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back to article Apache confirms new OpenOffice build by 2012

The Apache Software Foundation has confirmed that a new build of the OpenOffice suite will be out next year, and has warned rogue developers that it - and only it - can use the trademark for the software. According to the group, version 3.4 of the software will be out in the first quarter of next year, and will be a developer- …

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Too little, too late

When OpenOffice "exploded" most people who were actively using it have already moved on. Either to LibreOffice or MS Office. And from what I can tell so have most developers.

So I really wonder if this is a good move for Apache.

Then on the other hand; I also think that in order to setup a project as complex as a whole office suite the first thing you need is strict regulations. I haven't participated on LibreOffice so I don't speak from experience but knowing how Sun was very lenient towards developers one has to wonder why many developments on OpenOffice were rejected by Sun yet embraced by LibreOffice.

Still... Whether its OpenOffice or LibreOffice I still think both of them have a lot of work to do if they wish to compete with MS Office. I'm not saying that these projects are no good or anything, - far - from it. But to me the saying "you get what you pay for" fully applies here.

While both office suites have many advantages and are perfectly suitable for common tasks (Writer for writing a letter, using Calc to setup your expenses, etc.) it is my experience that as soon as you want more out of them they start to become much harder to use than they should be (from an end user point of view that is).

When I started to play with MS Office 2010 (after having used OpenOffice for 5 - 6 years) the first thing which totally baffled me was the ease in which I could setup my own entry forms in Word. Immediately followed by the easy interaction between all Office applications (in all fairness; this is also due to the underlying Windows OS. Stuff like OLE, COM applications, etc.).

It was one of the main reasons I switched to MS even though this cost me money. While my OO setup was perfectly usable (I spent quite some time setting up entry forms on Writer) my fingers always itched to expand on it. But the main problem there was time and effort; programming entry forms /without/ so much as a visual editor is no fun.

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Devil

Depends what you use it for

There is a number of areas where LibreOffice/OpenOffice is miles ahead of Microsoft Word.

1. Math. After all this years Microsoft has still to deliver a passable formula editor and formula editor integration. Openoffice editor is way better which is not surprising as they have lifted a lot from (La)TeX including the "switch to manual" syntax and do we like it or not LaTeX is and shall be the standard for scientific math writing.

2. Bibliography. Database integration for bibliography, biblio-formats, bilblio separation, etc. Once again it is from the same book as the math. Microsoft simply does not grock it. With LibreOffice every next paper you do in an area is _LESS_ effort. With Microsoft it is about the same as you cannot reuse a shared external bibliography database and the autocomplete dictionary is not learning your area (or not as good as OO).

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RE: Too little, too late

Job opening available?

Seriously, what marketing agency do you work for?

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@Voland

3) Using tables; While Word can use tables and setup a format on a per-cell basis, it can only maintain this as long as the cell contents doesn't get heavily changed (or deleted). If you start to delete values to "start over" you also need to re-apply formats. Writer on the other hand is capable to keep formatting despite of removing cell contents.

(note: Word isn't fully incapable of this, but then it needs an "Excel sheet" insertion which you can then use as being a table. Still; hardly comparable IMO).

Believe me; its not as if I don't know the advantages of Open Office you know....

And your points don't fully add up. That is; not compared to the current version.

Point 1 has been addressed with the release of "Microsoft Mathematics 4.0". Its a scientific calculator which also has ties ("connectors") with Office 2010 through means of the "Office connector". This allows programs such as Word to utilize its functionality, which includes formula editing and integration. Even up to the point of creating graphs and embedding those, see:

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=15702

In case it interests you; you can grab the "Office Add-in" from this location:

http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=17786

I fully agree if you say that this functionality isn't "out of the box" but then again... A lot of OpenOffice functionality also started "out of the box" so to speak.

Point 2; I'm not sure if I pick this up right but I wonder if you have actually /tried/ version 2010 of the MS Office suite. The reason I say so is because I fully agree with this, but then only with my memories of Office 2003 in mind.

With 2010 you're capable of applying a "theme" onto the whole document. So once you decided what layout you need (underlining, italics, specific indention, etc) and based on a per-section or per-line base you can simply apply this onto the entire document. With the single click of a mouse.

As said above, don't get me wrong; does OpenOffice (LibreOffice) have advantages? Yes, many even. But in the overall it became my opinion that they don't weigh up for more serious usage.

