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Michael Meeks On ODF and OOXML

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the down-with-clippy dept.

Linux Business 184

biscuitfever11 writes "ZDNet has up a great interview with Michael Meeks, the distinguished Novell engineer, who's currently deeply involved in open document format and OpenOffice.org. In the interview, Meeks takes Microsoft to task on its alternative format OOXML and argues that Microsoft should adopt ODF — but says that realistically they never will. He also mentions his favorite example to explain the benefits of open source software to a nontechnical person: the flexibility of open source would have allowed us to free ourselves from Clippy, the world's most despised paperclip, by changing a single line of code."

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No way, given half a chance (3, Funny)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797239)

Given half a chance the OSS world would probably have neded up patching Office with:

' remove MS cruft:
' AssistantLoad "clippy.acs"
AssistantLoad "Tux.acs"

Re:No way, given half a chance (1)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797287)

' I see what you did there

Re:No way, given half a chance (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797303)

The fact though remains, customization is and will be the "killer feature" of OSS. If a big company "upgrades" to Vista, they most likely will have to retrain most of its employees. If that same company chooses to go to Linux, the sysadmin can customize it to behave almost exactly like XP with the exception of admin tasks which most companies don't want the normal employee to do such as installing/removing software. Just take a look at Office 2007, it looks TOTALLY different, behaves differently and takes up more resources with no way to use the old GUI, had it been say OpenOffice you could add a theme to restore the old look and optimize the code by either compiling it or taking out unneeded features to make it be faster.

Re:No way, given half a chance (2, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797383)

had it been say OpenOffice you could add a theme to restore the old look and optimize the code by either compiling it or taking out unneeded features to make it be faster.
Yet everytime somebody talks about thebenefits of OS everubody uses the woruls *COULD*. Yes, you *could* do that, but you knoe any normal persson/busnes with the right knowlege/time/money in their hands to make such a hugh and potentially dangerous customization? Hell, I'll better pay for a closed source solution in that case. The question is not what yopu COULD do. Yes, you could customize the Linuzzz kernel. My grandma cannot. The question is what you practically are willing to do to solve a problem, and is it worth all the trouble?

Re:No way, given half a chance (5, Interesting)

Jimmy King (828214) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797579)

The post you replied to made no mention of the average user customizing that stuff. He said large businesses. Most large businesses put their own images on computers with specific combinations of software and modify/skin commercial software when applicable frequently write their own tools to do things like migrate users to a new computer without losing personal data or deploy images and software. A build of open office or any other OSS app compiled with their preferred flags to configure or their preferred skin/theme on an app is well within the realm of reality at these places.

For example, years ago when I worked for Best Buy, the techs used a fairly standard trouble ticket and inventory app (I'll be damned if I can remember the name), but it was rebranded as "STAR" by best buy and integrated with the POS software to a certain extent. I later worked at Capital One where they used the exact same application by it's normal name, but highly modified the interface to their needs (which Best Buy also almost surely did). We had a scripted tool built around some user migration tools MS provides to move user data from one computer to another. At the place I work now we use a modified Bugzilla and we're far from a large company. And as already mentioned, pretty much every large company has their own custom images for computers with software packages and versions that have been tested and verified to work together.

Re:No way, given half a chance (4, Interesting)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797685)

Hell, I'll better pay for a closed source solution in that case.
That's only true of your propriety software does what the open source software could potentially do.

The whole kernel hacking grandma is a misnomer when it comes to company's, even small ones, mainly because they either have access to technical experience, or they aren't getting even close to the most out of their IT systems (FOSS or Proprietary).

You have small organisations that tend to use stuff "out of the box", which basically means they don't. nor have the expertise to, use the more useful features within the software they already own. Things like Windows Update Server, Remote Installation Services, Active Directory, Print Servers, IIS, it all gets ignored, at best you might have a file server and a load of desktops. So in that instance they would benefit from some IT expertise regardless of whether they are using FOSS or not *and* if they need to grab someone with IT experience anyway then they could replace windows with an open OS and see many benefits, without modifying a single piece of code.

These small organisations wouldn't even consider looking at bespoke proprietary software, and the normal COTS products wont be perfect for them, so its not like they lose anything moving to OSS, and they can gain rather a huge amount, not to mention the fact that many small (as in cheap enough for SME's) software packages from less well known vendors are not exactly very good to begin with, all those crappy PHP CMS's et al you see in the OSS world also exist in proprietary land, except there you need to pay for them, and you cant fix them yourself.

So how do you get the benefits of a working complete, comprehensive secure and stable system, whilst still having a large amount of choice *and* the ability to get modifications made if you wish (and at a more reasonable price than having something custom made/faster than having a vendor provide a patch)? Easy use OSS software. It gives choice, doesn't stop you using proprietary software where it is best, doesn't lock you in and best of all doesn't inhibit growth due to licensing costs, and scalability issues.

If you do switch, don't do it everywhere at once if you don't want to (don't do some bits at all if you prefer), a gradual transition is possible, and probably easier. That leaves you with a choice. Oh and get someone to do it for you or with you, (that goes for an OSS or a MS based system, IT systems can make such a huge difference to a company that it is worthwhile contacting your local IT people, or even better a local college and trying to get someone to help you out. Any small business that goes down the 100% MS route will find itself without any *viable* options at all a short way down the road.

Having said all the above I should point out that I would find it extremely difficult to put myself into a non IT literate company owners shoes and figure out what I would see as best, I would guess choice stability, reliability, scalability, security etc.. would be good, but sometimes you just want to be able to point out you spent X thousands on a new IT system over lunch, and make your friends jealous.

