back to article Oh dear, Microsoft: UK.gov signs deal with LibreOffice

The government has signed a deal for open source Libre Office to be made available across the public sector, in what looks like an attempt to "nudge" mandarins off Microsoft Office. The open source software deal, which is being provided by one of the open sourcer's partners, Collabora GovOffice, is apparently intended to " …

  1. msknight Silver badge

    Some segments of government have systems that need a local version of an office suite, so cloud isn't always an easy option. Microsoft's heavy push to cloud systems is doing its image no good and is giving mixed messages, publicly forcing people over to cloud, but telling corporates, "Don't worry, we'll look after you."

    This is probably the very beginning of the end for Office; but it will be years in the death, IMHO

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Yes I can see it now:

      You want Open Office?

      No - I need an office version that actually works.

      What do you mean?

      Well does it run my Macros?

      Well, er, no.

      Does it run my Addins?

      Well, er, no.

      Does it have equivalents to Outlook, OneNote, Lync, Project and Visio?

      Well, er, no.

      Does it integrate with SharePoint?

      Well, er, no.

      Does it support Digital Rights Management for all those secure government documents?

      Well, er, no.

      So it's utterly useless for me then.

      Well it 's OK for really basic users.

      They already have Wordpad and Calculator.

      1. DanDanDan

        Each and every one of your points can be solved without Microsoft lock-in, and are issues with any software migration. The fact that MS make it so much harder to migrate than other solutions is the main reason I can see for making the transition ironically.

        Macros are barely even compatible between Office versions, so I don't really see that as a strong point. I usually see macros being used by people who don't know how databases work to perform functions (using a lot more code) that a database could do in a jiffy.

        Without you going into specifics of what addins you use, it's tricky to say much more.

        Sharepoint has terrible lock-in and could be replaced by a number of collaborative software solutions.

        DRM for secure govt documents? How would DRM help? Honestly.

        I'd argue that Libre Office is ok for advanced users, who know what tool to use for which job, but really basic people users should probably stick to what they know and let the world overtake them with more powerful, scaleable, transferable, automatable, open solutions.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Each and every one of your points can be solved without Microsoft lock-in, and are issues with any software migration"

          Yes, you can spend a fortune migrating to a zoo of incompatible products with a poor user experience, or you can have one solution from Microsoft that just works.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            " or you can have one solution from Microsoft that just works."

            Ah, if only they had one !

            1. Soruk
              Joke

              Microsoft Works

              ...Hah, yeah right.

              The only thing Microsoft Works did was prove that the Trades Description Act didn't apply to computer software.

          2. Maventi

            "Yes, you can spend a fortune migrating to a zoo of incompatible products with a poor user experience"

            Integrating independent products that are standards-based and well-documented is often very straightforward. That's the job of a competent sysadmin.

            "or you can have one solution from Microsoft that just works."

            That sometimes works. With a massive intertwined series of dependencies on each other, such that you get forced into concurrently upgrading them in order for them to work with each other, and then find that some features you used to rely on have been deprecated at the whim of the vendor with little alternative available. And upgrading the hairball that is SharePoint requires very expensive help if you want any hope of it ever working in future.

            Trust me, I've spent two decades working in both environments. The MS way is a quick win with likely pain down the road.

            Spending time properly integrating disparate products that each do their job well and comply with open standards where possible usually results in a much more stable and usable long term solution. And if it's well thought out in advance, it becomes very easy to swap any one component out for another if it no longer meets your needs. That's possibly the biggest single failing of the trap that is the Microsoft ecosystem - their products have never been designed to play well in a heterogeneous environment.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "Integrating independent products that are standards-based and well-documented is often very straightforward. "

              In theory until it isn't - and then you need to try and get a fix between multiple products - where the only support is often posting to a forum! And the end user experience nearly always sucks.

              "That's the job of a competent sysadmin."

              No, that should be the job of a competent systems architect. Leaving that type of decision to a sysadmin usually leads to a broken zoo of stuff.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "With a massive intertwined series of dependencies on each other, such that you get forced into concurrently upgrading them in order for them to work with each other"

              Which is ten times worse when trying to integrate products from different sources / vendors. A single vendor solution is a much lower risk here.

              1. Maventi

                "A single vendor solution is a much lower risk here."

                So putting all your eggs in one basket is good risk management now? That's certainly something you will only ever hear from sales folk.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  "So putting all your eggs in one basket is good risk management now?"

                  If it's a 'better basket' as we are discussing here, then yes absolutely.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          They might be solvable by non MS products but the truth is that the current alternatives DON'T solve those issues. I've regularly used both over many years and I wouldn't dream of trying to re-engineer LibreOffice into an organisation without being very well prepared for the costs and disruption it would bring for quite a number of years.

          Whilst LibreOffice FOLLOWS the innovation set by MS Office, I doubt it will ever be a realistic alternative for the vast majority of people and organisations. If it stops following and begins its own path of innovation then it might be possible. There are certainly plenty of things that could easily be improved in an Office suite. But truthfully, LibreOffice is, for the most part, a more difficult to use alternative. Even my kids, who have no background in MS Office, still find it easier to navigate and get things done that LibreOffice (which is what I make them have on their computers!)

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "DRM for secure govt documents? How would DRM help? Honestly."

          What?! Do you even know what it does?

          With DRM I could prevent you accessing the document unless your machine and configuration met my standards for security. Indeed, I could prevent you accessing at all unless you were in a secure environment using a designated id. I could allow you access for a specific period. I could stop you printing it or sharing it.....

          1. Maventi

            "With DRM I could prevent you accessing the document unless your machine and configuration met my standards for security. Indeed, I could prevent you accessing at all unless you were in a secure environment using a designated id. I could allow you access for a specific period. I could stop you printing it or sharing it....."

            That sort of stuff sounds great on paper but rarely works well in practice, especially with users who don't understand it properly (which is most of them).

            In reality, the helpdesk gets involved wasting costly hours sorting issues where Sarah can't print her document she needs because Bruce in his ignorance though it might be a good idea to turn that off, while crafty Alex decides to whip out the smartphone and take a photo of the screen instead which then gets automatically OCRed by Evernote and stored goodness-knows-where. But at least the information can now be printed.

            DRM serves little purpose but to create headaches, because ultimately the final interface to the human being (e.g. display) stays just as weak as ever.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              "That sort of stuff sounds great on paper but rarely works well in practice, especially with users who don't understand it properly (which is most of them)."

              It works very well and is supported across the entire product suite including Office, Exchange, Sharepoint, mobile clients and Office 365 and many third party products.. It's on about it's 4th generation now. It can for instance with the 'bring your own certificates' option stop the NSA / USA accessing your Office 365 content from outside of the EU...

              "In reality, the helpdesk gets involved wasting costly hours sorting issues where Sarah can't print her document she needs because Bruce in his ignorance though it might be a good idea to turn that off"

              No they don't - the DRM client makes it clear that Bruce turned it off. There is near zero helpdesk overhead - from someone who has implemented Microsoft AD RMS in more than one company.

              "while crafty Alex decides to whip out the smartphone and take a photo of the screen instead which then gets automatically OCRed by Evernote and stored goodness-knows-where"

              That's why you don't permit personal mobile devices in secure locations, and lock down the corporate ones...And make doing that a fireable offence.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: DRM for secure government documents

                I suspect unless you've had cause to design solutions for or work in specific agencies/government departments over the years you would not of have come across these products. Hence why few will even understand or appreciate why they exist.

                The problem is that it is a relatively small market which only really came to the fore in the late 90's, when Microsoft Office was practically the only game in town, so these products have largely grown on the back of MS Office desktop and server products. I suspect until there is demand for something different, these products will continue to be tightly integrated with the MS platform. Hence I think this announcement from UK.gov is more about opening up possible futures (ie. post Jan-2020) than the here-and-now, so expect these products to now start including LibreOffice on their development roadmap.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Interesting that you've been voted down here. Odd. In fact, you've hit the nail (or rather several nails) on the head!

        Whilst I am certainly an Open Source supporter, the office suite for large complex organisations is the very LAST place to be messing around.

