back to article OOo's put the willies up Microsoft

Microsoft is trying to convince customers who have fled the company’s Office software in favour of an open source alternative to return to the proprietary flock by publicly dissing its rival. But the rival in question, as you might expect, isn’t internet kingpin Google. Instead, Redmond has splashed out on an ad that warns …


This topic is closed for new posts.


  1. John Robson Silver badge


    So that's why you've done away with menus and introduced a rhythmic gymnasts ribbon...

    1. James O'Shea

      if only

      if that damn ribbon was actually that good...

    2. Daniel B.

      In fact

      it might be the godawful Ribbon the main reason why people are flocking towards OOo!!

      I've clinged on Office 2003 because of that reason.

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


      I'd buy upgraded copies of Office for my family and I if only they'd bring back the menu. As it is, I just got the missus migrated to OOo last night...

    4. Marvin the Martian

      Are you suggesting: Ribbon = Son of Clippy?

      That would explain a lot! I've always thought Clippy was inserted by an OSS activist working deep behind enemy lines --- to drive the more intelligent (and hence more influential) away from Office.

      In my experience, the loss of Word formatting ---a major woe in the MS advert here--- is indeed a major pain; however, I've rarely had OO.o in the frame as culprit. [Try moving between versions on Macs, or between Win/Mac, or anything else really.] So this ad is a bit of a two-edged sword for them to fall on.

      /troll as they're as annoying (and meant to be subversive) as clippy

    5. Eddy Ito


      I guessed someone at MS missed that boat. I have to admit, having now been forced to use it at work, it is somewhat beyond infuriating when the help system tells you to push a button that isn't on the ribbon it said it was. Hell, I still haven't found it but thank googlyness for the intarwebs to get useful help.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Formerly happy MS Word user about to desert to OO

      Well said sir -- I was a happy MS Word user for decades. I don't care about being dissed by Mac fanboys. I do care about the new version of Word being so unusable that for my new PC I went on ebay and bought a copy of MS Word 2003, so I had software I could use. But that's a short-term solution. Long term, I may well move to OO. If MS reverted to the Word interface I've used since 1990, I would probably stick with Word.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've already deserted to OOO

        And it was solely because of the bloody ribbon. I decided that I didn't like it within about an hour and decided that it was faster to download and install OOO than continue suffering.

        Now, when it came to home use do you think that I bought a copy of office for >£200 or downloaded a copy of OOO for free?

        This is why Microsoft is getting edgy. OOO is just as good, and I know several businesses that use it. I know several more that would happily use it if their CMS's didn't generate documents using MS Office. If they worked just as well with OOO, then they'd change as well and MS Office would be history, along with what I beleive is a goodly proportion of MS's income.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OO and Ubuntu

    Both seem perfectly OK. I really can't see what MS could say against them, they work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      KOffice is nice, too

      Here's hoping they develop along the KISS principle.

    2. kneedragon


      Yes, of course they work - which is WHY microsoft are dissing them.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Partly true, partly FUD, partly MS

    I think it's indisputable that OpenOffice has a dated and slightly clunky UI. Although the Ribbon interface is a pointless, MS Office always manages to look modern and sharp.

    But OpenOffice does a good job. I've prepared many non-trivial documents with no significant problems. While it's true that it has some bugs, it's no better or worse than Office. Both of them sometimes do add things with formatting. It's hypocritical of MS to point the finger in this respect because it's no better.

    The worst part is the fear they try to instil. "Use Office, or no one will like you... your work will be poorly received... etc, etc." This is partly true, but the fault is with MS. It has a virtually unbreakable stranglehold on the market, which makes Office the 'standard' by default. But this isn't a true public standard, because no one can truly comply with it except MS. I fear the only thing that will enable some real competition is more anti-trust action.

    1. Nigel 11

      Dated and slightly clunky UI?

      You could say that about the pedals and big wheel that we all use to control our cars. But no-one would seriously *dream* of changing that interface. There would be fatal consequences if they did.

      After one has used an interface lots, it gets patterned into the non-conscious parts of our brains, so that conscious thoughts can concentrate on *what* I am creating, and the unconscious deals with the details of formatting etc. This is why I loathe and detest Microsoft's continuous and gratuitous invention of new interfaces, without even offering a "classic interface" option. Openoffice has so far left the interface alone, and I sincerely hope that they continue to do so.

