wifes workplace). I was hoping it would display ok in oo.o as well but it was nowhere near. This I found to be mildly dissapointing and a good indication to me of the level of compatibility between oo.o and MS Word at this time.

So now I am starting it from scratch in oo.o but quite miffed as I thought it was 'there yet'.

Is it just me that is finding this? I really thought, and hoped, that the compatibility was close enough now to be a non-issue. Until it is, how realistic is a mass-exodus to oo.o?

Anon as someone should not know I am working on my CV ;)

Re:Why? (1)

edmicman (830206) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332543)

Same old same old. What I don't get is why people think you have to run the preloaded crap anyways. The first thing I did when I got my dell laptop was flash the HD and reinstall an OEM copy of windows.
As is the case for most tech geeks, and probably most everyone on Slashdot. If I don't build it myself, it gets wiped clean and installed with what I want. But Joe Average Consumer doesn't get a shiny new PC and then wipe the drive clean, reinstalling with the other copy of Windows that he has around. Heck, most of the new PC's don't even come with media anymore - it's sitting on another partition. Is Joe going to know how to fdisk the thing and reclaim the partition, too?

default (4, Funny)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331419)

It isn't on there by default, because that would mean people might actually use it...and we can't have people just running around using free software, can we?

Re:default (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331671)

I remember when StarOffice was installed by default on eMachines computers. No one used it. Instead they pirated MS Office and used that instead. This was just a few years ago too. So people won't necessarily use something just because it's installed by default unless they're familiar with it (ie Windows).

Re:default (1)

otacon (445694) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331753)

True, but if they are informed that it does the same thing then they would be more likely to use it. Example: Years back my family started using WordPerfect, because it was already there. Granted I informed them they could essentially do the same thing. But you are very right it has a lot to do with being familiar.

Re:default (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332029)

I remember when StarOffice was installed by default on eMachines computers. No one used it.

FWIW, StarOffice 5.2 was a POS with some decent technology hidden inside it monolithic interface. Its usability was utterly terrible, and was more of a chore to use than a pleasure. The work done by OpenOffice has changed all that. OOo is often just as pleasent to use, sometimes moreso than Microsoft Office is. It hasn't been growing in popularity quite as fast as FireFox has, but OOo installations are definitely becoming common.

If you preinstalled OpenOffice, I guarantee you that most of those customers would use OOo rather than pirating Microsoft Office.

Re:default (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332339)

It isn't on there by default, because that would mean people might actually use it...and we can't have people just running around using free software, can we?

Corel worked damn hard to establish WordPerfect as the OEM default - and people still chose to upgrade to Microsoft Office. The "free" bundled office suite always comes across as just another throw-away.

A somewhat obvious answer: (4, Insightful)

hhlost (757118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331423)

OOo is free, and therefore Dell gets no cut.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331499)

They can still charge for it.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

hhlost (757118) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331529)

How much would you pay for OOo installed?

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331757)

I just went to Dell's site and scoped out their offerings. Even in a $359 package, Microsoft Works is "included in [the] price". That package does not include Microsoft Word. To get Word, you have to upgrade to a $79 Works Suite. Obviously, Dell could offer OpenOffice as an alternative to their default Works package and pocket the difference.

Of course, I have a sneaky suspicion that the minimal Works package is an attempt to get users to purchase Microsoft Word at a minimum. They probably hope to convince consumers to purchase Microsoft Office Professional "because they might need it". Obviously, having a full office suite available at no charge might cut into those profits. Especially since OOo has a much better reputation than the WordPerfect, Claris Works, and Lotus Suite products that PC producers used to bundle. So they're relying on Microsoft to provide the (if you'll excuse the colorful language) "shitty" office suite to convince consumers to upgrade.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331909)

Most people would pay something for it.

