back to article German city dumping OpenOffice for Microsoft

The city council of Freiburg, Germany has voted to switch the city's productivity software from OpenOffice to Microsoft Office, reversing an open source software policy that has been in place since 2007. In a move that angered local open source advocates, including council members from the Green and Pirate Parties, the council …

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Anonymous Coward

Commercially clueless as well as technically clueless

They could at least have extracted the concession of free Office 2013 licenses from MS in return for capitulating so publicly.

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Re: Commercially clueless as well as technically clueless

It's just the cost of an upscale house. Taxpayer's gonna pay, right?

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Devil

Oh well

Office 2010, huh? If they are running an old OpenOffice, chances that they will upgrade to Ballmer Office 2013 before most of the current employees have moved into retirement are slim indeed.

Pray they never encounter the IFKAM!

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What amazing modern MS Office facilities do they need?

I can't think of any reason why a town council couldn't use Libre Office or MS Office 2000 for all its needs.

Can anyone think of anything?

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Re: Can anyone think of anything?

Clever lobbying by Redmond is the only one I see.

If the difficulties they have really are the ones presented as a reason for the switch, I wish them good luck getting their staff used to the ribbon AND the new file format (plus, some formatting is lost, too, as I recently found out). So basically they are going to run in exactly the same problems (perhaps a bit worst even). But at least it's going to be expensive...

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Re: Can anyone think of anything?

since the article says they are using OpenOffice 3.2.1, and office 2000 doesn't support docx, that could be an issue for them. Typical that their support has them stuck on an old version of open/libre office though.

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Re: What amazing modern MS Office facilities do they need?

How can you possibly run a town without the ribbon. God only knows how the good citizens have been managing for the last 900 years.

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Re: What amazing modern MS Office facilities do they need?

Actually, there are some possible reasons. Support for MS formats is pretty bad. Formatting and embedded charts seldom work properly from .odt to .doc/.docx or vice versa. .ods spreadsheets lack quite a lot of the functionality of .xls. Sharing spreadsheets with MS users is fraught as the user programmed functions don't work.

I understand the issue is the secretive nature of MS file formats. I have standardized my own company on Open Office, and it works well for us. We keep a copy of MS Office handy though.

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Coat

You *have* to have a ribbon.

What else will the mayor cut?

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Re: You *have* to have a ribbon.

Well, it's a dead cert it won't be the budget!

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Re: Can anyone think of anything?

I'm still using Office 2000 and it reads .docx reasonably competently with the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. Never seen the need to upgrade.

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Re: What amazing modern MS Office facilities do they need?

But if you are using OO internally and mandate open formats (which as an Eu govt you are supposed to do) then incompatibility with MS isn't really an issue. It's like claiming that they should stop using German because it causes problems for English visitors.

There is probably a real (and profitable) market for a Word processor with fixed headline/sub/etc styles and only 2 fonts. A powerpoint clone that doesn't do dissolve/fade animations or fscking sound effects. And for many users - a spreadsheet suitable for doing expenses claims.

I wonder how many Billions have been wasted by people in offices reformatting Word docs - especially idiots that can't use styles (or us geniuses that can't work out how to apply modifications to styles since Office2003). Making fancy powerpoints which include 6 obligatory slides explaining the history or departmental organisation of the company before you get onto the actual info.

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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

"But in its press release, the Pirate Party [...] argued that many council members lacked the technical expertise to understand the issues in the matter and should therefore have abstained from the vote."

If governments of every size did not routinely make decisions about things of which they are nearly wholly ignorant, they would end up doing nothing at all. Why exactly Freiburg's City Council should refrain from exercising their ignorance in this particular matter is not at all clear - except if it is specifically to irritate the local FOSS partisans, in which case the decision deserves support, and the City Council - our admiration!

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Re: Decisions, Decisions, Decisions...

"If governments of every size did not routinely make decisions about things of which they are nearly wholly ignorant, they would end up doing nothing at all."

Sadly that is true and worse yet, most of us would be far better off if they did nothing at all. Far too much stupidity is performed under the "we have to do something!" rally cry.

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Headmaster

Odd that Freiburg means Freetown, nein?

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Joke

You mean the town shortly to be renamed...

Lizensiertberg?

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Pint

Re: You mean the town shortly to be renamed...

Licensed-berg. Good one.

I was going to go with Payberg.

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Headmaster

Re: You mean the town shortly to be renamed...

berg = mountain

burg = castle

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Re: You mean the town shortly to be renamed...

Oops. I spent so much time on the 'License' translation, I completely mis-copied the 'burg' :-(

Thumbs up for spotting my goof! ;-)

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I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me

The Excel clone is bizarrely slow when saving and loading and just a few days ago I did my first vlookup on it (something I do dozens of times a day at work) and I didn't get the results I was expecting. Did the same on pukka Excel 2003 and it worked. Can't understand it.

I like LO, or at least the idea of it, and it has actually helped me before, but unless in my experience is atypical then it's got a long way to go.