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@Bob

I wonder if this is allowed (we need a 'spam' icon ;-)) but...

I work for "LoSoCo"; see http://www.losoco.com/

A rather small Dutch IT company which I started myself approx.10 years ago. Back then I was able to get a certain "upper hand" thanks to my extensive experiences with Linux (even though I professionally started with Sun Solaris) and I've ran the "company" ("1 man firm" is a better description) next to a regular day time job.

That is; until 2 years ago. My former employee couldn't manage to keep me and several colleagues around due to "certain issues". And now, 1 year later, I'm busy taking over the hosting aspects of my former employee.

And sorry; no job openings on my end.

More seriously: this is why I wrote "if you need more out of them" above. I'll be the first to admit that because of my self-employment my demands have risen a bit. BUT if you look at how OpenOffice profiles itself (quote): "OpenOffice.org 3 is the result of over twenty years' software engineering. Designed from the start as a single piece of software, it has a consistency other products cannot match." then I have serious doubts right now. And yes; only /after/ I trialed MS Office 2010 (which is also approx. 20 years old).

You have to understand that if you're paying for your own spend hours then time becomes an important factor in the stuff you do. That goes double if you're trying to take your company on full time (as mentioned above; before this period I ran it apart from a day-time job).

The reason I wrote what I did is because I'm honestly baffled. For example: I take a screenshot in Windows using OneNote (while writing this for example) and I can easily extract all the text in the picture:

"That goes double if you’re trying to take your company on fulltime (as mentioned above; before this period Iran it apart from a day-time job). E"

No, its not perfect. But its a lot more than OO can achieve right now. As such my comment above; they got a lot of work to do if they want to compete with MS Office.

My stance on all this? Microsoft has screwed up, big time. Just like Sun did for a lot of the Unix crowd ("Slowaris"). But that was all in the past. Yet they all managed to continue and produce better products. I don't see many people associating ZFS with "Slowaris" while it actually is.

Same with MS Office 2010 IMO. I grabbed the trial version and I liked what I saw, and that's what you can see up there.

No marketing agency involved what so ever.

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Devil

You almost hit the point

@ShelLuser

You nearly wrote what it is all about and went into unnecessary details yet again.

Microsoft is once again about layout. Exactly as you noted. OO is about _CONTENT_ (which you failed to note).

If you have to manage unnecessary complex layouts (something rare in sci/engineering writing) Word may be better. In fact it is better.

If you have to manage content - formulae, integration to biblio, integration to data sources that is not an embedded excel BLOB but is actually using them - OO rulez. All of that saves time and as you go along and work more in an area it saves more and more of it exactly where most effort is applied - CONTENT.

Compared to that Word continues to improve and save you time on LAYOUT. Same for PowerPoint vs Impress, etc. So it all depends on what you call business writing. If you are writing a marketing paper with dancing squirrels jumping from paragraph to paragraph and fornicating on top of the punchlines - yeah, Word is the right tool for that kind of business writing.

If you are writing a paper which describes a different pricing strategy, a different supply chain model, a new product idea or anything else that is about CONTENT you are better off with OO (especially if it is your job to do that on a daily basis).

By the way, I have seen the MSFT formula addon and it "did not set my soul on fire". It is still sub-par to the OO one which is not surprising considering the OO editor origins.

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FAIL

I love people like you

It has always been there... people like you.. but I noticed... as of late... you guys are all over the place.

The poster had some valid points. I personally agree with him on much of it. OpenOffice is ok for my kids to do their homework on... but it just doesn't cut it when compared to Microsoft Office. Is it really so hard to believe that a program which has had billions spent on developing it for 20 years or so could be better for some people than the free stuff is?

OpenOffice is really frigging hard to use. It's damn near impossible to train office monkeys on. I can't even begin to tell you the pain I've seen people go through in OpenOffice to figure out how to handle a simple mail merge. Documentation for OpenOffice is piss poor at best and is just not audited with each version of the program.

LibreOffice and OpenOffice have not invested heavily in training programs that can be used by professional corporate training companies like GKN or Learning Tree. Office on the other hand has. You may think this is unimportant from the "How hard is it to use a word processor". Guess what... for much of the population.... HARD.