I wouldn't, because I know how to install it myself, but if I didn't know how to install it myself I'd be willing to pay at least half of what Microsoft Office would cost me.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332313)

We aren't talking about you or me here. We are talking about typical dell users. How about those Dell Customers who don't normally go on the web to download many programs (malware doesn't count). How about users on dialup who don't have the time nor patience to download a 200MB+ package. Dell could make money off the convenience of packaging it, which would cost them next to nothing to provide.

Yet... (0, Troll)

an.echte.trilingue (1063180) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331557)

OpenOffice came installed on the discount computer I bought from TigerDirect (advertised as having a complete MS-compatible office suite pre-installed), so did Firefox. They even offer PCLinuxOS on desktops. If this discount vendor can do it, I don't see why Dell can't.

Re:Yet... (1)

Ninwa (583633) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331693)

The discount vendor has an insentive in offering you these products, because that's the sort of market they're reaching out to (the technically savy). Dell already has a large enough market and it's a market that would likely be confused if they recieved OOo and not MS Office.

Just my 2g.

Re:Yet... (2, Insightful)

Darundal (891860) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332143)

Not really. They could advertise that even their lowest-end, cheapest systems came with a full, Office-compatable application suite. Of course, they could then extoll the advantages of MS Office over OOo on the page where you pick it, which might actually increase sales of Office, but in the end, the user would still be getting a better deal and Dell would still be getting, at the very least, further reinforcement of their reputation (deserved or not) for providing good systems at low prices.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (4, Insightful)

synoniem (512936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331583)

To be more accurate: OOo is free, and therefore Dell gets nothing but the support calls and even offshore they want to be paid.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (4, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331617)

That's actually not true. If Dell were to add an option on their website saying "OpenOffice $25", they would be allowed to charge the $25 to bundle OpenOffice with a Dell computer.

Nothing in the GPL forbids Dell or anyone else for charging money for the software, so Dell wouldn't just "take a cut", they can set the price they like and take 100% of it rather than having to give some of it to Microsoft.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331713)

No, they should charge for Open Office SUPPORT, not the office suite itself.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331813)

I'm not saying what they should charge for, just making it clear that they can charge extra for including OpenOffice.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331911)

Then people will not select it. People shop on price.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (2, Insightful)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331725)

That's actually not true. If Dell were to add an option on their website saying "OpenOffice $25", they would be allowed to charge the $25 to bundle OpenOffice with a Dell computer.

Technically true, but to bother supporting it they'd need a given threshold of their customers to choose it, and I'm guessing they don't think they will. Might also be afraid of the public backlash when some idiot consumer reporter at a TV station breaks the big story that Dell is charging customers for something they can download for free.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (2, Insightful)

babbling (952366) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331853)

Why would Dell offer support for OpenOffice? Does Dell offer support for Microsoft Office? As far as I know, Microsoft provides the support for Microsoft Office, and I can't see why Dell would offer support for OpenOffice since they have nothing to do with its development.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332199)

They can't just sell software without support. It has to at least be available from somewhere. This is a multi-billion dollar corporation. They're not going to sell do-it-yourself kits. They're still responsible for selling good stuff, else their reputation goes down the tubes.

So (1)

geeksdave (799038) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332059)

Charge $5-10 for an install fee and tell the reporter to bugger off. You still make money, look good to open source, charge a reasonable fee to handle your overhead and get to tell some reporter idiot (I know they're idiots, I worked in TeeVee for 8 years as a photog) to get lost. Geeze not a difficult business decision here. Whether they have the cojones to go against M$ is another argument.

Re:A somewhat obvious answer: (1)

stasike (1063564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331623)

Dell gets paid for each piece preinstalled crapware, trialware and crippleware they force uppon poor buyer. That is why you can get PC without an OS from a big OEM manufacturer for the same price as identical PC with XP preinstalled. They can rake in enough money from preinstalled craplets to pay those cca. 49.95 bucks Microsoft charges them for an OEM version of XP. Dell would happily preinstall OOo. But who is going to pay them?

Ugh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331427)

I read the title as "OpenOffice.org tries to Doo Well" and immediately thought it was yet another typo in a submission.

