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Microsoft Announces OOXML-UOF Project with China

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the tit-for-tat dept.

Microsoft 106

Andy Updegrove writes "Today, Microsoft announced its own interoperability project to bridge the gap between China's domestically developed Uniform Office Format (UOF) and Microsoft's OOXML. In the continuing tit for tat battle between ODF and OOXML, this announcement tracks the intent of an already-existing 'harmonization' committee, hosted by OASIS, that is exploring interoperability options between ODF and UOF. Like the OOXML-ODF translator project announced by Microsoft last year, the new effort will be an open source project hosted by SourceForge. The announcement is, in one sense, no surprise. Microsoft has been waging a nation-by-nation battle for the hearts and minds of ISO/IEC JTC1 National Bodies, in an effort to win adoption of OOXML (now Ecma 376) as a global standard with equal status to ODF (now ISO 26300). In order to do so, it needs to offset the argument that one document format standard is not only enough, but preferable. With UOF representing a third entrant in the format race, easy translation of documents would obviously be key to lessen the burden on customers of products based upon one format or the other."

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106 comments

Vendor extentions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212711)

I am sure this includes vendor extensions....

Haaaa (5, Funny)

Mockylock (1087585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212721)

Microsoft: "You want to go together on a new 'standard'?"
China: "Sure, whatever."
Microsoft: "What's wrong?"
China: "Can we still pirate software?"
Microsoft: "Sure, whatever."

No ODF and OOXML are *not* "making peace". (1)

DrYak (748999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214159)

No ODF and OOXML aren't working toward compatibility and interchange.
They are just both converging with UOF, each on it's own.

Looks just like bad behaving child that up until the end won't admit working together, and China (!) takes up the role of the elder brother/parent coming to help them.

Sometimes you can try hard making up thing, but reality will always beat you a the weirdness contest. (China is the superglue holding microsoft and Free software together).

damn commie bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212743)

fucking up the world, WW3 with china, coming soon!

How about... (3, Funny)

omgamibig (977963) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212749)

...yet another freakin format? Seriously!

But can those features be incorporated? (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213035)

I'm sure China would prefer their home grown standard.

The question is whether or not the features of that standard can be incorporated into ODF soon enough for China to adopt ODF as their standard instead of their home grown one.

Or can a big enough chunk of them be incorporated so that they can evolve in parallel and merge some time in the future?

Re:How about... (2, Funny)

edittard (805475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213085)

Standards are great, you can never have too many of them.

Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212779)

Why are so many people so satisfied with the status quo of being locked-in to Microsoft products? Why would you want to put all your information in a basket owned by a single vendor who keeps you at their mercy? I don't want to wear any software vendor's handcuffs, even if I trusted them, and I really don't trust Microsoft at all at this point.

The only straight answer I've heard thus far was from one guy who told me it was because he owned stock in Microsoft. Windows & Office, after all, are the only two profitable divisions in all of Microsoft (and they do make one hell of a profit, precisely because of the lock-in).

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212821)

Why are so many people so satisfied with the status quo of being locked-in to Microsoft products?


Because for the average user, Microsoft products (at least Office) do the job required, and do it fairly well, and no one is providing anything that, despite file format incompatibility, provides a compelling reason to change aside from "we're a bit cheaper". Without that, no one is going to get up in arms.

If someone comes up with a way to fill the role of the word processor or spreadsheet in a way stunningly better than Microsoft has, then substantial numbers of people will start chafing at vendor lock-in. As long as most competitors are just making "me too, and you can run me on more OS's" products, they'll have a niche, but not a big push for change.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

presidentbeef (779674) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212937)

Because for the average user, Microsoft products (at least Office) do the job required, and do it fairly well, and no one is providing anything that, despite file format incompatibility, provides a compelling reason to change aside from "we're a bit cheaper". Without that, no one is going to get up in arms.

Well...a couple hundred bucks for most home users is a lot just to do word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Compare that to OpenOffice, which is free. That is a huge savings.

I'd say it's more likely that most users don't know the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, don't know there are alternatives, and assume that "free" means cheap and worthless.

It's different for businesses, but, if we assume there is an exact clone of Office which is completely free...I think most people would switch rather than to continually pay Microsoft for new licenses and upgrades which are practically forced.

Re:Why? (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213083)

Well...a couple hundred bucks for most home users is a lot just to do word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Compare that to OpenOffice, which is free. That is a huge savings. [...] I'd say it's more likely that most users don't know the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, don't know there are alternatives, and assume that "free" means cheap and worthless.

Free means cheap huh?

Anyway, you know, I like, and even use (sometimes) OpenOffice, but honestly, if you put it side by side with Office 12, it definitely looks cheap and worthless.

Just like GP said, alternative products need not just be free, they need to be at least as good as, if not better than Microsoft Office. Right now, for anyone who used Office 12 and OpenOffice extensively (i.e. me), the competition is far behind.

Also don't skew the numbers. "Hundreds of dollars" is what the full blown Office suite costs, which does a lot more than spreadsheets and word processing. You can get OEM license for MS Works (Excel + Word) with your PC for less than $70 bucks in most shops nowadays.

Now *this* is what word processing and spreadsheets with Office costs like. And all of a sudden, going for a bare bones open source version of Officeisn't so nice.