OpenOffice and LibreOffice are great products and moreover great accomplishments. But they're just not in the same league as Office. So give the original poster a break

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Meh

Fair points

But many (if my SO is to be believed - she is an editor for several scientific journals), if papers are not being delivered as LaTeX (typically maths, physics and comp sci) with the associated .bib files, then they are using EndNote so althogh it has to be paid for, there is another solution to bibliography reuse.

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Anonymous Coward

'"How hard is it to use a word processor". Guess what... for much of the population.... HARD.'

Yeah. Despite using word processors heavily since dos. I was stumped by the ribbon interface too.

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@Voland

"If you have to manage content - formulae, integration to biblio, integration to data sources that is not an embedded excel BLOB but is actually using them - OO rulez. All of that saves time and as you go along and work more in an area it saves more and more of it exactly where most effort is applied - CONTENT."

I think I see where you're getting at and yeah; if you need that kind of contents in your document then things could indeed be a lot harder on you with MS Office. It is doable but Word by itself isn't aimed at data processing. For that you'd need Excel after which you can then embed the Excel data in Word.

Like I said its not as if I don't know many of the advantages which OO hold.

Then again; when it comes to accessing external data sources in Excel you once again enter an area where a lot of developments have taken place. Right now I can even use a mere webpage as a data source, process it and then use the data from wherever I need. But in order to set it all up in a document you do indeed need 2 separate programs.

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@CheesyTheClown

Right you are, sir/mam. Offices (esp. MS) are hard to use, hence theres the omnipotent emacs/(or vim if you wish) powered by (La)TeX.

>>Is it really so hard to believe that a program which has had billions spent on developing it for 20 years or so could be better for some people than the free stuff is?

BTW, from the programmers' pov, people that used both Emacs and MS Visual Studio claim that the former to be much superior to the latter. Now try comparing the billions of $$ dumped at MS VS and the "cheapo" things emacsen/vim(sical).

>>It's damn near impossible to train office monkeys on

Monkeys that were breastfed with MS stuff are hard to change (esp. under some vigil supervision of independent but yet interested folks)

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fzz

Appearence vs Contents

No question, MSFT has invested heavily in making styles easier to use/apply in Office 2007 and later. Is that necessarily a good thing? Maybe in Word and PowerPoint, but not Excel.

In terms of functionality, OpenOffice/LibreOffice provide 2 features in particular in Calc which Excel has lacked for decades: regular expression support in MATCH and SEARCH functions and Edit - Find/Replace, and relative/absolute worksheet references.

Actually the only parts of OpenOffice I find disappointing are Base and the entire object model used in scripting. OpenOffice can't be automated anywhere near as easily as MS Office can.

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MS Office

...blah blah.

I do all my work in LO in preference to MSOffice, simply because I prefer LO. And please don't tell me how LO isn't suitable for "adults" and only fit for children - that's condescending. And yes, my company can buy out your company with our canteen money.

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@eulampios

>>BTW, from the programmers' pov, people that used both Emacs and MS Visual Studio claim that the former to be much superior to the latter. Now try comparing the billions of $$ dumped at MS VS and the "cheapo" things emacsen/vim(sical).

Seriously? One of the joys of moving from programming linux to programming windows was going from emacs to visual studio. I used both - I would never choose to use emacs.

Now having gone to programming Java, I miss it quite a bit, but when you have to use eclipse you are probably going to miss most things (except emacs).

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@Alienrat

Java +M$= "WTF?"

On your LInux/Emacs exodus I have a parable:

When David Hilbert (one of the greatest and most influential mathematicians ever) came to know that a pupil of his had switched from math to poetry, he concluded:

"Good, he did not have enough imagination to become a mathematician".

:)

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This strand is bizarre

Why are people so uptight about this? I used MSO for years, then when I couldn't be bothered to get the installation disc one day, tried OOo and found it was good enough for most things, better in some aspects, worse in others, but I could live with it. I recently bought MSO again, and now actually prefer it overall. Couple of niggles (why not support multisave as you can with OOo, for instance? It is a useful feature! Why not allow a mailmerged document be saved as multiple pdf's instead of one? Makes sense for printing, none for pdf's themselves if creating invoices, for instance). So both OOo/LO and MSO have things they do better and worse.

