back to article OpenOffice 3.2 - now with less Microsoft envy

OpenOffice 3.2 - now now available for Windows, Mac and Linux - boasts faster start-up times than before. But the really big news is that now - finally - this open-source suite offers full compatibility with files created using Microsoft's Office 2007. If you've ever tried opening or converting .docx and other Microsoft Office …


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  1. Tom 7

    Compatible with MSOffice7

    until the next MS update I would guess.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      More like "already incompatible" in a few areas

      First of all, even 2.x has some level of compatibility with MSFT formats. While it refuses to read word 2007, excel 2007 and IIRC ppt 2007 work fine. Also, adapters for 2007 formats were available from Suse as far back as in 2008.

      However, all of that is basic compatibility. Works fine, but it is not great where you really need it. There are two places where OO is still not compatible with MSFT as of 3.1.11 (I need to retest 3.2, when the debian backport comes out on bpo):

      1. Bibliographical references are broken. OO export/import to MSFT breaks bibliography to bits.

      2. Transparency in imported vector objects (Visio and the like) is not handled correctly. OO will display something that is 50% transparent as fully transparent.

      Otherwise it has been getting faster since 2.x which is a rare exemption in a world where software is only getting slower. So while clearly "already incompatible" it is a reasonable office suite. If it finally delivers a tolerable diagram tool at least the level of visio 5.5 (1999) I will be able to finally stop using MSFT for text editing altogether.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Native Client

    A major advantage of Google's Applications is that business people can stop carrying a latop around. Just go to the next browser, log in with your Google Email address and have access to all of your spreadsheets and other documents, including full-text search and versioning.

    As the article pointed out, JavaScript is not up to the task of running a complex, full-blown office suite. But Google's Native Client could help here the capability to safely execute the traditional compiled C++ code.

    So Oracle should port OpenOffice to Native Client and run OpenOffice inside of a browser. Oracle should offer the server part as a service or as the tradionally licensed software that companies can run on their own hardware (still accessible over the internet, of course). That would address confidentiality concerns many have about the "cloud".

    The Native Client concept is basically simple and rock-solid. Look at this:

    1. Anonymous Coward

      The next browser is 70%+ infected with next spyware

      If the next browser is on a PC belonging to a corporation it in 95% of the cases has a keyboard logger and a screen capture utility run by whoever owns the PC.

      If it is not a PC in a kiosk 95% of the cases it has a keylogger hooked up straight to a gang stealing credentials.

      If it is a private windows PC, 20-30% of the cases it has spyware, trojan and a keylogger of some description.

      So allowing your users to use them on "any PC with a browser" is not an advantage, it is a first degree idiocy.

      As a sysadmin with 15+ years of experience I understand the desire by some "business people" not to carry a laptop around. It is inconvenient, large and uncomfortable to hold on top of your engorged manhood in a strip bar expensed as "entertaining customers". However, business is not only getting the customer drunk and enjoying strippers together. It actually involves doing work (bad word I know) and communicating with your company in a manner that does not jeopardise the company's financial and intellectual property.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Not until hell freezes over

      "Just go to the next browser, log in with your Google Email address and have access to all of your spreadsheets and other documents, including full-text search and versioning."

      And so can anyone else who hacks the website, or finds the USB sticks with the backups that some numpty left on the train. No business person in his/her right mind is going to trust their office docs to a fluffy feelgood cloud service. The biggest users of that sort of service are the same tw@ts that tweet their breakfast to their facebook friends. It's only a matter of time until some bozo gets caught keeping their kiddieporn spreadsheet on it, and then people will drop off it faster than shit off a shovel.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Naive trust in 3rd parties

      "Just go to the next browser, log in with your Google Email address and your customer will have access to all of your spreadsheets and other documents, including full-text search and versioning."

      Fixed that for you.

      Assuming you're at a customers.

      You can replace "your customer" with "your competitor" or "everyone" appropriately.

  3. john7777777

    why would someone convert from 2007?

    In general most business stepping over to openoffice have/had at least office 2003. In that case converting is no problem.

    When a business wants to step over to openoffice from ms-office 2007 it will be planned way a head. This gives time to use ms office 2007 to save the office formats to the 2003 formats. So no problem either.

    In any case, converting documents is never a good idea when these document could be use in any kind of legal dispute. After converting the trustworthy of a document is just nog that high any more. In this case you don't wan't to convert the documents but only want to be able to read it. This can be done using the free ms-office readers from ms.

    In short, don't get why its such a big deal that openoffice is late with the converting tool... there should be no need for it when applying document management.

    1. Greg J Preece

      It's because...

      ...and you'll be astonished by this - OTHER people might have gone for Office 2007 instead. I know you'll find it hard to believe, but sometimes we receive documents from outside the company! Wowzers. What an age we live in, eh?

      1. Daniel B.
        Thumb Down

        @Greg J Preece

        Which companies? Most of the places I've worked at in the last 3 years have stuck to XP and Office 2003. No one in their right mind has chosen 2007, especially with that "Ribbon" thingy that seems to have eaten up all their beloved menus. Not to mention Vista, which I've seen in only 2 corporate PC' in that same timeframe; and those PCs were new. In fact, I suspect new PC acquisitions have been frozen in most corps *thanks* to Vista. Woo!!!

    2. Tarthen

      Why? Plenty of reasons...

      When you get sent documents saved in .docx format (which I do), being able to convert them is invaluable. Especially when the MS Office readers don't work for me - being on Linux and all.

      But seriously, try saving all of a working business' documents from one format to another. You will end up suicidal, so therefore it is much better being able to read those documents at the client end, rather than have to convert them all to a different format beforehand (which STILL isn't OpenOffice's default format, and is probably also reverse engineered...).

  4. jake Silver badge

    Fluff, AKA sheeple food

    "If Oracle can provide a first-rate connect-anywhere, edit-anywhere online office suite, it might have finally found something that can break Microsoft's stronghold on business productivity tools."

    I've been connecting to my private network from "anywhere" to edit files that make my personal businesses a pleasure to run for a couple decades now ...

    Here's the thing that most folks are missing ... I do most of my text editing with a text editor (I'm partial to vi, YMMV), usually typ(o)ed on an IBM model M keyboard, attached to a 3151 monitor. The combination allows my brain+fingers to put ideas into ASCII faster than anything else I've ever tried writing with.