Re:No way, given half a chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798143)

Mmm, yes. The shill-fu is strong with this one.

Re:No way, given half a chance (2, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799029)

So how much does Microsoft pay you for these semi-coherent rants? Or are you a true mental retard, and doing it for free?

Re:No way, given half a chance (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797593)

The problem with that is, most companies don't "train" their employees on Windows or Office. Most people have no clue about any of the software they use at work. Any word processor with a spelling/grammar checker and basic formatting would be more than enough in almost every situation where people are currently using Word. Every once in a while you'll come across a "power user" who actually uses more than that, but they're few and far between. Do you really need a $400 office suite to type up a memo? No, but that's the primary use of Office.

Most places blindly install Office because Microsoft sold it to them and because "everyone else is using it".

Okay... (1, Insightful)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797251)

Isn't one file format (such as ODF) better than two? Surely the weakness of having many is the confusion it creates?

Not that I don't enjoy a good OSS flamewar, but isn't this something of a leading question? As an individual in a position to make buying decisions based on this sort of thing, this is exactly what turns me off to ODF and other "community" technologies.

The closed techs may have more technical annoyances and whatnot, but when it comes right down to it, open technologies and the confrontation they create even within their own support base just turns me off to the whole thing. Give me something that works for 95% of the whole group and I'll happily support the remaining 5% rather than risk 100% of my user base's productivity on something that may collapse from internal quibbling in a few months.

Just my 2 cents, is all....

Re:Okay... (1)

WK2 (1072560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797353)

I'll happily support the remaining 5% rather than risk 100% of my user base's productivity on something that may collapse from internal quibbling in a few months.

Closed source companies have internal quibbling too. It is just more internal.

Also, I think you are lying when you say that you are "in a position to make buying decisions based on this sort of thing." That sounds like "you should listen to me because I am an anonymous professional." My advanced apologies if you are telling the truth.

Re:Okay... (0)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797401)

Well, simply put, it doesn't matter to me if you believe me. I have no way of proving it one way or another, but I'll say it again: I make buying decisions. I have access to two $25,000 lines of credit and one $10,000 line of credit and I make purchasing decisions for a 164 employee company (primarily related to replacing user PCs and web/database/file servers).

Every now and then when I need to buy something I question whether or not I should propose a 164 seat reinstall that includes OOo (and whether or not I should replace Apache with IIS since I wouldn't need pre-approval to do it). Every time I chicken out because the simple fact is, as much as I like Apache and OOo, I won't get blamed when IIS or Office fail.

Like I said elsewhere in this thread, until I get to hire/fire the guy who makes the buying decisions, I can't really influence it all that much. Five years ago I had a high profile account here where I supported OOS, but now that I'm in IT management, I realize that it's the non-technical executives that are really holding OSS back. It's sad, but it's true.

Regardless of the internal quibbling at MS or other closed corps, they're established, and that carries and awful lot of weight, as unfair as it may be.

Huh? (5, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797549)

I have no way of proving it one way or another, but I'll say it again: I make buying decisions. I have access to two $25,000 lines of credit and one $10,000 line of credit and I make purchasing decisions for a 164 employee company (primarily related to replacing user PCs and web/database/file servers).

So, $60,000. For 164 person company.

We're a little over a 100 people and we spend over $500,000 a year on a single contract.

Every time I chicken out because the simple fact is, as much as I like Apache and OOo, I won't get blamed when IIS or Office fail.

Why would Apache "fail"?

And why would anyone not directly involved in it even know what you're running?

Like I said elsewhere in this thread, until I get to hire/fire the guy who makes the buying decisions, I can't really influence it all that much.

But you said, and I quote "I make buying decisions".

Five years ago I had a high profile account here where I supported OOS, but now that I'm in IT management, I realize that it's the non-technical executives that are really holding OSS back. It's sad, but it's true.

Noooooo...... What is "holding OSS back" is the fact that all those companies have LARGE investments in their current systems.

It takes a LONG time for companies to migrate from something that is working TODAY that they know how to support TODAY and that has been paid for TODAY.

Regardless of the internal quibbling at MS or other closed corps, they're established, and that carries and awful lot of weight, as unfair as it may be.

That depends upon what you mean by "established".

Microsoft has a MONOPOLY. Therefore, they are going to be around for a LONG time.

People will continue to buy from Microsoft because it is what they know and what they use and what works.

Free software (as in speech) will be taken up by non-US governments and such. It's easier to pitch a change there when you can show $X (or whatever the local medium of exchange is) being sent to Redmond, Washington, USofA instead of into the local economy.

Re:Huh? (5, Interesting)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797659)

We're a little over a 100 people and we spend over $500,000 a year on a single contract.

That's a rolling budget that I have access to without having to submit pre-approved expenditures for. It's primarily used for replacing user PCs, phones, etc, which is why I mentioned it here. I can request as much as I want, I just don't always get it. For example, we moved to SAM-FS last year for recovery and it cost us a pretty penny thanks to a subsidiary that has an assload of data, but I had to request pre-approval for the expenditure.

Why would Apache "fail"?


Ah, yes, the hubris of the OSS community... forgot to mention that.

