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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Commercially clueless as well as technically clueless

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

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    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!

  3. frank ly Silver badge

    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?

    1. ElReg!comments!Pierre Silver badge

      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...

      1. David Ward 1

        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.

        1. Jon Press

          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.

    2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      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.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Coat

        You *have* to have a ribbon.

        What else will the mayor cut?

        1. John Angelico
          Thumb Up

          Re: You *have* to have a ribbon.

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

    3. Chimp

      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.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        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.

  4. Turtle

    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!

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      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.

  5. proto-robbie
    Headmaster

    Odd that Freiburg means Freetown, nein?

    1. LaeMing Silver badge
      Joke

      You mean the town shortly to be renamed...

      Lizensiertberg?

      1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
        Pint

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

        Licensed-berg. Good one.

        I was going to go with Payberg.

        1. Captain Hogwash Silver badge
          Headmaster

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

          berg = mountain

          burg = castle

          1. LaeMing Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            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! ;-)

  6. BlueGreen

    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.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      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?

      1. BlueGreen

        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.

      2. BlueGreen

        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?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          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".

    2. veti Silver badge

      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.)

    3. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. BlueGreen

        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.

    4. Chemist

      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'

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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?

    5. Displacement Activity

      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.

  7. JaitcH
    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.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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?

  9. mark l 2 Silver badge

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

  10. 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)

  11. mIRCat

    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?

    1. YARR
      Pirate

      Re: Yarr, we'll split the booty.

      Aye to that.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      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.

      1. Matt Bryant Silver badge
        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.

  12. foxyshadis
    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.

  13. Tom 35 Silver badge

    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.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      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.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: OO and O

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

  15. Pablo@vr.cl

    They will from freiburger Microsoft-Orchester

  16. Anonymous Coward
    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.

    1. Admiral Grace Hopper

      Anyhting involving PowerPoint is best left undone.

  17. Anons anon

    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...

  18. ZeroP
    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.

  19. P. Lee Silver badge
    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.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arguments are lame

    Sorry but I don't buy any of those arguments. The only one that likely has some ground on reality is the sharing with other partners. But this has an easy solution: if you want to be a partner of this city, install OO on your machine. It's free and a download away, and if your corporate policy does not allow that I'm sure that they will be able to find more flexible partners. Problem solved.

    As for functionality missing from OO/LO, there are business out there that live perfectly well with something as simple as Google docs. Last time I checked, OO/LO was roughly at Office 2000 level of functionality (except in the Access lookalike that was terrible) So how this city was even able to function 10 years ago without all the advanced features they needed (hint: none) but were not in Office 2000?

    So if they want to move to Office, fine. Don't pretend that the these excuses are going to pass.

    1. Displacement Activity

      Re: Arguments are lame

      I use Office 2000 (just Word and Excel) and various flavours of OO/LO, and have done for years, and it's a sad fact that O2000 is much better. I'm not talking about basic documents and adding up a few numbers in a spreadsheet; I'm talking about 100-page docs with complex TOCs, cross-referencing, footnotes, and so on, and complex spreadsheets that actually do something clever, short of macros and database access.

      If OO/LO could match O2000 they would be wildly successful; I can't see that the MS products actually added anything of any value after 2000 (apart from bug fixes).

      1. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Arguments are lame

        It's funny that, because in my experience Word is really, really bad with big or complex documents. I have on several occasions needed to use Open/LibreOffice to rescue documents created in Word but which no version of Word would open any more.

        In addition to that, Word can sometimes for no apparent reason start messing formatting around part-way through a document, or reset numbering in inexplicable ways.

        OpenOffice is far from perfect but in most cases does the job passably - the UI is vastly superior to recent versions of MS Office too. Personally for writing documentation or pretty much anything more complex than a single-page letter, I use LyX which was great ten years ago and is even better today.