Re:Why? (1)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213493)

All I know is that I've saved files in Excel, just to have Excel unable to read or recover them. Yet I open the document in OpenOffice.org, and it strips out the crap, and gives me a perfectly formatted Excel file back, minus whatever brain damage Excel saved into it when it did anesthetic-free gall bladder removal on the document. Office may look like a flashy product, but fuck if it isn't still a piece of shit underneath the GUI. I still use MS Office at work because we have macros and plugins written for it, but we're moving away from it as soon as we can build a replacement.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19213871)

All I know is that I've saved files in Excel, just to have Excel unable to read or recover them.

Bullshit. It doesn't work that way. But hey, no one is listening to you blather on and on anyway.

Re:Why? (1)

daskinil (991205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214471)

I've never had a problem with MS Office, but I've had OOWriter fail to recover a document it saved. And that ended up costing me the important document (my resume) Thankfully I had a backup. Moral of the story, is file corruption happens- but i doubt it has anything to do with office itself. I also agree, after using OpenOffice for two years, I switched to my old copy of Word '95. Yes I believe even MSOffice that old is still easier to use than OO today.

Re:Why? (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213783)

Anecdotes aren't data, I know, but I have a story about a friend of mine (an older guy, 70-ish). He's not a tech-savvy guy, but he's been a "joe user" kind of guy for probably 15-20 years now. He doesn't care how it works, really, but he'll sit and listen to a semi-technical description of things while you fix his system occasionally. And by occasionally, I mean once every couple of years when a hardware component is going on the fritz. He knows the various external components of a computer and knows that a monitor isn't a computer and a computer isn't a hard drive. He generally knows what a print/save/open dialog looks like (standard OS stuff). He isn't a complete newbie, but he's no power user, either.

He recently bought a new Dell laptop. It came with MS Office 2003 preloaded. He used it for emails, typing up documents, all the usual stuff. Then the trial expired. PANIC! He called me up in a panic and said that he couldn't get to any of his documents, that Office had expired and he didn't have the money to buy a $300 software bundle (I think it was Small Business Edition, which is Word/Excel/Outlook and some minor crap). I guided him to the OpenOffice.org site and got the download started. I told him to call me back if there were any installation or other issues with how it worked.

He told me a few days later that there were a few things he had to get used to, some stuff named differently, odd default settings in various dialogs and tools, etc. But other than that, to him, OO.o is free-as-in-I-don't-have-to-pay-for-Office-ever-aga in. And it does everything he expected it to do when I told him it would replace Office.

I've recommended Ubuntu to him a few times, but his wife likes playing those stupid Popcap-style games she gets from Yahoo and similar places. They only work in Windows and I don't think Wine is gonna be simple enough (ever!) for either of them to understand.

Re:Why? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215477)

I've recommended Ubuntu to him a few times, but his wife likes playing those stupid Popcap-style games she gets from Yahoo and similar places.

In Ubuntu, plenty of "Popcap-style" games are built in -- all you have to do is check the boxes next to them in the package manager and hit "install." Between that and installing Flash (so she could still play online games), his wife would be better off with Ubuntu!

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19218089)

What this confirms, is that OpenOffice is nice for casual use by amateur users. I really mean people who do a lot of content in Office though, and they would definitely go for Microsoft Office.

It can be comapred to Gimp vs Photoshop. If you want to adjust the levels and remove the red eye of a photo, Gimp's nice (hell, even Picassa is nice). If you want to make a button or background for your web page, then Gimp is again nice.

But if you do complex photo retouch, ton of design, every day, then Gimp is unbearable, and Photoshop is THE app to use (with some other bearable alternatives for limited work, such as Fireworks, Paintshop Pro and maybe a couple others).

Re:Why? (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213095)

I think most consumers who use Office do so because that is what they use at work.

I think businesses would always be skeptical of how exact a clone an exact clone really is. I think a fair amount of businesses use Word and Excel especially as application platforms to a degree, and if their applications won't transfer then it is not really a clone or really compatible.

Re:Why? (1)

barik (160226) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213187)

Well...a couple hundred bucks for most home users is a lot just to do word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Compare that to OpenOffice, which is free. That is a huge savings.


I think the important thing to remember is that a large number of these installations are pirated from work or another source for home use. Now that Microsoft Office has introduced GenuineAdvantage in its latest offering, expect that people will start to take a more serious look at OpenOffice and other alternatives.

Re:Why? (4, Insightful)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213301)

There probably should be a 'Get OpenOffice' campaign just like the 'Get Firefox' campaign when Firefox 1.0 was released.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

eMbry00s (952989) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213963)

It would hardly have the same succeess as Firefox has seen. Firefox was vastly superior to the alternative, OOo is not.

Re:Why? (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214707)

There probably should be a 'Get OpenOffice' campaign just like the 'Get Firefox' campaign when Firefox 1.0 was released.
There was the Get Legal [openoffice.org] campaign but I don't think it had the same support as the FF campaign.

Re:Why? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19214873)

How about before that, we have a "Make OpenOffice not suck compared to MS Office" campaign among developers?