It is not an either/or binary opposition like light and dark, but 2 very similar products each with advantages. This strand has more in common with Mac/PC fights

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IT Angle

Not a valid argument of standardization on MS Office

There is always a post in these forums about MS Office having some obscure function that, while it can be done in OpenOffice, is slightly easier in MS Office, IYO. It is like a small business buying full blown SAP for ERP because there is some obscure supply chain module that might yield some benefit. OpenOffice = free, MS Office = $200-500 per copy. As OpenOffice will meet all of the requirements for 98% of users without any interruption whatsoever and the rest of the users with a bit of work, OpenOffice should be selected as the standard without a thought. If there are users that really think they need MS Office for some reason, have them or their department buy it. In 100% of businesses/organizations, Open/LibreOffice should be the standard. Right now people are standardizing on MS Office and paying the crazy costs for the convenience of a couple of financial analysts.

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Odd statement

This bit I find most confusing is that they are announcing a point release rather than a full version release. This is going to leave the impression that they are 'behind' LibreOffice as LO got to 3.4 some time ago and are in the 'bug-hunt' stages of 3.5.

When you combine that with what appear to be very restrictive rules for contributors it doesn't have the look of someone who is looking to set the world on fire.

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"I'm not dead yet!"

The open letter on the ASF blog is so sad - it's a plaintive plea of "we're still alive".

What I don't like is the bluster over their claims of "our licence is less restrictive than yours". They claim "Apache OpenOffice does not seek to define a single vision", sorry, but whatever their vision currently is, it doesn't seem to be widely shared. The comments on the blog entry show their current lack of success.

The sooner this project is handed over to The Document Foundation's LibreOffice, the better. Shame on IBM for encouraging Oracle to send OOo down this dead-end!

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Alternative title - "It's not dead, it's just pining for the fjords"

OoO, well, it was a good start guys. Too bad Oracle botched it. The devs left and got a nearly seamless start on LibreOffice. I don't know of many forks that hit the ground sprinting, and with a seeming clear laser focus and then keep it going. It is amazing how much doing better it is doing without Sun/Oracle around mismanaging it. In fact the LIbreOffice "transition" has been much better handled than the OpenOffice to "OpenOffice"* transition which is yet to produce anything of note. Projects can't get suspended for a year and not get a little moldy... I can't figure out why Apache continues to just blow money on this one. For that matter, I'm pretty puzzled by IBM's actions on this as well...

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Anonymous Coward

Typical Apache

Lacking vision, introducing bureaucracy into the development process, placeholder for dead projects. Need I go on ?

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Linux

Heroic Failure?

I think it's good that Oracle have not been allowed to murder OpenOffice, however the end of the Sun period and the time it was will Oracle have done it an awful lot of damage.

One the one hand it's good to have two separate teams working to help diversity and allow ideas to be tested but on the other it also divides limited resources which could be a waste. Only time will tell if it is worth the effort...

I don't think OO.o is dead yet but it's probably mortally wounded and I think LO has won this round if not the bout.

While it would be a climb down, it is probably best that Apache/IBM/Oracle give the trademarks to LO and be done with it, even though IBM want a "proprietary friendly" licence that LO does not provide and OO.o does.

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Linux

Fact of the matter

LibreOffice *IS* Openoffice (at least as we knew it)

Only thing of significance is a change of name

Oh and another thing: to those who reckon LO/OOo has a way to go: not for me it doesn't, nor for anyone i know. I use it all day every day.

Why the heck does anyone pay for MS?

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I'm not actually convinced even companies do buy office, unless it's included on new PC's.

For many years, I used OOO at work in lieu of MS Office 2007 and was occasionally exchanging documents via email with another company. Eventually, I asked for one of their people to email over a file via telephone and he did it immediately while I was on the phone- as an ODS file.

I commented on it, and it transpired that we'd both been using OOO for years, and converting documents to DOC/XLS when emailing each other and then converting them back to ODT/ODS at the other end.

I would find it very interesting to know just exactly how many companies are doing exactly that, or have just configured OOO to use DOC/XLS by default. I suspect it's not an inconsiderable number.