Anyone else find this? If it's just me I'll repro & file a bug report.

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Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me

That's odd. I just loaded 6 years worth of accounts into LO and it took just 3 seconds (including loading LO itself). What OS are you using?

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Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me

It's my experience (about 4 years out of date now, admittedly, but I haven't seen anything to make me think things have improved) that OpenOffice does *not* clone MS Office features. It appears to, but nearly always, when you look closely, there are subtle differences.

Not surprising, when you consider that there are subtle differences between MS Office's implementation of its own features. (For instance, if you apply a 'bullet list' using the shortcut on the 'Home' ribbon, the result is a different list style - even it if looks identical - from what happens if you do the same thing by changing the paragraph properties.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Excel clone

It's called a spreadsheet. There is no joke icon. So I can only guess that you have not been exposed to software.

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Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me

I've found it VERY slow when the computer has certain internet connections bizarrely enough

With my home wifi or ethernet it's very fast but at our holiday home (shared wifi) or other wifi or using a 3G dongle it hangs for quit a time before behaving normally - turn off the connection and it's fine.

I think it's a known issue but I can't find it at the mo'

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Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me

I like LO, or at least the idea of it, and it has actually helped me before, but unless in my experience is atypical then it's got a long way to go.

Unfortunately, it all has a long way to go. I've spent years trying to make do with various flavours of OO/etc on Windows and Linux, and none of it is quite right. Fine for basic stuff, but that's it. And, if you can be arsed to file a report, you'll probably get someone who says "it doesn't matter how MS did it, this is better, but I can't quite explain why".

Interesting that some of them kept Office 2000 as a back-up, which is what I do. This has clearly got nothing to do with the fact that it doesn't need to be registered.

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Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me - @Will Godfrey

Fully patched win2k8, bags of ram, 2.3 gig xeon dual core (not new but still nippy for me). No AV scanning to slow things down (no virii either, I run a fairly bare and reasonably locked down machine). Geriatric but very stable matrox 550 vid card. JBOD pair of server disks. World's dullest setup really.

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Re: The Excel clone - @AC 04:09

> It's called a spreadsheet. There is no joke icon.

I couldn't see much of A Point icon, either.

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Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me - @Will Godfrey

Try this. New LO workbook, write 1 in A1, 2 in A2, 3 in A3 then select the three cells and drag down to get numbers 1 to 10,000 in A1 to A10000.

Copy the A column onto a 2nd sheet, now go back to 1st sheet and do a vlookup from 1st to 2nd sheet, so in B1 on 1st sheet put

=VLOOKUP(A1, Sheet2.$A$1:$A$10000, 1, 0)

and double click cell corner to propagate it all the way down to B10000. You obviously get 2 columns with same number in each row (this is trivial stuff, it's meant to be).

Now save, close & reopen. It takes 17-18 seconds, most of this time with msg at screen bottom saying 'adjusting row height'.

Do same in proper excel 2003 and it loads instantly. How does that work for you?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me - @Will Godfrey

Better yet, save your .ods file from LO as a "Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP/2003 (.xls)" file, and that file loads instantly in LO. Resave that .XLS file as a "ODF spreadsheet (.ods)", and the (3rd generation) file sits there while it "adapts height row".

I want to prefer LO, but even as a non-power-user I find using LO to be a bit like a kid eating vegetables - "you don't have to like them, they're good for you".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I've got LO 3.6.1.2 installed and some of it doesn't impress me

"VERY slow when the computer has certain internet connections"

Been there, seen that.

A relative using LO (version forgotten, possibly irrelevant) had copied and pasted some stuff in which had ended up referencing stuff on t'Interweb. With no web connection at all, performance wasn't bad. With the net connected, it goes fetching all the links before the spreadsheet finishes loading, adding a substantial delay (and lots of unexpected network traffic).

Somewhere there are options to disconnect the external data sources.

Obviously Microsoft's version wouldn't behave like that would it. Would it?

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WTF?

Guess the ...

Microsoft salesman came calling with his special suck 'em in price list.

Happens all the time where open software gets a foothold.

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Anonymous Coward

Clueless is correct

The Pirate party is most definitely clueless as is the city council for going back to Microsucks Extortion, aka software.

Both parties deserve what they get - which will likely be booted out of office. Microsucks is laughing all the way to the bank. It's simply amazing to see how clueless all three entities are. Is this REALLY the best that we have for government leaders?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Clueless is correct @AC23:50

I doubt the voters are going to be as up in arms over the choice of office software as the FOSS advocates here are, to be honest. There are many more issues to government that that, and even if they are clueless about IT (there's nothing in the article to indicate that other than they haven't chosen what you want them to, nor that they've been bribed to do so) you have no grounds to assume they're incompetent in other areas. Interesting how the FOSS brigade, for all the "It's not about free software, it's about freedom of choice!" rants, generally whinge when people exercise their freedom of choice in another direction. With that and the hackneyed wordplays on Microsoft, why would anyone looking to make a reasoned decision listen to you?