    Once I have the basic concept on-screen, editing it a trifle to make my thoughts more coherent is trivial ... and if I have to format the result of that editing to make it "frilly" (to separate money from people who think that fonts and colo(u)rs and graphics and dancing sheep are more important than the core message that is easy enough to convey with good old ASCII), I can still edit the frilly bits with good old vi ...

    Microsoft has been separating sheep from their money for a long time. I don't buy into it.

    I won't buy into it if Oracle's Sun division tries to fleece the sheep, either ...

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


      My god! One that still works!

      These terminals had the most unreliable video system I have EVER seen. The brightness is the thing that fails most, leading to having to peer at the screen with all the lights off. Then there is the flyback supression that lead to ugly left-to-right, bottom-to-top diagonal lines. The power switch breaks, and the clips/screws that hold the mainboard to the case appear to come undone. The built in tilt foot breaks, and the tilt and swivel base (if fitted, it was an extra purchase) would fall off whenever yo picked up the terminal.

      And this is just the hardware!. The 3151 used IBM specific terminal codes (i.e. not compliant with ANSI X3.64, Wyse 50/60 or any other terminal I came across). Whilst they worked, there were some real ugly features like not being able to turn on or off the bold/underscore/flash capabilities independently. IBM addressed this by having 'compatibility cartridges', which definitely did NOT do what they said on the can. The cartridge for AIX compatibility was supposed to work with AIX (surprise), but in reality, because there were multiple versions, most of which were broken in different ways, it was useless. You had to tweak the termcap/terminfo entries to get them working at all.

      And don't get me started in the stupid cables that were the official way to plug them into a PC/RT 6150 or RS/6000. 10 pin MODU or RJ45 to 25 pin D-shell, straight through 25-25 pin serial cable and then a Serial Interposer (that was wired differently from a standard null-modem) that stuck out of the back of the terminal just begging to be broken. (later RS's used 9 pin D shells, a major step forward).

      The only good feature was, as jake said, that they came with Model M keyboards (a real class act), but this was spoilt by having a stupid RJ11 connector on the end of the cable that meant that the keyboard could only be used on 3151s without hacking them around. I also agree with vi (pronounced vee eye not vye or 6 [think about it!]), but would say that if it suits you, Emacs still works very well on non-graphical terminals.

      Thankfully, the 3152 and 3153 were better, but they were still worse than DEC/Wyse/HP and any number of small company alternatives.

      My favorite was a small company set up by some ex. Wyse engineers, called Falco. These were amazing terminals, with good keyboards, readable screens, dual serial ports with separate terminal sessions on each, good ANSI X3.64/VT220 (amongst a host of others), and to cap it all, good Tektronic 4014 emulation. And they were cheap! They were the perfect compliment to System V systems, allowing all of the AT&T goodies such as S, graph, sag and the tek backend to diTroff to work. The only thing that was better, I found, were the Blits (5620/630/730), but these were in a different price league from any other terminal.

      Oh well. It's mainly all boring history now, as my work colleagues keep reminding me. Where's the Boring Old Fart icon! I guess a beer will have to do.

      1. jake Silver badge

        @Peter Gathercole

        "You had to tweak the termcap/terminfo entries to get them working at all."

        Uh ... your point was ... what, exactly?


        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge


          My point that 3151's were not good terminals. You would not get Vi working on a 3151 with a 'bad' compatibility cartridge and the out-of-the-box termcap/terminfo entries on AIX (or any other UNIX variant).

          Sorry, my post wandered from the initial thread.

          1. jake Silver badge

            @Peter Gathercole & @DrXym

            Peter: Just digging you in the ribs, I know you've been around the block a time or two ... Yes, they have a bad reputation, but my 3151s seem to be working fine ... I got a pallet load of them from Wierdstuff Warehouse about ten years ago for $25.00 ... most of them were/are unused, and in their original packaging ... I was mostly interested in the Model M keyboards, and planning on recycling the terminals ... but on a whim, I plugged one into a Slackware box. It worked without any issues, so I kept 'em.

            DrXym: Yes, that was typed on a text only terminal attached to a serial port on this laptop's docking station. Save to ~, shift keyboards, and copy/paste into the browser. I do most of my writing that way ... at least anything longer than this post. And no, I'm not angry. Not even vaguely irritated. More puzzled than anything else. Why does it take longer today to generate a document than it did back in the days of VisiCalc and Wordstar? More to the point, why are people generating so much static, defending so-called "productivity suits" that are anything but productive? Rather than me reinventing the wheel, re-read Peter's commentary, above.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      I agree

      In fact, I go one better and use only cuneiform on clay tablets. IBM have been separating sheep from their money for far too long ...

    3. DrXym


      Strange as it may be, not everyone likes editing text files through a terminal application, and there is no need to either for mere mortals. Even the most ardent open source person can enjoy the likes of Open Oiffce, Eclipse, Gedit, Abiword, KWord etc. That doesn't stop someone dropping to the command line and there may be occasion where doing a quick change merits firing up vi

      It also doesn't stop masochists raging at 30 years of UI advances, calling people "sheeple" etc. while hammering angrily into their terminal editor. You are using an editor to voice your response? Or at least lynx? Or at least wget? I'd hate to think you were voicing your anger about modern word processors while using a modern web browser. That might be ever so slightly hypocritcal.

      1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @DrXym. WYSIWYG!!!

        I have always found it to be a real benefit thinking about the content first, and then making sure it is pretty afterwards. Using a text editor is ideal for this. This is not a UNIX bigot's point of view, it's from long experience of writing technical documents using both ways of working.

        I have seen too many supposedly good technical writers spend more time fiddling with the format rather than thinking about what they were writing, and then turning in hurried and poorly thought out technical documents just in time for their deadline.

        I believe that WYSIWYG was the worst thing to happen to office productivity. Let a text formatter work out how to fit the paragraphs and pages together. They are generally better at it than you and I (at least in the technical arena), and as long as you can tweak it to remove the worst of the uglies, the documents will not look any worse (and may look much better!). And don't talk about style guides. Word's habit of keeping the style when cutting and pasting has led to more font/paragraph inconsistencies in documents I have been given than I can count.

        The only time WYSIWYG is useful is if you are after the full DTP experience for full page layout, like magazine articles or advertising, and you would not be using Office or Open Office for this, unless you are forced to, or are a masochist.

        But then, I am from the Troff/MM/MS macros era. My documents may lack some of the niceties (although with tbl, pic, grap, and eqn it's a close call), but they will be consistent from beginning to end, and I can concentrate on making the content correct. This is far more important in my line of work.