Re:Why? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19216195)

I do recommend Firefox to people, and offer Opera as an alternative if they do not like Firefox as IE is just that bad, but the difference between MS Office vs. OpenOffice. is not the same. Put simply: MS Office is a perfectly fine office suite, which most people buy with their computers. There is no good reason to switch, and OpenOffice's GUI feels unfinished. If OpenOffice gets to the point where its GUI is actually as usable as MS Office's, then I will start recommending it as opposed to simply mentioning it as a free alternative. Until then, MS Office is not going anywhere.

Re:Why? (0, Flamebait)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213699)

I'd say it's more likely that most users don't know the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office

This is a commonly voiced anecdote among the FOSS crowd, but in reality it's almost complete self-serving bullshit. It's part of the Open Source mantra that assumes most "users" are complete idiots. And, since in most cases users must pay several hundred dollars in addition to their computer that came pre-installed with Windows, it would be had to miss that the Office Suite is not a part of the OS.

don't know there are alternatives, and assume that "free" means cheap and worthless.

It's difficult for most FOSS evangelists (fan boys) to understand that most people are happy with MS Office because it does what it does very well, even "power users" are happy with its various application components. If it didn't meet or exceed user expectations, people wouldn't pay several hundred dollars for it. While there are other office application suites, most of them fall short of the integrated functionality of MS Office. Excel is a great example where as much as the OpenOffice sheep my bleat, "Calc" simply falls short. FOSS like to go on and on and on about file compatibility issues, but most people don't consider an incompatibility with FOSS applications that very few of their peers use to be an issue.

Re:Why? (1)

robgig1088 (1043362) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214099)

Dude what are you talking about? Maybe for power users they need the enhanced functionality of Office 2007 but what extra "Average" features does it add? I use openoffice to type my school papers, powerpoints, and schedule my classes in a spreadsheet. It works perfectly for my needs and I guarantee it works perfectly for just about anyone's needs unless youre doing something like writing a book. And thats what Final Draft is for (which happens to run 100% under wine, by the way). MS Office is useless. Its expensive, bloated with so many features that I can never make it do right. OOo is the best choice for 80% of computer users. Unfortunately, most people don't know the difference between Windows and their Dell, much less know what Open-ANYTHING is. Sad, really....

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19214267)

Dude? Duuuuuuuude... Once you get out of school and if you happen to work in an office, you might need more than something to print 10 page double spaced class reports with. It's called the Real World. Dude.

Re:Why? (1)

ukatoton (999756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214377)

I would like to say, whilst I am a fan of open source in general, OpenOffice is far behind MS Office.

For a start, on every computer I've tried it on, it loads much slower than MS Office, and just seems sluggish in general. This may be anecdotal, but for me, MS Office seems faster and nicer.

That's not to say that MS Office isn't hideously expensive for what it is. I'd love to use an open source office suite, but open office if not for me.

Re:Why? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213853)

Well...a couple hundred bucks for most home users is a lot just to do word processing, spreadsheets, etc. Compare that to OpenOffice, which is free.


Word is often bundled with Windows now, and—and, look, I'm pro-OSS—Office Home and Student 2007 has a lot more polish than OpenOffice.org, and OneNote is, at least to me, a big plus.

I'd say it's more likely that most users don't know the difference between Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office, don't know there are alternatives, and assume that "free" means cheap and worthless.


I agree that the first two, though I don't think the last is a big factor. OTOH, the reason they don't know is that the competition gets little attention because its got no compelling non-price selling point. Plus, a couple hundred dollars every few years isn't that much money for most home users.

It's different for businesses, but, if we assume there is an exact clone of Office which is completely free...I think most people would switch rather than to continually pay Microsoft for new licenses and upgrades which are practically forced.


sure they would. But an "exact clone of Office" isn't what the competition is. What are available are basically similar products, with some adaptation curve, missing some things that MS Office users find important, but with some advantages in other areas that tend not be compelling selling points.

With Microsoft sitting in a dominant position, people aren't going to change in droves unless Microsoft tries to push the price outrageously high, or some competitor with a compelling differentiation by features comes out. I think the FOSS community can do that, quite easily: it doesn't lack skill or creativity. OTOH, people have to get out of the "how do we duplicate Office" mindset, and think beyond Office.

Re:Why? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215523)

OneNote is, at least to me, a big plus.

Yeah, me too. I absolutely loathe the facts that I'm forced to use Windows and that I'm putting my notes in a proprietary format, but there's really nothing in the Free Software world that even slightly competes with OneNote. It really pisses me off, especially since I'm too busy to do anything about it.

OTOH, people have to get out of the "how do we duplicate Office" mindset, and think beyond Office.

I'd be happy if people got into the "how do we duplicate OneNote" mindset!

Re:Why? (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213119)

The reason it flies now is most people do not really pay full price for office and do not realize microsoft plans to put office on a rental basis with subscription fees.

OOo now opens even my most complicated documents. It's free. I don't prefer it yet but I'm headed that way. There will be a day in the next few years when I leave office behind except for work.

Re:Why? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214007)

The reason it flies now is most people do not really pay full price for office and do not realize microsoft plans to put office on a rental basis with subscription fees.