        It amazes me that nobody bothers to do the work to understand the actual cost. The loss of productivity, the cost of retraining, the higher support requirements, etc. that dog such initiatives. Even the likes of Munich and some South American countries that have managed successful implementations of Open/Libre Office have taken years to complete and even then rarely if ever actually manage to do so fully.

        Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to see a realistic competitor to Microsoft Office but the cost of licensing is peanuts compared to the other costs involved. It CAN be done but it isn't a cheap option and it will cause massive disruption to the business - be ready for that.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "It CAN be done but it isn't a cheap option and it will cause massive disruption to the business - be ready for that."

          But that is precisely the lock-in that MS has created. Years of investment, both time and money, training people, creating complex interaction and yes, special macro functions. Yeah, it might be cheaper short term to stay with the lock-in rather than change, but MS love to talk about total cost of ownership. They conveniently forget to mention the massive investment already made by organisations in the MS products and infrastructure when comparing a move to open source.

          Now, I'm not saying that OpenOffice or any other open source sw is ideal, or even better in all circumstances, but the long term total cost of ownership is not necessarily as high as many people seem to think after the initial investment in a switch over.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "This is probably the very beginning of the end for Office; but it will be years in the death" - Don't know how you can even begin to posit that from the announcement.

      This will have very little bearing on the number of installations of MS Office across government.

      1. patch67

        Microsoft just raised prices in UK by 20% separate to UK pound falling by 20%.

        Government seriously needs to save money and MS Office is not the only show in town.

        Massive price hikes vs free.

        LibreOffice gets more attractive by the day.

  2. Bc1609

    WTF is that picture?

    Nuff said.

    1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

      Re: WTF is that picture?

      Improve your life instantly by blocking regmedia.co.uk.

    2. Horridbloke
      Mushroom

      Re: WTF is that picture?

      Looks like somebody's remaking Max Headroom.

      (Icon coz of the blipverts.)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: WTF is that picture?

        Outlook is the sole reason we use office (it is just as cheap to license outlook for us as it is office). Our WinOS, CALS and office are bundled together as part of our core desktop license bundle (office is effectively free when we do this).

        If it wasn't for the reliance on outlook then we would be down the road too - I at least have LO installed alongside as the DEFAULT in hopes that people will use it more. Unfortunately I haven't found a way around outlook (without resorting to individual email, communicator/lync/skype, task, calendar apps)

  3. Stuart 22

    Which part of free is not-free?

    "The government has signed a deal for open source Libre Office to be made available across the public sector"

    A deal implies money. It would be interesting to know what the government is paying for and how much. I know it isn't a cost free exercise but it would be good for everybody to understand what the savings would be.

    On a secondary note it will be a wonderful day when government (local & national) documents arrive in an open rather proprietorial format.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Which part of free is not-free?

      There will be a lot of work in the background. MSO is rolled out through office customisation tool, there isn't an alternative for LO. The only way I could get a mass rollout of LO with all the settings was a simple GPO with the MSI and a lot of .INI hacking later, perhaps someone has an enterprise LO solution (similar to the old open office enterprise suite you could buy).

      All the documents I get from government (mainly local) tend to be PDFs anyway.

      Outlook is not so easily replaced, granted you can use OWA to a very high level but it isn't as slick as outlook.

      1. patch67

        Re: Which part of free is not-free?

        Moved users away from Outlook to Google Docs for Education.

        No complaints, Google calendar is way better.

        Moved users away from IE to choice of Firefox or Chrome user choice no complaints.

        Users are more savvy than they used to e switching between Iphones, Andoids and Windows they've got used to being adaptable.

        Not sure if they'll all go for LibreOffice but it certainly play a role in my org. I refuse to pay MS £12,000 every 5 years for Office.

    2. AdamWill

      Re: Which part of free is not-free?

      Implementation and support deal with Collabora, basically. You can follow Michael Meeks, an LO dev who is involved in the whole thing:

      https://people.gnome.org/~michael/blog/

      if, er, you don't mind the constant updates about going to church. Read the ones like http://www.gnome.org/~michael/blog/2015-10-20.html .

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Which part of free is not-free?

      "On a secondary note it will be a wonderful day when government (local & national) documents arrive in an open rather proprietorial format."

      Microsoft Office is by far the best Open Document Format client that there is at the moment. The first thing it asks you is what file format do you want to use...

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Which part of free is not-free?

        The first thing it asks you is what file format do you want to use...

        and the first thing it advises you, when you propose to save a document using any format other than the latest MS docx is that formatting may be lost and so choose a different format, such as docx...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Which part of free is not-free?

          "and the first thing it advises you, when you propose to save a document using any format other than the latest MS docx is that formatting may be lost and so choose a different format, such as docx..."

          No it doesn't suggest that you use docx. It just warns you that some features might not be supported, together with a never show me this crap again tickbox...

  4. WylieCoyoteUK
    Facepalm

    Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

    Funny how so many people on-line seem to rely on obscure macros, plugins and fonts.

    Or is it just those that post comments?

    To be honest, probably for 75% or more of users, LO is more than adequate.

    1. mdava

      Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

      The thing is, compatibility is the issue.

      I, and many others, would immediately adopt LO as our sole office suite except for the fact that 99% of businesses use MS and compatibility is not perfect. I get that this is MS's fault (intention), but if it means that documents can't be shared and worked on without issues arising, then MS defends its position.

      IMHO MS's office stranglehold is a far greater strength than the OS.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        And as a result, other business software tends (tends, mark you!) to be designed to work with MS Office integration as the first choice for interaction.

        1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          Agreed. I wish the OCR software I use would feed into Libre Office.

          PS What have El Reg done to their system today?? Stop messing us about, will you!

          1. patch67

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            That's the point of the gov adopting ODF as the standard it pushed suppliers to consider ODF rather than DOC. Anyone vying for gov contracts will have to make OCT stuff that works with ODF.

            MS is so dominant it will take a government to break that monopoly and a move such as this will hurt Microsoft.

      2. Bert 1
        Thumb Down

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        I tried Libre Office for a while.

        Opening repeatedly with LO and MS Office and using tracked changes in both, results in a document neither can read after a very very short time. This is saving in docx format.

        Until everyone (whole world) moves, it is a risk I can't take.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          Opening repeatedly with LO and MS Office and using tracked changes in both, results in a document neither can read after a very very short time. This is saving in docx format.

          I would avoid the XML format altogether - even MS can't make them work properly. We've been using .doc for years now If exchanging with customers and never had a problem (internally we use ODF now). We have one (1) MS Office license which we use for conversions if we need absolute fidelity in reproduction, but that's rather rare.

      3. P. Lee Silver badge

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        >IMHO MS's office stranglehold is a far greater strength than the OS.

        +1

        EMail replacement is easy, group calendaring is a bit harder though Collabra should sort that out, Visio replacement is pretty much a non-starter as far as I can tell.

        LO isn't anywhere near as strong as Excel. I'd like to see some large corps/govs clubbing together to request and fund LO features.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          @ P.Lee "EMail replacement is easy, group calendaring is a bit harder though Collabra should sort that out, Visio replacement is pretty much a non-starter as far as I can tell."

          Collabra server? I though that had died years back.

          But I agree the thorny items in the MS Office suite to replace are Outlook (email, group calendaring and PIM) and Visio. Although I think the Calligra project with Flow is making a good attempt at providing a Visio replacement. As to Outlook/Exchange, the question is probably how comfortable are you with projects/products such as Zimbra.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            As to Outlook/Exchange, the question is probably how comfortable are you with projects/products such as Zimbra.

            Ugh, used that. No thanks. I'm not even sure that really is still Open Source - wasn't that both by Yahoo or something? I also saw something fly past lately about OpenXchange ("OX"), but I have used that too for a couple of years and I was never very impressed with either the product or the support.

        2. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          LO isn't anywhere near as strong as Excel. I'd like to see some large corps/govs clubbing together to request and fund LO features.

          Funnily enough, that is exactly what the German government did when it wanted something - best use of tax money ever IMHO as it directly benefits the common good. It gave us GPG and Kolab. Not sure what they're up to now, but giving LO some funding would not be a bad idea.