Huh... (2, Funny)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331429)

This is news? Do you think that maybe Dell already knows about OpenOffice? A letter is going to swing the deal? Not likely. Dell is only vaguely interested in Linux, and there are still questions about if that is just the standard ploy to get a better Microsoft deal.

By the way, I've sent Dell a letter about a little time management application I've been working on for a few years. I'm expecting a reply!!!

Re:Huh... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331505)

Whatever happens, this will raise public awareness of OOo by some measure. If only 15% of the public suddenly finds out that there is free software available that does all they need to do, it's a good thing for all. It will also help point out the situation that makes it cheaper for Dell to preload windows than to give away free software. Hopefully consumers will begin to question that and bring to light what MS is still doing to hamstring an entire industry.

Re:Huh... (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332307)

Yup!

When my dad bought a new computer, he asked me about buying Microsoft office (or pirating a copy). Instead, I set up OOo for him. He's really happy with it. Open Office shines even better when you aren't using it only to view Microsoft Word docs, but rather authoring from it directly.

He thanked me and notified me that he loves OO, and has no need to use Microsoft Office.

For me, the killer app in open office is OODraw. I've used this for creating cards at christmas, and most recently to create a CD Label template. I *tried* to use the crap you can download from Avery, but it was horrible! The OODraw template works exactly as I want it to. Microsoft Office doesn't have anything equivalent (although they do have visio). OOo's only real missing pieces are something like visio (Shouldn't be hard if they start with the OODraw engine?), and some project management software like Microsoft Project.

Re:Huh... (1)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332471)

Whatever happens, this will raise public awareness of OOo by some measure.

I'm not sure how you can say that, since if Dell does not include OpenOffice, which is very likly, "public awareness" via the Dell vector will remail the same, which is none.

Dell is not interested in OpenOffice. Dell is a for-profit business. OpenOffice offers them nothing. In Dell's mind, it is not a "value added feature."

Here's why. Very few Dell customers actually want Linux. Legions of Dell customers want Windows. Legions of Dell customers using Windows want MS Office because it does what they want, while OpenOffice "isn't quite there yet" (I'm mostly talking Excel users, actually.)

tries to woo Dell... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331439)

"Me love you long time!"

Here's why (3, Insightful)

Asylumn (598576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331451)

why isn't OpenOffice already available by default on new PC's and Workstations?

Because then customers would have less of an incentive to purchase MS Office. This gives MS a huge incentive to pressure Dell, et al, to not offer alternatives on a windows machine.

Seems fairly obvious to me.

Re:Here's why (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332125)

Incidentally, when I got my Dell laptop (...4ish years ago I think) my options on office software were a Corel WordPerfect Suite, MS Works and MS Office variants.

I had to pick one of them, and the free option was Corel.

Having not needed a new laptop since then I haven't bothered to see if they changed that. Although by the sounds of the discussion, appears it might have.

Upon first glance (4, Funny)

oskard (715652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331469)

I thought it said:
"OpenOffice.org Tries to Doo Well"

Umm... (2, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331513)

why isn't OpenOffice already available by default on new PC's and Workstations?"

Because your average home user buying an off the shelf PC (regardless of who it's from) has no idea what Open Office is. Even if you provided it as an option, given the choice between a (seemingly) free version of some MS product and Open Office, the average customer would take Open Office. Throw in the bit about most customers expecting to get support from the PC manufacturer for everything that's on there, and you have to talk about training your tech support folks on how to handle Open Office support calls.

Tech savy users and corporate customers are likely to blow the default image away and replace it with something tweaked to their choosing, so you wouldn't be saving them a tremendous amount of time by having it installed anyway.

And a somewhat obvious answer already exists (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331521)

A somewhat obvious question is raised: why isn't OpenOffice already available by default on new PC's and Workstations?"