        BTW. How do you know that the text was not written using vi and cut and pasted! And I would not call this comment window I'm typing in anything more than a simple text editor, more like notepad, wordpad, EDT/EVE or any number of simple text editors than Word or Oowriter.

  5. Tezfair

    mail merge

    In older versions mail merge was the one part that meant my clients couldn't move from MS. once they make it as easy to do a mail merge (and im not just talking about addresses) then IMHO we can start moving away to OO

    1. ChrisInBelgium

      Exactly right!

      They should put the emphasis on the database part and the connections from the rest of the applications to the data. That would make it instantly useable as a MSO replacement.

      The people who are addicted to Excel are never going to be using something else anyway, as a matter of fact, in many cases, it's the ONLY thing they are able to use.

    2. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      I found (e)mail merge in OO

      easier and more robust than MS-Office. There are some weirdnesses to get round at the start, but at least it will talk to a (standard compliant, authenticated SMTP) mail-server, which MS-Office refused to do.

  6. Periquet dels Palots

    To hell with the cloud!

    I have just returned from a long trip that took me to the US and the UK. No internet when away from Spain, unless I want to pay something like 10€ PER MEG. I pay in Spain 12€ per month for unlimited access (cellphone only).

    We better hold on to our native apps and storage for a while: at those prices, the Cloud is nothing more than a few stratospheric cirrus. I hope that, like in the real world, they signal a change of weather.

    ps/ Funnily, sending SMS from the UK was actually cheaper than sending them from Spain, though.

  7. George 24

    Good News and Bad News

    The good. Open Office is moving a little bit closer to being a real alternative to MS Office.

    The bad. In view of Oracle licen$ing model, Open Office is not going to be in the open source for very much longer.

    1. A J Stiles

      Once Open, Always Open

      "Open Office is not going to be in the open source for very much longer" -- how so? is licenced under the LGPL, which grudgingly allows closed forks (though you must still make available ). But, crucially, it also allows GPL forks -- and GPL is forever.

      The Source Code is out there, and always will be so. Look at what happened with the cdrtools package, or XFree86, if you want to see how the Open Source community handles people suddenly turning selfish. The minute Oracle try something nasty with, Ubuntu will be shipping a GPL fork.

    2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Open Source!

      It's in the open. I'd have to check with the license, but if Oracle choose to stop developing it, it could be forked.

      1. vagabondo

        re: Open Source!

        OOo has been forked for some time. Most Linux users/distros use the Novell backed version. This tend to lead the Sun/Oracle version by a couple of releases as far as speed and alien imports go.

        As most MS Windows users seem to use the Sun version, and most 'nix users don't realise they are using go-oo, there is plenty of room for confusion when making comparisons.

  8. Peter Black

    Office 2007 files

    I think it would be fair to point out that there's been a separate plugin that allowed versions of OpenOffice prior to 3.2 to open MS Office 2007 files. With 3.2 that support is improved and comes integrated out of the box.

    It would also be reasonable to point out that Microsoft has made something of a dog's breakfast in supporting the new file formats on versions of Office for Mac....

  9. b4k4


    I've been opening docx in OOo 3.1 for months already. Perhaps you had an earlier version?

    Somehow can't see Oracle taking care of OOo the way Sun did, but let's hope so. Desktop Linux (as in for use in displacing MS from offices and schools, not as in "Abiword and K-office do everything I need") is very heavily dependent on OOo.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    "Microsoft Office is - for better or worse - the moving target must aim for"

    Why such assertions? OpenOffice merely attempts to provide a free alternative to a very expensive suite. If you need all the fancy features that it does not implement or you need to use a proprietary file format which introduces vendor lock-in, they sure, use MS Office.

  11. DrXym

    Much faster

    OpenOffice is a great app but it had appalling startup times. The startup in 3.2 is very acceptable indeed and a welcome improvement.

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re : Much faster

      "but it had appalling startup times"

      Truer to say that the default installation had slow startup - disabling Java and enabling Quickstarter means I can open Calc with a 70k spreadsheet in <8 secs over wireless network with a fairly wimpy laptop (mobile Celeron 1.5MHz)

  12. Bruno Girin
    Thumb Up

    Office 2007

    To be honest, considering that very few of my customers use MS Office 2007 and the few that do only use it marginally and all save their documents in the good old Office XP/2003 format, I have had no problem using OO 3.1 when working with them. Note: those are the same customers that still use XP and IE 6 (or sometimes 7) as standards in the enterprise.

    Now that MS are coming out with Office 2010, they will probably want to push their customers that are still on Office 2003 to upgrade and I reckon this is when we will see a massive switch from .doc, .xls, ppt to .docx, .xlsx, .pptx and the like. So I would say that OpenOffice has full support for those just in time for the watershed. Incidentally, such a shift will probably be the source of an interesting headache for a lot of IT departments that will be asked to convert all their old documents to the new formats, which may be a golden opportunity for Oracle and IBM (with Lotus Symphony) to suggest to those customers that they might as well migrate all their documents to ODF and their software to an open source office suite that is actually less of a learning curve for users than going from Office 2003 to 2007/2010.

    And any improvement in performance is always welcome.

  13. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge

    Oulook grim...

    Now if only they had a completely compatible e-mail client. Without a viable replacement for outlook, (that can back onto an exchange server and offer all of outlook 2007's major features,) then open office is sadly not something I'll get a chance to deploy widely.

    Too bad...Open Office 3.2 has proven pretty good. It’s now on most of my home systems.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I agree

      It's Outlook with Exchange that is the clincher. Even if OOO came up with an Outlook alternative, wouldn't there be licensing issues with connecting to Exchange unless you wanted to use pop3 or something.

      The only way I can see this happening is if OOO start doing an Exchange alternative as well, because lets face it, Exchange is how hugely bloated as well. If there was a free to use email client & server solution that was actually any good, I'd jump at the chance to implement it.

      Maybe there already is, anyone know of one?

      1. Anonymous Coward

        open groupware server


      2. Trevor Pott o_O Gold badge


        Zimbra client/server is the closest I know of. Unfortunately the whole thing is in limbo due to Yahoo giving it the boot. It's not feature complete, but some of the major points are there.

        Now if only it were stable...

  14. Blubster

    "Oracle has pledged.....

    ..... to continue OpenOffice and plans to keep the entire Sun team on hand"

    That is until Micro$oft decides to buy Oracle thus killing the opposition in one fell swoop.