        3. Robert Baker
          Flame

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          LO isn't anywhere near as strong as Excel.

          I sometimes use Excel for working on very large spreadsheets. Libre Office Calc is useless for this because it lacks the vitally important navigation feature of using [End]+[arrow key] to quickly move to the start or end of a large range. But when I pointed out this lack to the LO team, they just replied "that's a Microsoft feature" as if this were somehow a valid reason for not including it in LO. (And in any case they're wrong; it dates back at least to Lotus 1-2-3, which is probably why it ended up in Excel in the first place).

          Microsoft Works; LO doesn't, for me at least.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            > ...lacks the vitally...

            pish

            [Ctrl-Home] and [Ctrl-End]

            Tools-->Customize-->Keyboard to rebind

            1. Robert Baker
              FAIL

              Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

              "pish

              [Ctrl-Home] and [Ctrl-End]"

              Once more, I get an idiot response from someone replying to what they believed I said, rather than what I actually said. The keys above move to the beginning or end of the document; what I was referring to was moving to the beginning or end of a range (a contiguous block of non-empty cells, running in any of the four principal directions).

              Can LO do this? If so, why doesn't it do this using the standard [End] followed by the relevant arrow key functionality offered by all previous spreadsheets? Why should the end-user have to flap about with key bindings, just to get the thing working properly?

              1. peter_dtm

                @Robert Baker

                opens LO spreadsheet

                picks random range

                ctrl + arrow down -> goes to end of contiguous block (some 50 rows down to a blank cell - step over & repeat)

                ctrl + arrow right -> goes to end of contiguous columns (in this case the end of the table NOT the end of the spread sheet)

                LibreOffice 4.2.8.2 & as far as I remember LO has ALWAYS done this - since before it forked; so $deity only knows what antiquated version of what Office you are using - perhaps a pre- steal everything from Lotus 123 MS spreadsheet ?

          2. Mad Mecha Guy

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            in LibreOffice (Version: 4.4.0.3), Control + Arrow Keys does the same thing as Control + End. Control+End in LO takes you to bottom right corner of spreadsheet.

          3. patch67

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            Try Crl Left, Right, Up or down.

            Same thing and more standard.

      4. SolidSquid

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        It's always going to be a slow process weaning people off of MS Office, but this is certainly the first step. France's Gendarmerie got around this (when they switched to Linux) by mandating file format in contract and having a small number of licences to deal with cases where outside agencies can't provide a file they can use. The more government bodies using non-Office based suites the less of a problem they'll have with this and the easier the migration will be

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

      The company I work for has about 1000 employees in its London office. With the exception of the IT bods and some of the senior management who still rely on crayons, almost everyone uses VBA macros on a daily basis. I know this because part of my job is supporting these macros (over 60,000 at the last count). Compatibility here isn't some silly complaint - it would be practically impossible for us to ever migrate to a system that doesn't support VBA. I would that it were otherwise.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        This is the fault of management mostly.

        There have been better solutions than VBA + MS Office for over a decade, but short-sighted (and frankly, ignorant) managers haven't prepared their people to use them: mostly because they want to avoid paying for training, and, to a certain degree, empowering employees such that they could find better jobs. Because, after all, that's the number one goal of middle management: keep your employees as locked in as the customers, even if it means that workers are less capable and ultimately won't be able to keep up with the demands of serving customers. Yes, I know it sounds like utter stupidity to anyone who has ever had to actually compete in the marketplace, but that's what's been going on since before many of you were born.

        It's a crime, really. Well, not an actual crime. There are big companies out there, really big companies, where the business logic is wrapped up in MS Access forms. Tens of thousands of employees trying to do their month-end rollups using MS Excel front-ends to Access "databases". All because the company put MS Office on their desks 20 years ago and had IT leave the users to their own devices while the tech pros were tasked with the deployment of enterprise middleware systems (which although much needed, are several circles removed from where much of the work gets done).

        That's just not right, and I'll guarantee that if anyone ever had the courage to collect real world metrics, could be shown to have cost companies serious profits.

        But no one is ever going to run those metrics, because those who would have to direct the effort have too much invested in no one ever knowing the truth about their outright neglect and smoke blowing.

        As for replacing MS Office or other commercial solutions like Oracle or even Google, with LibreOffice, I sometimes wonder if the delay in going there didn't have more to do with someone's uncle having made a fortune off those outrageously priced licenses all these years. In most cases of government or corporate waste I usually assume incompetence, but surely at least this time *everyone* knew the public has been getting the shaft for nearly a generation. It seems to me that people who can successfully play the stock market, and amass serious wealth for themselves in doing so, could have figured that out in short order. Maybe what we need is a pile up of more investigative journalism like The Register did here: to force the cockroaches out into the light where they can be properly stomped on, either in public corruption prosecutions or at the polls.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Pint

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          Have a pint...I think bitter might be appropriate?

          What does "better alternative" really mean? Or "left to their own devices"? My experience is that VBA has been so successful precisely because it is the better alternative to engaging with IT and allows people to get stuff done. I certainly agree with you that there are many VBA hacks out there, but equally, there are many hideous IT systems that attempt to deliver services to users but actually constrain them to narrow, limited actions. How many times have you used a web platform to view a report, and then downloaded it to Excel so that you can manipulate it how you like?

          The problem is not VBA per se, it is unregulated systems that quietly become the backbone of an enterprise. When Marjorie's Expense Spreadsheet becomes the Company Financial System, someone needs to step in and say, "hey, this is an important IT system, we should make sure it's looked after". That's not always the same as "we should take it away from the users and replace it with some Big Platform". It might be as simple as putting the code under version control, hiring someone other than Marjorie to handle bug fixes, and making sure people are well trained in what it's strengths and limitations are.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          But no one is ever going to run those metrics, because those who would have to direct the effort have too much invested in no one ever knowing the truth about their outright neglect and smoke blowing.

          When we ran those analyses for a Government Department that I work for (in upper management these days), the results were truly shocking and we were told by the then Labour Government to hush them up! The money squandered on ill-managed, poorly designed and utterly broken computing in just this one Department would support the NHS for several months.

          Fortunately, the migration to FOSS has begun. One particular licensing bill for £44.7m per year is no longer being paid to M$. This is just the first of many that the current "austerity drive" has deemed too expensive for too little return. At least this Government would listen to the reasons for the migration - unlike Gordon Broon who, like Tony Blair, was in the pocket of Microsoft.

          One Department down, about a further 40 to go.........

          AC for obvious reasons

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            When we ran those analyses for a Government Department that I work for (in upper management these days), the results were truly shocking and we were told by the then Labour Government to hush them up! The money squandered on ill-managed, poorly designed and utterly broken computing in just this one Department would support the NHS for several months.

            Oh yes - been there. The irony is that the migration to FOSS started about 15 years ago, but was acutely suspended by the ten incoming New Labour government - there was even thinking about a central phone directory. Did you know that all public HMG websites used to run from a bunch of old but lovingly maintained Unix boxes, and were then consolidated on one large machine running Linux?

            It hurts just to *think* about the amount of money extracted from UK government by these scoundrels, and to add insult to injury they then gave a Knighthood to Bill Gates for his sterling gesture "gift" of money which he got from milking it out of UK's school system. Remember when the school license fees shot up? We'd warned Education that that was a dead cert, but of course that got quenched from up high until it happened just as predicted and everyone had to act surprised.

            I ran a conversion project in a department where the waste on a proprietary service was so high we had an ROI on the costs (including licenses, systems and consulting time) of one MONTH. We even got support calls from users asking what had happened because they never had that service work that quick. It wasn't actually quick at all - it was for the first time in years actually working how it was supposed to work, instead of making money hand over fist with failure.

            Hoodlums, the lot of them.

            1. Roland6 Silver badge

              Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

              "The irony is that the migration to FOSS started about 15 years ago, but was acutely suspended by the ten incoming New Labour government "

              The real irony is that a Conservative government withdraw support for the CCTA IT standards effort back in the late 1980's, resulting in the dropping of UK GOSIP, which specified mandatory office file formats etc. and had an independent testing regime to underpin it. So here we are in 2015 still arguing over office file format compatibility and product interoperability, but with no independent arbitrator to rule on interop issues...