Apache can "fail" for many reasons. Your excessively technical question suggests to me that you're not very involved in the business. Regardless of why apache "fails" - be it because of some flaw in the program or because of a simple hardware failure - if apache is new apache is blamed. This is just how it is, unfair as it may be. I inherited IIS from my predecesor (who was, admittedly, clueless) and I won't risk my job switching to apache. The simple fact is that 99% of the failures in IIS can be patched or solved with a reboot and I come out the other side looking better for "fixing" the problem.

Perverse? You betcha. But I'm not a big enough man to risk my career for a technological principle, is what it all comes down to.

Again: when I'm the guy who's hiring for the position I'm in, we'll make some changes. Until then?

Not a bloody chance.

What is "holding OSS back" is the fact that all those companies have LARGE investments in their current systems.


You'd be surprised. We deal one-on-one with a lot of businesses and I can't see too many of them running their own vertical apps. That being the case, most of them could switch to OSS/ODF with minimal effort and a moderate investment in training, they just choose not to for the same reasons I won't switch my people: if it goes wrong, I take the blame from higher-ups and I'm the one who's out of a job.

Huh? x2 (3, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797817)

That's a rolling budget that I have access to without having to submit pre-approved expenditures for. It's primarily used for replacing user PCs, phones, etc, which is why I mentioned it here.

You cannot forecast when to replace PC's? And you have 160+ users?

Huh?
Huh?

Even at 100+ users, we lease our workstations and replace them every 3 years. It's a known cycle and they're under warranty. Not to mention that there aren't any surprises for Accounting for the next 3 years.

Ah, yes, the hubris of the OSS community... forgot to mention that.

Yeah, maybe you could just answer the question, okay?

Apache can "fail" for many reasons.

Yeah, maybe you could just answer the question, okay?

Your excessively technical question suggests to me that you're not very involved in the business.

Yeah, the question, care to answer it?

Regardless of why apache "fails" - be it because of some flaw in the program or because of a simple hardware failure - if apache is new apache is blamed.

How would they KNOW it was Apache? You haven't answered that question, either.

This is just how it is, unfair as it may be.

I didn't ask if it was "unfair".
I asked how Apache would "fail" and how they'd even know that it was Apache.

You have not answered either of those questions.

I inherited IIS from my predecesor (who was, admittedly, clueless) and I won't risk my job switching to apache.

Seeing as how you cannot answer either of those questions and you think $60,000 is a lot of money for a business and you cannot even forecast workstation purchases .....

I've been deploying Linux throughout the company I work at. And no one can tell the difference. As long as the service is available, they're happy.

Here's a free clue. Hardware fails. Real professions know this and have already taken steps to mitigate such failures. If a drive dies on your Apache server, the end users should not ever know about it.

If you're claiming that they'll be complaining about running Apache when that happens ... you've already failed at your job.

Re:Huh? x2 (3, Insightful)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798133)

You cannot forecast when to replace PC's? And you have 160+ users?

I don't think you know what you're talking about.

We have a LINE OF CREDIT with certain companies that we use to REPLACE or UPGRADE phones and PCs. Beyond that, I have to submit a budget and it has to be approved. I've done this in three different companies, so I'm thinking this is perfectly normal.

Yeah, maybe you could just answer the question, okay?


You're just being a dickhead for the sake of it. It doesn't matter why apache "fails". If the network card goes down, then "apache fails" as far as 125 people are concerned and if I'm the guy who suggested we use apache, it's my fault. I'm not dissing apache, I'm just pointing out the fact that I'm the guy who will get blamed if it's not accesible, whether it's apache's fault or not, while I'm the guy who will get kudos for "fixing" IIS even when it's IIS's faulty design that causes the inaccesibility to begin with.

Whether you like it or not, whether you admit it or not, OOS has to be 100% perfect to succeed on each individual basis, becuase if it's not, the guy who suggested moving to it gets blamed by the incompetents who, never-the-less, make the hiring decisions.

The remainder of your comment is just idiotic. I'm fully aware that Apache is stable and more reliable than IIS. The fact is, however, that because Microsoft's name is behind IIS, I don't have to worry about becoming the fall-guy when the web server goes down. If IIS fails, and I bring it up quickly, I get "kudos" for "fixing" the problem. If I suggest apache, however, and the ISP flakes out on me, I get fired.

If you have an actual solution to this absurd state of affairs, by all means, give it. If, however, all you have is the juvenile pro-OSS nonsense that dominates the "debate" spare me. I'm not risking MY job for YOUR principle.

Re:Huh? x2 (2, Interesting)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798205)

If the network card goes down, then "apache fails" as far as 125 people are concerned and if I'm the guy who suggested we use apache, it's my fault. I'm not dissing apache, I'm just pointing out the fact that I'm the guy who will get blamed if it's not accesible

If you're not competent to set up fallover support on a webserver so it'll cope with a dying hardware component, it is your fault, and you should be blamed if it's not "accesible"[sic].

The picture I'm getting here is that incompetent admins LIKE Microsoft's unreliability because they can reflexively point to it and say "It's not my fault IIS has gone down again." Because there's a long history of Microsoft failures, that's considered a believable accusation, even if it's no longer strictly true.

Re:Huh? x2 (0, Troll)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798243)

If you're not competent to set up fallover support on a webserver so it'll cope with a dying hardware component, it is your fault, and you should be blamed if it's not "accesible"[sic].


Come talk to me about this once you're out of high school and you've actually had to submit and justify a budget. At this point, I really have no reason to believe you have any idea what you're talking about.

Either you're just a child, or you're so extremely lucky that you've managed to retain a rather childish optimism. I've had to deal with actual buffoons who can fire me, so I'm not so optimistic.