  15. Phantom Wibbler

    Oracle and OOo

    Why do I get the feeling that Oracle will do for Open Office what Novell did for Word Perfect? I certainly hope not, for while Open Office aint as good as it could be, it still shows the potential to be a competitor to office, if not the only one.

  16. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge


    I'm quite surprised that it took so long for straight OO to support OOXML files since there've been read only patches since 2.4, and read-write since 3.0. BUT Good on them nevertheless. Plus speed is always good.

    I'll be highly amused if something as large as OO gets turned into some Javascript monster to run in the browser.

  17. vincent himpe

    But, can it run vba macro's ?

    no ? -> bin. go play somewhere else.

    1. Mantra

      But it CAN run VBA macros!

      @vincent himpe

      Yes, it can.

      Keep on playing with OO.....

    2. M Gale
      Thumb Up

      Mmm, macros

      Because turning a relatively safe text file into an executable script is an excellent idea!

  18. Anonymous Coward

    pounding heads against walls ?

    "opening or converting .docx and other Microsoft Office 2007 file formats outside of Office 2007 itself, you've likely pounded your head against more than a few walls" ?

    Usually the head I want to pound against a wall is the numbskull who sends me such crap. Goes double (both heads ?) for Microsoft Publisher files. Is there anything in the macrocosmic all that can read Microsoft Publisher files, including Microsoft Publisher ?

    Also, while I am pounding heads, can this OO 3.2 read .wpd files from WordPerfect ? I actually know someone who uses Corel Office. No names, please, she might pound my head.

    1. Keith Oldham

      Re : pounding heads against walls ?

      "can this OO 3.2 read .wpd files from WordPerfect ?" -OpenOffice has a rather large list of types it can import including WordPerfect .wpd - I don't have any at hand to try however.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ditto Visio!

      Head hurts. Must stop hitting wall with it!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing the point?

    In my experience, OpenOffice users no longer particularly concern themselves with the degree of compatibility the suite offers respect to its Microsoft counterpart. OO users in a typical MS-less office tend to store their documents in either ODF or sometimes in one of the older MS Office formats, and make PDF copies for emailing or otherwise sharing information outside their immediate environment.

    As I say, at least in my experience, compatibility with the latest MS Office comes way down in my users' wishlists. Mostly what they demand is usability (where in certain aspects it does fall behind MS Office) and reliability (it fits the bill here). As my users work in a mixed O/S environment, it is also important that they can transfer seamlessly between MS and Penguin-powered desktops, and this is a big advantage here.

    As for OO 3.1 being slow to start... I wonder what kind of computer you have. Again, this has not been reported by any of my users, and neither do I personally feel it is so. This applies both to the virtual Windows installations and the physical Linux desktops, some of which are nearly ten year old machines.

    The Cloud? Current demand (which is hardly as much as it is made out to be) points more towards full desktop virtualisation rather than Cloud-specific apps à la Google Docs, so no immediate threats there. More of an opportunity if anything.

    All in all, and without detracting from MS Office which is a very powerful suite with some clever ideas and polished design, one has moved on from the times when OpenOffice was nothing more than the "alternative" option for those too cheap or too principled to buy MS Office. Nowadays my users run OpenOffice because it does the job and that's what they want to use, not because that's all they can afford. This article appears to have been written three years too late.

  20. Joseph Haig

    Office 2007 compatibility

    I was puzzled by your comments about OpenOffice now being able to open MS Office 2007 files as I have never had problems with these files in older releases of OpenOffice 3. The people who complain about not being able to read them are generally people using older versions of MS Office.

  21. Adam White

    "...without creating a massive vendor lock-in scheme"

    We are talking about Oracle here, right?

  22. mrweekender
    Thumb Up

    Good title...

    ...Open Office has finally started to come into it's own. The government in the UK should now force schools to adopt it, thus saving the tax payer hundreds of thousands of pounds in Microsoft license fees every year. There's no excuse anymore, well, apart from backhanders and sheer stupidity!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bad News

      The gubbermint is pushing MS into schools via their "free laptops" programme.

      But I agree, schools should be using F/OSS where possible and saving some of the money from the license fees. They should teach children how PCs and the internet work; the difference between a spreadsheet and a database. Basic skills.

      Not "Click Start/All Programs/MS Office/Word/File/Mail Merge; well done Johnny, here's your GCSE".

      1. Stuart Castle Silver badge


        One thing the Open Source community sometimes forgets (and where they don't, they neglect to mention it often isn't free).

        If I am deploying a product to thousands of desktops, I want to know that I am going to get help from the manufacturer if something goes wrong. This is something Microsoft do well,

        I am not defending Microsoft , but they are open about charging and I am asking the FOSS advocates to compare like with like. Factor in support costs to "Free" software.

        For the record, I use and support Office 2007 because I have to. I do not like it, and my personal preference is to use a Open Office derived suite, neooffice.

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Oh. That "support" thing again?

          > If I am deploying a product to thousands of desktops, I want to know

          > that I am going to get help from the manufacturer if something goes

          > wrong. This is something Microsoft do well,

          What does that level of support cost per year and what's SLA like?

          If the problem is severe enough will a team be working on it 24/7 until it's fixed (like Oracle does)? How much will this level of support cost? Have you ever used this yourself?

          Open Office was previously a product of Sun Microsystems. Now it's a product of Oracle. Both are companies that much better conform to the ideal you are trying to claim that Microsoft lives up to.

  23. Anonymous Coward


    You seem to be trying to blame OpenOffice for the anti-competitive and standards-breaking manoeuvres of MS.

    When MS Office 2007 landed in a fat, bloated heap on our hard drives there already was an ISO standard for documents. That standard was "OpenDocument" (ODF). Now, it may well have had limitations, but it was well documented and widely used. This was not good enough for MS as they would have had to compete on a level footing.

    Instead they rail-roaded and manipulated the ISO committee and forced through their "OpenOfficeXML" (DOCX) 'standard'. But it's not a true standard and it is to the eternal detriment of the whole ISO system that it ever got through. ooXML is poorly documented, internally inconsistent and thoroughly unnecessary as is DUPLICATES what was already in existence.

    It is these deficiencies in ooXML (and the documentation) that has made it hard for OpenOffice (and others) to properly implement this so-called standard. This is purely tactical play by MS, so stop chugging their "Kool Aid" and wake-up to the reality of the situation.

    OpenOffice is not perfect, but at least they are not trying to restrict competition.

    1. J 3

      their "OpenOfficeXML" (DOCX) 'standard'

      Well, they did name it to confuse. Typical.