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@Peter2

I'm not sure what the numbers are either, but MS Office 2007/2010 (somewhat unwillingly) embraced ISO standards and reads ODT/ODS now. So there isn't any reason to convert any longer, unless someone is running Office 2003 or lower. Working mostly on Linux servers, I was running Ubuntu on the laptop, and stopped converting docs to DOC/XLS after the Office 2007 rollout (the first time was an accident however) and nobody noticed one way or the other. Document opens and they can read it. Nobody pays attention to file extensions thanks to MS hiding them by default. :)

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scripting differences

I use OOo (and now LO) all the time, but for one project at work I had to switch to MS Excel, well into the development process. I even had to scrounge up a Windows PC to do it. The problem was that I was building a large workbook with a series of forms, to be used by employees of our clients. Unfortunately form elements such as buttons and checkboxes are handled quite differently in the two systems. There is no way to make a button or checkbox in OOo/Lo work the same way as in MS Excel. So I had to move the entire project to the Windows box, which now takes up space in my cube for most of the year.

It would be very nice if LO or OOo would have an option to make form controls compatible with MS Excel.

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Wrong tool

Frankly Excel (and Calc) are the wrong tool for that kind of work in both office suites. That does not prevent people from (ab)using them into this use case with some horrifying results. I have seen more than enough "business models" which produce 2+2=5 for sufficiently big values of 2 as a result (especially in excel).

The right tool for this kind of work in MSO is Access (which used to be part of the Pro offering) and in OO the right tool is OOBase.

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fzz

Patents?

@Gary Bickford,

I wouldn't put it past MSFT to have encumbered worksheet form controls, which I believe are COM objects, with IP restrictions. IOW, maybe it's not possible for OO/LO to provide compatible controls. But there's also the matter of Excel's relatively simple object model vs OO's rather baroque (or even byzantine) one. Simply put, OO is a royal PITA to script.

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WTF?

Curiouser and curiouser.....

Seemingly within hours of the ASF self-publicity about plans for a future release for the official version of OOo, a press release appears from Team OpenOffice.org in Hamburg about their plans for a release candidate named "White Label Office 3.3.1" based on OpenOffice.org 3.3.0 "with important security fixes and problem corrections". Rapidly followed of course by a non-too happy reaction from ASF....

LWN has a brief report (http://lwn.net/Articles/473355/). One of the follow-up comments contains a remarkable allegation about exactly why Oracle shut down the openoffice business.

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WTF?

re: Curiouser and curiouser..... indeed

Interesting CABVolunteer. Team OpenOffice is (ummm how do I put this politely) a bit unfocused if the website is anything to go off of. Their faq doesn't really answer much in terms of WHY they are here and haven't folded into LibreOffice which is the designated OpenOffice successor. Lot of words though. Looking at it, there is only one developer in their team though. Not much hope of doing much with one sales, one trainer, and one support desk guy. But releasing a thoroughly obsolete version of OpenOffice when LIbre is already to a legit 3.5 version is kinda questionable, unless they're doing it for kicks. Out of the 4 people listed though, only Martin Hollmichel has a substantial amount of commits to the code base. Basically, 1 dev, and 3 guys to tell him how? :)

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From the story, version 3.4 sounds about right,

since release 3.4 doesn't significantly change the content, it is just about synchronising the code base with Apache licensing (more closely) and replacing parts where that isn't possible.

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Megaphone

latex

trashes word and OO...

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Especially out of emacsen/vim

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Anonymous Coward

Must admit with all the OOO hoo-ha, I've been telling friends and family who can't afford MSO and just need basic a wordproc and spreadsheet app, to use LibreOffice and to avoid OpenOffice as OOO they has some issues going on, most who have tried it are happy for the moment.

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Pint

Choice is the most important point

I was never an MS Office user (unless you count Word 5 and 5.5 for DOS & OS/2 - Word was a "bound" application, with a single executable running as a native OS/2 or DOS app). I was (and still am) a Lotus user, and never took to Excel (and yes, I've been using this stuff since Lotus 1a).

Considering the decline in the past 10 years of office suite choices, I'm happy to see LO *and* OO in the marketplace, and the ability to easily share code (not just documents, but macros, formulas, and procedures, as well) between them is a good thing.

I don't use MS apps in my office, and as an IT consultant, I try to find good alternatives for clients. While none of us are really certain where the whole LO / OO situation will end up, in the meantime, I think it's better to have both of them around, and besides, the only bad publicity is no publicity, so this attention, if nothing else, just might make someone consider trying a different solution (one or the other - or both) instead of sticking with the status quo.

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fzz

Clients and Lotus Development Corp in the same post?