  21. Roger Greenwood
    Pint

    A year (and a bit) is a long time for software

    https://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/de-freiburg-open-source-office-three-four-times-cheaper

    "Submitted by Gijs HILLENIUS on January 28, 2011

    Rating: 0/5 (based on 1 votes) | 1078 reads

    DE: Freiburg: open source office three to four times cheaper

    Moving to the open source suite of office applications OpenOffice is three to four times cheaper than using a proprietary alternative, according to figures presented by the German city of Freiburg. "

    http://joinup.ec.europa.eu/news/lacking-support-other-administrations-freiburg-ends-use-open-source-office

    "Submitted by Gijs HILLENIUS on May 16, 2012

    Rating: 2/5 (based on 1 votes) | 1553 reads

    Lacking support from other administrations, Freiburg ends use of open source office

    The German city of Freiburg will end its use of OpenOffice, an open source office suite, and go back to a proprietary office suite, according to one well-informed source. The source blames a lack of support for open document standards by other local, regional, federal and European public administrations as the main reason for the failure of the project."

    I also suspect somone ate a lot of free scampy, and maybe drank beer.

  22. Himalayaman
    Holmes

    Free not really free?

    What a shocker. Nobody saw that one coming.

    1. C-N
      Linux

      Re: Free not really free?

      Of course not. Could have bought a lot of hand holding and a file format fixer or two for 600k I expect.

  23. Danny 14 Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I cant really say im surprised

    We used to use open office. We ran OO2.6 and office 2003 in parallel to wean people off MS. The problem is, in the old days you could simply copy a few settings files to make a uniform OO appearance and set up clients on the domain. With the new OO and LO it is increasingly harder to set uniform configs. The forums are downright hostile to small businesses wanting to have a domain rollout esq of LO or OO asking for help on how to do such things. With MS office you simply set a few well documented GPOs and that is done.

    Cant blame them to be honest. I really like LO and OO but without easy ways to setting and changing configs quickly it is useless to smaller companies who dont have huge amounts of IT staff.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm I can't say I disagree with the town councils decision. Now before I get bashed about hating OpensSource or something else ridiculous I will point out that 44 out of 46 servers here are Debian or CentOS based. Anyway my point is that when we tried to move new users on to OpenOffice we encountered a number of issues which meant the total cost of office was far cheaper than OO. Open source stuff is not a golden bullet an every product should be evaluated with total cost involved (including training).

    1: Users are difficult to train, simple tasks took them a lot longer even after a few months of use - so high training cost

    2: Those that wrote their own Macros for Excel now had to do a bunch of manual tasks - takes longer so costs staff time (therefore money)

    3: The helpdesk spent a lot of time supporting OpenOffice - so costs support time better doing something else

    4: No one who came for an interview out of IT ever used OpenOffice - training from scratch

    5: A Copy of office 2010 OEM costs us £115 ex vat so over 3 years (longer as we dont have a fixed PC refresh) it costs us under £40 a year - which looking at the

    Its all about selecting the right products on the right agreement for the right job with MS. For example we looked at the MS subscription options for our PCs and found that we would have to rent MS Office pro, well whats the point in that when no one here uses access with the exception of abut 5 people? Equally why tie yourself in to using MS Server when all you wanted was a simple file server?

    1. eulampios

      something actual besides "get the facts"?

      Any specific examples/reasons for your conclusions? It also be nice to see what exactly was it so difficult for the users to get used to OO/LO?

      As far as #2 is concerned, the mentioned folks that wrote the macros using proprietary dialect of Basic should have known better. Suggest them learning some better, more powerful, cross-platform, yet easier scripting languages like Perl or Python.

  25. MR J

    My kids school puts papers online that have been generated in Microsoft Publisher....

    The biggest issue is that everyone wants a "Microsoft Office" interface, they cant cope with options being slightly different for the same result in the end. So far both schools my kids have gone to have included "IT" classes that teach computer skills.. These skills are "How to use Microsoft Office" and "How to use Internet Explorer"..

    My schools IT system (for the office) uses a mix of Office 97, Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2010, If they were to make the move to a "free" Office then at least they could update and not use software that is 10+ years old. If your staff are too dumb to be able to use OO/LibreOffice/ApacheOffice then should they really be doing all the backend work for a buisness?

    1. foxyshadis

      I agree that LO makes a great free & easy replacement for Office up to 2003, especially for kids, who are more adaptable and use a much smaller subset of features. Unfortunately, they were at Office 2003 parity in 2006, and they're still at Office 2003 parity; even if lots of bugs have been fixed and the whole suite significantly sped up, the user still sees the same old decade-and-a-half-old interface.