      In my book, the only interface that ever needs changes that are not backwards-compatible, is the one that is immediately hated by new users, and which continues to be hated after climbing its learning curve. Menus are an extremely good way of making it possible to insert new features without confusing the heck out of experienced users of the old features.

    2. Ammaross Danan


      Just kick them both in the nads and turn in your paper/proposal/et al as an Adobe PDF.

      1. Penguin herder

        Not necessarily a joke

        LaTeX is an acquired taste, but it has its points. Formatting becomes secondary to document structure and content. Modern text editors chip away at the disadvantages. Don't expect it to be an overnight transition, but if you give it some time, you might really like it. TeX Maker is a good editor:

        I eventually end up having to convert documents to html and then .doc format using OpenOffice, but I do my best to delay that conversion. The LaTeX output (pdf or dvi) looks better than anything I have seen done with any word processor, and citations, cross-references and footnotes are easy to use. The mathematical typesetting is GREAT.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    You know you've arrived when...

    ...MS starts releasing glossy FUD about you. Congrats, OpenOffice!

    1. Doug 3
      Gates Horns

      sounds like there are lots of companies trying OOo and that's good

      good for everyone but Microsoft. That same vid could be used against Microsoft by swapping OOo with Microsoft Office and open source with Microsoft software. I know lots of people who spent hours and even days fixing Windows computers and in some cases required a complete reinstallation of Windows and all their software.

      This kind of negative FUD is what Microsoft uses to keep customers, not win back ones who have already left. The smart ones will look at this and realize that OOo and OSS has really arrived if Microsoft is mentioning it their 10K and publicly spending money marketing against it. You do not spend money on none issues.

      Evil Bill because this is the same tired old FUD, just a different monopoly

  5. Yag

    Dissing concurence...

    Probably one of the worst method to get customers, but still far easier than fixing one's own flaws.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting . .

    I've used OpenOffice for years and never used Office of any version at home. I've never had a problem sending or receiving documents. However some of the statements are correct; people familiar with Office will need some retraining, translation of Macros will require work; anyone chaging any product wil know that the cost is not limited to the licences.

    But I agree with the correspondent that this show Microsoft is worried about OpenOffice and for thelife of me I can't really see why. For many, many organisations Office is so embedded that they will never look at alternatives; for others the upheaval will require a truly significant benefit (and licensing costs just don't cut it) which can be very hard to find.

    Are Microsoft just thrashing about trying to counter any possible threat before it becomes significant?

    1. The Other Steve
      Thumb Up

      If only it were so

      "However some of the statements are correct; people familiar with Office will need some retraining, translation of Macros will require work; anyone changing any product will know that the cost is not limited to the licences."

      Sadly, some shops end up lumbered with a "swap it all to FOSS and fuck the haters" person at a strategic position in their tech hierarchy who is wilfully ignorant of this, or a beancounter in the money chain who is - wilfully or otherwise - ignorant of same. Or both, which is even worse.

      And I think "some retraining" rather understates the case, to be honest. Productivity software is simply not fungible. Oddly enough the set of people who continue to insist that it is heavily intersects with the set of people who would happily chew their own hands off at the wrist rather than use a text editor other than vi. Go figure.

      "For many, many organisations Office is so embedded that they will never look at alternatives; for others the upheaval will require a truly significant benefit (and licensing costs just don't cut it) which can be very hard to find."

      I know that, you know that, but watch the bile that this comment generates. And despair.

      1. Tom 35

        And I think "some retraining" rather understates the case

        But the same can be said for moving from Office 2003 to 2007.

        From what I've seen Outlook/Exchange seems to be the biggest lockin for most mid-large companies.

        1. The Other Steve
          Thumb Up

          But the same can be said for moving from Office 2003 to 2007

          Oh yes, very much so.

          1. Robert E A Harvey

            yes indeedy

            Migration training has been necessary for lots of MS re-issues, where they just changed stuff.

            unfortunately I now work for $MEGACORP which thinks we should pay for our own migration training in our own time. Instead I just get slower and slower at my job.

            And I run Debian at home, which has the side effect of ensuring I don't accidentally train myself for them.

          2. Mark 65

            2003 -> 2007

            Training, very much so and don't forget that you can certainly open 2003 spreadsheets in 2007 and monumentally fuck up the formatting of charts etc (save as 2007 format from 2003 is the way to go). 2007 has serious issues with charting and associated performance.