Re:Huh? x2 (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798389)

Either you're just a child, or you're so extremely lucky that you've managed to retain a rather childish optimism.

I'm forty six years old and established my own company in 1998. We've been operating successfully since then.

I'm going to agree with you. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798373)

My email server (Linux + Exim4 + SpamAssassin + ClamAV + chroot'ed BIND9) has over 600 days of contiguous uptime. And it's being hit every day by crackers from all over the world.

Any competent admin can keep IIS running. Any competent admin can keep Apache running.

And NONE of the users would even KNOW what webserver was running. My users don't know that I'm running Exim4. They don't know that ClamAV blocks the viruses. They only care about the SERVICE. And they're very happy with the service.

If you have to reboot IIS to get "kudos", then you're incompetent. That is all.

Competent admins get "kudos" for helping the end users perform their jobs faster and/or easier and for fixing the "I accidentally deleted an important document" problems.

Re:Huh? x2 (2, Insightful)

mstahl (701501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798759)

Lemme just step in right here. I don't think he's being a dickhead for the sake of being a dickhead. You're talking about two systems that purportedly do the same thing, but one of them is ridiculously flexible where the other one will only work on certain hardware, one is free whereas the other costs money, one is maintained by a vigilant community that fixes bugs quickly most of the time and the other one is maintained by an entrenched monopoly with no reason to improve itself. Also, in my own experience IIS has a number of other limitations, most notably for me being that it's a royal pain in the ass to get any non-MS scripting languages to run on it. At my old job the IT department was very capable, and with my linux server downstairs everything was pretty easy; with the IIS server it would take days to get a simple module added on to the install of perl.

Really, if you're the one who's making buying decisions, why is it that management higher than you makes the buying decisions? All of your reasons you've described are all problems that can happen on an IIS server just as easily as an Apache server. By your rationale why is it not that they would fire you if your IIS system failed? Is it because they know that IIS sucks and they're willing to give it a larger tolerance? Well that's just stupid....

And seriously. It's not hubris. It's that Apache really has proven itself to be a superiour software. More people around the world are using it than anything else, IIS included, because it works and people trust it, and they don't trust IIS. I think either you're just weak or scared or incompetent, or you're not really in the position you claim to be, making your buying decisions.

One more thing: this is slashdot, and you picked a fight with someone whose UID is nearly a thousand times smaller than yours... you were just asking to get burned....

Re:Huh? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798103)

Microsoft has a MONOPOLY.

No, no it doesn't If it did, no one would be running anything else, yet guess what? Many are!

Re:Okay... (1)

yariv (1107831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797469)

So you prefer a software accepting 29.2.2100 as a vaild date. I hope you'll change your mind in time...

Re:Okay... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797617)

So you prefer a software accepting 29.2.2100 as a vaild date.
Under the Gregorian calendar, wouldn't such a date be normalized to "2100-03-01" with a warning?

Re:Okay... (4, Insightful)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797479)

Nice try at misdirection, troll, but the squabbling is over. ODF has already been accepted as an ISO standard, and is already supported by all of the following groups:

http://www.odfalliance.org/members.php#viewall [odfalliance.org]

Now perhaps you would care to answer the original question: why are two standards better than one ?

Re:Okay... (1)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797703)

Of course, I didn't comment on the ODF standard so much as on the focus of the article, but whatever. I'm the one who's a troll, after all, for discussing... well... the actual article.

Re:Okay... (1)

ozmanjusri (601766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797519)

As an individual in a position to make buying decisions based on this sort of thing, this is exactly what turns me off to ODF and other "community" technologies.

If you've been employed in a position to make buying decisions and you don't understand why open formats are valuable, your HR department should be sacked.

Re:Okay... (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797811)

You seem to be confusing the difference between a standard and software. An OSI standard isn't exactly going to be changing very often and especially not if the group is "collapsing from internal quibbling." You also don't buy standards (unless you're Microsoft).

Now if there was an office suite that had 100% of the market, that would be prone to collapsing due to internal quibbling. However the beauty of open standards is that anyone, open and closed, can produce an office suite that utilizes the standard.

Re:Okay... (1)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798215)

I'd love to meet the person who honestly believes that Microsoft would follow the ODF standard, were it to be implemented.

The fact is, if ODF wins it's software versus software warfare. Microsoft won't follow the ODF standard, they'll only make a few changes to Office so they can make a seriously pedantic argument that they're following ODF. In all likelihood they'll just try to consume and "extend" it so that nobody can effectively use it.

Re:Okay... (1)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798375)

I'd love to meet the person who honestly believes that Microsoft would follow the ODF standard, were it to be implemented.
Thankfully Microsoft isn't the only closed source company out there (unfortunately they're the major one).

Stay away from Vista then. Non Free Sucks. (-1, Flamebait)

Erris (531066) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798149)

[I enjoy] a good OSS flamewar [but] Give me something that works for 95% of the whole group and I'll happily support the remaining 5% rather than risk 100% of my user base's productivity on something that may collapse from internal quibbling in a few months.

The problem with closed source is that your 5% is just out of luck. You would be very lucky to have that 95% satisfaction without three year fork lift "upgrades" that will screw over your old work anyway.

Free software flame wars are downright civil next to what goes on in chair throwing, non free fiefdoms. Check out this nasty spat over Vista [blogspot.com] , aka "the biggest development failure ever", and something that's about to collapse after 9 months of failure [slashdot.org] . Want to risk your productivity on ME2? I don't think so, but the next version of Windoze is going to be more of the same.