'I was (and still am) a Lotus user'

Yes, and there are still things 1-2-3 Release 5 could do in 1994 which Excel still can't do in 2011, such as criteria expressions in [@]DSUM functions, query tables, relative worksheet references or pretty much anything 3D. But is that relevant to your clients? It's been years now since IBM marketed SmartSuite, and the new Lotus Symphony is just another OO knock-off, and not a particularly good one. Choice is sometimes like buying beer in the US in the early 1980s: Bud, Miller or Coors? I.e., degrees of flavorlessness.

For word processing, there are still lots of choices. For presentations, there are fewer choices, but I never saw huge need for a separate application vs assembling presentation slides in word processors.For databases, toy ones like Access or Base are just that, toys. Which leaves spreadsheets, and like it or not Excel is the single alternative for nearly everything corporate or governmental.

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OO/LO, MS Office and Latex

I use OO/LO regular to write reports and documentation. Previously I used to use Word in a different company to write business plans. I find Word more polished that OO/LO but not enough for me to pay out for it (especially as I try and avoid Windows). However if i was to write another academic paper I would immediately reach for Latex. Anything involving complete formulae, scientific stuff etc. both LO/OO and Word suck.

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Linux

Ease of use & Number of problems

Well I for one find LibreOffice much easier to work with than MS Office 2007/2010, I know how to use both LO and MSO, I do not like the ribbon, but do not hate it either.

The only area where I think most of the problems come from is importing badly formatted Office documents, I do not miss much from Office in terms of functionality (there are many ways to skin a cat if you're savvy)

I never had any problem publishing/exporting from LO as I know how to correctly write documents and I understand the difference between formats, etc.

I do not complain of a program having faults if it gives me room to maneuver around the faults, and LO certainly does.

Getting used to LO is extremely interesting because LO is free and runs both in Windows/Linux/Mac.

It is by no means perfect, but neither is MS Office, and to be honest Word has had the same bugs anchoring objects for the last 15 years.

LO keeps getting better all the time, and since it was forked its getting better at a fastest rate.

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Office need daddy

Like it or not, your users of large installs will be old fashion suits the decision makers, not the guy at basement. Organizations like IBM, Apache, Redhat are taken very serious by them. If it didn't become Ms Trojan, Novell could be a good daddy too.

Face the fact, that suit coming to work Mercedes and doesn't change his windows wallpaper doesn't care about some fork. Fork needs big blue too.

We're talking about office here.

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Coat

These posts are irrelevant to the overall question

Imagine MS Office was not MS Office. Imagine you are selecting a new software application for user requirements as with any other IT project. 99% of the users requirements are met with the open source, zero cost software. There are a few users that find the proprietary software slightly more convenient, but their requirements can be met with the open source software as well. Would any business say, "Well lets purchase the proprietary software (for hundreds of thousands of dollars) as the standard and license it for every user in the business because a small group of users finds it more convenient"? Regardless of the details of function xyz being slightly more convenient in MS Office, the question of whether MS Office justifies the ROI requirement is untouched.

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Trollface

ROI

It would be humorous to watch MS Office try to put together an ROI statement for MS Office vs. Open/Libre Office. Large Corporation [Enter Name] is considering a capital budget of $2 million for new copies of MS Office. LibreOffice costs nothing. Demonstrate the $2 million in productivity enhancements found in MS. As soon as the MS spell is broken, the walls are going to come tumbling down pretty fast.

Likewise with Windows, why are people still using Windows? How in the world does Win 7 justify itself vs. Linux thin-clients? I can understand if people want to purchase Win 7, or more likely Mac, for personal use because they find it shinier, but, in a dollars and cents business setting, how is it still around. You might say because Exchange-Outlook, SharePoint, etc only run on Windows. Alright, stop using them then. They are equally as ludicrous from a business perspective. Run Lotus on Linux for 1/2 the cost. Microsoft seems to be the only company in IT that is impervious to business sense.

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@Wunderbar

Why I'm using Windows 7, apart from "I like using it"...

One of the most important factors is the fact that my copy (Professional) is supported until 2018 at least. Which means that I can continue using this environment without need for drastic changes, without having to upgrade or re-install the entire OS within 2 - 3 years and so can basically continue what I'm doing. This is something Linux can't cope with (not easily anyway). Say I want Debian Squeeze yet with KDE3 instead of 4. Doable, sure, but hardly as easy as "apt-get install kde3". And that's ignoring the fact that KDE3 isn't supported anymore, while you also can't easily make KDE4 look and feel like KDE3.