I would say for the same (or at least closely related and similar) reason that PC's come with and the majority of people want/keep using Windows over other OS choices which are arguably better and just as easy or easier to use. It's what people are familiar with. I'm pretty confident your average joe on the street has heard of MS Office. That same guy probably has not heard of OpenOffice. People know the name, the use it at work, they are comfortable with it. Given the choice between a computer with OO and a Computer with MS Office, all other things being equal (or at least equal to your average use), they're probably going to take the one with MS Office. Therefore, it makes sense for computers to come with it (most at least come with Word and Excel these days, I believe).

On top of that, it's still not 100% compatible with MS Office... I frequently have to slightly adjust things converting between OO's .odf and Office's .doc and have had some features of Excel spreadsheets not work in OO. That alone is going to make it unacceptable for use on projects for school or work which are then going to probably be used in MS Office.

Sure, as OO is free, it could be included along with Word/Excel/full MS Office, etc. but I suspect at best it'll go mostly unused and just take up disk space and at worst potentially confuse customers.

Re:And a somewhat obvious answer already exists (2, Interesting)

mgpeter (132079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331825)

On top of that, it's still not 100% compatible with MS Office... I frequently have to slightly adjust things converting between OO's .odf and Office's .doc and have had some features of Excel spreadsheets not work in OO. That alone is going to make it unacceptable for use on projects for school or work which are then going to probably be used in MS Office.

Stop Using the Proprietary MS Formats - The vast majority of people complaining about OOo complain that it doesn't open MS Documents 100% Accurately. If you would simply start to use the default file format - ODF you won't have this problem.

At a local school we decided to have the teachers use OpenOffice.org, or if they wanted Microsoft Office - to have the teachers find the funding for it themselves. Most chose OpenOffice.org and the #1 complaint was that it did not open Word Documents 100% accurately - mostly drawings wouldn't show up correctly. Once everyone transitioned to use the ODF format - all complaints stopped, and once they started using OOo most found it better than MS Office - Especially once they learned how to utilize styles.

Re:And a somewhat obvious answer already exists (2, Insightful)

Toby_Tyke (797359) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332087)

Stop Using the Proprietary MS Formats - The vast majority of people complaining about OOo complain that it doesn't open MS Documents 100% Accurately. If you would simply start to use the default file format - ODF you won't have this problem.

Maybe our places of employment use MS formats. Maybe our customers use MS formats. Most people do. If your customers demand you send them MS office files, what are you going to do?

I often work from home. Without MS software on my home machine, I would not be able to do that. You work in a school, and persuaded them to change their IT policy and adopt an open alternative. That's great.I work for a multinational company employing tens of thousands of people. They are not going to change their IT policy just to suit little old me.

Re:And a somewhat obvious answer already exists (1)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332327)

As soon as you convince my employer, my school, and the local IT headhunters to start using OO instead of MS Word, I'll get right on that. Until then, I'll write anything I need to at home in OO and save to Word format, then take a few seconds at work or school to make sure the formatting is correct before sending it off to anyone of any importance. Unfortunately, we can't expect the general public to be willing to go through those same extra steps just to use a piece of software they've never heard of.

Re:And a somewhat obvious answer already exists (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332517)

It's what people are familiar with. I'm pretty confident your average joe on the street has heard of MS Office. That same guy probably has not heard of OpenOffice.

So what? The average joe on the street doesn't fscking see a difference between MS Office and OO.o. The average joe on the street uses 1% of the functionnalities of an Office suite. I've re-installed (and imaged, so I don't ever need to re-install) a great many Windows systems for friends/family. I install them OO.o and Firefox. They don't notice a difference, besides the logos. That is the definition of the average joe on the street. And that is really scary for MS. If Dell were to install OO.o I'd guesstimate that more than 90% of the people wouldn't even notice it's different than MS Office. Sure, there are some people that would try to open old documents that, very rarely, would fail. But this would be a minority. Most "average joe" who buy a new computer do not even transfer files (!) from their old computers. They usually don't even have backups neither. That is the average joe.

it's still not 100% comptabible with MS Office...