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

            Any chance you could share the report anonymously?

        3. SolidSquid

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          OK, much of a fan as I am of open source projects, it *really* hasn't been all that long that Libre Office has been roughly on par with Office in terms of it's feature set, and there are still limitations on things like Impress vs PowerPoint

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          "There have been better solutions than VBA + MS Office for over a decade!"

          Like what? It's pretty damn good as an Office scripting language and there is nothing close to it in terms of features I have ever seen.

          "There are big companies out there, really big companies, where the business logic is wrapped up in MS Access forms."

          Presumably because its relatively cheap and effective, and when you connect to an SQL server backend, it can scale to thousands of users.

          "Tens of thousands of employees trying to do their month-end rollups using MS Excel front-ends to Access "databases". "

          Because it works well, it's powerful and flexible, and if they outgrow it, porting it to SQL server is relatively easy.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          "This is the fault of management mostly" - what an odd, generic and foolish comment! What "management".

          Try working in a government environment that constantly cuts "admin" costs (including IT of course) while encouraging and funding "innovation" projects.

          Now work out why most business users are left to use MS Office - warts and all.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        Very true, though I wonder for how long VBA is going to live on.

        Microsoft have four office automation interfaces in Office as of now: VBA, .Net (Visual Studio Tools for Office), Office Add-ins (html?) and now (Office 2016) enhanced Office Add-ins (Javascript). Only the fourth seems to offer the kind of document automation that VBA excels at (because it has access to the COM model). The other two could do that sort of thing, but it is perverse: they are more suited to application automation, e.g. mailing a list of contacts when the web stock-price widget you added to Outlook tells you you are rich.

        Isn't it likely that Microsoft desperately want to be shot of VBA in favor of JavaScript? Having people develop a minority development platform is not a good use of their resources compared to having their people develop the best JavaScript engine in town.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

      Ah, but here is the fun bit - it's actually the Microsoft Office users who are incompatible as the MS file formats are now classed as legacy..

      I know this forum is enthusiastically spammed by Microsoft staff who allege that MS Office is better at writing out OpenDoc format files, but that is patently BS: it takes time to adopt a new file format, even if it is mature and documented a heck of a lot better than MS OOXML, and LibreOffice and OpenOffice have basically been developed on the very basis of ODF. I have seen what MS Word makes of ODF and it's not-invented-here fugly.

      Why is this important? Why, UK government decided a while back that ODF would be their standard, NOT any Microsoft format. It appears we now see phase 2 of that decision.

      1. TheVogon Silver badge

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        'spammed by Microsoft staff who allege that MS Office is better at writing out OpenDoc format files, but that is patently BS'

        The numerous ODF and file format / saving bug reports in the Open Office forums beg to differ. MS Office is in my experience far more reliable - even Office 365 supports ODF better than OO / LO do.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

      "Funny how so many people on-line seem to rely on obscure macros, plugins and fonts."

      I have worked in a number of medium / large companies and I have never worked anywhere where most users didn't rely on macros and / or addins. Maybe you work in a one man band with little use of technology, but I can assure you most corporate Office users wouldn't be able to do without Addins and / or Macros.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

        I have worked in a number of medium / large companies and I have never worked anywhere where most users some IT staff didn't rely on macros and / or addins to create job security.

        FIFY. I have worked in many setups as well, and in some cases the use of some corporate macros for document creation was even mandatory, and in the end I created some cleaned up doc templates instead because the crud injected by those macros got in the way of productivity. Templates, yes, macros .. if you need them, LO has its own language built in (which apparently works cross platform) but I never really found the need. Once you have a decent template and style format set up you can just get on with things.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

          "where some IT staff didn't rely on macros and / or addins to create job security."

          I have never been anywhere that had IT staff provide or write macros and / or addins. These are nearly always a business creation / decision.

    5. patch67

      Re: Cue all the usual stuff about incompatibility etc

      I have 300 users I don't think any of them have ever made a Macro.

      Microsoft Macros in Outlook introduced the world the computer virus well done for that.

  5. phil dude
    Linux

    hopefully...

    this will get sufficient extra hands on deck, the quality of libreoffice can surpass Microsoft's offering...

    I hope that what's the cash is for...!

    P.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: hopefully...

      The cynic in me is wondering if it's time for our lords and masters to renegotiate their contract with Microsoft, and someone's pressed the button for "I'm thinking of leaving" in an attempt to get the price down.

      Ah yes, a quick search reminded me this isn't the first time they've talked about open source or ODF:

      http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/07/25/the_odf_revolution_will_not_be_digitised

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: hopefully...

      the quality of libreoffice can surpass Microsoft's offering

      As far as Writer is concerned it already does, we use it for papers, press releases, even brochure design. Calc is enough for what we need, but I do hear of heavy users preferring Excel.

      1. IRonButterfly

        Re: hopefully...

        An important limitation of Calc is its max number of columns: 1024 I think, vs the 16k+ of Excel; there are surely other limited features which I don't use, so I can't tell. IMO, though, spreadsheet software (Excel, Calc or any other) is useful for 'business' stuff but not for 'real', heavy work (read scientific, engineering,...) :)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: hopefully...

          An important limitation of Calc is its max number of columns: 1024 I think, vs the 16k+ of Excel; there are surely other limited features which I don't use, so I can't tell. IMO, though, spreadsheet software (Excel, Calc or any other) is useful for 'business' stuff but not for 'real', heavy work (read scientific, engineering,...) :)

          Ah, old debate here. Although I would agree it would be cool to have full feature compatibility, there are 2 questions here:

          1 - is that really essential for the majority of users? For probably 90% of the Office users out there, Calc is really all they need and the rest is just padding that only marketing people use to show it's "better". For the remaining 10% ..

          2 - is a spreadsheet really the best tool for this? Work that is so complex tends to be costly when mistakes are made, and if there is one thing a big spreadsheet makes impossible, it's auditing. If you work with that sort of data volume there surely are better, more focused solutions out there.

          On the other hand - fine - let them but Excel. That doesn't mean other people have to buy excessive baggage..

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: hopefully...

          An important limitation of Calc is its max number of columns: 1024 I think, vs the 16k+ of Excel

          Depends on which version of Excel you are using. The increase from 256 columns in Excel 2003 to 16k in 2007 was one of the features that made me upgrade. I suspect that Calc's limit, whilst insufficient for heavy users is probably good enough for many.

          I suspect one of the problems with MS Office is that MS have stretched the boundaries to overlap with more capable third-party products. So for example, Word does 'large' documents sufficiently well for many businesses not to invest in document tools, such as those that Xerox were selling in the early to mid 1990's and which the world has largely forgotten about...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: hopefully...

            prediction - by this time next year localc will handle 16k cols

    3. Dick Palmer
      Pirate

      Re: hopefully...

      "I hope that what's the cash is for..."

      While I admire and share your sentiment...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hotel California

    Microsoft and Office is like the Hotel California: you can check out, but you can never leave.

    In the public sector, MS sell product though framework contracts and call offs such as Microsoft Select and Microsoft Campus (for education as an example). The issue with these is if you licence a product like Office through MS Campus, based on your staff FTE numbers, you also get it included for upto 5 copies office for each of your students on any device plus Office 365 as well. Its pretty hard to consider alternatives because of all the added value that MS include.

    On top of that, you will always need some MS licences, whether it is for Windows Desktop, Windows Server, SQLServer or Exchange or whatever. In order to get those you sign up to MS Campus because the Desktop or ECALs that are needed are only affordable on Campus where enormous discounts (of upto 100%) are available. The net result is MS becomes so embedded that it is the only practical and, ironically, affordable choice. This then increases brand penetration so that users believe MS Office is the only right choice.

    You could say you would abandon MS altogether. In reality this will never fly. You need to use Windows, so you need MS. Don't need windows or SQLServer you say? Sure, but I do need the third party apps like the HR/Finance/student/research/teaching/business System that has been built with .NET, only work with SQLServer, and is only supported on Windows. So, you are back to dealing with MS again. Any thought of abandoning it all and utilising just open source software is nulled by the sheer cost of doing it.