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798299)

Thanks for making Windows 95 so successful, and all of the hideous things that followed.

Well (2, Insightful)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797253)

There is no need to change one line of code for that. My mom never could do that, nor could 3/4 of the population. That's why there is Options-Help-Don't use office asistent. Nothing is black and white. there is a lot of gray there in between and while OS is a completly good and fair option, commercial software is a completly good and fair option as well. Both have their advantages and disadventages, and OS id not the paradise, nor is commercial software the hell....

Re:Well (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797423)

Your mom might never change one line of code - but she sure as heck could manage to download code from someone who CAN program. I don't use NeoOffice on the Mac because I was able to hack the OpenOffice.org code to run on the Mac - I use it because some other industrious people did.

If, say, WordPerfect were open source I could very likely be using it today on OS X... instead, it's dead on the Mac, and so I have a painful time whenever I need to open one of my old WordPerfect files. Microsoft Office and Windows may be the dominant file format of our time, but someday it will not be... and then what the heck will I open my old Office files with?

Re:Well (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797619)

"That's why there is Options-Help-Don't use office asistent[sic]."
I think you missed the point.
I turned off the office assistant numerous times.
It always managed to pop back up eventually.
If someone could have changed a couple of lines of code and compiled it for me so the assistant would stay off, I would have appreciated it.

Clippy is not a very compelling argument (5, Insightful)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797273)

I'll put on my Executive Hat here: "So Open Source is good for removing features, gotcha." Arguing about turning off Clippy not necessarily a shining example of why OSS is good. Things like zero-day exploits, internationalization, and no per server (or VM!!!) costs are what will make people adopt OSS.

Re:Clippy is not a very compelling argument (2, Insightful)

gbutler69 (910166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797347)

It's not meant to be a legitimate example. It is meant as an example your average computer user can understand and relate to.

Re:Clippy is not a very compelling argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797783)

Of course, it's also utterly untrue. The guy that finally killed Clippy in O12 is a friend of mine, and it required changing thousands of lines of code. That little bugger had its tenticles in deep.

Re:Clippy is not a very compelling argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797957)

Except that it really is not an example that your average computer user can relate to because your average computer user doesn't necessarily share that hatred of Clippy with the nerd community.

When I was doing desktop support, I removed the Office Assistant from our default Office installation package thinking I was doing everyone a favor. I was surprised by the number of calls we received from users wondering where their dog, planet, Einstein had gone and requesting that it be turned back on.

Re:Clippy is not a very compelling argument (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798225)

This is absolutely true. In fact, most people who I come across these days seem to be at the most indifferent to that little bastard.

And did anyone else know that his christian name is actually Clipper? But I guess only his mother calls him that.

Re:Clippy is not a very compelling argument (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797637)

I'll put on my Executive Hat here: "So Open Source is good for fixing bugs, gotcha."

There, fixed that for ya.

But raises an important point (1)

pickapeppa (731249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798305)

Those of us that have to install Office on umpteen computers would benefit from a more flexible distro. Especially if there isn't a nerd handy on site to go around tweaking the installs. Office has it problems, but makes its money off of enterprise distributions. Why not make that a better selling point? I use Open Office at home, but can't roll it out at work for a variety of reasons (proprietary Access database mostly). I'd like to have some of the man hours back I lost hiding Clippy, mapping to Templates, etc...

Re:Clippy is not a very compelling argument (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798359)

"zero-day exploits, internationalization, and no per server (or VM!!!) costs are what will make people adopt OSS." You would think so, yet it doesn't. What makes people adopt something is marketing.

The worlds most despised minimize animation... (2, Insightful)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797277)

is the one Metacity uses. The patch to remove that one is also only a few lines, but I have yet to see a non-technical person manage to do that. The great advantages of free software aren't technical, they are social. People working together for a common good because it is fun is a more efficient economic system than the one in which you do it to get a paycheck. Imagine what would happen if the rest of the world where also structured like free software communities?

Re:The worlds most despised minimize animation... (1)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797343)

Free software is certainly superior in principle, but it's downfall is and will continue to be the fact that the business world hasn't practically functioned for years.

To be more direct: people do stupid thing in business because they won't be held accountable. I run OOo at home because it's a superior system, but I buy MS Office at work every couple of years because I won't have to request a new training budget when I do so.

Microsoft has the advantage because they know that the people in charge of the money in businesses don't have the technical wherewithal to come to complete or meaningful conclusions when making buying decisions. Yea, I can make budget requests, but until I can hire the guy that makes budget requests I really can't help the ODF push at all.

On the plus side, we're starting to see the standards people make important inroads into the OSS/ODF byways. Hopefully that will help influence more buyers and, therefore, influence the people hiring them so that ODF and other OSS technologies can make meaningful inroads to business.

Retraining compared to the ribbon? (4, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797641)

but I buy MS Office at work every couple of years because I won't have to request a new training budget when I do so.
Citation needed that the retraining from Microsoft Office 2003 to OpenOffice.org 2.x is bigger than the retraining from Microsoft Office 2003 to Microsoft Office 2007's tabbed toolbar.

Don't forget the file formats. (1, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797969)

MSOffice 2007 costs:
#1. MSOffice 2007 for each person.
#2. MSOffice 2007 training for each person.
#3. MSOffice 2007 deployment to each person.

OpenOffice.org costs:
#1. OOo deployment to each person.

With MSOffice 2007, due to the default file format issue, EVERYONE has to get it AT THE SAME TIME. Or they won't be able to open the documents that other people are creating. And they all have to be trained to use it. And it has to be rolled out to all of them.

