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Does ODF Have a Future?

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the answer-hazy-ask-again-later dept.

Software 402

qedramania writes "Linuxworld seems to think ODF is a dead duck. Is the Windows monopoly too big and too entrenched? Other than diehard Linux fans, does anyone really care if they have to keep paying Microsoft to do basic word processing? It seems as though the momentum is towards a complete Microsoft monoculture in software for business and government. You can bet that big business and governments will want more than just reliability from Microsoft in return for their acquiescence. Does ODF have a future?"

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You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (4, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059593)

Open Office will happily read/write/create MS Word files. That said, it seems that ODF is gaining popularity, not losing it.

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059673)

You guys @ /. coined this image, so now? You LIVE with it, & in the REAL WORLD! lol...


P.S.=> MOCK NOT THE Radically "StRaNgE" GENIUS... of "King Billy", knaves, lest ye live the curse of living in his shadow! apk

ROTFLMAO! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060009)

ROTFLMAO - you guys @ /., w/ your mod points, hehehe... you NEVER let me down!


P.S.=> Somehow, JUST SOMEHOW, lol (sarcasm)? I just KNEW that "down mod" was coming & that's ok: I have 50 other posts or more here that were modded "up" for technical excellence reasons, rather than just for "useless karma" anyhow... this one? Was actually just to see this post of mine, laughing @ you Pro-Penguins here, GET THAT DOWNWARD MOD (lol, for something YOU guys put up as a photo of, & the fact you have to live in that man's shadow... point blank!)... apk

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059953)

Yet it (OO) doesn't save them(MS formats) without damaging (strange font changes/misalignments)

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (3, Funny)

edwdig (47888) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059961)

it seems that ODF is gaining popularity, not losing it.

Can't lose what you don't have.

Ten Penguin Species...Endangered Species! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060401)


Ten Penguin Species March Toward Endangered Species Act Protection: []




P.S.=> LOL, "putting on seatbelts" for the eventual flaming from "Pro-Penguinista" rebels, lol, & the inevitable "downmoderation" from the dictatorial "el presidente, kings of this banana-republic online" type administrators/mods here @ the home of "Anti-Windows/Anti-Microsoft F.U.D.", lol, here on slashdot!


Ah, no hassles: See here, per this earlier example in this thread: eshold=-1&commentsort=0&mode=thread&cid=20059673 []

LMAO... hugely!


Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (4, Interesting)

Divebus (860563) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060019)

As CTO, I'm telling my staff that it's irresponsible to send MS Word .doc files. We're at least sending PDFs through email but haven't managed to break the MS Office habit yet. Still too many buzzword enamored people here but they're starting to understand.

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060097)

Why is it "irresponsible" to send doc files? Not preferred, but irresponsible?

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060321)

Because you're sending in a format that assumes the receiving party has Microsoft word. The PDF specification is well documented and is pretty much made for this sort of thing.

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060373)

What he fails to mention is that not only is he CTO, but CIO, CEO, President, and owner of a small 3 person (4 if you count the spaniel) web design and latte stand in Enumclaw, WA. And the staff that is married to Office is his wife, and his 13 year old daughter, who both think he's a nerd and an idiot for wanting to move off the cheap version of MS Office he got in his Partner Action Pack.

But, hey, it makes him look important on /. (there may be an extra "r" in there somewhere).

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (5, Informative)

PinkPanther (42194) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060599)

Because the .doc file may contain inadvertent materials. They often contain information that has been "deleted"; simply turn on tracking mode and you can see previous edits. Getting rid of these artifacts is non-obvious and often involves downloading a tool that is not a core part of MS-Office.

This becomes a MAJOR problem in an environment where templates have not been created and/or maintained properly and efficiently. Often employees will take an existing document, ctrl-A, DEL, File-> Save As..., then start typing to create a "new" document simply to get the "corporate headers". If that initial document contained sensitive information, would you want this "new" .doc being emailed about?

This has been a problem [] in the past. []

The fact that a /. reader doesn't see the problem with employees sending .doc files via email is all the more reason to worry....or to simply submit...

Re:You don't need MS Office to create .doc files (1)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060103)

. That said, it seems that ODF is gaining popularity, not losing it.

Perhaps, but how do I know if the other person uses OpenOffice or Microsoft Office? Unless you ask them, you have to assume "Microsoft Office". Now I have an anecdote on that one: my sister had to work with a friend of her on a paper and I have mandated OpenOffice on our machines. I said she can have Microsoft Office if she shells out the dough, evidently she didn't. Now, she started cursing on OpenOffice because in the email ping-pong with her friend the file got messed up in formatting every time. In the end, it turned out that her friend was an Open Source user too and used OpenOffice as well. They shifted to odt and all was well (Okay, might be sxw since this was a while ago).

Now that was of course a lucky thing. However, at home my wife and I also use 2.2. She created some documents she wanted to send to a coworker. I stopped her right there and said she'd better not do that: she doesn't see much difference between OpenOffice or Microsoft Office and I'm pretty sure she'd send an odt to said coworker. Since the coworker is in the same line of work, she's also likely to know squat about file formats. I showed her how to export PDFs and send that. Of course, for collaborating, she'd have to save to doc and hope that the formatting doesn't fuck up on her coworkers machine.