    1. Gray
      Boffin

      Re: Hotel California

      Sounds like the perfect tar pit to me; tell me: are you well and truly content with that scenario? Willing to persevere, endure, and ... sink even deeper?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hotel California

      You're kinka missing the bigger point. Organisations want to get off lock-in, not Microsoft products per se.

      The real evil here are not Microsoft products but a lack any kind of compatibility between competing products.

      If Microsoft really do offer the superior alternative and the price makes sense then I have no particular objection to its use

    3. Julian 16

      Re: Hotel California

      In 2004, I started working in a Kent based Grammar school and the state of the IT was not good. There was a single server for the network, an RM box running the admin side, another box running exchange on NT4 and a CD server that was on its last legs and would cost £1800 to replace for some reason. Our total budget for all IT, desktops, servers, printing, software and anything else computer linked was £30,000 a year. Since then, it's been £30,000 a year bar two years when we got 40,000 and 50,000. We run 500 machines for 1000 users.

      Within a year of joining, the CD server had been replaced with a Mandriva Linux box, the old NT DC had been migrated to Samba 3 and Exchange was booted and replaced with Postfix and Squirrelmail as no-one was using the additional features of Exchange anyway. Printing was through Samba with Pykota for management. All web based activities were pulled into the school and rather than pay external providers, we put everything on Apache/PHP with Wordpress/Joomla and Moodle for the VLE. As you say, you still need Windows for some things and for us it was SIMS and the FMS financial management package so we had server 2003 on one box for that.

      When the new licencing came in the cost of deploying Windows and Office dropped for £25,000 a year to £3,000 and we switched to domain control Server 2008R2 but with Linux fileservers and Synology NAS boxes and all of our web servers run Ubuntu/LAMP. For a short period of time, we tried LibreOffice but whining teachers killed that off. For a group of people who are supposed to be teaching people the joy of learning, that joy doesn't seem to stretch to some of them.

      To defend against future price rises, we are keeping out of the cloud bar running Owncloud and our our own mail/groupware from our server room. Microsoft have tried talking us into taking up the crippleware free version of Office 365 and we have decided against because there's no guarantee that it's going to stay free beyond the end of the annual licence. You never own licenced proprietary software so we won't switch fully to Google either as whatever they say, we have no way of knowing whether the free services may disappear in the future leaving us the hassle of migration or coughing up.

      A further guarantee is that all of our DCs have been set up at a level that means we can switch to Samba 4 if Microsoft decide to up the licence in future and Kolab or Egroupware provide enough to provide for calendaring and note sharing so exchange is still off the cards. If MS Office goes up to the old pricing again. LibreOffice will get another look in and if any department insists on MS Office, they can pay for it out of their budget. As for desktop licences, we use refurbs that all have Win 7 licences so were fine until that becomes obsolete.

      The mistake made during the new labour years was that people used threats of dropping Microsoft as a crowbar to drop licencing costs and in the end, that was all it became and MS knew it.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hidden costs

    Well if anyone can prove that the costs of Open Source (plus Support) is more expensive than Microsoft - it would be a government procurement project. Unfortunately.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Hidden costs

      But don't government procurement projects just prove that government procurement projects are more expensive and wasteful than anything else ?

      "Hey, that didn't work, let's try again !"

      *facepalm*

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hidden costs

      "Well if anyone can prove that the costs of Open Source (plus Support) is more expensive than Microsoft "

      Don't forget the additional deployment, migration, co-existence and productivity costs!

      1. Col_Panek

        Re: Hidden costs

        You can't afford to bail yourself out of jail, so just stay there.

  8. J J Carter Silver badge
    FAIL

    As if

    Perm.Secs. and DGs won't put any trust in some shareware spreadsheet when making a return to Treasury

  9. J J Carter Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    Then again...

    I assume the Cabinet Office is quickly reviewing the use of Google Docs after the ECJ ruling that Safe Harbor isn't?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Then again...

      I assume the Cabinet Office is quickly reviewing the use of Google Docs after the ECJ ruling that Safe Harbor isn't?

      .. and Gmail ..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Then again...

      "the Cabinet Office is quickly reviewing the use of Google Docs after the ECJ ruling that Safe Harbor isn't?"

      Surely they don't use that inferior Google spyware crap in government? I thought they had gone Office 365?

  10. ChunkyMonkey
    Happy

    Excellent!

    Glad to see that we are contributing to community software rather than just SatNad/BallSacks bonus.

    Lets hope this continues.

  11. W. Anderson

    continued Open Source Adoption

    In my comment to an article about 1 month ago, confirming the continued and rapid adoption of Free/Open Source Software (FOSS, particularly Liux, even on Desktops amoung most of European Union, India, China, Russia, South America and other jurisdictions, many Microsoft defenders derided my comment with one stating quite belligerently that Munich Germany was reverting back to Windows Desktops with Office from failed Linux and LobreOffice, which the Munich City administrator clarified as totally false.

    While the UK government is adopting LibreOffice over Microsoft Office, including Office365 subscription services, such adoption along with millions of other countries ODF/LibreOffice official document standards leaves Microsoft only with US dominance to satisfy their American fan club.

    The sad aspect of such slavish thinking on part of Microsofties, is that their heroine has not only adopted Linux and FreeBSD networking infrastructure, the company is also deploying Hadoop Big Data Analytics "ON" Linux in it's Azure Cloud Services. How demeaning is that.

    ref: http://www.networkworld.com/article/2994969/linux/who-cares-about-hadoop-on-linux-microsoft-yes-really.html

    With this revelation, and fact that Microsoft is supporting Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) OpenSSH in PowerShell/Windows Server 2012, and in many other areas of their technology operations, against which the company was unable to develop competitive products, it becomes clear that FOSS represents the present and future of Networking, Data Center infrastructure, Social Media, Cloud Computing and even Mobile technologies, and Linux (with Desktops) in rest of the world, leaving little space for reason or Microsoft suporters to smile about.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: continued Open Source Adoption

      "Munich Germany was reverting back to Windows Desktops with Office"

      This zombie keeps coming up. It must be wishful thinking.

      1. kryptylomese

        Re: continued Open Source Adoption

        Yep it is complete rubbish - there is no way that they are reverting back to the headaches of crashing and increased cost implications of being locked in!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: continued Open Source Adoption

        ""Munich Germany was reverting back to Windows Desktops with Office""

        They certainly looked at the options as the users were not happy with the hybrid pos they are forced to now use, but they balked at the cost of doing it all in reverse, see:

        http://www.zdnet.com/article/munich-sheds-light-on-the-cost-of-dropping-linux-and-returning-to-windows/

        It took them over ten years, cost tens of millions more than upgrading to a current version of Windows would have (including the migration costs and the costs incurred by IBM, etc) and they have ended up with a hybrid mess - still widely needing Windows via VDI to get any real work done.

        Hence why - many years later - there are still close to zero others going down this path. There are no real benefits in migrating - you will likely get a crappier solution after a world of pain.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: continued Open Source Adoption

          Hence why - many years later - there are still close to zero others going down this path. There are no real benefits in migrating - you will likely get a crappier solution after a world of pain.

          Interesting attempt at commingling things. OS <> applications. In Munich they did everything at once which is bound to generate learning pain and personally, I think that's a world too far. Just replacing MS Office with LibreOffice is far easier as long as you don't have been misled by consultants to go down the route from COTS to customisation (which is where they make their money).

          It saves a shedload of money, not just in license fees but also in license management costs and overheads. It's exactly because you don't have to track any installs that you can pretty much do what you want, and you can even give your staff a copy to use at home, or let them download that from public sources. The result of the latter is that they get even more used to it.

          I only hope that the educational system finally sees sense. It should make it hard to justify continued use of MS Office in schools.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: continued Open Source Adoption

            "It should make it hard to justify continued use of MS Office in schools."

            They get Office 365 for free I believe. Seems a no brainer versus vastly inferior products that they won't ever use in a work situation like Libre Office.