      Wasn't it actually called "OfficeOpenXML" instead?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Just one thing

      According to the article "OpenOffice 3.2 boasts improved compliance with Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2 standards".

      ODF might be "well documented", but then why doesn't OpenOffice 3.2 guarantee 100% compliance? If they can't even fully implement the "well documented" ODF standard, why blame Microsoft when the oOO team can't fully implement Office 2007 document support?

      As for it being "widely used" when it was adopted as an ISO standard? Get real.

  24. Paul2724

    2007 compatabilty - not !

    Been having some issues lately with a number of xlsx files prepared by a client - they all open just fine in 2007 but 2007 refuses to convert them to xls format (I think its because its full of conditional formats) and what comes out of the convertor installed in 2003 is no use to anyone.

    Just tried OO 3.2 and guess what - hangs trying to open them....

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Proof positive...

      ...why you should avoid proprietary formats.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      tell your client

      not to save in xlsx format unless they are doing something which can only be done in xlsx, in which case only an idiot would try to convert the file to another format. Which would not be you of course

  25. JC 2

    Silly Spin On The Article

    The idea that Open Office (or any other office suite) needs to have 1:1 contemporary support for MS Office documents is short-sighted. Consider ANY support at all for proprietary formats a freebie, as anyone who uses proprietary MS Office formats is a fool to begin with and should just have their docs rejected on this premise alone.

    Think about it, what kind of idiot creates a document that might need be accessed by someone else, but could only be opened and supported if they are using the latest version (beta software, since you can't run the newest and have significant bugs patched through service packs and patches) of software XYZ?

    The answer is nobody. Nobody in their right mind creates a document that can't be opened, formatted properly, and edited by Office 2000, let alone 2007.

    The time we needed to be on the perpetual upgrade train is long past. It's an office document, latest and greatest space shuttle technology absolutely not needed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @JC 2

      Hear! Hear! Why are there no standards for producing documents? We all need them and that way we can choose what we would like to deploy in our business based on cost rather than compatability. Imagine a world with transferable macros. Oh, Damn! Its that money thing again.

      The real problem now is, whither support and development long term? If oracle leaves OOO to languish while they take the nice bits then it'll become useless in the long run. They said they would not, but how much is a promise worth?

      If all the office type apps had a standard for producing docs I could have Legal OOO stuff sent to someone with office without worrying about whether it would be strictly compatable.

      Heres a vote for a standard email client that works with Exchange for good measure.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up


        "Why are there no standards for producing documents?"

        There are. There is the ISO standard Open Document Format.

        Then there is the other one. Don't need to mention it as it is redundant, the above standard predates it and is in general use.

        Just as Brazil, Denmark.....

    2. M Gale


      The space shuttle fleet still runs on ye olde 8088 processors. NASA did put out advertisements asking for really old junk PCs so they could grab the parts. Google will tell you I'm sure.

  26. M Gale

    Hang on..

    I've been opening .docx for months on my crusty old copy of OO.o 3.0. Office 2007 has been claiming ODF support (and never loading even simple documents right) for about the same length of time.

    Most of the time I'll just make things in PortableOO. It works, it exports as PDF, and it doesn't have a crappy ribbon UI - even if it does try to be "clever" like MS Office (FFS, if I want a numbered list, I will tell you to make a numbered list!)

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft in schools

    Schools pay about £8 per machine per year for Windows & Office under the Schools Agreement. Those who work for schools with the SA only pay £13 for Office too.

    Businesses pay as little as £22 per user per year for a similar license, Microsoft is only expensive for home users who are not part of a bulk agreement.

    1. Leon Stringer

      Re Microsoft in schools

      > Schools pay about £8 per machine per year for Windows & Office under the Schools Agreement.

      That's the cost to the end users. The cost to the tax payer who are locked in to take whatever Microsoft give them is enormous and is surely an anti-competitive practise (albeit perfectly legal). If the users don't pay the true cost, how can they reasonably evaluate solutions?

    2. Chris Pearson

      At that price

      If the home user was able to buy at that/or at least close to that price I'm sure there would be a huge decline in pirated versions. I'll happily pay £30-50 for something I use a lot, depending what it is. I won't however pay hundreds to occasionally write a letter or make a simple spread sheet.

  28. Tom 35

    Not everyone needs MS Office

    Might even be safe to say most people don't need MS Office to do what they need to do. MS always crippled Works to the point that it didn't work for fear that people would use it in the office. Now they have a "Office Home and Student" licence for people who would not pay the full price for home use but still keep the people at the office paying full price. MS don't want a light version that would cut into sales of the full version better to sell the full version cheap with a limited use licence.

    Open Office is good enough for Home use, and most small business use. I know a couple that use Open Office but have one or two MS Office licences for the odd time they need to use it.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    database and reporting tools still poor

    Looking forward to OpenOffice one day having the straightforward data manipulation and reporting tools that MS access provided well over a decade ago.

    Looks like I won't be throwing out my copy of MS access quite yet unfortunately... but for spreadsheets and word processing it works ok (as it should as these tools aren't exactly new).

  30. Lewis Mettler 1

    the key to switching to OO

    No doubt that Microsoft is going around telling all of its customers that switching to OO is just too expensive. "Send us your money", in other words.

    But, the key to lower operating costs will be making hundreds and thousands of OO cds and just telling employees the company it moving to OO so get yourself qualified. That is a no cost option for individual employees and companies.

    OO is available for all platforms. And it makes sense to use a techonology that does not have to cost hundreds of dollars per employee each year. Training or not.

    Let the fools and idiots continue to pay Microsoft's high prices. The smart money is moving on. Or, putting that money in more powerful hardware.

    1. Chris Miller

      I don't know what's more worrying ...

      ... that some idiot wastes their time writing this drivel or that two people (so far) have voted it up.

      Office does not cost "hundreds of dollars" a year. No sizable organization should be paying more than $50 per desk including upgrades. Of course (as someone who worked in IT would already know) the greater cost is in support and integration, which is where the 'OO is free' argument breaks down.

      And as for "just telling employees ... get yourself qualified", good luck with informing the CxOs that they need to go on a training course because you've decided you want to change the Office product. You'll very likely find yourself outside on the pavement/sidewalk quicker than you can say "where'd my job go?"

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Take your fifty bucks and...

        Take your fifty bucks per employee. Don't use it to pay for MS Office, but rather, hire some experts to come to your company and train your employees how to migrate/use OO. The result can't be worse than from the experts that trained the wage-slaves to use MS Office. I once taught a lady that a spreadsheet could be used to add numbers up automatically! And this was a person who had been "trained" in office productivity software (MS Office).