Another excellent point about OO.o (2, Interesting)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060565)

I showed her how to export PDFs and send that.
I've actually recommended installing OO.o as a means of converting MS Word .doc files to PDFs. So far, I've never had a problem with it messing up the format. OTOH, I interact primarily with people who also use OO.o. Usually, my conversions from .doc to .odt are one-time conversions and not a back-and-forth process.

Largely an attitude thing (5, Interesting)

MeditationSensation (1121241) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059603)

I don't think it's a technical issue at all, it's just what people "know". Whenever I go on a job hunt people ask for my resume "in a Word .doc", as if that's the only possible format.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (1)

vfrex (866606) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059707)

Are you sure? Most jobs I have looked at accept PDF resumes.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (1)

crocodill (668896) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059879)

I've just been through the process of applying for jobs, and most of the recruitment companies I dealt with wanted it in .doc format rather than PDF.

The reason was that their databases couldn't import/index PDFs.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (2, Insightful)

Chandon Seldon (43083) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060017)

Do you really *want* your resume in their database? Personally, I'd much rather send my resume to a person who can ignore it because they're busy rather than to a database where it will be ignored because I forgot to mention the keyword "AJAX".

Re:Largely an attitude thing (2, Interesting)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060635)

Do you really *want* your resume in their database? Personally, I'd much rather send my resume to a person who can ignore it because they're busy rather than to a database where it will be ignored because I forgot to mention the keyword "AJAX".
Although you raise an interesting question about the appropriateness of widespread network inclusion, I think the more important issue is that companies' databases will accommodate whatever formats they must. If you send in PDF, and I send in PDF, they'll adjust the system rather than keep reminding people to use .doc.

I do this routinely, whether exchanging papers with colleagues or submitting resumes. It has to do with the philosophy that I will not give you easy editing privileges on something that I created; a PDF, while alterable, still feels more like a sealed envelope to me than a blank postcard like a .doc.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (2, Informative)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060145)

My second-to-last recruitment company wanted my resume in .Doc, and I later learned that was because they stripped my contact information and replaced it with their own. I guess that's so their client wouldn't be able to contact me directly, but they ended up screwing up the format and making my resume look like amateurish crap. Thankfully their client knew it was the recruiter's fault and didn't think I was simply unable to make a simple document.

Now, my last recruitment company got my resume in PDF only.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (3, Informative)

Corporate Troll (537873) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060211)

That, and they like to doctor your resume. Well, I don't know for recruiters, but being a consultant for a consulting company, I know that happens. I tried to submit my "company internal CV" as PDF but they wouldn't take it. Reason, they change stuff in it. For example, I speak German, read it but can barely write it. So, I'd say "German Spoken: Fair", "German Read: Fair" and "German Written: Poor". I later found out that they changed it "German Spoken: Good", "German Read: Good" and "German Written: Fair". That pissed me off to no end....

I bet recruiting companies do that too... After all they only care about their commission.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060571)

Because Word, since Office XP, supports signing of documents via client certificates (you can download one free from Comodo, or pay a small fee from Verisign for one), I always sign both PDF files and .doc files I send out. I also password the documents so they are read-only (using a randomly generated password for each document.) This slows down people trying to rebrand my resume. No, its not 100% foolproof, but it does stop the muckety mucks who can open and save in MS word, but little else.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060305)

Which I really don't understand, because usually, MS Word will mess with the formatting if you open it up on a computer with a different printer. PDF really is the best for resumes, because it means that how I see my resume, is exactly how everyone else will see my resume. I don't want to get turned down for a job because somebody looked at it in a different version of ms word, and the formatting was messed up, or the text ended up being a little bigger, and something got pushed off the page, which left one page blank, except for that 1 line that got pushed. It's probably not a good idea to judge how good a candidate is based on how their resume looks, and not the content inside, but when you post a job, and get 500 resumes in 2 days, you have to weed through them pretty quickly. Throwing out any resumes that have really bad formatting is a way good start.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (1)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060495)

I've just been through the process of applying for jobs, and most of the recruitment companies I dealt with wanted it in .doc format rather than PDF.
This sounds right - I worked as the editorial assistant at an academic journal publisher while in grad school, and when we started accepting articles online, we preferred .doc or .rtf. Not because of import, but because of export: reviewers had to sign in to retrieve the article for review, and our software generated a pdf with line numbers (for commentary) and watermarks ("Peer Review Only") for reviewer use.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059775)

Depending on where you're looking, it's not uncommon for HR people to use some software to search for certain buzz words in a resume. The lock on .doc files may be (have been) as much a limitation of their software than anything else.

Re:Largely an attitude thing (0)

70Bang (805280) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060231)

Depending on where you're looking, it's not uncommon for HR people to use some software to search for certain buzz words in a resume. The lock on .doc files may be (have been) as much a limitation of their software than anything else.

HR? Who be 'dat?

My first job out of college ('84) and '90 have had two memorable things:

1. HR was involved with the former, as they were the ones running with headhunters.

2. The second one was via a headhunter. I was handed a clipboard with paperwork. I hadn't it back to them and said something to the effect, "I have to leave". I stopped by the first phone booth I could find and called the responsible party. His first comment? "That was short -- how did it go?" "I am terminating our relationship. One of the things which is supposed to happen is to bypass the HR people, regardless of how tightly woven are the organizational chart. Besides, don't you get a commission if you place me? That should make certain burdens a lot lighter."