And all that within the same short time frame.

With OpenOffice.org, it will look practically identical to MSOffice 2000/XP/2003 so there isn't any training needed. As long as you roll it out slowly.

And there's not cost to license it so it comes out significantly less expensive from the beginning.

As long as you don't have macros or such or your major client isn't switching to MSOffice 2007.

Or ..... Access databases. Those are the biggest problems in such a migration.

Re:Don't forget the file formats. (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798259)

OOo will require training. For example, sit someone down in front of OOo who knows how to use Excel, and give them a spreadsheet. Ask them to create a graph and add a regression line. They will most likely not be able to figure out that task without help--and the online help system does not cover it, because it is broken (it has index entries for adding trend lines, but they point to the wrong entries in the help system). There are many examples like this throughout OOo where it works significantly differently than Office does, that have nothing to do with macros.

My testing was different... (1)

Xenographic (557057) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798491)

Well, I haven't tested Excel vs. OO Calc, I have tested Word vs. OO Writer.

I sat someone down who was familiar with Word, but not very comfortable with computers in general. With no training and absolutely no help from me, they were able to bang out and print a resume.

Are you on version 2.3? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798513)

It seems to work for me. But I might have misunderstood you. I'm on Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon with OpenOffice.org 2.3.

Re:Are you on version 2.3? (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798581)

I haven't checked 2.3 yet. Perhaps they fixed the bad indexing problem. That would be good.

Re:The worlds most despised minimize animation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797499)

"The worlds most despised minimize animation...is the one Metacity uses. The patch to remove that one is also only a few lines, but I have yet to see a non-technical person manage to do that."

Or perhaps, you despise it, and therefore assume automatically that everyone else does too, and that nobody cares enough to do anything about it except you. I honestly didn't have any idea what you were talking back until I switched back to Metacity and looked for an animation (I can only assume you mean the flying rectangle? I've never really cared/bothered/noticed it).

No patch needed (2, Informative)

Mprx (82435) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797527)

Set /apps/metacity/general/reduced_resources to true in gconf. Turns off the other useless eyecandy too.

Re:The worlds most despised minimize animation... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797697)

"People working together for a common good because it is fun is a more efficient economic system than the one in which you do it to get a paycheck. Imagine what would happen if the rest of the world where also structured like free software communities?"

We tried that. See Communism, and Socialism.

Re:The worlds most despised minimize animation... (1)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798063)

The world would be knee-deep in shit, because nobody finds it fun to be a sewerage worker.

Clippy (5, Insightful)

SamP2 (1097897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797295)

Last time I checked you can disable Clippy in 10 seconds from the Office Options menu, without the need to find the right line, remove it, and recompile. Anyone who is not capable of clicking Tools->Options and checking off a checkmark would not be capable of editing the code either.

Not being anti-OOS in any way, and there are many instances when editing a few lines WOULD make a difference in the usefulness of software (Windows Firewall sure comes to mind), but this is not one of them. Sorry.

Re:Clippy (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797359)

> Last time I checked you can disable Clippy in 10 seconds from the Office Options menu

Young padawan, this is an option that has been added after several *years* of impossible to disable clippy.

Re:Clippy (1)

El Lobo (994537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797409)

Nope. clippy was added in office 2000.Right clicking on Clippy (or other avatar) used to show the option "use standard help". From day one.

Re:Clippy (1)

smash (1351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798765)

Clippy was added in office 97. he wasn't impossible to remove then either tho, I can't remember if there was an option or not, i just deleted his files :D

Re:Clippy (2, Funny)

Antiocheian (859870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20799063)

At last, a correct statement about Clippy! Yes, he was added in Office 97 and yes, it was very easy to disable or not include it at installation (options were provided for both). Microsoft had removed Clippy in Office 2003 but if you slipstream SP2 (or the new SP3), the option to install Clippy is back on.

I am sure this is due to popular demand.

Here is a 100% true story about Clippy: I was installing Windows for my girlfriend and I came to the point of installing Office. She saw me marking Office assistant off at installation and asked with dread: "Are you.. removing CLIPPY???" And she started crying and demanding that I get Clippy back on the installation. Of course I don't take shit from women in these matters so Clippy was left out, but we had a real fight on that day.

It was always easy to disable and it was always an option. Therefore Michael Meeks, by saying "You couldn't turn [Clippy] off and it came on and you had to talk to it before you came on.", loses some credibility.

Re:Clippy (1)

enrevanche (953125) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798097)

here are the appropriate instructions clippy [microsoft.com]

Clippy! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797299)

It looks like you're writing code to remove me!

Re:Clippy! (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797925)

I'm afraid I can't help you with that, Dave.

summing up OSS (3, Insightful)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797351)

"the flexibility of open source would have allowed us to free ourselves from Clippy, the world's most despised paperclip, by changing a single line of code."

This is also a prime example of where OSS fails too. How many basic users would be able to even compile a version with the altered code, let alone alter the codes themselves? Heck even finding a specific "no clippy" version among a variety of differently configured distributions could prove too taxing. Microsoft's approach to clippy is that if you hide it 3 times in general usage it'll present a user with an option to turn it off and it'll never appear again (provided you've a well configured server). An "if you don't like it, change it" approach simply isn't as effective as good interface usability testing when you're dealing with a userbase comprised of vastly different skill levels.

