back to article Microsoft's fear of an OpenOffice

Perhaps Microsoft's failure to meaningfully penetrate new markets like search has it scrambling to defend old turf like Office, but something is awry in the company's latest salvo against OpenOffice. Microsoft, with a gargantuan 94-per-cent share of the office productivity market, has seen fit to release a video beating up on …

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Pint

I'll risk it...

...here goes, "Microsoft are like, so 1994!"

MS really need to get with the program.

Ballmer? Del-Boy himself, not the sort of person you need running multi-billion dollar corp in the 21st century!

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Go

Spot On!

Exactly, give me that 21st century OpenOffice !

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Anonymous Coward

Say what you like about Ballmer.

We all know when it came down to it, he'd kick 7 shades out of Jobs in a scrap.

I reckon he'd love the opportunity, too.

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Jobs Horns

Steady there......

Jobs does voodoo but granted he may have a problem sicking pins through all that lard

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I see stars

Was that why Jobs bought those throwing stars?

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Joke

AC@15:11

"We all know when it came down to it, he'd kick 7 shades out of Jobs in a scrap."

Favorite move the (bald) head butt.

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Excel Macros

When OpenOffice get that right (make sure that Excel Macros run flawlessly), then OpenOffice will have a chance on getting market share from MsOffice.

I, for one, don't use MsOffice from many years now, but I don't need to run Macros on my xls docs. For people that do need it, it's a deal breaker.

Actually, that's all they should be working on! Then they can start improving on other areas...

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Anonymous Coward

#Excel Macros

>Actually, that's all they should be working on! Then they can start improving on other areas...

Trouble is they is ever-shrinking in a Sunless world - best you can hope for are bug and stability fixes.

Can understand MS's angle in that there's much trumpet blowing when councils, school districts and big corporations announce their move to OOO, but very little noise when they go back to MSO the following year with tails between their legs.

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Welcome

Excell at writing Macros

Never written one. But never use Windows either. Someone sends me a DOCX I send them an ODT.

I don't see that Open Office needs to compensate I see it that people need to use Open Office.

Up hill struggle, of course, but to all those at home with stolen, dodgy, old, incompatible with any other version of M$ Office I say Open Office is a no brainer.

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FAIL

It's not just OpenOffice's problem...

MS compatibility between it's own versions is atrocious.

A little while back, SWMBO was filling in a job app - Word .DOC, basically a table with multiple protected boxes.

It was about 75+ pages of complete horror on Word 2k7 on her Vista laptop.

It was 99% bob-on-perfect on OOo on my Ubuntu laptop...

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Ah, Excel Macros

... one of the great write-only development environments.

How many professional developers know the sinking feeling when somebody says, "We've got this Excel spreadsheet that does lots of clever stuff in macros. Trouble is, the accounts person who wrote it has left the company. Can you fix/enhance/explain it for us?"

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Every time you write...

...an Excel macro, you make baby Jesus cry.

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Misplaced blame

>> When OpenOffice get that right (make sure that Excel Macros run flawlessly)

Macros are a feature that include vendor lock-in by design. Microsoft most definitely does not want others to dabble in their costly, proprietary products. They change and add code and specs all the time not only to add features (sometimes known as bloat) but also to complicate compatibility issues. Reverse engineering a moving target is far from easy. Blame Microsoft before blaming OpenOffice.org.

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Anonymous Coward

Need Excell Macros USE EXCELL... for the Other 99% of Us Save the $$$$

Given that only a small proportion of Spreadsheet users need Macros if Macros is the reason people use Excell Microsoft would be in real trouble.

Same holds true for word processing. For most of what people use Word for WORDPAD would be sufficient.

At the end of the day its just document format, the herd mentality, and security fixes and support why most people upgrade their MS Office or use it any at all.

I personally use OpenOffice and Google DOCS for most every day needs. Also have Office 95 running in CrossOver Office for the but never use it. I have not used an EXCELL macro since early 1998.

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Macros!

A Junior Engineer at an ex employer was once directed to move the entire Fortran industrial production package over to (only) one Lotus123 spreadsheet complete with a maze of reference cells and macros. This was a temporary fix to get it off the obsolete Data General Mini.There was no documentation in the file at all. It was a hideous and terrifying thing to behold. Happily, later that production package was rerouted to a Sun workstation running Fortran.