Word got around that this guy was doing nothing but pulling ads out of the newspaper and cold-calling both parties.

bottom line: I don't go through HR and I don't fill out applications.
If they are so bureaucratic [b]everything[/b] they have to jump through loops, then they are too tightly wound and I know I don't want to work there.

Speaking of HR, I can't resist dragging this to the forefront:

A woman was facing an application and ran into this:

Sex [x]M [x]F (And sometimes on Wednesday!)

Re:Largely an attitude thing (4, Funny)

QMO (836285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060377)

reply to sig:

My firearms have killed less people than Ted Kennedy's car.
Since "less" doesn't really make sense here, I have to ask. Do you mean "lesser" or "fewer?"

If you meant lesser, what makes Kennedy's victims better than your victims?

(Sorry, couldn't resist.)

Re:Largely an attitude thing (1)

kc2keo (694222) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059949)

I agree with you. Most jobs I look for accept only Word .doc format. I usually save my documents in ODF for personal use. When I need to send out a document I save it in Word .doc format. In a perfect world I would send it out in ODF. But the fact is that many computers use MS Office and by default can't render ODF documents.

Re:Largely an attitude thing-Laziness on Their Par (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060045)

Whenever I go on a job hunt people ask for my resume "in a Word .doc", as if that's the only possible format.

That's simply laziness on their part. Laziness, and ignorance. They should be asking for your resume in a format able to be opened by Word.

The only reason I see for MSWord as an absolute requirement anywhere are tasks to be automated either through the built-in VBA scripting language, or a COM interface to use MSWord from another program. And how many users actually ever do that?

Think "world" instead of "USofA". (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059615)

What motivation do other countries have to send their tax dollars to Redmond so that they can write local laws?

ODF is not going to take off in the US until AFTER the rest of the world has adopted it. So let's look at what other governments and such are adopting Linux / ODF.

Re:Think "world" instead of "USofA". (5, Funny)

Trebinor (156202) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059685)

Kind of like the metric system.

I think I might detect sarcasm... (2, Insightful)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059725)

If ODF became as popular as the metric system, I think it could be considered a success. Still, a lovely riposte.

Re:I think I might detect sarcasm... (3, Interesting)

dpilot (134227) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060137)

About as many stories I hear of ODF being rebuffed in the US, I seem to hear of it being adopted overseas. Not 100% penetration, but still better than in the US.

In that light, perhaps the metric system is the correct analogy.

Maybe the limit has more to do with how many politicians Microsoft can buy. For many years they ignored politics, preferring to exert their force against "business partners." After the antitrust suits they began to learn about US politics, and with ODF they began to meddle in state politics. But there are subtle difference in politics in every political entity - do it wrong and you're even worse off. They've just put a lot of effort into China, obviously because it's a big emerging market. They'll likely put a lot of effort into India, too. But beyond that, it starts getting little - and local.

Re:Think "world" instead of "USofA". (1)

mwanaheri (933794) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060245)

that would predict a bright future for .odf here in Europe.

Re:Think "world" instead of "USofA". (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060463)

What are you talking about. The USA has been using the Metric System since 1866 ;-)

Kasson Act of 1866 []

Re:Think "world" instead of "USofA". (1)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060655)

No, because ODF is actually an improvement rather than just a different arbitrary set of rules.

Re:Think "world" instead of "USofA". (1)

asphaltjesus (978804) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059803)

Exactly. What most USA-based media forgets is the cost of legitimate ownership on a Microsoft stack is **way** out of reach of most businesses of your usual Western economies.

All the more reason running unauthorized Windows installs have a happy future everywhere but probably the U.S.

Unrelated comment:
The more uncertainty and lack of information media outlets have the better when it comes to and Linux distros. Reliable "speeds and feeds" is what managerial types use to justify raping another market. What Tivo did to the GPL is a great example.

I'd look at governments first. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059907)

It should be pretty easy to push for ODF at the local government level for non-US governments.

If nothing else the tax savings will be worth it. You can run on the "I just saved our city 5 million local units of exchange every year for the next 20 years! That's 100 million local units of exchange I've save this city. Vote for me AGAIN!"

And once the file format monopoly is cracked, look for Linux deployments to increase.

In short. (4, Insightful)

liquidpele (663430) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059619)

It's like firefox. It's a great alternative that only computer literate people will every try, and that most businesses will ignore because it doesn't matter for them.

Re:In short. (2, Interesting)

quanticle (843097) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059839)

It's a great alternative that only computer literate people will every try, and that most businesses will ignore because it doesn't matter for them.

And then the alternative will gain marketshare to the point that even mainstream consumers are trying it out, which will cause businesses to notice.

Honestly, the analogy I'd think of is Imperial vs. Metric. The rest of the world isn't nearly as wedded to Microsoft as the US is. Therefore, we're likely to see uptake of ODF become significant elsewhere before it becomes significant in the USA.

Re:In short. (1)

lixee (863589) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059937)

It's like firefox. It's a great alternative that only computer literate people will every try, and that most businesses will ignore because it doesn't matter for them.
Nonsense. I installed Firefox on dozens of computers for family and friends who are far from computer literacy. They use it exclusively now and thanked me for introducing them to it.