But for most of the population OO.o is identical to MS Office and fills 100% of their needs. For most of the population you simply remove MS Office and install OO.org instead and they wouldn't even notice.

That alone is going to make it unacceptable for use on projects for school...

Ignoring the fact that there are already today schools and universities around the world (the world ain't just the U.S. and MS's market certainly isn't just the U.S.) that are using OO.o everywhere... Surely if you happen to be in one these school/uni what you're saying doesn't make much sense right?

From an economic point of view MS Office simply doesn't make sense anymore for anyone but corporate customers, who still rely on VB macros. For school, universities, etc. switching to OO.o means huge savings. Not to mention that in some countries public schools and administration are forced, by law, to use inter-operable document format.

You can use illegally use your monopoly to keep it from declining, but when a free product is 99,x% compatible (with x growing at every release) with your expensive product, it is getting very hard to compete.

Resistance is futile. OpenOffice.org is spreading like fire and it's gonna be part of the software landscape for many, many years.

MS Office will last a little longer in the corporate world, but the corporate world is surpisingly small compared to SMEs and home users...

Because they can't up-sell you (3, Insightful)

xenocide2 (231786) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331559)

It's not about customer value -- anyone asking for OpenOffice already knows about it and can easily install it. Dell's strategy is to make the cheapest PC's around to bring in customers, then make it as easy as possible to spend more than that. They are not the Wal-Mart of computing. A 30 day Office trial pays Dell. Even so, they want you to buy Office -- they get more money that way. OO.o has no such financial arrangement, and it would be tricky for Dell to attempt to charge customers for it.

Spoonerism! (1)

sootman (158191) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331561)

Am I the only one who read that and saw "OpenOffice.org Tries to Do Well"?

May I sew you to your sheets? [wikipedia.org]

Duh. (1)

bannerman (60282) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331567)

It's simple. Dell computers already come bundled with a more polished suite for free. It may not be as powerful or feature complete but there it is.

"Microsoft Works 8. DOES NOT INCLUDE MS WORD [Included in Price]"

Re:Duh. (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331997)

Included in price does not mean free. If they had a free alternative, how much would they charge for MS works?

A somewhat obvious answer is given. (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331649)

A somewhat obvious question is raised: why isn't OpenOffice already available by default on new PC's and Workstations?

Because Microsoft will give less license discount if they did.

Because It's not easy to use (-1, Flamebait)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331685)

Personally, I find OpenOffice very difficult to use. Perhaps it's all part of the "change" that is required with software changes, but I have spent hours using OpenOffice Draw, and I haven't been able to get very far using it. It's a very difficult program to use, and it doesn't seem to have the functionality that similar programs have.

I'm sure all of the programs on OpenOffice have tons of features, but they seem to be hidden from the user, at least, most of the important features.

The bottom line isn't the fact that it's open source/gpl/whatever, it's that the program just isn't easy to use.

Re:Because It's not easy to use (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332227)

Draw isn't very useful, except in a few limited cases. Don't try the database app either, its not ready for prime time.

Stick to writer, calc, and impress. Those are the good ones. 80% of people who use MS office just use word, excel, and powerpoint. Not many spring for the deluxe version that would include visio.

ammendment (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332455)

open office's base ( the database app I just slammed) is getting better all the time. Its not very user friendly, but its the closest app I've seen to access. Soon they'll hit access 2 usability ( which is more than I ever expected of it).

Not that I'll ever use it.

Makes sense from Dell's perspective (1)

Experiment 626 (698257) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331737)

If Dell charged for OpenOffice, open-source advocates would scream bloody murder (OMG it's supposed to be free, why does choosing OpenOffice add $50 to the price of a PC?) On the other hand, customers expect whatever comes with their computer to be supported, which costs money. There's also the opportunity cost from OpenOffice cannibalizing sales of the much more profitable MS-Office. Also, they would hurt their relationship with Microsoft. So they can either give it away and lose money, or sell it for whatever it costs them to offer, but continue to take lots of flak for it not being free. I would expect them to avoid the issue unless a competitor manages to eat into sales by offering systems with OpenOffice.