I realize Microsoft plans that. I still bought Office Home & Student 2007. Heck, I realized that when I bought Office 2003. I think I'd heard talk of it about when I got Office 97 (I skipped 2000). Microsoft has planned software as service for as long as the internet has been popular. When Microsoft decides to put Office on a rental basis, I certainly won't buy that version. And I've already got OOo installed alongside Office on my computers at home.

And I find OOo about as nice to use as Office 97-2003, but not nearly as nice as 2007. And, since I've got the money, and need to use an office suite a lot at home, I'm willing to pay for 2007.

(I might switch for other reasons too, as I'm leaning toward switching over to MacOS and/or Linux as the main OS at home, but I'm not there yet, though I keep toying with different Linux distros on my main computer, which is dual boot WinXP and, right now, Fedora. Since I expect to see Microsoft Office for Linux about the time of Duke Nukem Forever, I expect that if I switch to Linux I'll also switch to OOo.)

Re:Why? (3, Funny)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213167)

If someone comes up with a way to fill the role of the word processor or spreadsheet in a way stunningly better than Microsoft has, then substantial numbers of people will start chafing at vendor lock-in. As long as most competitors are just making "me too, and you can run me on more OS's" products, they'll have a niche, but not a big push for change.


But OpenOffice.org Writer is stunningly better than Microsoft Word [newsforge.com] , in many, many ways, unless you're one of those people that simply must have Word's outline view. Better bullets and numbering, better support for templates, support for conditional formatting, and better support for master documents are just a few of reasons why I use OpenOffice.org Writer instead of Word for my writing projects, despite having access to both at home.

Re:Why? (0)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213465)

I have heard that it is still pretty rough compared to Word. The one killer I have heard is that documents do not always format 100% identical when opened with the other application. I would be leary to use it for important business correspondance or a resume for example.

Another important issue is that the average consumer does not think in terms of document formats, they think in terms of programs. If something "needs to be in Word", then that means using Word the program to them.

Re:Why? (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213999)

I would be leary to use it for important business correspondance or a resume for example.

You don't realize that Word documents will be formatted depending on the local printer, do you? You do NOT have absolute control over the look of your .doc when you email it out. For the purposes you listed there is PDF, and OO.org has native support for it, while MS Office does not (up to 2003 at least, dunno about 2007).

Re:Why? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214171)

You don't realize that Word documents will be formatted depending on the local printer, do you?


On screen formatting in MS Office programs (I've noticed this more in Excel than Word) varies considerably based on View Zoom as well. I'm not sure if this is the same in OOo (it may be, since I suspect at least part of it is how Windows renders fonts.)

You do NOT have absolute control over the look of your .doc when you email it out. For the purposes you listed there is PDF, and OO.org has native support for it, while MS Office does not (up to 2003 at least, dunno about 2007).


Office has had support to print to its own "document image" format and TIFF since 2003 or earlier, and has a free-downloadable plugin for XPS and PDF in 2007. But, yeah, sharing important business documents in word-processor format rather print-equivalent format, unless you are working on jointly editing drafts, is a bad idea.

Re:Why? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217853)

The one killer I have heard is that documents do not always format 100% identical when opened with the other application

PDF is the answer when you don't want anybody to change it. I am surprised by the number of contracts in word or excel - leaving things open to change by the unscrupulous.

Time for a rant. Ever since Word97 could not open documents produced by a revision of Word97 that came in an identical box it has been clear to me that "simple" document sharing is over rated and not as simple as it appears. Try opening something from Word2000 in the current version - you won't always get perfectly the same formatting there either. If you share documents there has to be an assumption that things will change unless you have exactly the same Office install on all machines - missing options will confuse the issue. The Word97 debacle showed me that it is preferable to use the exact same install media and keep it locked up so no idiot can "borrow" it - with licences of course. I've lost track of how many versions of Office 2000 there were - but of course have no install media for one of them and dozens of disks for another - which left one user too busy for backups without Outlook after they foolishly changed their settings ("corporate" to "internet" email - insert media or no Outlook and no going back).

MS is not seldom incompatible with itself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217935)

A teacher had made a Powerpoint document at home in some unknown version (presumably 97 or higher).
When he tried to open it in StarOffice8 Impress it had some slight errors.
We tried opening it in Powerpoint97, Powerpoint Viewer95, XP and 2003 and of those SO8 and PPT Viewer95 had the least errors.

Now, if MS cant even display it's own file format correctly, who can?

- Peder

Re:Why? (1)

ihuntrocks (870257) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213501)

We must also remember that OpenOffice looks like a tool (it is, and a very good one I might add), and that Microsoft Office looks like a toy (pretty paint on the outside, choking hazard on the inside). The average user, especially those who are still slightly intimidated by computers (like my father) prefer the look and feel of Microsoft products. People like my father just need to create a spreadsheet, they don't necessarily need to create a GOOD spreadsheet. Microsoft Office came with his computer and that's where he's staying. Personally, I prefer OpenOffice. It gives me better quality on every platform I need it to run on.

Re:Why? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213931)

But OpenOffice.org Writer is stunningly better than Microsoft Word, in many, many ways

Those ways don't include startup time (amazingly slow even on my Core Duo T2600 system with 2GB RAM and thus no over-paging problem), being reliable, et cetera. And while I haven't done this experiment in Writer, opening an Excel spreadsheet, removing some data from it, and re-saving as excel grew a fairly simple sheet from 26kB to over 160kB. So clearly there are some issues to be worked out of OO.o.