Re:In short. (1, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060713)

It is one thing to get them to use a different web browser that works good with the threat of virusus and spyware otherwise... But it is an other if you want people to start changing their habbits just because you think it is morally right. As far as they are conserned I have Word at Home, I have Word at Work... My documents move easilly between them... Using Open Document Format means I will need to learn an other Word Processor for home, won't be supported at work... so why bother. Just use a Microsoft Doc format and they are happy... There is no Pain in using office, it is a good program no matter how much you don't want it to be. I used Open Office for a while but then my Boss was going to me why is it layed out all funky on my system, or if I printed it out he would go that isn't what I sent you it looked like this... I am sorry but Unless you can for ODF to be default save for Office 2000 and up, it is not going anywhere and Microsoft doesn't care for ODF so they wont make it their default save.
Except for complaining on how no one is using the technology you need to realize why noone is using your technology. There is rairly the Man trying to put you down, because people are good enough at putting themselfs down without the help of The Man

Re:In short. (1)

masdog (794316) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060039)

There are other reasons why businesses ignore firefox - application compatibility. There are some things that only work well, or work at all, in Internet Explorer. Heck, there are some things that won't work in IE7 that work fine in IE6.

I'm sure there are a lot of IT people in business that would like to move away from IE to Firefox, but it would just be too damn expensive to redevelop critical software to remove the IE-only components.

Re:In short. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060529)

You know back in 2003 I would have still agreed but many of the IE only things are by companies that just don't get it. A bulk of it is javascript injected to only accept IE whether or not firefox can render it. I had to install the User Agent switcher to see some obsolete websites and they worked fine in firefox. There were still a few that didn't budge but it's such a small percentage.

Re:In short. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060233)

You couldn't be more wrong about business. They are starting to see that Microsoft's constant .doc format changes are costing them HUGE sums of money, particularly in regulated environments where documents have to be preserved for decades. Opening a 10 year old Word document is not a trivial task, and big bucks get spent trying to go back in time. If adopting ODF lets businesses reduce their document storage and retrieval costs, you bet they will start adopting it.

Paying (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059663)

Other than diehard Linux fans, does anyone really care if they have to keep paying Microsoft to do basic word processing?
thats if you actually pay for their software

Rich Text Format (1)

JesseBikman (1002865) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059671)

'nuff said.

Dead for the Enterprise != Dead for the user (2, Insightful)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059717)

And vice versa. Who uses DB2 at home? Or Oracle? Or SQL Server? But I'll bet anybody using Open Office Base has as many ODB files lying around as a Microsoft Office Access user had MDB files lying around.

The needs of the enterprise and the needs of the individual are different- might they not be better served by different formats?

Re:Dead for the Enterprise != Dead for the user (1)

spyrochaete (707033) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060343)

Sorry to see you modded down as a troll. It's undeserved. You're absolutely right that goose != gander. If Google Docs can do a better job of rendering to page I can see that suite becoming dominant in homes. Of course MS Works (an oxymoron if I've ever seen one) will soon become a free, ad-based suite so the battle for free office suites should be hot and heavy!

OOXML means Windows-only (5, Informative)

martin-k (99343) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059735)

If you accept OOXML as your organization's file format, you are limiting yourself to Windows. The specs contain many Windows-specific things (for example, EMF and VML) that it's very hard to implement on a non-Windows platform. Why would you as a purchaser want to do that, while you still have a choice in desktop operating systems?

I prefer OpenDocument, and I am putting my money into it: OpenDocument export is finally finished for our TextMaker [] word processor and will be released in a few days.

Prime Issue (5, Insightful)

WED Fan (911325) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060201)

Folks, this is the heart of the matter. This is what needs to be understood by both sides of the argument:

If you accept OOXML as your organization's file format...

What the poster misses is that people don't ... D O N O T accept or reject a file format. They, with the small subset of geeks on /., don't give a flip about file format. They accept or reject a program.

For ODF to be accepted, it has to be part of a program that most users have installed.

Program acceptance is usually established by:

  • Home users: Use what they have at the office, or what came installed on the system
  • Businesses: Use what is considered the business standard for their vertical, especially if other businesses require a particular program (vicious cycle)
  • Perception of Support: He who has the biggest company must have the best support, or, so it is perceived. Also, many bosses and dicision makers have a problem with OSS because they perceive a lack of support structure "Gee, this CAD program is nice but its OSS. Doesn't that mean its 2 kids in their parent's basement?"
  • Perception of Longevity: He who has the biggest company will be around for a long time, or, so it is...(it took both Hyundai and Kia years to get established in the U.S. because no one knew if they'd be around)

Re:OOXML means Windows-only (1, Informative)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060261)

EMF isn't hard to support on a non-Windows platform. Mac apps have been supporting EMF for years. There are many available libraries that allow conversion between Windows EMF/WMF and Mac PICT/Quartz2D available. Stop FUDing.

And VML isn't tied to Windows. It's implementable on any platform. It's hardly used by anyone anyway (not that SVG (the result of merging VML and PGML) is used much either, for that matter).

Yes. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059743)

Option 1: Continue to use MS formats, and continue to pay. Save money now in the short term.

Option 2: Break free from MS formats, and help develop a better, free format. Outlay some money to break free, never pay again (unless you're feeling charitable. :). Yes, it will be expensive to convert from .doc to ODF, but won't it be worth it in the long run?