            With regards lock-in mentioned in previous posts their attack on the enterprise is multi-pronged as you'd expect. Exchange is a good starting point. Then add some sharepoint. Then you have integration of the rest of the office suite with these (spreadsheet services etc). Chances are you're using their AD which means you also have a host of their servers when coupled to the previous two apps. Use of their desktop is a no-brainer, then .Net etc for bespoke stuff and before you know it you are virtually top to bottom a MS shop. Areas that they fail at are the mission critical trading systems type things where a lot can be hosted on commodity Linux kit. Good luck breaking up the rest of it though. It just proves you don't need to be the best at anything but if it's all usable and integrates you're there - I've got to hand it to Bill on that front.

            I think that the *nix ecosystem needs to make a more concerted effort in coordinating it's attack - servers + exchange equivalent + sharepoint equiv. + oo + remote config etc etc all packaged nicely like the MS small business server stack etc. Having equivalents but no packaging up and integration can be a major turn-off and is why MS can get the business. Correct me if someone offers this as I'd be interested to take a look.

      2. Martin Owens


        A move to ownership from renting needs serious consideration for long term stability. A sensible IT director would transition over time and make sure there is IT training embedded in their corporate culture anyway. What IT systems stay the same over 5 years? (apart from unix)

  7. James Pickett
    Gates Horns

    About time

    And when did an MS exec last use Open Office? Or do their own typing, even..?

    Doesn't this just confirm that MS is finally taking OO seriously? I'd read that as an endorsement...

  8. The BigYin

    Please excuse the swearies

    What a load of fucking FUD. When documents are sent in an ISO standard (that'd be ODF) there is no issue.

    This only good thing about this is that MS are obviously shitting bricks at the moment. If all you can do it attack your opponent, you clearly have no credible attributes of your own.

    OOo/LibreOffice is not perfect by any means, but for the price it is hard to beat.

  9. hj

    rightly so

    OOo is a full replacement for Microsoft Office.

    1. Oninoshiko

      except that it's not.

      It is a mostly capable replacement, and I use it at home, but there are still some features that it lacks. There are some obscure graphs it cannot do (I needed them for a stats class a few years back. Never needed them since, so not a huge loss). Also it does not properly integrate with viso ( or a solid Visio replacement).

      In fairness, I have yet to actually FIND a replacement that works as well as Visio. Yes, I'm aware of Dia, and when NetZoom integrates with it (or all of the functionality of NetZoom is there) we'll talk.

      1. hj

        was a little hasty

        Should have said: rightly so because OOo is for 97,43 % of the users a good alternative.

  10. James O'Shea
    Gates Horns

    yeah. right

    This would be the same MS Office 2007 and 2010 that I hear screams of frustration about the, and I quote, "God-damned idiotic ribbon" on a weekly basis? OpenOffice is clunky, to be sure. OpenOffice has problems with some MS Office files, to be sure. But... Office 2007 has _more_ problems with files from other versions of MS Office (I have _multiple_ PowerPoint 2008 files which have problems in PowerPoint 2007 but which PowerPoint 2003 and 2004, _and_ Keynote, _and_ OpenOffice, all open without complaint; I have _multiple WOrd 2007 files which have problems in Word 2008, 2004, and 2003 but which Pages and OpenOffice will open, if not without complaint, at least with fewer problems. Yes, Apple's iWork, at $80, and OpenOffice 3.x, at $free, is more compatible with MS Office than Office 2007 at $vastsums.

    The only real reason to use MS Office is Excel. And even there Mickeysoft has screwed up; for example, they yanked macros from Excel 2008 for Mac, which is a major reason why they faced a user revolt and had to put 'em back into Excel 2011. (This makes that bit about the lack of macros in OpenOffice absolutely hilarious...) Office 2011 for Mac apparently is still 32-bit (no very large spreadsheets for you, boyo) and single-tasking (again, if you have a large spreadsheet and need to recalculate things, it's actually faster to fire up VMWare Fusion, launch Excel 2007 inside the virtual machine, and do the calculation there, than it is to do the same calculation using Excel 2011. And no, I'm neither joking nor making this up. If you reboot the Mac into Windows and run Excel 2007 natively, the difference in calculation times _on the same hardware_ is astounding. Why, one might even think that this would be _deliberate_ on Mickeysoft's part, but they wouldn't go to the trouble of _crippling their own product_, now would they?) and Excel 2011 is, again allegedly, still missing some features that were available in Excel 2007 on Windows. (Hmm. Maybe they _would_ deliberately cripple their own product. Who knew?)