Re:Why? (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 7 years ago | (#19216441)

Those ways don't include startup time (amazingly slow even on my Core Duo T2600 system with 2GB RAM

Both Word 2003 and Open Office Writer 2.2 open too quickly for me to measure on my Athlon 64/4600 with 2GB RAM, likewise Calc and Excel open almost instantly.

If it's amazingly slow, there's something wrong with your system.

Re:Why? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217877)

If it's amazingly slow, there's something wrong with your system.

I'd be looking at DMA - openoffice does a lot of disk access at startup and on machines with DMA turned off on the disks it took a very long time to start up. Version 2 is a lot faster to start than version 1 - on an old laptop with vectorlinux the most recent openoffice was usable while earlier versions vere not.

OTOH... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19217897)

OTOH, I've had .doc files shrink considerably when saved as .odt.
I guess when using relativly small files the odf format is slightly larger due to the XML overhead but as the files
grow odf is at least on par and not seldom smaller than the MS memory dump.

Re the speed: are you using the OOo quickstart? That speeds up the startup considerably, epecially when
OOo is installed on the network. When locally installed (at least in linux) the startup time shouldn't be a problem.

The only thing OOo is slow at is opening the files (vs MS Office). Again the tradeoff with an open XML format
that needs to be unzipped and parsed vs the MS way of pounding the memory dump back into RAM.
I guess OOXML will suffer the same load times though.

- Peder

Re:Why? (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214093)

But OpenOffice.org Writer is stunningly better than Microsoft Word, in many, many ways, unless you're one of those people that simply must have Word's outline view. Better bullets and numbering, better support for templates, support for conditional formatting, and better support for master documents are just a few of reasons why I use OpenOffice.org Writer instead of Word for my writing projects, despite having access to both at home.


First, none of those is really a stunning advantage. Its a few areas of small advantages. Second, Outline view isn't the only area Word was held up as the winner, in the article you point to. And, of course, the comparison there is between OOo 2.0 and Office 2003, so its a bit dated.

Outline view (3, Informative)

tjwhaynes (114792) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214105)

But OpenOffice.org Writer is stunningly better than Microsoft Word [newsforge.com] , in many, many ways, unless you're one of those people that simply must have Word's outline view.

I keep hearing about Word's outline view - what does it offer that OpenOffice.org's Navigator does not offer? I can move sections around, demote and promote sections, quickly jump to a section/table/picture in the document from the Navigator. Please enlighten me!

Cheers,
Toby Haynes

Re:Why? (1)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213495)

Why can't MS office support ODF?

Re:Why? (1)

zcat_NZ (267672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214191)

There's one important feature of Microsoft's Legacy Document Formats that ODF simply cannot support; vendor lock-in.

That one feature is a total deal-breaker for Microsoft.

Competition?? (3, Insightful)

l2718 (514756) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212783)

We've been through this before, but why would the user benefit from multiple standards when they are essentially equivalent? The user does not interact with the document on the disk. He interacts with a computer program -- so there is a natural room for competition in the field of word processors, which benefits the user. In fact, a single accepted office document format will simplify this competition and hence help the user.

A design competition for file formats would persumably benefit programmers who write word processors. But once the design is fixed, they too would rather implement one format rather than two. Again, the word processor has an internal representation of the data, and reading/writing to disk can be done in many ways. Of course, having the format be a dump of the internal (binary) data structures of your program would be a big boost -- but that can hardly be said to foster competition.

Re:Competition?? (2, Interesting)

nine-times (778537) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213271)

A single format would be beneficial so long as there was a single format which everyone could agree was suitable for their own purposes. It's not clear to me whether that could happen. If you include all the features in the spec that anyone could possibly want, there might be someone else who complains that it's too complicated and bloated for their purposes.

And besides the technical features of the format, it's clear to me that, if you want everyone to use it, it needs to meet certain requirements. It must have no IP issues that require licensing or fees so that it can be implemented without worrying about legal issues. The format must also be documented sufficiently so that anyone can implement the standard as easily as possible.

On the other hand, I'm not sure why we need a single document standard. At least, I wouldn't want someone to try to compel developers to use a standard that is unsuitable unless there's a real reason. I mean, assuming that you have two competing fully-open standards, it doesn't seem to me to be horrible if applications support both. It means a little more effort from the various application developers, but only if they wish to implement both. Otherwise someone could develop a stand-alone converter.

I guess my point is, I don't see a reason why we shouldn't let the choice of open standards work themselves out organically and let people/organizations use/support what they like. On the other hand, I do see a reason why people should stop using closed formats or patent-encumbered formats.