            "The cost savings to Munich have been substantial and officially announced."

            Propaganda from the IT department that conveniently ignores large parts of the cost of developing the solution and the subsequent 10 year migration - This was debunked by a detailed third party study that estimated actual additional costs of at least 30 million Euros with out allowing for the 2 environments that they now have to support...

            "without any calculation of the more than 15,000 new computers required to run Windows 7"

            They bought thousands of PCs during the Limux migration, hence HP were correct in not attributing these costs on Windows 7. Or did you think they were all running on 11+ year old hardware?! Of course not - they would be failing all over the place - and LO and similar Java based crap usually needs vastly more CPU to work smoothly than the Microsoft equivalent, and Chrome is slower than the latest IE / Edge on the same hardware by Google's own benchmarks...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: continued Open Source Adoption

          "still widely needing Windows via VDI to get any real work done."

          I doubt that constitutes a big portion of the workload. I work for an organisation that has around a thousand users and a lot of tech. We get our real work done every day on Linux - both desktops and servers. Windows exists here but it's mainly for niche stuff like accounting software. A lot of that has a web interface anyway and the rest is done via RDP. As that's a pretty small portion of the workload it's fine. If anything I blame MS for many years of designing their platforms under the assumption that they are the only players in existence. Thankfully this attitude is starting bite them now, so we are seeing more sensible decisions like native SSH support on the horizon.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: continued Open Source Adoption

            "I doubt that constitutes a big portion of the workload!"

            They quoted about 20% at the point they declared the migration completed.

            "so we are seeing more sensible decisions like native SSH support on the horizon."

            Yes, now *NIX platforms can remotely access a more powerful OO based shell.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: continued Open Source Adoption

              "They quoted about 20% at the point they declared the migration completed."

              So even by your admission, not a big portion at all.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: continued Open Source Adoption

                "So even by your admission, not a big portion at all."

                That is a very large portion when you think that they still have to support an additional 20% more PCs than before - and all the infrastructure dependencies of that - and have the users access 2 environments, have 2 user accounts, two sets of apps, etc, etc. Hence partly why the users hate it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: continued Open Source Adoption

      This is interesting and some will ask, so where's the cost saving? So, if a city or company is paying MS X amount per year for all it's licenses how much of that money stays in the area and helps the local economy? I expect this example is especially true for any city, then the city pays X amount or even 2X amount. They get taxes, in whatever form they take in your city, and one could guess they 80 to 90% of the salaries get spent in said city thus boosting the economy.

      http://www.ocsmag.com/2015/08/24/no-munich-is-not-considering-ditching-linux-and-going-back-to-windows/

      1. SolidSquid

        Re: continued Open Source Adoption

        This is something I hadn't actually considered. Since most of the costs of open source office stacks (OS, Libre Office, etc) are the support contracts, how much of that is going to companies within the country rather than foreign entities? Even if it were a little more expensive, if you're keeping it in the local economy it might still be a better option

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: continued Open Source Adoption

          This is something I hadn't actually considered. Since most of the costs of open source office stacks (OS, Libre Office, etc) are the support contracts, how much of that is going to companies within the country rather than foreign entities? Even if it were a little more expensive, if you're keeping it in the local economy it might still be a better option

          There's also the simple fact of efficiency gains here. For a start, with a stable (and documented) file format your overheads in terms of file maintenance and fighting incompatibility problems nose dive (costs that benefit absolutely nobody, but which normally help to keep the proprietary vendor in place), you have an interface that doesn't change much so no delays on learning yet-another-way to do what you just got used to doing the "old way", and you obviously save yourself the costs associated with all the complex licensing shenanigans that MS has engaged in over the years. In my opinion, anything that makes FAST redundant (remember them?) is good and ought to be encouraged, so seeing this drive from the very government itself is cool.

      2. W. Anderson

        Re: continued Open Source Adoption

        The cost savings to Munich have been substantial and officially announced.

        Munich started the formal upgrade for all the City's approximately 18,000 desktops and 9,000 servers around November 2013. The preceeding 8 - 9 years of preparation was consumed not by the problems of the OS and Officesuite switch, but by the convoluted Windows desktop operations that existed with Windows XP home and XP Professional installations in about 273 different configurations, update programs and patch management systems, not to mention similarly chaotic situation with myriad versions and setups for Microsoft Office. The City technology team indicated that any upgrade/switch scenario - whether to Linux or Windows 7/8 would have required the same extended lead time to get the change operation viable.

        In April 2014, with only about 60 percent of the desktop switches complete - without training programs, the City indicated saving approximate equivalent 14 million USdollars, and possibly 35 plus million dollars saving if current switch had no serious problems, which it dd not.

        Those dollar s aving numbers are considerable, with all of it going to the City of Munich, and most likely to other programs it operates.

        Even Microsoft's contrary contention report?, put forth by HP Germany of greater saving via Windows 7 upgrade - without any calculation of the more than 15,000 new computers required to run Windows 7, proved by independent audits to be phony to it's core.

        The UK government are well aware of the “facts” concerning switch to FOSS – in this case LibreOffice – in more efficient and cost effect operations amoung several other European Union (EU) Countries as well as governments in other continents.

        Unfortunately the Microsoft dupes here in USA and few in Europe cannot and never do provide any factual evidence to support their slavish thinking or positions on technology tissues that do not favour their heroine in Redmond, Washington State, USA.

        A sad, sick minded group of people!

      3. peter 45

        Re: continued Open Source Adoption

        They take money out of the local economy in taxes, and then give some of it back by spending it locally.

        And this boosts the local economy does it? Wot, better than...for example...by not taking money out of the local economy at all you mean?

  12. kryptylomese

    Let's all see this as a positive thing. I have been using Microsoft Office since the days you installed it from floppy disks and no version of has been immune to crashing or just locking up which is hardly a recipe for a productive day at the office (open office has never crashed on me).

    We do not need to wish that MS survives - really, why should anyone care?

    Thumbs down if you don't care :)

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "open office has never crashed on me"

      I've had LibreOffice calc crash when editing comments so I raised a ticket on Bugzilla. As of a few weeks later it was fixed and released. No more crashes.

      1. kryptylomese

        Any Microsoft people want to tell a similar story or try to deny that MS Office is more than just a bit crappy?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I was forced into using MS Office at my day job (it's a governmental position). I spent more time arguing with the IM morons than I did getting work done. In the end, I circumvented all their stupid system restrictions by using a USB-stick Linux with Libre Office!

          No further problems. My productivity increased radically, and others began to ask how I could get so much done so quickly. My entire team now use my solution - we still submit reports in .DOC or .PDF format and .XLS spreadsheets - but they're all created using entirely FOSS software and converted for "compatibility" afterwards.

          AC because I don't want the IM idiots preventing us getting our work done!

          1. J J Carter Silver badge

            >I circumvented all their stupid system restrictions by using a USB-stick Linux with Libre Office!<

            Upvoted for quality trolling

      2. John Sanders
        Angel

        I have so far reported 3 bugs to LibreOffice

        They fixed two in the space of a week and the other after 3 months

        The three problems related to docx issues.

        I donated £30 to the LibreOffice foundation, it is not much but I hope it helps.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I have been using Microsoft Office since the days you installed it from floppy disks and no version of has been immune to crashing or just locking up which is hardly a recipe for a productive day at the office (open office has never crashed on me).

      Well, that is IMHO down to a feature that MS has foisted upon the world and that is STILL with us today: including formatting date in a cut & paste operation. In several decades of computer use I have has exactly TWO occasions where that came in handy, in every other operation I always had to deal with the side effects of that idiocy and still have, because there is still not a single word processor out there that can set that as a default (including LO and OO).

      Because Word itself can't actually cope with the mess that it makes itself (due to unattached partials in formatting) it is more and more likely to crash - the potential for crashing goes up the closer you get to your deadline. This is how I originally started with OO - it could still read the resulting mess when Word would have given up, and you could then either just save or use it to clear it all up.

      Use LO - you know it makes sense :).