Re:summing up OSS (1)

BokLM (550487) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797453)

How many basic users would be able to even compile a version with the altered code

A better question would be "how many linux distribution would ship a version with the altered code". It is the job of the distribution to fix minor annoyances like this depending on what its users want.

Re:summing up OSS (1)

Locklin (1074657) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797489)

All users don't need to compile. If people want it, theres bound to be *someone* somewhere that will make the changes and release a new version. Obviously this does not happen all the time - but just the threat of it is enough to keep most OSS projects listening to the user much more than in the proprietary counterpart.

summing up people who don't understand OSS (2, Informative)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798239)

everyone doesn't compile OSS software themselves

Re:summing up OSS (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798369)

This is also a prime example of where OSS fails too. How many basic users would be able to even compile a version with the altered code, let alone alter the codes themselves?
1 for each 1000.

Then this guy just releases a binary package with the fix. The other 999 guys use it. Congratulations!

I'm not Capt. MS Office (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797459)

But couldn't you free yourself from the Evil Clippy with a single click of a checkbox? He could make that analogy better and more current by saying "You know the 65535 issue? Programmers could find that and help fix it rather than waiting however long for an official patch"

Re:I'm not Capt. MS Office (1)

jbengt (874751) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797651)

I turned it off several times.
It always managed to eventually pop back up.

Re:I'm not Capt. MS Office (1)

xrayspx (13127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797683)

See, told you I'm not Capt. Office. Oh well. I guess "We could have figured out why the checkbox turning clippy off didn't work". Doesn't have the same ring to it.

Re:I'm not Capt. MS Office (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798395)

What? I also turned it off several times, and I never had it pop back up. I don't even have it installed at the moment (you can deselect that component during installation), so I haven't actually seen Clippy in years.

Re:I'm not Capt. MS Office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798677)

What? I also turned it off several times, and I never had it pop back up. I don't even have it installed at the moment (you can deselect that component during installation), so I haven't actually seen Clippy in years.

  You see, there's these things, they're called "bugs." Microsoft has been famous for them since back in the DOS days, when I was a neophyte geekling, and my elder told me to delete pretty much everything that Microsoft wrote and replace it, because it would make DOS much more stable and usable.
  Some people get bit by these "bugs" and some people don't, and although the latter group like to flatter themselves that they're somehow smarter than the former, a careful examination shows that there rarely seems to be any rhyme or reason to who gets hit.

Re:I'm not Capt. MS Office (1)

Simias (953970) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798125)

> You know the 65535 issue?

Microsoft devs storing the number of issue in an unsigned short, that's what I call optimism...

Fooking Clippy (0, Offtopic)

spykemail (983593) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797463)

If that paperclip where a person I'd shoot him in the fooking head.

Re:Fooking Clippy (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798555)

If that paperclip where a person I'd shoot him in the fooking head.

Here's your chance: CNNNN [youtube.com]

Microsoft and killing their main revenue source (2, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797511)

The format war is the main reason why most people stick with MS Office. And well... let's take a look at Microsoft's balance sheets [microsoft.com] .

So, "Microsoft adopting ODF"? Or even "Microsoft not sabotaging ODF plugins"? No freaking way.

Re:Microsoft and killing their main revenue source (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797653)

Is there any chance of a class action lawsuit against microsoft for monopolic practices regarding ODF?

Re:Microsoft and killing their main revenue source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797751)

Last time I checked, short of making it the native file format in Office, they have pretty much supported ODF at every turn. Voting it in ANSI. Delivering the ODF conversion tools on Sourceforge etc.

ODF might be an ISO standard but everybody agrees that it is far from complete. The TC in OASIS would probably need to finish their work then resubmit 1.4 or 1.5 of ODF back into ISO before you would see it in Microsoft Office.

It doesn't matter ... we are screwed either way. (3, Interesting)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797613)

As much as I'd love an injunction saying that MS must make its DOCX File format readable by other Office suites, and it must produce a plugin for OO.org to open it NOW. We are screwed. MS already has Office 2007 out in the wild, and I'm starting to get .docx files I can't open in OO.org. There's only one reason this was done, OO.org is so good at opening Docs it started to threaten Office. It doesn't matter if whether OOXML gets certified, its going to be up to OO.org to reverse engineer it as fast as possible or it will make everyone cry blood.

By the way, what do you think the result will be in a year when we start seeing Samba 4 AD? MS will attack again with even harsher resolve/.

Re:It doesn't matter ... we are screwed either way (2, Insightful)

Nimey (114278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797935)

By the way, what do you think the result will be in a year when we start seeing Samba 4 AD?
I wouldn't be surprised to see a patent lawsuit. It'd be disappointing, but not surprising.

Re:It doesn't matter ... we are screwed either way (2, Insightful)

The MAZZTer (911996) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797965)

When you get a .docx file you can't read, you say the same thing Office 2003 users say... "I can't open DOCX files, send it in DOC". The only difference is that Office 2k3 has Office 2k7 format plugins, but really, only the people who already know about them are probably going to be finding and using them.

Furthermore, considering that OOXML is basically Office 2k3 formats converted to plaintext and zipped up, I'd have thought there would ALREADY be support in OO.org by now... at least, soon. OOXML was made to allow devs to easily generate their own or read them so I'd expect writing loading/saving functions would be quicker than the original Office 2k3 format functions...

In short: There's still hope for OO.org. :)

Re:It doesn't matter ... we are screwed either way (1)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797991)

"I can't open DOCX files, send it in DOC". This won't last forever.