Re:Competition?? (1)

beyondkaoru (1008447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214837)

as there are people with a lot of money who are interested in one format winning over the other, things will not be allowed to be worked out 'organically'.

in the case of odf vs ooxml (i'm tempted to call ooxml msooxml, but i might get flamed), odf is sort of linked to how openoffice/staroffice is designed. ooxml is _very_ closely linked to how ms office is designed. essentially, there are two formats and they're not that similar though they have very similar purposes. both sides would want theirs to be chosen because the winner gets a much easier job of dealing with it.

another reason why it wouldn't work out nicely to have two formats is that people seem to not like to conform to standards. just look at html and xml and xhtml and css and how tremendously non-standard pretty much every website is. with all the bugs peoples' webpages have (some of which placed intentionally to make it appear nicely in browser-of-choice), it's suddenly not so surprising that web browsers are so bloated for what they need to do. many browsers (including ie and firefox) claim to support some standard and only come partway, or implement it wrong.

so, essentially, it would be wonderful to have one standard on which documents could be traded between programs, unless people learn to test their programs against others, bugs in one would mean interoperability.

now, combine that with having two standards. a small error in creating a document in one standard, which we then convert to another to view in some other app... the potential for error avalanches.

ok, i haven't looked closely at either of the two specs, but even though odf appears much better than ooxml, they both seem to suck.

i think that the best sort of spec would be one that's simple (i like xhtml+css much more than html+css), much as the cisc vs risc instruction set battle -- except the document formats are much more complicated than any assembly language i've ever seen. personally, i kind of like latex, where things are simple by necessity, as a human often is writing it.

however, the best format (which i personally don't think exists) wouldn't win in this battle, because which format wins is more dependent on the users, who will automatically use whichever is the default for their application... and if it's ms word, it will, unfortunately, be ooxml.

Re:Competition?? (1)

Wylfing (144940) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214259)

We've been through this before, but why would the user benefit from multiple graphics formats when they are essentially equivalent? The user does not interact with the image data on the disk. He interacts with a computer program.

OSPC? (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212787)

One Standard Per Child?
Open Standards are great! ... let's start a organization to develop a lot of them.

Re:OSPC? (1)

jddj (1085169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212935)

OOF! WTF? AYKM? TMFA! DAUWA?

And from the Bush administration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19214109)

"No Standard Left Behind" ?

hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (0, Offtopic)

ColonelPanic (138077) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212819)

it's == it is
its == possessive

This is *so* easy to get right, goddammit.

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (4, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212851)

Their, their ... its not worth getting you're self upset about it. Its the tone of you're comment that infers there doing it on purpose.

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (1)

John3 (85454) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213255)

You owe me a new keyboard. :)

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (1)

instagib (879544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214261)

I had ALOT of fun reading you're comment!

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212853)

it's /. not ./

retard

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (1)

ClaraBow (212734) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212959)

Hey ColonelPanic, Please Relax, they are just kids doing the best they can. Blame it on their parents. It's not their fault. Peace :)

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213075)

Don't panic!

It's easy to loose perspective given the persistant grammar errors.

---

Cry Havoc! and set lose the dogs of war!

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19213279)

As usual, whenever someone writes a "grammar or typo fixing" post, their own post becomes scrutinized for errors.

In this case, in the title of the post, you wrote "./ editors" when surely you mean to write "/. editors" instead. A simple typo, of course. Even you are not infallible.

(That having been said, I, too am annoyed by the frequent its/it's and their/there mistakes in posts.)

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19213541)

There's definitely a lot of annoying simple grammar and spelling mistakes that people make. It's their own fault for not learning the proper spelling. Whether it's it's or its or their use of they're, their, or there. It's definitely annoying to have a generation hooked on phonics who don't pause and think, yet scream at others who try to help correct them.

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (1)

Stormx2 (1003260) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213407)

Strong bad taught me this rule!

"Ooooooh if it's possessive, it's just I-T-S, buuuuuut ifit'ssupposedtobeacontraction then it's I-T-Apostrophe-S!"

Re:hey retard ./ editors, it's != its (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19213977)

....scalawag.

Ha! A translation layer! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212855)

We all know MS's translator won't work well with ODF; but there will be more pressure on them to play nice with China's format. ODF is already making an effort to play nice with China's format. So...

China's format becomes a translation layer between ODF and MS fluff. What's the Vegas odds that OOXML->UOF->ODF will work better than straight OOXML->ODF?

Oppressors of the world unite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212885)

In soviet Redmond, commie file format embraces you.

The Churchill quote (3, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212887)

The article uses a quote from Churchill's WWII speech:
We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans,...we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender...
                                                                                  - Winston Churchill, June 4, 1940


It is sort of disturbing to see that and then this text in the next paragraph:

If there was any doubt left in anyone's mind that Microsoft will do everything that it can, and wherever it must, to ensure that ODF makes the minimum inroads possible into its vastly profitable Office franchise, the news of the day should put that doubt to rest. In the continuing tit for tat battle between ODF and OOXML, Microsoft announced yesterday it's own interoperability project to bridge the gap between China's domestically developed Unified Office Format (UOF) and Microsoft's OOXML...

and then this little piece: This will hardly be the last beach upon which Microsoft will defend its Office franchise.

So by this logic MS is a liberator fighting against the evil forces of Free Software.

Probably there is some comedic value in it, but honestly this leaves a very unpleasant taste.

Re:The Churchill quote (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213175)

Microsoft announced yesterday it's own interoperability project...
**Head asplodes**

Re:The Churchill quote (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215589)

Why would that be surprising? Microsoft starts "interoperability" projects all the time! It's the first third of "embrace, extend, extinguish" you know...