      They really need to dump that horrible Java-based Access clone with HSQLDB and remake it with a SQLite backend, which would be faster, simpler, and so much easier to use. That would instantly make LO the best SQLite administrator around, as a side benefit.

      At least Apache is gearing up for huge modern rewrites, which Sun, the engineer's paradise, would never do.

  26. James Gosling
    Megaphone

    Pathetic!

    How pathetic! And isn't it funny how people compare an out-dated version of the product they want to dump to the new version of the product they want? Almost as if they've already made their minds up. A public body like this should have to demonstrate/justify a change which is going to cost tax-payers money. This is not the way forward for public organizations, which I believe have a duty to use more cost effective products wherever possible. Particularly in this age of austerity!

  27. Phil Koenig

    OO and LO - meh, not so much

    Like many other commenters here, I *wanted* to like OO/LO. And I'm not a very sophisticated office productivity user.

    But in addition to the disastrous formatting disparities when trying to share docs/files with people elsewhere that are using the MS products, just doing basic tasks was wrought with bugs and peril, in my limited experience. Things didn't work the way they claimed, help was not available, etc. And some tools (like the presentation thingy, forget what it's called) are extremely rudimentary functionality-wise. This was with version 3.4.x I believe.

    That said, there are actually tons of other low-priced commercial office productivity suites out there. It's not as if there are only 2 choices, OO/LO and Microsoft.

    FWIW, I also keep a copy of LO on one of my laptops, for simple tasks and sentimental reasons, but if I have to do any sort of serious work, I'm afraid I revert to MSO 2010.

    1. eulampios

      Re: OO and LO - meh, not so much

      any *actual* bugs/deficiencies you wanna cite here? As far as your MSOffice-can't-read-my-odf ordeal is concerned, please file a bug report to some MS website.

      1. Phil Koenig

        Re: OO and LO - meh, not so much

        TBH I put it behind me and moved on and don't remember the details right now.

        As far as format compatibility - if you claim to be compatible, be compatible. Don't pretend to open the file, perform a ROT13 on the content and then proclaim "But see, we opened it!"

        There were things ie in the spreadsheet or writer app where it says "Do X, and Y will happen", so I do X, and then either Y doesn't happen, or instead I get D(*FUDJFDF.

        I will try to find my notes on it.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Devil

    It was to be expected...

    In fact; I even predicted that I'd be impressed the very moment this situation would last for a few years in the very same article by El Reg. Because now they've not been so keen with saving money by moving to an OSS environment, they've actually been wasting a whole lot of the taxpayers money. Great work!

    I think the cause of the problem is twofold.

    First, I think their main problem was that they went "OSS because....". They didn't look into their situation to pick the best tool for the job, no, instead they heard a magic word called "open source" and so they went "open source" because it would save them lots of money. That's bound to fail. Go open source because its the best or a good tool for the job, don't go open source only because you want to in order to 'save money'.

    Open source isn't a magical environment which can save all your problems.

    Second, and I think many people overlook this, is inter operability. Sure; when I compare MS Word 2010 to LibreOffice Writer then they can pretty well go head to head. I never did bother with a one on one comparison because I'm not that interested, because both environments have their strengths and their weak spots.

    However... While the LibreOffice components (Writer, Sheet, etc.) work excellent individually they can't match the interoperability which is available with MS Office 2010 at this time. They're getting there, but not quite yet. Meaning? I have an address list which sits in Outlook, and I want to write a letter in Word. I can easily setup a template which can retrieve the information straight from Outlook and use it immediately in Word.

    I can have an Excel sheet embedded in Word (I know L.O. can do this too) but in a way that it will remain up to date with the information in the Excel sheet itself (this feature I'm not too sure off). But once again; there's also nothing stopping me from setting up a routine which utilizes the Excel sheet as a sort of database to retrieve the info from there and automatically set it up in Word.

    And that's only talking inter-operability within Office. This is a setup standard in Windows, not merely Office. Meaning? If I want to control Acrobat from within Word I can since Acrobat provides the APIs for it, if I want to setup a smart document which needs to check the kind of printers I can; it has an API for it, if I want to get registry access from within Office to connect Office to a 3rd party program (information exchange) then I can because there are APIs for it.

    THAT is the kind of inter operability which currently isn't present within L.O.

    For personal use all of this is major overhead; but for business use it can help you setup constructions which can save hours and hours of work; thus /really/ spare a whole lot of money.