Spreadsheet macros rock!

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WTF?

Not a big deal for most users

Excel macros are beyond most users.

I've caught enough people adding up figures with a calculator and typing the answer into a spreadsheet cell, to realise that *formulas* are beyond most users.

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@Jimmy James

"A Junior Engineer at an ex employer was once directed to move the entire Fortran industrial production package over to (only) one Lotus123 spreadsheet complete with a maze of reference cells and macros."

Respect.

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Boffin

AC@22:13

"Given that only a small proportion of Spreadsheet users need Macros if Macros is the reason people use Excell Microsoft would be in real trouble."

Funny. I recall a report that Excell macros is the most used programming language in the *world* (DDJ. Special edition on small languages) , partly because people don't feel as if they are *are* programming.

Unless OO can offer that level of comfort to those people (the sort of people who use spreadsheets to do tricky stuff tend to be the sort of people who can sign cheques in companies but think programming is for nerdy propeller heads) it will *not* have mass market acceptance and remain <10% of market (although there was a time when it was <5%)

I am neither OO-phile or OO-phobe. I use OO and have written some fairly extensive macros in Excell. BTW the looping paradigm Excel tends to encourage seems to be *exactly* the way some parallel functional programming languages seem to operate.

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Anonymous Coward

Excel Macros vs Professional Developers....

>Can you fix/enhance/explain it for us

Er......yes I can, here's my invoice?

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Re : Macros!

One thing I spotted during my years with a major pharma was that some people would write a lot of macros, and often got quite good at it but in the vast majority of cases they could have done the same jobs more transparently by just using the spreadsheet functions. Also many people just blindly copied the macros (warts and all) and were oblivious to quite ludicrous results.

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Anonymous Coward

Me too...

I send all external documents in PDF as generally I don't want the receiver to be editing them, but on the rare occasion that when I send them an editable file it is in ODF. They complain they can't read it, I send them to the plugin page. They complain it costs them $$, I tell 'em that MS Office would cost me more than the plugin will cost them. Deal with it.

Now MS is supporting ODF, perhaps this will change, but somehow I have a feeling that it will not.

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"MS compatibility between it's own versions is atrocious."

I wonder if MS do this on purpose to wrong foot the competition (OpenOffice) or if it is just incompetence.

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Macros

I think the macros angle is a red herring. People with that much time and effort embedded will not switch - it's hard enough for them to move versions.

I think Barmy Ballmer probably sees that cash-strapped Governments may well be considering the move. Especially given the talk on open standards and contracts broken down into segments to allow all and sundry to bid etc. Once Central Government moves away then Regional and Local Government will doubtless follow. This could make a big dent in revenues - more so given Governments undoubtedly get tooled on their license fees compared to corporates. They may, for once, have MS by the balls - "we have no money so strike a great license deal or we'll get open source on the go".

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Unhappy

.pdf

Down my cheek runs a single tear.

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On purpose

But to force people to stump up for new versions of Office.

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A pretty good summary

"OpenOffice [is] little more than a rerun of the best and worst of Microsoft Office."

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. People use Office because they HAVE to, not because anyone actually likes its interface or horrible format-over-content paradigm. OO is just as horrible, but at least it works on more platforms, is more-or-less compatible with MS Office, and doesn't come with a price tag that adds insult to injury.

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Not always so

In the past I've chucked away MS offerings with new machines, preferring what I bought and OO. Today things step up a gear with my first fully Linux based machine.

I've used MS since at least Windows 2 x, watched the whole thing develop and have had some very good moments. However and with regret change is sweeping through this little office, not least because I regard the MS Office package as filled with security threats and ill deserving of the market % it has (a % that attracts people who write exploits, incidentally).

I don't want MS to die. I don't want Apple to supplant them. I want a more vibrant market, with recognised document standards with which a healthy variety of packages - open source and commercial - are capable of complying.

The among the things that I dread most of all are large, ponderous, over powerful corporations and a lack of alternatives. MS has too much power for my comfort.

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Happy

@Scorchio!!

"I don't want MS to die. I don't want Apple to supplant them. I want a more vibrant market, with recognised document standards with which a healthy variety of packages - open source and commercial - are capable of complying."

A beautiful idea which shows the Rev Smith's "Invisible Hand" at work , marred only by one *small* blemish.