Re:The Churchill quote (1)

Shatrat (855151) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213987)

Think of this particular battle as Normandy, and not the Battle of Britain.
The entrenched ones are definitely the bad guys.

Re:The Churchill quote (1)

Sweetshark (696449) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214507)

Microsoft can be rather compared to Goebbels speech in the Berliner Sportpalast on 18. Februar 1943:
"... Wäre die deutsche Wehrmacht nicht in der Lage, die Gefahr aus dem Osten zu brechen, so wäre damit das Reich und in kurzer Folge ganz Europa dem Bolschewismus verfallen. ..."
"... The way the license is written, if you use any open-source software, you have to make the rest of your software open source. [...] Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works. ..."

The random-out-of-context-quote-game - isnt it always fun? I even brought along a Godwin!

Re:The Churchill quote (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214601)

Out of context quotes are fun, but I think the author of the article brough along Godwin with Churhill's quote, so what does that do to the article?

Re:The Churchill quote (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217995)

Even better - someone with a tag of "Sweetshark" coming in to talk about an article that has obviously jumped the shark. Sweet!

There is no way I would take anything that puts that quote in seriously unless it is actually on the topics of fighting against invasion or Churchill himself. Otherwise it indicates IMHO either a tenous grip on reality / a complete misunderstanding of the circumstances described in the quote / an attempt at argument by emotional manipulation / other bullshit I have not considered.

Re:The Churchill quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19218455)

Who can forget "One World, One Web, One Program." v's "Eine Volk, Eine Reich, Eine Fuehrer."?

Nothing new here... (1)

Archtech (159117) | more than 7 years ago | (#19218499)

http://www.searls.com/m+n.html [searls.com]

Note, in particular, Bill Gates' notorious "Pearl Harbor" speech of December 7th 1995, in which he warned of the emerging global threat from Java and Netscape. The author of the page cited above, Doc Searls, seemed to think that all the warlike references were just good clean fun. Gates began his speech as follows:

MR. GATES: Well, good morning. I was realizing this morning that December 7th is kind of a famous day. (Laughter.) Fifty-four years ago or something. And I was trying to think if there were any parallels to what was going on here. And I really couldn't come up with any. The only connection I could think of at all was that probably the most intelligent comment that was made on that day wasn't made on Wall Street, or even by any type of that analyst; it was actually Admiral Yamomoto, who observed that he feared they had awakened a sleeping giant. (Laughter.)

Searls' comment on this? 'I see. The "veiled threat" was Bill's opening laugh line. Even if this was "a veiled threat," it was made in good humor'.

It was news to me at the time (1995), and still is now, that there was anything funny about Pearl Harbor. From what I know of Americans' feelings of patriotism, I would have expected Gates. remarks to raise a storm of protest. But no one said a word.

So it goes.

Benefits to MS (1)

jshriverWVU (810740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19212903)

I'm curious what benefits this will have to Microsoft? I thought Office as their big money maker next to Windows. The main reason to have it is because of the format war. If they support an open format, and OSS can adjust (like they have been with OpenOffice) this would drastically hurt sales of Office. There must be something that will work to their benefit else they wouldnt do it.

Re:Benefits to MS (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214323)

If they want to stay in the Chinese office software market, the have to adopt Chinese standard. There are already three software providers making UOF compatible software, kingsoft's WPS [kingsoft.com] , EIOffice [evermoresw.com] and Open office based RedOffice (Chinese) [ch2000.com.cn] . Some of them are very good.

China? Nah they've hired Chinese people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19212933)

"As part of Microsoft's continued commitment to interoperability, Microsoft decided to work with CHINA Electronics Standardization Institute, Beijing Information Technology Institute, one of the co-creators of the UOF Chinese standard , Beihang University of Beijing and with other partners to create a Translator between UOF and Open XML and provide interoperability between the two formats in both directions. Microsoft is funding and providing technical architectural guidance for the development of the translator that will benefit millions of people who live in China. "

Basically they've hired Chinese programmers from one of the organizations that worked on the original Chinese standard to write a converter. It doesn't fix any of the MS patent and IP claims Open XML suffers from.

Cooperate with the Chinese? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19213125)

Cooperation with the worthless chinks is always a one-way street. Enjoy being taken advantage of, Microsoft.

What's the big problem? (4, Funny)

asciimonster (305672) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213133)

I don't know why these people take so long to make their standards (or "standards") into one unified format. I did it in 2 minutes. Here it is:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<gandunifieddocumentformat xmlns="...">
    <ODF>
        <!-- ODF stuff -->
    </ODF>
    <OOXML>
        <!-- OOXML stuff -->
    </OOXML>
    <UOF>
        <!-- UOF stuff -->
    </UOF>
</gandunifieddocumentformat>

DONE!!!

Re:What's the big problem? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213669)

w00t! now that my 10k file is 30k it is time for the unified compression format. pkgbziprar sofuxdup.zip.gz.bz2.rar -r lots-o-slop/*.doc.odf.wtf.now

Re:What's the big problem? (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214211)

So... For an application to support your grandunifieddocumentformat it would have to understand al three... OK.

Does this mean that a document can be composed of multiple elements from the different formats?