Red Hat created a logo and posters [] recently to help spread ODF. Print a couple of copies and stick them up somewhere. Maybe include a link to :)

ODF is far from dead.

Re:Yes. (1)

xgr3gx (1068984) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060459)

People have to stop being Microsoft's bitch.
I got sick of it so I stopped. I hope everyone starts to learn there is more out there.

News for nerds... (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059745)

...but only if it's old.

From the fine article:

"The deadline is July 20, 2007"

I'll get right on it then.


Re:News for nerds... (3, Funny)

toleraen (831634) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060143)

In all fairness, linuxwire [] posted the story almost 4 decades ago. You had plenty of time to get on that!

applications stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059761)

this depends on you (yes YOU Mr. AC) creating valuable things in ODF formats and releasing them on the internet under free licenses. Think, for example, of tax optimising spreadsheets; of sample contracts and example letters. If you do this then enough people will get ODF readers that it will be a standard. Just remember ODF and .doc are not exclusive. You can even have open office on the same PC as you have word.

They said the same thing b4 FireFox came along. (4, Insightful)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059785)

Websites hardwired to support just IE, hacks and stuff that does not even consider that other browsers can exist. That was how the web was some three years ago. Even now FF does not have a majority marketshare. Even in techie websites it garners nearly half the market share, depending on how you measure it. In non techie websites, it scores below 20%. Still it made a big impact on the way the sites are created and maintained.

The MS-Office monopoly has so far been nearly impossible to beat. But things can change quite rapidly. Terms like vendor-lock and interoperability will eventually penetrate the skulls of the thickest CIOs and CTOs.

It would help if the supporters of Free Software and Open Software would stop fighting the internecine battles and start uniformly supporting Open Standards. Even before you mention the word Open Standards, immediately others pushing Free Software agenda and Open Source agenda push their pet projects, creating an impression it is all one and the same and one can not have Open Standards without also Open Source and Free Software. They are different.

You might not agree that replacing MSFT monopoly with some kind of duopoly (like it is with Intuit-Quicken and MS-Money). But it is definitely better than the monopoly. Once the customers are educated about the vendor lock and compatibility the duopoly will naturally break down. Eventually there will be enough space for Free Software, Open Software, and Close source software to coexist.

Damn Shame the IPhone Sucks... (1)

Dareth (47614) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060001)

... or we could have that "duopoly" you talked about with Safari as the other "half" of the pie.

Problem w/ Firefox Comparison (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060161)

HTML, etc. are open-standards. The problem here is how to get an open standard when none already exists. IE and Firefox could, by and large, display the same stuff.

If Microsoft doesn't support ODF and most people are using Office, the hurdle is that much higher. The web allows IE and Firefox to co-exist. ODF would allow Office and other products to co-exist. But we face the problem of getting ODF supported in the first place, which wasn't the problem with HTML and other web standards.

LinuxWorld = Pro Microsoft FUDster (5, Insightful)

Luft08091950 (1101097) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059793)

First of all "Linuxworld" is anything but. They should be required to change their name to "MicrosoftFUDsterPretendingToRepresentLinux." This would at least clue readers into the fact that they're anti-Linux.

LinuxWorld is just trolling and spreading FUD with their "just too big, why bother, you can't win, give up, don't try, it'll never work, it can't happen, you're just wasting your time, resistance is futile" rhetoric

Their words are as dog farts. They are not to be considered!

Re:LinuxWorld = Pro Microsoft FUDster (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060065)

Good grief. Agree with them or not, but it's hardly FUD. It's a legitimate observation; Microsoft has the vast bulk of the office market, and everyone else, OpenOffice and Wordperfect and all the rest, pretty much have to play catch-up and play-nice.

ODF works great for me, and I've never personally had anything rendered badly in OpenOffice, save for some ancient RTF documents written in a fifteen year old versions of MS-Works and IBM Works. However, when I do communicate with other people and send documents, I either go with Word or with PDF. I try to stick to PDF, because rendering is guaranteed, but obviously where people are going to be making changes, I have to go with Word. It is, unfortunately, a defacto standard. I'm hoping the push for an open document format will eventually force Microsoft to at least work nicely with ODF, seeing as their own "open" format is so ponderous, horrible and fundementally un-open that they can't even stack the committees sufficiently to get it through.

The real question is "Does it matter?" and I think Linux World is asking a fair question. In the short term, no it doesn't. However, and this is a big IF, enough governmental agencies around the world start demanding the use of a truly open document standard, then, indeed, ODF has a big chance.

Re:LinuxWorld = Pro Microsoft FUDster (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060153)

Actually, I would expect an mag named "Linuxworld" to promote linux.

Sounds like they have been subverted to me.

My dog has made farts to consider! (1)

nikolajsheller (553835) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060649)

Ay Caramba!

Whatever happened... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059831) TeX? It has a steep learning curve, but damn once you get used to it you can't go back to anything else (kinda like RPN calculators). So much cleaner than "document" files...

Re:Whatever happened... (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060119)

I think that's probably my single biggest complaint against all the new document standards. XML creates monstrous bloat. It doesn't deal cleanly with binary data, and to be honest, I've never seen the romance that so many have with it.

Tail wagging the dog (1, Informative)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059833)

File format isn't what people are worried about when purchasing software, it's the software itself!