Microsoft might *loose*.

What did you think MS's efforts with their bogus international office documents standard was all about?

The prime benefit of having an effective monopoly is to charge people through the nose and the prime decisions companies in such a position make is to work out what will extend their monopoly further or cripple *any* challenges to it.

MS idea of "competition" is any word/excel/powerpoint format you like.

You will pry an increase in *any* one else's share of the office software market from the cold dead hand of Steve Ballmer himself.

But it's still a nice illusion.

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I've just bought office 2010

Because OpenOffice just upset me whenever I had to use it. Awful software. Never used Google Docs simply because I have no trust in Google at all. Isn't the world we live in weird now?

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Emotional decisions...

So you went out and spent huge money on a product because it "upset" you? OK, I guess... it's your money... it would be a good thing to let the Open Office devs know what it was that upset you so much, give feedback and effect change.

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Troll

Do not feed

that is all.

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Sir

If it could do Visio files then I wouldn't have to touch M$ again.

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Visio

When you say 'do' - do you mean import as a diagram, picture, or similar - or to actually work on ?

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Go

Titles are soooo 1994...

I don't deign to speak for Sir Spork, but for me, I mean "work on"

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Wibble

> I don't deign to speak for Sir Spork, but for me, I mean "work on"

OK - bearing in mind this is _way_ beyond my normal area of usage but what I understand you...

- can import the diagrams into OO as SVG/CGM or similar (which Visio can export easily enough)

- can create UML-like diagrams within OO, but it's (or was) missing proper UML labels/symbols etc and has somewhat limited functionality.

- probably wouldn't want to use the diagramming tool in OO for any serious UML work/code generation anyway, in much the same way that you can't really/wouldn't want to do any serious work with VSDs in MS Office.

There was a proposal for a Visio import filter (via ODF) for OO Draw - but i've not heard anything about it subsequently.

If you want to do similar work, but without Visio, you could always try using a combination of OO and Umbrello (Dia seems to have some UML stuff, but IIRC is not as feature rich as Umbrello). From a limited play with Umbrello it seems decent enough (and has importing from C++ sources, which is of particular interest to me) but I know next to nothing about Visio to be able to compare them... i'd be interested to hear from anyone who has used both in comparable situations (e.g. ground up diagram creation, code import/export - not importing from each other)

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Gates Halo

Thanks Microsoft...

...for telling me about OOo problems I already knew about, years ago!

Now hush up and get back to fixing Office.

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Anonymous Coward

It's all about standards

MS problem with OO isn't so much "OO the product", but rather that OO's supporting community is the driving force behind ODF. A truly open format is a huge threat to MSO, because it makes it apparent that the vast majority of users have no need for such a complex package. Using ODF people can get by using custom webapps, goffice, koffice, abiword, gnumeric or whatever tool they find appropriate while only the very few who really need the advanced features have to bother with something as complex as OO or MSO.

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Web 2.0 means nothing to corporates

It's all well and good saying that OpenOffice and its like are dead because trendier alternatives exist, but that in turn means sod all in a corporate environment. We all know that there are large sections of large companies still managing their data via macros in Excel 2003 (if they're lucky) and surfing the net in IE6. These people will be using Office for a looooong time to come, so why shouldn't OpenOffice try and pilfer them? And why shouldn't Microsoft worry about said pilfering?

Especially if you're the sort of cynical git who thinks that people might eventually swing back toward keeping hold of their own data.

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Grenade

Not sure corporations were the primary target

Anyone else catch the lady saying, more or less, I fail my students if they don't use MS Office?

There were other comments in there too, but that one stuck out to me.

My kid uses MS Office at school and is expected to have it for homework assignments too. Not that use by kids is really important to their bottom line, but I'd bet a big part of the Microsoft dominance of the "office" world is due to indoctrination in the educational system. I had an IT VP (at a very large company - you know their name but that's all I'll say) tell me one time that they were catching crap from new hires about not using MS Outlook for their mail. This same company is now in the process of dropping eight-figures on a migration over to Exchange and the rest of the Microsoft M&C stack. Of course, the relatively popular use of Macs in college (i.e. secondary system indoctrination) is also a source of penetration into the corporate world - I've seen a number of companies successfully adopt a "you can use it but don't expect us to support it" approach with Macs.