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I asked about LO in our office and was told there would be two problems. One would be retraining staff who had specialised knowledge and couldn't be replaced but who sometimes struggled to use the web. The second problem was lack of sharepoint integration. The management had decided it would be solve a lot of problems and we need to make it work.

    1. John Sanders
      Windows

      They implemented sharepoint in my company

      I refuse to use such aberration.

      Sharepoint always work like this:

      Person writes cute site on Sharepoint, (management loves it) nicely integrates with everything MS, looks good in the eyes of management.

      Person leaves, Sharepoints begins to rot, things here and there that do not work like they did, eventually new version of Windows server requires of upgrade of MS SQL, upgrade of MS SQL or other component that requires upgrade of Sharepoint.

      Sharepoint is updated, site does not work or works even worse than before, contractor is brought in to fix it, it is fixed, contractor leaves.

      Repeat an rinse!

      1. Medixstiff

        Re: They implemented sharepoint in my company

        "I refuse to use such aberration."

        Well it sounds like someone didn't know how to set up SharePoint in your organisation nor has it been managed well.

        This is the fourth organisation I've worked at with SharePoint and once setup it just works for us. We are a government owned financial; services company, so you can guess how much red tape documentation, procedures etc. we have to keep.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One would be retraining staff who had specialised knowledge and couldn't be replaced but who sometimes struggled to use the web. The second problem was lack of sharepoint integration. The management had decided it would be solve a lot of problems and we need to make it work.

      You are in principle suggesting that the government should fund an Open Source project to create a sharepoint equivalent for LibreOffice, which is fair enough, sounds like a worthwhile effort.

  14. Pan_Handle
    Paris Hilton

    VBA - calm down dear

    VBA seems to get a lot of stick. Isn't it just a way in which users can bridge the gap between what they need to do and what the systems they are given to use can do out of the box? I work in the NHS where systems just don't do some things that clinicians urgently need them to do. It would be lovely if IM&T could custom build modules for core systems within a few weeks of identification of a need but they are tied up doing the equivalent of keeping the lights on. I build MS Office based 'solutions' (shudder) for use in restricted scenarios (for which I am the one who is legally responsible), IT leaves me alone. Yes they involve VBA as well as Javascript, PHP/MySQL - I'm a clinical script kiddie, get over it.

    If you give people LibreOffice they will just script the hell out of that anyway (less efficiently than with MS Office)

    And yes I do know where the power switch for my PC is.

    (Paris - because she likes a good script...)

    1. John Sanders
      Holmes

      Re: VBA - calm down dear

      See the problem with MS products is that they require the update of one another.

      You can not run Visio 2003 anymore on modern Windows for example.

      Also why I have the impression that no one here has ever clicked in LO in Tools->Macros->Organize Macros->LibreOffice Basic

      1. Jason 24

        Re: VBA - calm down dear

        You can not run Visio 2003 anymore on modern Windows for example.

        I have it here on Windows 8.1?

        1. Jess

          And Office 97 runs fine on windows 10, so I can't see how visio 2003 wouldn't.

  15. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    The economics just don't stack up

    Median civil servant salary - £25,000, or £110 per working day

    Opportunity cost of half-day retraining in Libre Office = £55

    Opportunity cost 10% reduction in productivity for 1st 28 days = £310

    Total opportunity cost of LO = £365

    Annual E3 Office 365 license (est. Govt. discount applied.) = £100

    No payback until until year 4 even if LO is magically £0 to deploy and support. Not economically viable.

    1. kryptylomese

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      LOL Libre office retraining :) Clearly you have never used it, but let's just put some real costs in:-

      FTSE100 CEO/Deputy/Head of department or slightly lower down the scale, Director working on a document/Spreadsheet/presentation (not necessarily creating it but reading it all the same) and MS Office crashes (and we all know it will).... Now do the maths!

      1. J J Carter Silver badge

        Re: The economics just don't stack up

        So you're offering a cast-iron guarantee that LO never craps-out? Hmmm

        >LOL Libre office retraining :) <

        OK no retraining, so take a 20% hit on productivity instead then do the math.

        1. kryptylomese

          Re: The economics just don't stack up

          You have not countered what I have said - you have mealy challenged me to back up what I have said.

          Tell you what, actually disagree with me and YOU back up what you are saying - have you tested users switching from MS office to Libre Office? I have and it was painless!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      Yeah right, get the facts.

      MS office is just too damn expensive.

    3. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      If there is a payback starting the fifth year and on, then it's indeed economically very viable, and only a start.

      1. J J Carter Silver badge

        Re: The economics just don't stack up

        Five years means after the election, so politicians and the mandarins won't even consider the option.

    4. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      @J J Carter

      The simple economics you give are only a small part of the picture. As well as reduced costs from year 4-ish onwards, you also have a number of other factors:

      1) Less likely to be p0wnd by script kiddies (only slightly less for nation state, though) as no macros/VB

      2) No need for Windows for the OS, so some flexibility and possible cost savings there.

      3) More pressure to have open formats for data exchange.

      4) A very good sick to beat MS with for pricing and licence terms as your gonads are no longer quite so tightly in their vice.

      Sure there are a number of cases when MS products are the only or best option, but anything that gives them cause to sit up and listen to the user base instead of screwing them for more money and/or personal data is a good thing.

    5. SolidSquid

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      French Gendarmerie seems to be happy enough with the savings they've made, also I suspect that month of reduced productivity is somewhat exaggerated. With training you're looking at more like a week of down time. There's also the fact that the government isn't using Office 365, or at least in cases where they are they're going the self hosted route for security purposes, which adds significantly to the costs. In cases where they're not using 365 you're looking at a licence per machine rather than per person

      Oh, and if you can wean people off of Office then that then opens up the possibility of moving to Linux too, since they'd be using the same software, with minimal retraining. This could then reduce the number of windows licences which are per machine rather than per person, much like non-365 Office, and is a significantly higher bill than MS Office is

      You also have the question of where the money is going. If you're giving Microsoft £1.5 million for licences and support that does very little for the countries economy, but giving £1.6 million to local businesses to provide training and support for Libre Office, while slightly more expensive, is keeping the money within the national economy which benefits the country more

      There's a lot more to the economics of procurement than just the base licencing costs, and you haven't cited sources for any of the numbers you've provided either (the 28 days, the 10% reduction in productivity, the cost of Office, the cost of training). You also have to consider that hosting things on Microsoft's servers is currently a no-go with the recent ruling on US safe harbour rules, and even without that a lot of information couldn't be put on there

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The economics just don't stack up

        "French Gendarmerie seems to be happy enough with the savings they've made"

        95%+ of police work with computers is filling in electronic forms. Any web browser would do. Not really a typical use case. Hardly anyone in the real world is moving away from Microsoft OSs and / or Office on the desktop...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The economics just don't stack up

          95%+ of police work with computers is filling in electronic forms. Any web browser would do. Not really a typical use case. Hardly anyone in the real world is moving away from Microsoft OSs and / or Office on the desktop...

          Well, that CERTAINLY makes a case for not blowing money on pointlessly expensive Office software then, doesn't it? If it's all the same you might as well use LO, and that happens to have in "Base" quite good form tools to jack things straight into a database as well. Again, free, but capable of working with real SQL databases instead of Access.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The economics just don't stack up

          "95%+ of corporate work with computers is filling in electronic forms. Any web browser would do."

          FTFY. In which case there's no specific need for Windows or Office.

    6. gerryg

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      It wasn't five years ago that the London School of Economics published an extensive study on the TCO comparison and the Open Source Consortium published an extensive study on everything else.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The economics just don't stack up

      Sorry, but you have the retraining excuse exactly backwards:

      Every single release of MS Office came with a dramatic UI change, because that was pretty much the only reason they could get people to upgrade after the game with the file formats was stopped.

      This has two consequences:

      1 - the cost to upgrade to yet-another-version of MS Office is simply equivalent to that of training for the use of LO. So, in your comparison the one negates the other, cost x exists on either side and cancel each other out.