Office is expensive, but OpenOffice doesn't look as good, doesn't work as well and feels cobbled together.

Re:Tail wagging the dog (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059951)

Wrong. If the next MS Office didn't support Word .docs, it wouldn't be popular at all. It's the same with any other commonly used format in business. People choose an application first because it does what they need, and second because it does what they want.

Have you used 2.0? (1)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060091)

I have both MS Office and Open Office installed on the computer I'm currently using. I almost always use Open Office, even though MS Office has already been paid for. I see advantages and disadvantages to both, but to say that Open Office "feels cobbled together", strikes me as an odd feeling to have...

Re:Tail wagging the dog (1)

Daniel Phillips (238627) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060115)

Office is expensive, but OpenOffice doesn't look as good, doesn't work as well and feels cobbled together.
Funny, I feel the same way about MS Office. I suppose it just comes down to what you use most, I only ran MS Office about half a dozen times in the last three years while running OO thousands of times. No question, OO is good enough for me, and it keeps getting better at a steady rate. New updates just arrive automatically along with my regular apt-get upgrades and I have never once seen a regression. It's hard to overstate the importances of no regressions. It would be just intensely painful to have to go find an ancient version of the office suite in order to load some old document that dropped off the far end of the compatibility window. That particular pain is something I left behind long ago when I dropped MS Office in favor of OO.

Re:Tail wagging the dog (5, Insightful)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060257)

"File format isn't what people are worried about when purchasing software, it's the software itself!"

That's not the debate here!

We're talking about the format being used to create and store publicly owned information. The government is funded by the citizens. The citizen should not have to pay an additional Microsoft tax in order to access government documents. The government SHOULD BE worried, even though they probably are not. Even if ODF is adopted as the standard, MS has the option of supporting it in their applications along with everyone else. The reverse isn't true if the government decides to institutionalize vendor lock-in.

Try to get out of your parent's basement for once. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20059857)

There are more important things in life than ODF vs Word. For example try leaving your basement, take a shower and go out and attempt to get laid... Be sure not to mention "free software" or "kernals" at any point during the process.

You may find it puts a whole new perspective on the fascinating issue of whether obontu is better than gentoo

Doesn't Office 2007 already support ODF? (4, Interesting)

mlts (1038732) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059901)

I'm pretty sure ODF isn't dying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Office 2007 natively (or with a plugin available from MS's website) supports ODF as a native format to save and open from, just like you can specify that Word uses .doc instead of .docx.

IMHO, ODF is far from being dead.

If someone installs a ring in your nose,.... (2, Interesting)

anwyn (266338) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059983)

If someone installs a ring in your nose, is it really smart to save money on a hacksaw?

The entity that installed the ring, expects to recover the cost of the ring, plus a lot more.

Freedom is not free, but slavery costs more.

Once Upon a Time (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059993)

Once upon a time, there were dedicated word processing solutions. Anyone remember the DEC based WPS-78. Or the IBM MT/ST and MC/ST?

Then there were text editors tied to document preparation systems. Anyone remember RunOff/Runnem?

Then there were integrated full word processing software that you could load onto your general purpose computers. WordStar anyone? Surely you remember Word Perfect!

All of these existed and flourished well in their time, and all existed before MSWord, whose first incarnation on the PC/XT was wretched!

To say that MSWord can never be dethroned is bunk! MS loves to hear this talk, since you're defeated and they win before the battle has even begun. Previous solutions lost out when something better and cheaper came alone.

The more MS hikes the cost of MSOffice, the more they make it more difficult to use (WGA on Office anyone?), the more they remove MSWord from the virtually free Works package, the more Open Office improves while maintaining its low, low cost of Free, the more OEM's cut costs by preloading OO so that you have it right out of the box, the more MS has to worry about.

Talk defeat, and that's what you'll get. Then only MS will be cheering.

The Massachuesettes issue is a speed bump (3, Informative)

MonGuSE (798397) | more than 7 years ago | (#20059997)

The rest of the industrialized world seems on track to adopt ODF as the defacto standard for government documents (Brazil, India, France, India, Denmark, Belgium, Malaysia, Croatia, Norway, Spain, Argentina). All of them have either adopted ODF as a standard or appear to be in the process. California is considering it and while Massachuesettes may be saying the OOXML is an open standard and can be used internally I still am under the understanding that all government documents will still have to be made available in ODF format as well as whatever other formats they choose as well.

You have to remember while MS Office has a large install base but most of the time when documents are made available on the web or exchanged via email, it is done in the form of PDF's. That means that since Open Office can output to a PDF without purchasing other tools that it actually has an advantage over all versions of office pre 2007.

It will take some time because of the install base of Office XP and 2003 out there but when companies look to upgrade in a cost effective manner and potentially need to utilize both ODF and Doc formats they will choose Open Office. Microsoft looks like it is going to put its head in the sand and not implement ODF into Office 2007 and therefore it will force those who need to work with government agencies to either constantly convert things or use Open Office. Also remember that it looks like MS Office 2007 does not have built in export to pdf functionality its an external plugin that has to be included or installed and that it looks like for anti trust reasons MS may have to disable that functionality at least in the EU if not the states as well. If I'm a company I don't want to have to buy Office and then Acrobat crap just to be able to write to PDF's.