    The day that Apple, or Oracle, or whoever, I simply don't care who, comes out with a spreadsheet good enough to replace Excel (Numbers is Not Ready For Prime Time and OpenOffice's spreadsheet is even more clunky than the rest of the suite) is the day I toss every example of MS Office the hell out of the office. And I've been an Excel user since it was MultiPlan and Chart.

    Redmond can bite me.

    1. Charles 9


      ...I actually use Calc on a regular basis. I've actually been MSOffice-free for well over a year. Sure, there were teething issues, but I got over them, and I've been able to do everything I could do before in MS Office on OO--including spreadsheets. Sure, I've seen it go slow at times...but then again a 1.1GHz Duron is considered a Slow CPU by today's standards. It's also nice that it's really cross-platform, since I regularly use both Windows and Ubuntu boxes, and being able to open them up on either and be able to work pretty much from GO is a Good Thing.

      What Microsoft is most afraid of isn't defections but newcomers choosing The Other Side. Newcomers won't have the transition issues since there's no transition to begin with. And once they're settled in The Other Side, the institutional inertia that favors Microsoft now will start working against them.

    2. Mark 65

      32-bit Excel

      I wouldn't worry too much about that as you'll find a lot of deployments of 2010 for windows installed as 32-bit not 64-bit due to the lack of compatibility of 3rd party add-ins - MS even recommends the 32-bit install on the setup dialog.

      1. Tom Betz

        32-bit Office 2010 is required...

        ... if you are using Sharepoint 2010. 64-Bit Office is incompatible.

        I've been testing Office 2010, and am about to dump it. Bring in an Excel 2003 spreadsheet and apply Strikethrough to a field, and the field's formatting is hosed -- the text falls below the cell! Nothing you do after that brings it back (though I haven't tried loading the sheet into OOo yet, saving it as OOo, and then saving it again as Excel -- that has fixed problems introduced by Excel 2003 in the past.)

        1. rciafardone

          Funny you said that...

          Because more than one i have used OOo as a sort of quick fix for corrupted excel files. I dont know why it works but it does.

          A couple of year ago a worker asked me for help in trying to recover a damaged excel file. Long story short the standard recommendations failed, then i contacted a friend who gave me the advice to try to open it with OOo and save it again. Not only did it open it without even a warning, but the data was there, untouched except for a formatting in the titles.

          How can a third party open your damaged files and restore them better that the very application they were made in???

  11. Nick Haw


    I remember when Office 2007 came out, users didn't know how to use it cause it wasn't like Office 97 - 2003. Makes me laugh that one of the issues was that people didn't know how to use OpenOffice...

  12. Tom Chiverton 1


    Plain and simple, same old plan from MS...

  13. FreeTard

    ARS technica

    Am I the only one who reads that ARSE technica?

    Is that how its pronounced or is it A.R.S technica?

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Acronym humour

      There's a similar 'funny' when you're working with the Windows Shell API. Their abbreviation of 'Shell Item ID' is 'SHITEMID'.

  14. OSC

    Ars comments look a bit susicious too

    Read/scanned a couple of pages of them, so level toned, so matter-of-fact, so uniformly anti-OOo and disparaging of Linux (where mentioned) they look like they were written by the same person in diffent phases of their life: student, SME, business owner etc.,

    They're worth a read for their studied weirdness.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    They're right to be scared

    We're certainly seriously considering shifting 90% of the workforce onto OOO.

    Why do we need office 2007 for people just to write a basic letter or a simple spreadsheet. Only the power users with lots of macros or Access users need MS Office.

    Lets be honest the majority could use Wordpad for a lot of their work.

    Not the crappyness of the ribbon makes the shift from 2003 ->2007 a good time to move them to OOO. Retraining will cost whichever you are moving users to.

    But lets not forget MS has managed to get themselves onto the school curriculum for computing and business subjects. Teach kids on OOO and they'll fail because the course and therefore the exam questions are specific to MS Office and probably Office 97 at that.

    That needs to be changed sharpish.

    1. styven

      My company partly shifted.......

      I work for a builders merchant, hardly a cutting edge industry, and was pleasantly suprised that when I joined them 3 years ago they were already using OO. I indeed requested being switched over from MS Office to OO as I was in a field role and we and the head office bods are "blessed" with MO while the branch staff and managers get OO.