      2 - LO's UI has thankfully not changed significantly over the years. That means that the educational costs are a one-off, versus a recurring charge roughly every 3 years (the MS Office release cycle). What's more, you don't have the resulting productivity hit in the middle where even after training people have to figure out where the f*ck they stuck useful functions this time around. As far as I can tell, there has yet to be an MS Office update that has actually increased productivity in a provable way, something I find ironic because it is the exact basis on which the upgrade spend is often justified.

      That is, of course, not taking into account that you have to have to upgrade the OS every 3 years as well, because -by an amazing coincidence- the vendor happens to sell that too.

      Further savings are realised as LO versions tend to be file compatible so there is no urgent need to upgrade everything as soon as a new version is released, you can do a rolling upgrade at your leisure and the only costs you'd be looking at are time - I challenge you to find any office worker who can spot the differences between LO 4 and 5 without a lot of searching, especially when it comes to functionality. It gets better with every release, but it doesn't destroy existing functionality in the process like MS Office tends to do.

      The only challenge I can find with LO use is Impress. That really needs a lot of work, but I'd model it on Apple's Keynote rather than Powerpoint. Powerpoint suffers badly from featuritus, whereas Keynote promotes simplicity.

  16. J J Carter Silver badge
    Trollface

    That'll learn them!

    Must be some sort of "scorched-earth" plot by GDS before they are finally shuttered!

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Re: That'll learn them!

      GDS probably got worried that with the visit of the Chinese president, number 10 might be tempted to sign a deal with Kingsoft...

  17. Daggerchild Silver badge

    Error during Transmogrification. Insert despair to continue.

    Having seen the mincemeat produced by pingponging between different Office suites, or even different versions of the same suite, is there anyone out there who makes a file format sanity/integrity checker?

    The ancient problem with leaving MS tools is only MS is compatible with (almost) all of the MS bugs, and it results in lots of unresolved finger pointing and retreating to known ground.

    Diagnostic clarity is needed - and I expect people would be happy to pay for it.

    1. Fred Dibnah
      FAIL

      Re: Error during Transmogrification. Insert despair to continue.

      The Task: Convert some PPTX presentations to PDFs, as slides + notes.

      1. On work XP machine with MSO 2003, MSO file converter, and Acrobat 7. File opened OK, but when printing to AdobePDF 'printer' some of the notes came out as square blocks instead of text. Fiddled with installed fonts to no avail.

      2. Saved file as PPT. Same result.

      3. On my own PC with MSO 2003, MSO file converter, and Acrobat 7. Same result.

      4. On my own PC with Open Office (can't recall which version). PPTX opened and printed to AdobePDF just fine.

      I've used Open Office ever since. Now jumping to Linux as well, due to W10 & W7 'telemetry' issue.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    jonpratt@outlook.com

    Heh, I spend all day talking to ISVs how they can get their SW to integrate with O365, via pluggins or the API and then how they can distribute via the Office store. I have this conversation literally daily. Number of times they have expressed an interest I integrating with LibreOffice? Zero.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: jonpratt@outlook.com

      OK so no dependency on O356 and your data being in USA hands. And you say that like its a bad thing?

    2. kryptylomese

      Re: jonpratt@outlook.com

      Heh, Number of Libre Office users that want to use Microsoft anything? Zero!

      1. J J Carter Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: jonpratt@outlook.com

        Number of Libre Office users - close to zero!

    3. kbensch

      Re: jonpratt@outlook.com

      Probably because you dont sell it to them.

  19. Stephen Wilkinson

    ODF

    Working in local government, I was saddened when Central Government mandated .odt for file collaboration for the mandarins but didn't force LGA's down that route too.

    An opportunity missed.

  20. linuxyeti

    Integration ... etc

    Hi All

    I've been reading through this with interest, I work in a heavily invested Microsoft Office, although, we do have Linux & Apple desktops slowly increasing in use.

    Over the years, we have or still use, Alfresco, Drupal and Sharepoint. Libreoffice, now for quite some time works well with all, via cmis integration, mapped drives or direct editing.

    LibreOffice base, once over that initial, oh it's different than MS Access, is really quite straight forward to use, with a plethora of backends, including MS Access, Oracle, Postgres, MySQL etc.

    Compatibility, has rarely been an issue with Writer/Word Calc/Excel since LibreOffice 4, yes, there is more work on compatibility with Powerpoint, but to be honest, if death by powerpoint could be reduced, I'm all for it !! :-)

    IMHO, the quicker we can move to open source / open standards the better, and if there is one thing IT related the government, can do, is to mandate that to all publicly funded organisations, rather than 'nudge' recommend etc.. then i'd be all for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Integration ... etc

      I work in a heavily invested Microsoft Office, although, we do have Linux & Apple desktops slowly increasing in use.

      Is that invested or infested? :)

  21. kbensch

    This is fantastic.

  22. BuckoA51

    Hope they enjoy crashing and weird glitches

    I've written a 500+ page book in Writer and done my accounts in Calc for the last few years. The best thing I can say about LibreOffice is its free. I recently upgraded to version 5, BIG mistake, trying to write an index for my book it crashed about every 3 minutes. Luckily downgrading back to 4 solved that problem, for now. Every version I've used since I can remember has this weird issue where it sometimes decides to insert 2 or 3 blank pages after you place a picture in the document. Sometimes deleting the paragraph or character before the picture, then immediately undoing your change will fix it, other times you have to delete and re-insert the picture. Kind of frustrating when you're trying to publish on a deadline.

    Calc crashes less than Openoffice.org Calc, but is still pretty crappy. If I should ever start making more money I know what office suite I'll be using then.

    Then again I suppose since I've not used MS Office for years it could also have it's fair share of glitches too.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hope they enjoy crashing and weird glitches

      This is where you'll want to file reproducers for each of the issues you listed:

      https://bugs.documentfoundation.org/enter_bug.cgi

      Likely they'll be fixed soon, LO dev appears to have achieved escape velocity and is zooming along nicely now.

    2. Chemist

      Re: Hope they enjoy crashing and weird glitches

      "Calc crashes less than Openoffice.org Calc, but is still pretty crappy."

      I too use Calc for my finances ( for 8+ years OO & LO ) and far more so for scientific use. I can't recall it ever crashing !

      What OS are you using ?

  23. W. Anderson

    What is so disheartening about the false and idiotic rhetoric responses on this forum from delusional Microsofties, is that no amount of reality and "facts" concerning the documented widespread international and successful adoption (from several governments' authorities) of "native" ODF Document Format Office Suites like LibreOffice, and other Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) technologies (including Linux), these slavish Microsoft supporters will continue to quote "bogus", unsubstantiated and "proven" false claims otherwise, and believe in a real Tinkerbell from Peter Pan fairy tale.

  24. Zmodem

    the nerd in the photo is only lifting about 8kg in the world of vinyl weights, health and safety is 25kg for men

  25. azaks

    Is this news?

    Isnt this just what everyone does?

    step 1 - realize that license renewal is coming up

    step 2 - threaten to jump ship if you don't get a bigger discount

    rinse and repeat next time round.

    The real news will be how many of those licenses ACTUALLY get deployed. Just sayin'...

  26. Dinsdale247
    Childcatcher

    Too bad for the workers

    I feel bad for the people that have to pay for this politicized decision on a daily basis when they can't get their work done. I use LibreOffice for lots of things at home and even publish a newsletter (replete with user database in Base that crashes every time I open it), but there is no way I could do my job with LibreOffice. I understand where this is coming from because I get angry every time I read Microsoft Licenses, but honestly, there is nothing else on the market with the capabilities and integration of Office.

  27. Tik

    Using Oo/Lo since

    We have 9 computers in our small company and decided to switch to Oo/Lo in 2007. Since then we have used only in special occasions the only license of Office 2003 we still owe - when we received files that needed MsO because of some fancy formatting. All our documents are in odt/ods format and we save in doc/xls when we have to forward those files to our partners. Of course we encounter sometimes formatting mismatches at some documents that we receive but nothing to be to hard to correct. As we had seen, most of people we are working with are using only the basic formatting functions in word or excel, that are fully compatible. For us Lo is all we need: a fully functional package at no cost and with the benefit of the classic menu.

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