All that OO has to do to cement their viability is to refine the UI a little more. I find some functions cumbersome for those used to Office's interface but those that have to switch to 2007 from Office 2003 seem to become even more baffled.

MS Office is losing (1)

dybdahl (80720) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060011)

As more and more people stop caring about what office suite they use, MS Office will lose market share. The question is not if, but when, and to whom. Will take over, or will people skip it and switch directly to the next generation: Online office suites?

Anyone work in state government? (2, Interesting)

Mawginty (882393) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060021)

It seems to me that open formats are most important for government archival purposes. That is, state governments are producing huge amounts of public documents that really ought to be preserved for posterity. Saving them in an open format (free from copyright protection which lasts 120 years in the instance of an institutional author like MS) seems to be a pretty good step to take towards that goal.

My question is, what are the practices of digital archival in state governments? Do they even have one? I'm taking it for granted that things like bills and committee reports are turned into pdfs and made publicly available, but what about letters to constituents, emails between legislators and things like that?

You're missing the point... (5, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060025)

ODF isn't there to dethrone MS as the word processor of choice, to think so is a bit foolish. It's there to provide a format that *everyone* can use. I will continue to use MS Office because I think it's a superior product, but ODF allows me to *save* my MS Office documents to format that *anyone* else can use, but more importantly convert from when I want to read my own documents in 20 years.

Remember, ODF is not a platform, word processor, gizmo, Office killer, etc. It's only a standard in which to format documents.

Re:You're missing the point... (1)

archen (447353) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060437)

I find the headline to be a bit of flame bait. If I have something to type up at home, I open up Kword, type it up, then email it to myself. Next day at work I open it up in OpenOffice and print. Seems like ODF is a huge success to me. I mean would we rather have all of these competing office suites using different proprietary formats? If I decide to use Abiword tomorrow (on my Mac) then I can at least rest assured that if I switch back to KWord I can open up my documents just fine.

Re:You're missing the point... (1)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060457)

Well, i used MSOffice 2003, because it started faster than OO and it is 'more compatible with itself'. Now our company installed MSOffice 2007 and in response I installed and use OpenOffice. I won't learn a new text editor just because M$ thinks so. OpenOffice is almost as good as MSOffice 2003.

Just a Question Never Answered Well (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060131)

Just a question that's never answered well, and might have prevented this problem to start with. Why was ODF created in the first place? Why not just run with RTF, which to this day seems capable of saving everything in a Word document, even if it does blow up documents with embedded images to ungodly size on occasion. Was it necessary for the OO people to have a format they owned completely? If they'd just taken RTF, would we have this big schism today?

Re:Just a Question Never Answered Well (1)

I'm Don Giovanni (598558) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060319)

ODF is based on OO.o 1.0's XML format, which was also OO.o 1.0's default native format. So it was just easier to create ODF, the default native format for OO.o 2.0, based on what OO.o 1.0 was already doing.

Re:Just a Question Never Answered Well (1)

Corson (746347) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060353)

Probably because .RTF cannot store every formatting detail the way .DOC and (I presume) .ODF do. But I agree with you -- unless you want to do desktop publishing in MS Office or OOo, .RTF should be more than enough. Most publishing shops ask authors to submit their manuscript in MS Word and attach images/figures as separate hires TIFF or PS/EPS files. It would be great though if .RTF had better support for images.

Re:Just a Question Never Answered Well (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060355)

RTF is outdated. It's like HTML3.2 on the web: it's capable of recording formatting decisions but not of indicating structure.

A properly prepared word-processing document these days, whether written with Open Office Writer, Word, or any other decent wp-program, is prepared using styles. You can't do that with RTF. It was inevitable that someone would come up with an XML-based format at some time, because RTF is just too inflexible and incapable of structuring a document.

Re:Just a Question Never Answered Well (3, Informative)

Nibbler999 (1101055) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060395)

Because RTF is a proprietary format owned by Microsoft.

Article proposes XHTML + CSS 3 instead (4, Insightful)

Geof (153857) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060159)

Right at the end, the article suggests an alternative:

A new set of formats, perhaps based on a wedding of XHTML+, CSS 3.0, and RDF, or perhaps an interoperable enhancement of ODF, is in order.

Earlier on, the article talks about how it's too expensive to "rip out and replace" MS Office with ODF. Well yeah. Often in technology, a new technology doesn't have to be better - it has to offer something compelling that the old one doesn't, such as a lower price, convenience, mobility, or networking. The new technology gains a foothold in its niche, then starts to expand beyond it - without necessarily ever completely replacing the older technology. Thus we have cell phones displacing land lines, YouTube pressuring television (despite its crappy quality), MP3s replacing CDs, laptops gaining on desktops, digital cameras edging out film, etc.

So it seems to me that the strategy of perfect emulation is a strategy for failure: if ODF does exactly th same thing, is the freedom it offers enough to compel organizations to switch? (We might say yes, but then we know the consequences of lock-in and we don't have to make the up-front investment.) On the other hand, for all its weaknesses, HTML offers all sorts of things that Word lacks (e.g. accessibility and reformatting for differetn devices, universal browser support, Net-friendly, strong semantics), and is probably good enough for most uses. Thoughts?

Different needs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060181)

I prefer MS Office products at the office and Open Office at home.

It has to do with the collaboration tools and compatibility to other office applications. ODF has a while to go yet.