Same story applies to Gnome.

And this same aspect applies to Office more or less.

When you have an environment you like to work with then there are plenty of people who don't want any changes. Changes can be good (bugfixes) just like they can be bad (structural changes in look and feel). And although you could just ignore the whole thing and simply stop updating or upgrading, that can quickly turn against you if you're using your computer to access the Internet as well. We all know that using outdated software can imply a major risk.

Problem should be obvious; Ubuntu manages to support a Linux version for up to 3 years (LTS) but that's it. If you want an even longer lifetime you'll have to pay for it. The moment some Linux distribution manages to maintain their OS for 5 years then I think you might indeed start to see a breakthrough on the desktop.

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@Wunderbar

I would not use Ubuntu Linux. I would use a supported version, such as RHEL desktop. Red Hat 5 has been around since 2007 and will be supported at least until 2014. Red Hat uses MS's 7 year life cycle. It will cost you a bit more for RHEL desktop support vs. Ubuntu, but it is still a fraction of the cost of MS. I think the Linux supported distros have had a much stabler roadmap than the XP to Vista to Win 7 to Win 8 roadmap. If Google would get a decent version of Android or Chrome out for the desktop that is basically a browser on steroids, we could skip the thick-client altogether and go straight to server side, as everything except productivity runs on the server side through a browser anyway.

Same deal on the Office side. You can use, for example, Lotus Symphony (aka IBM supported version of Open/Libre Office) for no license cost. If you have Lotus Domino/Notes support, Symphony support is included at no additional charge in the support plan. If you do not have Lotus Domino/Notes, you can purchase support or just use it in an unsupported model with periodic upgrades when new versions of Symphony are available for download.

You can bridge the gap between wild west community supported Linux and Microsoft . Even if you were to use Ubuntu without Canonical support, there may be additional migration costs and headaches, but you can deal with a lot of headaches and upgrade costs before you come close to the amount of cash it would cost to use MS.

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scam, isn't it?

Besides lots of similarities, I'd like to point at some differences in the Windows/Linux, proprietary/free debates etc.

We're talking about the cost. the question asked by Wunderbar1 was: why not pay $0 instead of many-digit $$ for a similar if not better product? If you choose Win7 over *BSD/GNU stuff -- it is perfectly fine. As far as some institutions, like public schools, universities and govt. institutions are concerned the scales are vast and fund sources are tax payers. So, why to be extravagant? Besides these expenditures there's an auxiliary one, pretty much lobbyists' business. So why do schools buy MS Office,Windows and even Photoshop and ... yes, Macs? The educational content of the said software is very low compared to GNU Linux or BSD. Its triple-edged evil sword: it wastes my taxes, teaches less or nothing and it creates new users for the certain shameless monopolies .

It is a definition of "scam".

Yes, Windows 7 is so good and user-friendly... right? A friend of mine tried to transfer 30gb between 2 Win7 machines. Wireless it would be pretty slow here. I advised using a router but connected wired. And yes, see if Win7 can automatically or easily connect to a router even after restart with a LAN only. Ubuntu does it either by one click or automatically, FreeBSD does it with a dhclient command (or similarly to Ubuntu) . Windows doesn't call it simply "connection", but "Internet"....I am sure there is some way to do it on Windows, however, it is easier to 20sec boot to Ubuntu and accomplish the job.

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As far as "MS supports this longer" argument, it doesn't fly well for me either. A lot of times people do not care about new Windows versions because... yes they are not free. There's not so much a difference between versions of Ubuntu, Fedora or *BSD. Some stuff may break, then go with LTS/Debian/CentOS and such.

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@eulampios

That is the problem.

LTS is basically nothing more than two or three versions in a queue. If stuff sometimes "breaks" then you can be sure that when its time to upgrade LTS you're looking at a complete fresh re-install.

People are all too quick to shove the "extended support" away, yet its already been a proven fact that this support by itself is what kept a lot of people on XP, even during the time of writing. They like the environment, they don't want the Vista horror and because of this horror expect the same kind of behavior on Windows 7.

And that's not even addressing the corporate side of things. My theory? Work defines the actual desktop. If Linux could get a foothold on the corporate side of things then more people would be open to use it at home.