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Good to see German council employees are just as good as wasting time and money as the UK ones are.

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PTR

Must admit, when I moved to OpenOffice, the first "project" I did was immensely frustrating.

It might be better now, but back then, it was a PITA to use. (2 years ago) I ended up buying (really!) Office 2010 student edition (wife was doing a part time degree)

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Yarr, we'll split the booty.

I'm sure they can find money for the budget by checking the council members pockets that have been lined.

Aren't most politicians pirates?

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Re: Yarr, we'll split the booty.

Aye to that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yarr, we'll split the booty.

This is very tedious, every time a politician makes a decision that doesn't meet with the approval of a commentator here, they're accused of taking bribes, rather than the more likely occurrence of having made their decision on the best information available.

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Boffin

Re: Re: Yarr, we'll split the booty.

".....rather than the more likely occurrence of having made their decision on the best information available." And that is the crux of the matter - the Greeniemeanies and the Pirate nonces are all running aournd screaming and whining, but they lost to MS because they failed to explain, in clear business terms, why OO/LO would be a better choice. Unfortunately, it's also likely that, having suffered the earlier version of OO/LO, there was no way they could convince them it was a better choice.

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Holmes

Perfectly understandable to anyone who's used both.

OO and LO have no concept of usability, UX, or UI, and no one advocating or advancing them, and are extremely frustrating for new office suite users and transitioning users alike, while Microsoft continually hones their originally horrible UI into a very usable one. I can understand the reasoning. Office 2003 was just as bad as OO/LO about finding something you need, but newer versions make advanced features more and more findable. Yet I keep LO on my laptop, out of pride and moral support more than anything, I suppose.

For big customers like a city that would most likely volume license, Office 2013 is already officially available and supported. They might as well jump straight to it. Consumers will get it with an SP1 or rollup package baked in once the early adopters work the kinks out.

I'm just glad they didn't go with that 365 crap.

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Office 2000? I wonder what else they are running?

PIII with 512 MB Ram, Windows 2000?

So will this be followed by "We are also going to buy all new computers"?

Oh, and our printers don't have drivers for Windows7.

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Anonymous Coward

OO and O

The corpies are forcing the overburdened workers here to switch to an emasculated underperforming version of OO (namely, Symphony). Most people install OO/LO and use that... once Office is expunged (sometimes, as a "patch apply" from IT... SURPRISE! Your productivity destroyed for a week, or two, or... while you port everything over!)

OO/LO writer are not even the equal of Word 2003 (if we want anything more advanced than 10yo software, we have to buy it with our shrinking pay packets and then sneak it onto our desktops). PowerPoint and Excel make the OO/LO equivalents into laughingstocks... and this is Office 2003 vs. the latest OO/LO. Word 2003 is better than the latest OO/LO Writer IMHO but I've been converting to OO Writer given the handwriting on the wall. There isn't a viable replacement for PowerPoint or Excel yet, at least not for a power user. Kinderfolk can use either one since neither will look any good at their skill level.

[So lets see... better pay/benefits working for government... better software... less working hours... tell me again why anyone is left working in private industry?]

Having said all that, I pine for the days of yesteryear and SGML, God's True Documentation Language.

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Re: OO and O

You make crippling PowerPoint sound like a bad thing. Personally I would hit PowerPoint with big sticks until it broke. If you can't present an idea on an OHP slide then it probably isn't worth dressing up with prepackaged themes and animations and inflicting it on an audience.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: OO and O

If you are a power user of PowerPoint then you are doing it wrong.

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They will from freiburger Microsoft-Orchester

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Anonymous Coward

LO and OO are well known for sucking, sucking hard, and not being able to hold a candle to MS Office, isn't that already a well established fact?!?

How is anyone, but the famously clueless open software advocates, surprised by this?

Sure, you can type out and print a term paper in OO. You might even manage to do so without missing MS Office too much.

But anything more complicated than that, or anything involving PowerPoint or Excel, or sharing files, and you're better off with MS Office. Especially if you don't like clunky, slow software.

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Anyhting involving PowerPoint is best left undone.

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And of course, like usually Open Software is its own worst nemesis...

If OO hadn't splintered into multiple versions of the same software (as open software projects has a tendency to do... Neck beards apparently can't collaborate that we'll) and Libre Office, maybe staying with it would have been a choice for Freiburg.. Instead the city got stuck with an old, unsupported version, making MS Office a more appealing choice...

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Stop

Fuck me if I'm wrong, but wasn't Office 2013 set to have a set XML based file structure that would remove the formatting issues between it and OSS competitors? I may have dreamt it, but it would seem the council in question has shot itself in the foot if so.

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Terminator

Let me get this straight...

They are using a really old version of the software, which is rubbish, so the solution is to migrate to a different platform rather than upgrade?

OOo isn't as good as MSO, but this is local government we're talking about. Fancy presentation animations are not required. No all the stuff that had been migrated to OOo will have to be rewritten for MSO.

I smell a free lunch that was bought for somebody.

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