Re:Makes sense from Dell's perspective (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331969)

If Dell charged for OpenOffice, open-source advocates would scream bloody murder (OMG it's supposed to be free, why does choosing OpenOffice add $50 to the price of a PC?)


Name one instance where selling open source software has caused any large group of people to complain? The only complaints I have ever heard is when the company selling the software is also violating the license is some way (usually not distributing the source). I doubt anybody would complain if Dell charged $50 to install and support OpenOffice.

Re:Makes sense from Dell's perspective (1)

pedestrian crossing (802349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332233)

...customers expect whatever comes with their computer to be supported, which costs money.

Hogwash!

Try calling Dell and see how much support you get for MS Works.

If it starts up, they consider their job done.

If it doesn't start up, they will tell you to wipe and reload from the image.

If it still doesn't start up, they will RMA the computer and send you a new one.

That is the complete extent of the application support you will get from Dell.

The "it costs Dell money to support OOO/Linux" argument is a tired canard, and anyone who has ever called Dell for software support knows it.

Never. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18331747)

Dell is in the business of low-end, commodity PC sales. Their largest supplier is Microsoft. There is no simple alternative to Microsoft's operating system.

Installing Open Office out of the box will royally piss off Microsoft.

Why would Dell want to piss off their largest supplier?

Re:Never. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332149)

Sometimes I think I'm living in backwards world. Why does Microsoft risk pissing off one of their largest customers? And yet there it is.

Instead of Wooing Dell (2, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331779)

Why dont you woo Apple (who have a shakey relationship with Microsoft to start)and in return get help for that long promised native OpenOffice version not using java like NeoOffice has to do...

oh wait, I forgot the guys in charge dont like Apple either.

Re:Instead of Wooing Dell (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332497)

Don't worry, I think they are preparing a Letter to Apple as well, right after they finish on the ones to Amiga and the Acorn Arhcimedes. They will really be pulling in the numbers once they convince those 3, probably won't even bother answering the phone calles from Dell.

The default OO install... (1)

The Orange Mage (1057436) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331811)

If Dell goes through with this, there's one thing they should do: Make the default blank document (as in File->New) EXACTLY like MS Word's. It bugs the hell out of me that OO uses wonky non-standard margins by default.

Obvious? (2, Insightful)

east coast (590680) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331815)

A somewhat obvious question is raised: why isn't OpenOffice already available by default on new PC's and Workstations?

Obvious? What's obvious is that Dell can make a profit from MS Office. Frankly, if I were a business I would look to the profit aspect first.

Also consider tech support. I would think that Dell is going to get more support from MS than the OO people when it comes down to wide spread issues involving their product. Tech support is doubtlessly a large chunk of Dell's overhead. The better support from their software vendors the less that overhead will be. That's a big plus and anyone who's taken business-101 type classes can tell you this.

Not to mention that free software still has a stigma about it. This isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

Re:Obvious? (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332141)

Not to mention that free software still has a stigma about it. This isn't likely to go away anytime soon.


In technical terms, that stigma is called "Zero marketing budget".

Yeah sure... (2, Funny)

Bullfish (858648) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331845)

That will go over with Dell like a pregnant woman doing a pole vault... No percentage (that they would get with any other commercial office product) means no profit...

This WOULD have made sense last year... (2, Informative)

ProppaT (557551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331857)

It would have made since for PC builders to supply OO on new computers last year. It would have given the user added value for free. It's a great suite of tools. Even though I have Office at work, there's I still use OO for certain applications.