    Let me be very clear here: This fail isn't an Open Source fail, not in the very least. Its a bunch of politicians who heard the magic word without having a frickin' clue what they were talking about.

    My hope is that the German taxpayers won't stand for this; this is a huge waste of the taxpayers money....

  29. MJI Silver badge

    Is there a decent wordprocessor

    Using Orifice 2000 at home - works OK

    Use a ribbon infected POS at work as I have W7 - nightmare.

    Is there a modern version of Winword 2000?

    DO NOT TELL ME TO LEARN RIBBON!

    I have MUCH more important things to do, like working.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there a decent wordprocessor

      This is weird, ranty rubbish, but there are addons that give you the old menu structure.

      You could have at least tried searching for such a thing.

      Here's a free one: http://www.ubit.ch/software/ubitmenu-languages

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Is there a decent wordprocessor

        Wordmenus - still slower than an older version

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is there a decent wordprocessor

      Yes, I have work to do as well. That's why I only use DOS for everything I do, I won't learn anything else, because it will just take up valuable time.

      Seriously though: If you are working so hard that you don't have enough time to learn new things, there's a pretty big problem. I do suspect, that you aren't really working that hard and just don't want to learn something new, which you looked at for five minutes and decided that you didn't like.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Work to do - unlike you!

        Yes if I am going to spend time learning something, it is going to be something usefull.

        I am a senior programmer and writing documents is not that important, but needs to be done. I do not want to have to fight the SP, I just want to use it.

        It took me 3 years to get properly up to speed in windows programming to the stage I was as comfortable as I was in DOS environments.

        So which is the least important of the below. My current list

        C++

        JSON

        More SQL

        XML

        look at .NET

        Try out Linux

        Ribbon menus

        Yes the effing stupid word menus, I have enough on my plate than to spend days learning a package I only use occasionally. Probably stick to using HTML in Notepad for pretty documents.

        Lets think learn ribbon sodding menus or an interesting and exciting operating system?

    3. Phil Koenig

      Re: Is there a decent wordprocessor

      Office 2003 also is not inflicted with the ribbon. That started in Office 2007.

      I thought the email exchange posted by the Reg 1-2 days ago, by the Microsoftie who was arguing w/ Sinofsky about sticking the stupid ribbon onto Windows Explorer, was very entertaining. ;)

      As far as other alternatives, look here:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_office_suites

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_office_suites

    4. Luke 12

      Re: Is there a decent wordprocessor

      Obvious troll is obvious.

      If you are a programmer and have that many problems with a GUI interface, you really should stay away from the keyboard.

      1. MJI Silver badge

        Re: Is there a decent wordprocessor

        No I am pretty good, been a professional for over 25 years.

        TBH I would be happy just using Wordstar! Office 2000 was fine, just find ribbon interfaces totally counter intuitive, change for changes sake, not for improvement.

        I sticking with a file edit menu, pushbuttons with clear labels and righ click menus. Our large SOP system is easier to teach than a sodding word processor!

  30. Randy Hudson

    Even the folks LibreOffice agree

    Why else would they have posted an open letter to the city as a PDF? http://blog.documentfoundation.org/2012/11/16/open-letter-to-the-city-of-freiburg/

    1. MR J

      Re: Even the folks LibreOffice agree

      LibreOffice can save as PDF, so I am not sure what your saying. Unless Microsoft Office has c hanged recently I don't think it can?

      While PDF is not quite "GNU" style Free, It is widely supported on Phones, Tablets, All forms of PC, Even my TV can support PDF Viewing. I suggest to everyone I see to publish as PDF. It also makes tampering with documents a little bit of a pain for those with no real computer skills.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Even the folks LibreOffice agree

      OffenerBriefFreiburg.pdf made with LibreOffice 3.6 ...

    3. eulampios
      Facepalm

      Re: Even the folks LibreOffice agree

      Because, what if the addressees complain "My Windows doesn't know how to open this file? Is it a virus? Gehen sie zum Toufel!" .

      PDF is (mainly) open and the defacto standard document format. It most BTW does not depend on the renderer (except for some extra bloat Adobe is trying to add into it).

      It goes other way around, it is amazing when every idiot assumes that everyone else is also using MS Windows and MSO crap like he/she does.