I seriously doubt they would have spent any time talking about educational use (which has been extremely solidly Microsoft from what I've seen - probably over the 96% quoted in the article) without having entertained that train of thought. If kids grew up using OOo or Google Docs instead of MS Office, or Linux/Mac instead of Windows... they could have some serious trouble on their hands.

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Had exactly the same

Only with PowerPoint. Teacher would not even allow the presentation to be shown, even though the presentation style they had been taught was so simple (background and basic titles and bullet points only), it could have been done using ANYTHING!

This makes Office Student and Home edition the only piece of Microsoft software that I have purchased that did not come bundled with a computer for around 10 years! (I do not copy licensed software).

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Nearly

>Anyone else catch the lady saying, more or less, I fail my students if they don't use MS Office?

I caught that, and what she said was that she failed them due to the bad formatting and presentation in OO edited documents.

If this individual really is incapable of reading mere text then she has a problem; if she is incapable of advising a student on how to produce a no frills document using OO, then she has a problem.

The formatting of a document has nothing to do with the truths it contains, and the way in which they are expressed. Using MS Office vs OO to make things more mark worthy? This is a new form of cultural relativism and I oppose it as much as the other forms, including multiculturalism, poly legal systems, and shrieking politicians who concentrate more on style than substance, and point to well formatted presentations as being more valid and true, for the benefit of gullible, evidence incompetent electors.

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Interesting video.

The whole argument in favour of MS Office appears to be:

It's easier for new users... because they've used it elsewhere.

It's easier if you're sending out documents... because the other guy probably uses it.

It's easier if you're receiving documents... because the other guy probably uses it.

It's easier if you used to use MS Office... because your files were written in MS Office.

In summary:

Use Microsoft Office: it's not open or compatible with other products, so you've got no choice! Bend over, assume the position and prepare to receive 6 inches of pure monopoly.

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Market Share != revenue

The article is not bad, and I like the general tenure (why does Microsoft think such horribly unspecific scraremonger is effective? It indeed makes them look petty).

However there is one big problem. Market share is not equal to (regular) revenue.

The biggest competitors of Office are not Google Docs and/or Open Office, but Office in the previous version and to a lesser extend, piracy. I think the article could have stressed that more.

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Quite right

MS shot itself in the foot with the awful Ribbon thingy. Most of us have kept our old Office 2003 versions because of that, and those who got 2007 are usually the ones using the pirated versions, because someone gave them the pirated one.

If piracy were to go away overnight, a lot of MSO installs would probably revert to 2003 ... or simply switch over to OpenOffice. Ditto with the Windows installbase.

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... OpenOffice isn't Microsoft Office

Small school district a friend works for saved money by switching teachers and students to OpenOffice. The Administration kept Microsoft. Nothing seemed to translate right. Civil War broke out and the district had to buy Microsoft for everybody.

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Deeper issues

>> Nothing seemed to translate right.

If that was indeed the case then it's pretty clear implementation was a problem, and more than likely intentional. I can see occasional problems with problematic documents but if the IT staff couldn't get past 'nothing seemed to translate right' than there's a much bigger problem that school district needs to deal with. I've seen a lot of problems working with various versions of MS Office that are more complicated than MS Office <<>> OpenOffice.org issues.

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Gates Horns

Indeed

Can we say "IT staff protecting their certs"? Yes.yes we can.

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Odd...

At work we use MS Office. At home I use OOo. When working from home I take the .xls/xlsx, doc/docx files that have been put together by myself or co-workers and load them up on my PC at home in OOo ... and I've yet to hit a single real problem with it.

I wish I could say the same about the different versions of MS Office we've got installed at work (I think there's still a couple of machines with Office '97 on).

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Its all about money

If there is zero competition to Office, MS can sell it for what ever they like.

If there is an alternative to MS Office then purchasing managers have a stick to beat the MS salesman with and demand a discount.

Salesman, "Your new license will be $10zillion"

Purchasing manager to ITO "So hows the OO evaluation project going?"

ITO (crosses fingers behind back or not - who cares), "Oh fine, we've now got 3 field offices over to OO and are seeing very few problems"

PO turns back to MS Salesman, "Nope, I don't think so, for a $1zillion we can cope with our problems in OO, you're going to have to do better than that".

Ask BOFH he knows how these things work :-)

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