I would suggest that wat you would achieve with this is a format a file that does not work with any application that only supports any one format, which would be most of them.

Oh and if you are suggesting a format whereby the file is stored in a manner that is acceptable under all three standards, then you will end up with files 3x+ as big, and still as inconsistent between applications. At that rate you are better off with a converter.

Saying that, we could add a few other mark-up types (definitely html, some tex in there too maybe? or hell embed a php compiler add php support and go the whole hog, if we include gd like capabilities we could do all sorts!!) and we would probably get a research grant from anyone who sells storage media. This suddenly doesn't seem like such a bad idea. Fancy going halves on the implementation?

Re:What's the big problem? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215607)

So... For an application to support your grandunifieddocumentformat it would have to understand al three... OK.

Hey, it's not any worse than OOXML, where for an application to support it, it has to understand the old binary format from Word 95!

Re:What's the big problem? (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19218877)

Erm, wouldnt an application that support all three standards need to have support for that binary format too?

We are bigger than China (1)

DeeVeeAnt (1002953) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213243)

- Bill Lennon

The more standards the better. (1)

sbenson (153852) | more than 7 years ago | (#19213655)

I think it's only fair if everybody gets a standard of their own.
It's only right.

Why OOXML truly sucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19213687)

From the "standard":

2.15.3.6 autoSpaceLikeWord95 (Emulate Word 95 Full-Width Character Spacing)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 95) when determining the spacing between full-width East Asian characters in a document's content.

2.15.3.26 footnoteLayoutLikeWW8 (Emulate Word 6.x/95/97 Footnote Placement)

This element specifies that applications shall emulate the behavior of a previously existing word processing application (Microsoft Word 6.x/95/97) when determining the placement of the contents of footnotes relative to the page on which the footnote reference occurs. This emulation typically involves some and/or all of the footnote being inappropriately placed on the page following the footnote reference.

Now try to implement that. Note that it is required to conform with OOXML.

All those surprised raise your hands... (1)

cyrusmack (1105309) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214003)

I thought so :) As Andy Updegrove writes on his blog, Microsoft is taking a balls-out effort to do whatever is within its power to kill ODF. Gosh, I wonder why... And in other news: http://www.bytesfree.org/bfblog/index.php/2007/05/ 21/all-your-rights-are-belong-to-us/ [bytesfree.org] -Cyrus

In Communist China... (1)

dave562 (969951) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214143)

Your documents interoperate you.

PR (1)

instagib (879544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214467)

The press release starts with: "As part of its continued commitment to deliver interoperability by design, Microsoft ...". This is just hilarious. If lies would hurt, MS PR writers would scream the whole day.

I have no idea what's worse... (1)

Greg2k (1013637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19214519)

...the pedantic "Owe owe ex ehm ell dash you owe eff" or the retarded "Ooksmul dash you off"...

OOXML-UOF! (1)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215049)

Looks like it should be the caption after Batman socks The Joker in the jaw.

That's the great thing about standards... (1)

sofla (969715) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215565)

That's the great thing about standards - there are so many to choose from !

I, for one welcome our Sino-Corporate overlords (1)

jihadist (1088389) | more than 7 years ago | (#19215987)

I get too much work from the .NET realm to ever diss Microsoft, because some of their stuff works quite well and saves me quite a bit of time. Some other products... forget it. I think however that when a corporation takes on more than (arbitrary number) say 40 workers, it becomes evil. And now Microsoft has fallen into that evil, and is joining with the empire that emits more greenhouse gasses than the USA [independent.co.uk] , spies on our military [yahoo.com] , threatens minorities [bbc.co.uk] , pollutes recklessly [boston.com] , threatens the US with nuclear weapons [wikinews.org] , and is building up its military to challenge the US and Europe. Is the new evil empire a Microsoft-China alliance? [washtimes.com]

There never will be a standard document format (1)

SurturZ (54334) | more than 7 years ago | (#19216267)

We still haven't got a 'standard' image format, so why should we ever expect to see a single document format?

Consider that images are fairly easy to describe - "a grid of pixels, each pixel being a particular colour" - and then consider the plethora of image formats still in use today - bmp, jpeg, tiff, gif

Why is this the case? Because needs change depending on context - for images, format choice depends on: file size, fidelity/lossyness, multiple image support, transparency, and the doozy - backward compatibility.

Documents are much more complicated than images - fonts, content, frames, tables, embedded images etc. We'll never see a document format for the ages. Also, things change - e.g. electronic paper might see the rise of animated text/images in documents.

The best we can hope for is tools that can convert between document formats, the same way we deal with multiple image formats. And this means that the formats themselves needs to be very well defined, publicly available and not encumbered by patents.

244? (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 7 years ago | (#19217545)

Is this in revenge of the small number of Vista copies sold in China?

Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19218393)

I use both Open Office and Word. Open Office is better at stripping out repeated names from a chat session. But if I need to spellcheck I use Word. After all if I write don;t Word spots the error. and the word I typoed usually turns up.

Give me a better spellchecker and Open Office would be my primary WP. It's the spellchecker that stops OOo from being adopted by the home user.

It's deja vu all over again.... (1)

Saxen (1044050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19218595)

Rambus anyone?
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