  31. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    Sounds to me like the clueless ones are the people mindlessly pushing a "solution" without clearly understanding the business needs or the software capabilities and issues.

    "People don't use alternative software because they are dumb". A cry as old as Linux and sadly in no danger of being replaced by something more piquant and useful.

    I use both MSOffice and OpenOffice. OpenOffice is no replacement for MSOffice if you actually need an office suite as opposed to a glorified typewriter and calculator (ie what most IT staff use it for). It can be used instead of MSOffice if the needs do not call for the advanced capabilities of MSOffice. The only way to tell if this is the case is to do a proper business analysis of the customer's needs and then make an honest assessment.

    This battleground wasn't won by Microsoft from where I'm sitting, it was lost by those campaigning for the alternative.

    1. eulampios

      @Stevie

      Can you please elucidate and cite the "advanced capabilities" of MSO. I am wondering , in particular, if those advancements can match those of GNU Emacs? Say this taken-for-granted incremental search, grep-mode, tramp or an RPC calc-mode (or embedded), dir-mode, extensible code highlighting, calendar, shell command on (the region),or-mode,(auc)tex-mode, and tons of other embedded environments? Visual Studio is no match to all that as well, BTW

      So, what is so special about MSO rather than, as we were told, "it reads and writes in it's own proprietary overcomplicated format"? Duh

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    microsoft probably gave them a free 10 year deal to get them re-hooked... at least id hope, thats all people gota do really.. then it becomes free or goes away.

  33. DanceMan

    €600,000

    I'm ignorant of the costs involved, but would half of this paid for support to an upgrade to current LO, and the other half bought some developers to write in more of the needed capability to LO?

  34. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Why an "Office" Suite?

    I use several word processors choosing the one that has the features I need for the project I am doing. If I am doing something that needs a mix of text, spreadsheets and graphics, I typically use Ragtime. Ragtime is a sleeper app that has been around for years and lives up to it's billing as a "Business Documents" program. I generally save files in .rtf and send out product as .pdf's. There are many alternatives to MSO that aren't "Office" suites. I have had excellent luck in productivity software by choosing independent packages that are good at what they do. It seems that almost all of the alternatives will read and write several different formats and can be compatible with almost every other office application. Even MSO. Software vendors know that they have to be compatible in some way with the major players. If you want software that doesn't play nice from vendor to vendor, get into CAD/CAM. I'll save that rant for another day.

  35. Simon B
    Pirate

    Can't wait for them to use Office 2013 and go WTF is this?!! IT looks nowt like Office 2000 !! and then realise they prefer Open Office, maybe :)

  36. Bernd Felsche
    Mushroom

    Office suite?

    My guess is that the vast majority of computer users don't actually need a word processor or spreadsheet. They probably don't appreciate that they are wasting time and effort. Nor do their lords and masters, by and large. They simply do things like that because they do things like that.

    In fact, those systems can work against the efficient and effective management and collection of data as each piece of information becomes an orphaned island, soon forgotten and frequently backed up.

    Word processors take time to learn... but most people aren't trained and/or get away with poor practices such as using spaces and blank lines to achieve the "look" that they want for a document.

    Spreadsheets? Yeah ... a swill of unauditable calculations and undocumented formulae that blow up in the face of the third user down the "pass the spreadsheet bomb" chain.

    Nope. The pervasive problem is one of managing data and business processes so that users can get on with doing work instead of futzing about and "programming" without; judging by the results; the training or the aptitude.

    Get a proper ERP system with the necessary plugins configured for all you form letters, etc (it's called "CRM", but you don't have to use it just for customers) so that all significant data originates and is managed within the ERP system and its database(s). The outcome is that documents issued have a consistent look, with key information correlated to other relevant enterprise data. ANYBODY with appropriate access rights can then see e.g. correspondence against other activity with the external and internal parties.

    Then PAY some COMPETENT experts to analyse the enterprise's objectives and business processes; make changes to tailor the ERP system to the enterprise and change business processes to make the most of what computers can do best.

    The whole "office suite" thing for corporations reeks of the mentality of treating each document on its own and not part of the information trove for the enterprise. Paying Microsoft (or anybody else for that matter) a licence fee will do nothing to improve the operational efficiency of Freiburg Council. Their hopes won't be enough.

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