      As others have said many only need basic functions whether they are using either office suite. There are issues however, one being head office types sending out documents that won't play nice with OO, macros,formatting,pivot tables etc. That said I have been successful on the odd occasion in getting these "corrected" so all can view and use.

      The other issue is all training courses are based on Excel Word Ppoint, which is annoying.

    2. Mark 65


      "But lets not forget MS has managed to get themselves onto the school curriculum for computing and business subjects. "

      That in itself is a downright disgrace. That kids should be taught about a vendor/particular app rather than a concept is bullshit. Use Excel by all means but test on the concepts not the OS or app you implement them in.

      I've said this before and I'll say it again - education is not about churning out kids with full app/product knowledge to just slot into an employer like some sort of training ground, it's about getting them to understand the concepts so that they can work shit out for themselves.

  16. Giles Jones Gold badge

    They tried something else

    In the videos the people interviewed tried something else. So that suggess they werent entirely happy with Office. Once a better rival comes along then MS will be stuffed.

    What needs to happen is a similar situation to the web where many sites were IE optimised. People should stop using proprietary document formats and go for an open format. Then the open source community can improve open offive just like they converted netscape into something usable.

    Using word format is like doing IE only websites.

  17. alain williams Silver badge

    Where to start ....


    * With an undefined .doc format ?

    * Different versions of MS word are not compatible with each other

    * Or do they mean that MS Office is not compatible with ISO/IEC 26300:2006 (.odf) ?

    * This will change as more people use OoO - look at the browser wars


    * Depends where you start from. I find MS Office hostile, but then I rarely use it.

    * Retrain your staff & they will be quite happy with OoO

    * Complained about the tech staff who were unfamiliar with OoO - well train them

    * People complain about User Interface differences between versions of MS Office, is that not a problem ?

    * Why did all the attributions (except the last) fly by too quickly to read ?

    I could go on ....... you know what they say about how to tell when marketing men are lying ?

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Also at school

    My daughter is in the 3rd year (she's 8 now) and they happily get OpenOffice lessons at school, which by the way, seem perfectly normal to her as that's what we have on the computer at home as well...

    She's very happy she can show us what she has learnt to do in school on the computer at home. Excellent!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      More school

      My kids have netbooks sponsored by the school and provided through the eLearning Foundation (we still have to pay for them but it keeps the capital cost down). Uses MS Windows 7 but supplied with OpenOffice which I'm happy about because that is what they use at home!!

  19. paul brain
    Gates Halo

    Understandable but...

    What about the support calls for the Ribbon interface ? where are the costs there. I've been using Microsoft office for 15 years and I still spend too much time looking for something in Office 2007.

    I've now moved the organisation over to OpenOffice and due to the limited feature needs of 90% of staff and apart for the first couple of weeks, no one even notices that they're not using a microsoft product. They just use what they're given. We left the finance bods with MS Office and eveyone else gets open office. The savings are considerable.

    Its understandable that MS consider / google docs and other productivity suits as competitors... because they are. If MS were not paying attention to competitors in what is certainly their biggest cash cow, Steve-O would go far and beyond chair throwing.

    I miss Office 97 ;-) and Bill.

  20. James 93


    Im my opinion i dont really think OpenOffice is good on the business scale im sure a lot of you would beg to differ but MS does a good job targeting the business market. average joe is a different matter more bothered on price. Whenever i have come across people its oh i dont really want to pay for it what can i get, and OpenOffice fills that void. The business market has need that not all open software meets because of the nature of being open and for that matter i cant see it ever overtaking office. I might be completely wrong but thats my personal take!

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      OoO is certainly good enough for 80%

      I am certain that you can find some users who need to use MS Office because of certain features (eg some macros). But for the vast majority of people who want to knock up simple letter, reports & the such OoO is plenty good enough.

      The OoO spread sheet is plenty capable as well & can run many excel macros.

      Some 3rd party apps expect MS Word - so give the guys who use that MS Office, everyone else wil be happy with OoO.

      I am in the other position. I sent a .ods spreadsheet to someone; MS Office opened it, did the calculations to present the numbers but threw the formuli away - making it useless. Would you call that an MS Office compatability problem ? (Or was it MS trying to make .ods look bad/hard to use ?)


This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like