        As for your "support and integration" argument; what are you? Lazy, or incompetent?

  31. Gary F

    Poor docx conversion - still

    I was looking forward to testing docx conversion in 3.2 but was surprised that it's only marginally better than 3.1 which itself was useless if the file contained graphics. Company headed documents, illustrated guides and manuals, all worthlessly converted into 3.2 requiring anything from 5 minutes to an hour to manually put right. Free software isn't always free of cost.

    If you have a lot of Word 2007 documents then it may be worth keeping your licenses than spending precious time re-working the documents in OO. Images are incorrectly aligned, wrapping doesn't seem to get converted, and this pushes text down the page so all the tidy page breaks are completely out of whack.

    If you have no documents to convert then OO is a really good package, but I could never give up MS Office because that's what my clients use and I need to retain 100% compatibility with their Office 2007 files and nothing less will do.

    Maybe next time hopefully. :-(

  32. Tarthen

    I just updated

    And all seems good.

    Ubuntu users - you have to manually remove the bundled before installing the new, if you want it to work. In addition, remember to install the Desktop Integration package - it adds the icons/listings to menus.

  33. Tom Kelsall

    Errrm.... hold on a second...

    Have I missed something here? Didn't Microsoft, through some dodgy dealings or other, get their XML document format voted in as the international document format standard? In which case why hasn't the format been released into the wild so that people like OOO don't HAVE to reverse engineer it? Weren't they up against OOO's ODF format which is already open?

    I'm confused.

  34. Whitter


    Can you embed fonts yet?

  35. Chris Thomas Alpha

    The reason most people don't use openoffice

    is not what you people are talking about, it's not because of the functionality, or the document conversion nonesense, nor incompatibilities between apps, nor because the app does things in a different way that people don't expect.

    It's because it looks like shit.

    why do people complain about the technical details when nobody really gives a damn, thats right freetards, none of you seem to realise that your toy doesnt work for many people because you don't have a designer sitting amongst you with the balls to say that your little free willy application looks like crap and therefore, most people dont like it. I shall elaborate.

    I am a professional developer, I sit around all day writing programming code, these days, mostly for the web, because it's where the easy money is. I often say to my clients that my designer is above reproach, amazing, awesome, will blow you away, will give you what you want, as you want it, without fail.

    Why do I stress this so much, because I realise, unlike most of the people, that the way to peoples minds, is through their eyes, if someone looks beautiful and works beautifully, they will look into it more seriously than if it looks like crap. Thats why people hate the gimp and why nobody uses it for professional work except a few people who like pain and therefore are the minority. the MAJORITY of professionals use photoshop? why? because it looks good, it works well, it's been designed with them in mind (designers) and a designer would only use a tool that a designer feels has been designed, not just lumped together by some code jockey who thinks they know a little bit about colour theory and therefore they are the bomb!!

    I know that people don't give two flying fucks about my programming code, even if it's the most beautifully created, amazing piece of code ever, that does everything that make a programmer proud and orgasm, a client will just shrug his shoulders and say some pleasing words without paying it anymore attention.

    Look at office 2007, it looks really nice, it's designed layouts are there for people who sit all day in front of it, working on documents, the whole program flow is customised to people who do this, when they click this button, that menu/panel appears, why? because 99% of the time, it's what people want, when they do this, that happens, etc, etc, it's the whole program flow and how it looks that makes people appreciate that you've put a lot of effort into satisfying what I need. nobody cares about openoffice because it looks like office 97, I mean, they have put how much effort into that? I can tell you how much because I'm a programmer.

    not much.

    you compare that to office 2007 and you realise that the openoffice team are putting 99.99% of their time into the programming effort not realising that their application looks like a steaming pile of turd, so their adoption rate is abysmal and they are scratching their heads wondering how to get that extra 1%.

    Hire a designer, let him make mock ups of all the parts of the application and then spend 99.9% of your time implementing THAT, then when it looks good, works great and feels integrated, people will come. Even if you're not compatible with office. You want proof? ok, fire up openoffice, then open the preferences panel. do any of your feel that this is a good panel? that it's well laid out, with options that are understandable and intuitive. if you do, you're a programmer, so instantly remove yourself from the group whose opinion matters. ask someone else who isnt a programmer, ask them to summarise it. most likely, they'll say: it looks basic and a bit old fashioned.


    Thats without even knowing how compatible it is, or how well it works, or anything about document formats. you see, users see with their eyes, programmers see with their minds.

    thats the difference and until openoffice acknowledges that trend, it'll always look like shit, run like shit and nobody will use it seriously (like gimp). I give you another example. my friend(s) who are both big freetard wannabes, started to make some serious business documents in openoffice, they needed to use impress/powerpoint, so they started out, all free software, omg orgasm free software is the future, blah blah blah, after 2 weeks, they are both using office 2007, why? because impress didnt make beautiful powerpoints that would impress the investors. because it really was slow, crap, hideous to use and office 2007 just looks beautiful, runs beautifully and runs great presentations.

    They didnt mention document formats, compatibilities, etc, etc, ONCE!

    Case closed.

    I finish with an anecdote:

    You know why I use designers? Programmers are too lazy. You can't savour all the little....details...You see, in their best efforts, programmers show you who they really are. So in a way, I knew your programmer better than you ever did....Would you like to know which of their were crap designers?"

    1. Anonymous Coward

      It looks like shit?

      OK, I'll grant you that the icons look a little play-school, but at least it doesn't have ribbons!

      Glad to see that you have figured out that a designer is nor a programmer and vice versa. Jolly good (wish my boss would). But apart from that, as a programmer, the rest of your post is just an ignorant and fallicious rant filled with appeals to a authority, ad hominems and straw-men.

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha

        the freetards come out from under the stones. should go back, it's safer

        yeah, post as anonymous coward because you don't have the balls to put your name where your mouth is.

        I'm full of shit? please tell me why? detail, point by point.

        I hate dickheads like you, you bring NOTHING to the discussion, but believe by saying "omg, you're such a troll" you are being clever. basement dwellers of the world unite! freetards like you make me sick, you ruin the opensource world by your presence yet you don't realise how idiotic you are sometimes.

        So put up or shut up, if all you've got is a paper bag full of air to respond to me with, you are not going to win many discussions, I put ACTUAL points up for all the world to see, what did you do? (anonymously too, because you know if you put it under your real name, you'd not last 5 minutes)

        summary: oh, your argument is wrong, I'll string some clever words together in the hope that someone agrees with me.