Think about it.. WP5.1 was the most popular word processor at some day yet it came with a pricetag which hardly anyone could afford. How did all those people get into contact with WP5.1? Of course a part of that is hear-say, but when looking at the (very) steep learning curve I don't think anyone who heard a friend talk about it would be eager to dive into it "just like that".

And companies have one main agenda: making money. Which can be done in several ways, amongst which is saving money.

So; you have a desktop park. Not even that big, say 50 - 75 desktops. On one hand you have a free OS which needs to be upgraded every 3 years,where there is a heavy risk of clean re-installations. On the other you have the same kind of OS which will last longer (RHEL) yet it wasn't primarily build for the desktop and on top of that requires a subscription.

Next there's this "Windows" which most people already know and it can be maintained for at least 10 years. Of course it also costs money (licensing costs) but that's it. (security) maintenance comes free of charge afterwards.

Now try to think about the next step... An average bean counter. He or she is working with Windows every day at work. How likely would it be that he or she would consider using or trying Linux as a desktop environment ?

As long as this cycle can't be broken then I don't see Linux ever getting a major break through on the desktop market.

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I too am still a Lotus SmartSuite User

I cannot find an analog for Lotus Approach. Also, I cannot find a replacement for Lotus Word Pro.

Way back in 99/2000/2001 I impored Open Office to take a good look at Lotus Approach and Word Pro, and in all these years they have done ZILCH to convince me they gave a damn. All they cared about was cloning or besting MS Office, when there clearly are things in SmartSuite that have no analog in competing/alternative suites. For $2 (TWO), one can find a copy of Lotus SmartSuite (9.5) in a surplus store or online. For ~ $25, one can get LSS 9.8, minus and fix packs.

Approach is vastly easier to use than almost any other end-user database out there. Word Pro has sections/divisions that make assembly of multi-layout, multi-source (local sources?) documents easy to combine.

The things that keep SmartSuite on the losing end?

-- poor unicode/Korean/Japanese font support (this IS a more connected world than 1999/2002)

-- no slider bars on Approach detail table repeating panels

-- no stand-alone/portable execuable

-- too much money wasted on Symphony and launching off of OpenOffice internals when that money could have been spent paying a few internal developers or numerous external developers to use modern tools to supplant the patented code IBM claims is held by patent holders who are unreachable but who may have estates that could sue the bejeezes out of IBM. Even after all these years, SmartSuite still LOOKS pretty good. It still does much of what I need to do, but it surely needs some new bells and whistles and a new recode to make it portable to Mac and Linux. Is it that hard to decompile it, then recomplie it to be OS Agnostic (say QT or something similar?) but minus the bits that IBM claims it has no patent authority over? Then one by one, nix these broken areas by using input from USERS instead risking suit if internal users were tainted with privileged code info?

OO.o is more unicode/font savvy, and has some new chart tricks, but overall, until Base quits mimicking ms access and starts behaving more like Approach, but with schemas and other new features that Approach sorely lacks, then I have no choice but to stick with Approach and Word Pro. That, aside from a few CAD apps are all that keep me from ditching my virtualized (VirtualBox) instances of Vista and w7.

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fzz

well, if you really must . . .

. . . SmartSuite 3 runs OK under wine on Ubuntu 10.10. No idea about Macs.

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Corporates and Costs

All those citing cost as the reason all companies should use LO/OOo do slightly miss the point of how corporateworld works. Let's say we're talking about the bulk of office staff on £26k/yr so £500/week, so £100/day. Then add in the variable overhead costs (heat, light, leccy, office hire, pension, sick pay, maternity pay, NI, etc). Conservatively £125/day for a regular low-mid level employee. A MSO license costs a few hundred quid - with bulk discounts etc let's say £250. That is just 2 days of the employee. Or £1/day for a (working) year, and free thereafter. Maybe they run each license to its support end - 7 years mainstream support, and we are talking pennies a day, less than putting mints at reception.

What do they get for that? Guaranteed compatibility with what 'everyone' else is using, support you can phone up, a guarantee of 7+ yrs of patching, convenience. Also no patent war risks/exposures (eg if an Apple or other patent pirate tried to screw 'odf' file formats knowing there was easy license revenue available and that few people could afford to fight them in court - and the company has everything as odf's, they are in trouble - but MS would fight for .doc with limitless pockets)

Basically, from a corporate standpoint, peace of mind, and actually pretty cheap peace of mind.

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