Re:It doesn't matter ... we are screwed either way (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798495)

I heard from contact in Microsoft that the reason they didn't approve/use Open Document format is that it doesn't support all of the features of Office, and they would have had to make a ton of modifications to it to realistically make use of it. I don't know exactly which features it doesn't support that .doc does, but that's what I was told.

Re:It doesn't matter ... we are screwed either way (1)

smash (1351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798727)

Feature: unreadable by OOo... check

That's the missing feature...

Isn't clippy also in OpenOffice? (2, Informative)

pieleric (917714) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797707)

Unfortunately this clippy example is more showing how open source could be great. Right now, in OpenOffice, there is by default clippy activated! (of course it's not called 'clippy', it's called 'help agent'.) So, no, even open source is affected by clippy. Either human kind is doomed, or open source community is very tricky to understand.

Well, at least the OpenOffice clippy hasn't told me anything so far. It's just there, on the bottom of my screen smiling and cheerfully eating up a little bit of the memory space and graphical space. Maybe it's there to appease the user by helping him to believe it's really like MS office? It's just not working on me...

X-tract Paperclip (flash game) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797825)

Finally a flash game that's on topic!

http://www.microsoft.com/taiwan/office/clippy/game.html [microsoft.com]

YUO fAIL IT (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20797893)

Clippy? That's his explanation??? (1)

Real1tyCzech (997498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20797987)

Uh.. Clippy could be disbaled with three clicks. That's going to mean a lot more to the vast majority of non-programmers than "one line of code".

Christ. You might as well tell them all it takes is building a Porsche out of paper-clips for all the good that line will do.

Not a great example (2, Insightful)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798139)

"the flexibility of open source would have allowed us to free ourselves from Clippy, the world's most despised paperclip, by changing a single line of code."

Or.... like every other user in the world - just turn, clippy, off.

Code changes are not always a solution.

Most powerful turn off regarding /. membership: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798251)

The vast number of idiots that keep repeating clippy can be disabled with an option -- and keep getting modded up for this!

Do I want to be associated with such morons? Do I want to be associated with the ones who vote'm up?

if you use linux (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798323)

if you use linux you're probably a fag.

probably? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798739)

It's virtually a certainty.

Any reference to Clippy makes this a troll.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798325)

The Clippy complaint is 10 years old and wasn't that compelling even then (as mentioned, you can easily turn it off).

So bringing up Clippy means either the author has an MS chip on their shoulder or hasn't really used Office in years. I won't read TFA based on the Clippy reference alone. Maybe he has a good point, I wouldn't know.

There is 1 reason for open source and only 1 (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20798357)

I am not really satisfied with any of the above replies and I have to say this is the first time I have bothered to write a meaningful reply because someone usually is on the ball.

The ONLY reason to support open source is power in the form of self-determination.

Microsoft can try to force Vista on you and refuse to sell Window XP. Microsoft can decide next version of Office is not backwards compatible with other versions of office and refuse to sell your prior versions of office. Microsoft could decide tomorrow to make the next version of .NET completely incompatible with prior versions, making all of an organizations investment worthless as they have done in the past as they did with VB6, ruining the investment in that code.

In the above scenario, Microsoft is in a position to directly mandate your business. If Microsoft -- or any vendor -- were to discontinue a product your business depends on and refuse to sell it, you are guilty of copyright infringement if you try to resist the change since there are no legal venues for the additional purchase of product X, Y or Z (let alone possible DMCA or EULA violation).

Any business depending heavily on a closed source solution has empowered the closed source vendor to be the bus driver and they can -- by accident, by design or by circumstance -- drive your organization off the cliff.

Open source, in contrast, grants the organization the power to control their activities. There are no unexpected surprises forced upon them, no vendor-lock, etc.

It is NOT that whether or not you DO change, modify or compile open source software -- it is that you COULD and that you could decide to change or not change as you see fit and your organization can control its own destiny with no forced surprises.

Open source grants control, there is not one other significant advantage it has because Open Source solutions are not necesarily superior (and often not!) to their non-open source alternatives.

Open source means the freedom to not drive off the cliff if you do not wish to do so.

Partners (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798537)

Novell has apparentally signed an interoperability (mostly patents) deal with MS, yet it looks like it is more about Novell working with MS or something, I mean, see these declarations! "It is unlikely in reality MS adopts ODF" , shouldn't Novell be... asking the partner to help them, you only see Novell implementing OOXML and nothing else, why is this deal working in only one direction?

Mmhmm... (1)

boomsticky (1161513) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798629)

Well, it's a bad example for those who know how to turn off office assistant and what-not.

However, the goal for Michael Meeks seem to be to push open source to a larger public audience, particularly the nontechnical savvies. Using his likable example of Clippy, could be part of that goal. Meaning, make our product easier than easy.

So, hopefully the Clippy example Meeks portrayed for open source and OpenOffice is the 'you get the point' idea.

hmmmm not a good example (1)

smash (1351) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798695)

He also mentions his favorite example to explain the benefits of open source software to a nontechnical person: the flexibility of open source would have allowed us to free ourselves from Clippy, the world's most despised paperclip, by changing a single line of code."
As opposed to say, just uninstalling clippy through the control panel? I'm all for open source and all - but seriously, it's worth checking out the options before busting out GCC...

Knowing next to nothing on the subject... (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 6 years ago | (#20798987)

... I had never heard of Michael Meeks, but as soon as I read "ZDNet has up a great interview with Michael Meeks" in the summary, I knew exactly which format he supports. Slashdot can be so transparent sometimes.
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