        Why is it a straw man? Why does it appeal to an authority, WHY is it an ad hominems.

        These are all things people say when they don't have a proper reply, it's the equivalent to saying that if you say a black man is bad at his job, surely it's because your racist, not because HE IS ACTUALLY BAD AT HIS JOB, thats all you guys do, you just run around screaming AD HOMINEM AD HOMINEM! in the hope that it'll make me shut up, I bet you dont even know the meaning of that phrase, or if you think you do, you don't really understand it, just parrot fashion what wikipedia tells you. Well, I call you out, prove it, or shut up, most likely shut up because you're full of it.

        listen man, nobody agrees with you, thats why openoffice isnt being used and why people run back to office 2007 when they try it. if you've got something valuable to say, say it, otherwise, STFU.

        I'm a professional programmer, who lives, breathes and eats because my opinion is right and the world agrees with me, the reason you probably are some freetard with an agenda who doesnt identify who he is, means a lot. my reputation is intact, yours? we don't even know your name.

        so let that spell out for you, how much your "opinion" is worth. I'll give you a hint.

        Not much.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          Butthurt much?

          Please tell us more about the incident of Butthurt... etc etc

      2. Chris Thomas Alpha

        oh, I forgot to embarass you a little more

        by saying that the ribbon is an amazing idea, it's so intuitive, I love it, I like the interface and realise that it's making document editing better for us all.

        the reason you little you swivel eyed freetards don't like it? because it's different, stop thinking the world listens to you when it comes to interface design, IT DOESNT.

        the world likes the ribbon, because the world likes the new facebook, you hate both of them, because you dont want to change, nor adapt, nor improve.

        the world improves without you, whether you like it or not.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ Chris Thomas Alpha

          If Steve Jobs and Steve Ballmer fathered a baby together, fed him nothing but Ritalin and corn syrup for 22 years, and told him to write a series of unhinged diatribes about open source office software being visually icky, I bet he would come up with something quite similar to what you have given us today.

          That said, I agree with your point, OO does look a bit crap, but you could have made the effort to phrase it in a way that doesn't make you sound like a pill popping lunatic with a loaded shotgun under his pillow. Perhaps you've let too much static electricity build up under your tin foil hat.

          1. Chris Thomas Alpha
            Thumb Up

            more anonymous :D

            but at least this one has brains :D

            you're right, I sometimes come across as arrogant, but no more than the swivel eyed freetard brigade, I just have the balls to say what I think, not sugar coat things to make people think happy thoughts. so you're right, I did rant, but I think it was justified. heh

            glad to see that you saw past that to the point I was making though, a lot of people get so hung up on things that they fail to see the point.

            mod parent up.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: more anonymous :D

              Glad to see my joke was taken in good spirit.

        2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Ordinary users (in the world)...

          ... do not like change. Change taxes their thinking processes, and even now, many 2007 users I know struggle with what they see as unnecessary complexity. For them, it's not intuitive. What they want is something constant, like the indicator being on a stalk on the left-hand side of the steering wheel, or the menu items being in fixed places around the window.

          And I doubt that many employers think that facebook is an improvement (on no facebook) if their employees spend all day on it rather than working! Bit like posting comments to the Register, I guess.

          As you get older, I suspect that you too will start wishing that change would slow down. It's a sad reflection on aging and society.

          And please stop frothing at the mouth. It does not endear you to anybody.

          1. Chris Thomas Alpha

            I call bullshit

            thats like the old saying that users are stupid, fact is, they arent stupid and lots of users don't make noise, know how to use google and find their own answers.

            most users are perfectly ok with change, except those who believe their opinion is the end of the discussion and the fact is, lots of people use the ribbon everyday and don't complain, the only time you hear people complaining is when funnily enough, there are problems, you never heard anyone complain because there are no problems? funny that, I can't imagine why it would be.

            most people adapt to their surrounding without effort and they are not praised for being intelligent, forward thinking individuals because unlike the screaming "I WANT THE OLD FACEBOOK" brigade, they don't put themselves in the spotlight to be counted.

            so I'm sorry but I call bullshit, users in general don't mind change and the users who complain, are those with low productivity in the first place, if someone I hired told me they couldnt get a document written in word because of office 2007, I would fire that person and hire someone more intelligent. adapt or die.

            fact is, not many people fit that category, thats why office 2007 sells like hot cakes

            1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

              I see your bullshit, and raise you a reasoned argument

              I do not know anybody who welcomes change for change's sake, unless they have too little to keep them occupied!

              I deal with real people, not organisations, and most of them accept change as a necessary evil. But many of them don't like it. Think analog TV switch-off, the arguments about DAB, the fact that they're forced to accept Direct Debit for their utility bills or effectively be fined for it, or having to go to two-weekly refuse collections. All of these things have benefits, but still generate resentment.

              Just go to the pub, and listen to what people are talking about. I'm sure that you will find people complaining about change all over the place. I do.

              And is there is a limit to the change you would accept? How about switching the side of the road we drive on, forcing you to change your car as a result. How about a change in your working conditions asking you to do another three hours a week, or altering your pension provision, even if you are told it should have no net effect? How about your credit card raising the interest rate on your account?

              Would you be happy to install tracking hardware in your car so that road tolls can be imposed, because the Government told you that it was going to reduce congestion and RTA's, and not just for their coffers).

              I see these as a difference only in degree from Microsoft imposing change requiring users to upgrade. Anyway, beer time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      @The reason most people don't use openoffice

      Fully agree with a number of the points raised here, I had DL'd and used OO a few iterations back and the first thing that struck me as a professional MS Office user was the clunky and haphazard feel of the UI.

      Don't get me wrong I knew straight away that OO was vastly more feature rich than MS Office but you can never underestimate the "look & feel" of an app.

      The biggest mistake that a lot of fanboi geeks make on their apps is spending all that time coding in functionality when "look & feel" is of equal importance.


      1. Chris Thomas Alpha
        Thumb Up

        someone gets it! champs all around!

        man, you're bang on the money, openoffice has more features and tbh, it's in some ways better, but it's the complete lack of respect they have for the look and feel that just lets people down.

        I want that openoffice succeeds, really I do, I'm pissed off and angry not because it's shit, but because I want it to succeed and it doesnt, why? because they are too busy coding and not spending enough time on the little things, typical freetard mentality, if the code is good, people will use it.