The problem with OO right now is that, even though OO is a great substitute and can use Office files...it CANT use Office 2007 files. People are going to be saving files with .docx by default in 2007. This creates a huge compatibility void until someone creates an open source DTD for OO to open and render .docx files. No matter how good OO gets, Office is THE standard. If it can't keep up with Office compatibility (and I'm sure it eventually will catch up), it's about as useful as WordPerfect (i.e., it's fine as long as you don't have to use anybody elses files).

Novell docx filter (1)

D3m0n0fTh3Fall (1022795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331957)

Didn't Novell anounce the release of a shiny new docx import filter a week or two ago?

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331885)

They are trying to woo who?

Support (1)

eck011219 (851729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331899)

Not only are all the financial and business reasons offered by readers here probably completely true, I'd bet they also don't want the support calls. It doesn't matter what you tell people about what you will or won't support -- I would imagine Dell gets hundreds of calls a day about something not working right in the pre-installed copy of Word someone bought with their Dell machine. I wouldn't think it would be worth it to either train support staff to provide basic support for OpenOffice or even to spend the time telling each confused caller that they have to go somewhere else for help.

Which just brought me to a related thought -- OOo online documentation is, in spots, quite skitchy. Dell and other manufacturers may have set standards for what they consider to be a product worthy of inclusion, and those standards may be partially dependent upon level of documentation.

But this is all Reason Three at best -- I'm sure marking up the OEM version AND getting a better volume discount from Microsoft weigh more heavily than this.

Submission title (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18331991)

Sounds like the lead in to one of those unspeakable folk songs where every other line is "hey, nonny,nonny oh".

Because OO is a headache for support providers (2, Informative)

Yogi_Stewart_4 (999603) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332011)

If I was a support provider (and I am within my organisation), I wouldn't want to provide OO either. Try opening something simple like a word document with an inserted image in it with OO, and then supporting illiterate users.

I dont like it (1)

UPZ (947916) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332085)

The letter sucks. It boasts about how OpenOffice is a great program and that it is open to financial contribution.

Good intent, though. It should've instead talked about how OpenOffice can help DELL cut costs in licensing and support. A company only cares about its own bottom line, not someone else's.

here's a possibility (4, Insightful)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332099)

Maybe because Microsoft Office is a superior product. They don't offer beta versions of MS Office either. If customers want to use OpenOffice they can download. In most cases, it's got critical deficiencies that will confuse most customers. I've tried the ol' OpenOffice switcheroo on non-open-source-enthusiasts before. They were basically confused and frustrated with OpenOffice and why it didn't do the same things.

Microsoft Office is a lot more intelligent than people give it credit for.

OpenOffice bundled on new PCs (5, Interesting)

Yaddoshi (997885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332137)

The company I work for always adds OpenOffice to every new PC sold by default, because getting OEM Office drives the price up by almost $200 (and our price is already higher than Office Depot, Office Max, Best Buy and Walmart on comparable PCs of the main brands). I find, however, that people who are comfortable using MS Office don't like OpenOffice, just like people who are comfortable with Corel WordPerfect typically don't like MS Word. You like the program you are most familiar with, even if other programs do the same task better. Nobody likes having to learn to do the same thing in a different manner. I still tie my shoes the same way I taught myself to as a child, even though the normal way to tie one's shoes tends to keep them tied longer than my method.

With that in mind I find it highly amusing that MS Office 2007 requires a substantial learning curve before most users can become efficient with it. Nice job yet again, Microsoft. Justify the massive pricetag of your newest product that is nothing more than a minor upgrade with a facelift by including an interface overhaul.

I have customers that are still using MS Office 97, purchased almost ten years ago. Why? Because for them, it still works just fine.

Open Office sucks -- face it. (1)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 7 years ago | (#18332445)

Enough about OOO -- Microsoft is a better product, and should be leverage to use an agreed upon standard, but who cares about Open Office. We've all tried it, and there is no sane person who can HONESTLY STATE that it compares to any version of MSO that has ever been released -- going all the way back to MSO 3.

Woo Dell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18332529)

They should rather try to do well.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?