I CAN'T use MS Office. (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060185)

Other than diehard Linux fans, does anyone really care if they have to keep paying Microsoft to do basic word processing?

At work I have Solaris and Linux workstations. I do not have a Windows PC. If I'm working on documentation, MS Word is not even an option. Nor is Excel. It's not possible. OK, I still don't use ODF much because our Solaris install that I could use until very recently was version 1.1.something, and only in recent weeks do I have access to 2.0.4. I've only had my Linux box for a few days now, and that seems to be version 1.1.5. I'm not an admin, I don't get to choose or install what I want. If they're phasing out the antique Solaris boxes (I have an Ultra 5 which is one of the better ones) then I'm also losing that 2.0 version of OpenOffice and the ability to use ODF files until our admin sees fit to give us a newer version. I've been using this antique Solaris box for 8 years and only last week got a Linux box. I don't imagine them spending money to give me a Windows box to run Office, and I'm also running out of room on my desk. I very much hope to get a newer OpenOffice version for Linux so I can do ODF.

Does ODF have a future? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060187)

Of course it does. Its future is so bright, you're gonna have to wear shades.

apathy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060249)

Will we ever conquer apathy and stupidity? No. Should we stop trying? No.

Big business doesn't care (1)

nixkuroi (569546) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060309)

[quot]You can bet that big business and governments will want more than just reliability from Microsoft in return for their acquiescence.[/quote]

No, you can't. They haven't in the last 15 years, why would they start now?

Open Office is a joke! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060325)

it's still trying to recover a file i deleted months ago

it's up to the government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060407)

The only way ODF will stand a chance in the US is if Federal, State, and Local governments stand up and support it by saying that they will only buy software that is compatible with it. Everyone does business with the government one way or another so they will eventually choose to follow suit. The problem is that no government entity in the US has the guts to take a stand. The Federal gov't embraces MS with open arms. I don't see the US actively supporting this and until they do, ODF will be just for idealistic computer nerds.

The article is full of BS anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#20060449)

From the article:

Yet a further mystery is why Massachusetts chose to add OOXML to its repertoire when not even Microsoft Office can generate files in that format. OOXML is a one-way, import-only format for MS Office, a crippled subset of Microsoft's own XML formats (MOOXML).

This is an outright lie.

... Microsoft Open Specification Promise allows no other developer to implement it [OOXML] ...

Another lie. Where to they get this stuff?

doesn't matter for most (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060467)

most people are going to use MS Office like a fancy typewriter. For them, it does not matter what happens in a few months. The need to write a memo or letter, they need to send it to other people, it might even be printed and filed. Long term projects are opened frequently, and during a version change converted.

There are only two reasons that I even notice. I create many documents and on a frequent basis I need documents from one or two years ago. Often, in the past, I have not been able to open those documents in later versions of MS Office. Second, I don't like being at the latest MS Office version, and I believe that sending out MS Office in old version has negatively impacted various interests in my life. Therefore I try to send stuff out as PDF as much as possible instead of word. Other Office applications have solved the problem that MS does not seem to be able to.

I understand that MS has gotten much better about file management, but those bad experiences moved me away from their product and file format. I completely understand why most people do not move, especially if the product is free, as it is often easier, though riskier and sometimes outright silly, to trade files in MS Office format. But if the extent of your writing is memo, most of the time it will not mater.

Open Office needs a tangible advantage (3, Insightful)

GWBasic (900357) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060499)

A rule of thumb when trying to replace one product in the marketplace with another is that the new product needs two tangible advantages. ODF needs to have one "gotta-have" feature that non-technical people can understand and appreciate in order for it to successfully beat out Office.

Yes, ODF is theoretically cheaper then Office. However, the productivity boost of spending $500 / employee is a bargain when the employee's time is worth $50 / hour! (Remember, a guy making $20 an hour really does cost the company $40-$50 an hour.)

The "Open" aspect of ODF is too abstract for many people to understand. To the non-technical person, Office "just works".

Thus, in order for there to be a demand for ODF, there needs to be tangible features that work better with ODF then Office. What tangible features could people appreciate from ODF? Here are some suggestions that come to mind.

  • ODF works better through email because it's easier to filter out viruses.
  • Some web services that require the user to upload documents work better when used with ODF.
  • An ODF-based Office Suite has really cool fonts.
  • Automated document generation products work better with ODF.

Thus, to repeat, in order for ODF to really succeed it needs to have easy-to-understand features that non-technical people will desire. Competing on price alone won't beat Office.

here's the problem (0, Offtopic)

darth_linux (778182) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060501)

should we just give up because M$ is too big? Can we make the argument that is in the same boat because the equivalent M$ product is widely adopted?
fsck M$ and all their blind worshipers. I say fight the power! Long live Linux! Long live The Community!

ok... i've calmed down now....

Taxation & Representation (1)

gabble-blotchit (830861) | more than 7 years ago | (#20060645)

Requiring MS Formats in any governmental document is a basic violation of free speech, no better than the British paper/ink tax which helped motivate the American colonies to fight the War of Independence.

& I'm a Brit. Why should I have to pay an American company for the right to use anything on the UK government website (e.g. Tax returns, ironically enough)? Do I get to vote in US elections? Or help send MS into chapter 11 (as if)?

We should be thinking in terms of basic democratic rights, not market forces: Dococracy for the masses ;-)
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