        NO NO NO NO NO!!!!

        Everyone wants the openoffice succeeds in their heart, because it'll mean the us geeks have won the war, we gave the world what the world said we couldnt give them and we give it at a zero price (which is great if you run a budget).

        but the fact is, it looks like crap, so most people just think, urgghhh, wtf is that!!

        if you want to know a nicer looking openoffice that MIGHT have a better change to gain traction, look at lotus symphony 3 beta 2, it looks more like a properly designed app, seems a designer was involved in the process and it's got openoffice at the core. it works ok too, BUTTTTT....if only they could make it a bit faster, I have it now on my mac and I have to admit, it's a little slow, but if it was faster, I reckon it'd be on the road to victory, maybe version 4, hit the mark.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Don't fully agree!

      I respect your arguments, but think that they only apply to part of the market.

      If you are a large organisation, and can justify large outlay for beautiful on-screen presentation, then go ahead. Gloss sells here, just as much as in the fashion world, but so does the FUD about moving away from MS Office. But if beauty was always more important than utility, we would all be driving around in Aston Martins, Jaguars or Mercedes rather than the Fords, Vauxhalls and VW's that we do.

      But for any number of small organisations, where every penny counts towards making any profit, and the most complex document they produce is an invoice or cost benefit spreadsheet, then beauty on the screen is a luxury they can ill afford. The important thing is the end document, and this will depend on the skill of the person, not the package they are using.

      Productivity is an issue, but the numerous changes in interface between different versions of MS Office (especially 2007) cannot be counted as a productivity enhancement in anybody's eyes. I've listened to too many people turn the air blue when they can't find where something is in MS Office 2007.

      I understand your point about Photoshop and The GIMP, as this is a product aimed at professional Graphics Designers who appreciate good design, but the majority of MS Word users ARE NOT professional document writers. They just need something to put words on paper. Many of them would probably still be comfortable with correctable typewriters and pre-printed stationary if computers themselves were not so cheap.

      I have a cautionary tail with regard to Photoshop in answer to your diversion away from Office packages. My daughter used PS under an educational license on her Mac. Now she is no longer a student, she should re-license her copy, and has found that it will cost her more money to do this than she earns in a month (she is struggling to find reasonably paid work in the field), and more than her Mac cost new! But the GIMP is free. Her choice is not to pay bills for a month, continue using her installed copy against the license conditions while possibly saving up, switch to the GIMP, or not do any computer enhanced graphics. Some choice!

      My beef is not with functionality, or interoperability, but with the crass way that Microsoft (and others) lock their customer base in and abuses them with unnecessary updates and other money grabs. This is where Open Office has a place, even if only to remind Microsoft that they are not the only player in town. Do you think that the "Home and Student" edition of MS Office would exist AT ALL if Open Office was not there? It's mere presence affects the market in a beneficial way for end users.

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha
        Thumb Up

        agreed, vendor lock in is...

        the reason why I support openoffice in it's efforts. I'm just annoyed that they spent so long doing what to a lot of people, looks like so little.

        you are right that in some circumstances money IS a problem and free does make it easier to produce documents without spending 1000's on the software to do it, but this doesnt eliminate the argument that to be fair, if money was NOT an option, you wouldnt have anyone choosing openoffice, your own argument kinda supports this, which I am glad to see, another person who has their head screwed on straight.

        why? because people think openoffice looks crappy, but they don't have the money to buy office 2007, so why doesnt everyone in this situation use openoffice? they would rather flout the law and pirate than use it, even if you offer openoffice, they will STILL pirate office 2007

        thats a strong argument for what I was saying, that regardless of price, people appreciate applications that look properly designed over applications that are free, but look like a programmer did it.

        so you're argument is sound, people sometimes have no choice, but a counter argument would be that even in those circumstances people will prefer to break the law than go with something that would legally set them free and I dont believe the argument that they do this because of habit.

        fact is, I pitched openoffice in the past and the response was: looks old, outdated and is that why it's free? not exactly a good selling point so far is it?

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          @agreed vendor lock in

          I think your comment about people pirating MS Office is a sad reflection on the morals of people not respecting the value of other's work rather than a comment on the MS Office vs. OOO debate.

          People pirate it because they can (and because they do not understand the consequences), and they can then enjoy the benefits of both using MSO and not paying for it. If they were found out, and threatened with fines, or their computer stopping working (remember Microsoft have TPC functionality in Vista and later), I feel that we would have a quite different set or arguments going on here. We really would have a higher penetration of OOO in the market. Microsoft have known exactly what is going on ever since they forced people to install Windows Genuine Advantage. I am certain that it passes all keys for licensed software back to Microsoft. There's nothing in the T&Cs that prevent them from doing this, and lots that says they will.

          But MS is not actually interested in the individual with a pirated MSO installation. They will happily ignore the possible millions of copies of MSO installed on certain low end vendor OEM and retail copies of Windows, because they know that it is reinforcing their market dominance AND ensuring that the computer is still running Windows (and also the financial return on taking these people to court would be so small). But if they find a commercial organisation using pirate copies, they will roll out the lawyers in very short order.

          If you think that money is not always the driver behind what people run on their computers, then I think you have a skewed view of the market. What people use is a trade off between what they can afford and what they need. In the commercial market, companies think they need MSO, so pay for it. But in the SOHO market, money is an issue. If FUD and compatibility are removed from the equation, they would probably choose free rather than something that costs considerable amounts of money even if it does look less polished.

          I refer back to my Aston Martin vs. Ford comment in one of my previous post as supporting evidence. I take it you are at the Aston, BMW or Merc. end of the market.

    4. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Down


      You are touting Office 2007 as The Way it Should be(TM)?

      You must be mad. Office 2k7 has the worst UI of almost any application I've used. It's a PITA. So much so that even MS are providing us with a back door to bring back old style menus in Office 2k10.

      OO has a nice, clear and straightforward UI. It doesn't keep trying to second guess my intentions and aside from a little delay on startup (and Office 2k7 is pretty slow there as well) it flies. I'm not a huge fan of OO because frankly I only use it home and only to write letters but I have to fight Office 2k7 all the time in my day job. I don't know anyone that likes it.

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha
        Thumb Up

        I think you're the first...

        person to reply to my argument in an intelligent manner, thank you!

        if you prefer the old way of doing things, of course, you go right ahead, but I know many people for whom the ribbon is an improvement, they adapt, you dont want to, then ok, you dont like it, then ok.

        but it's the old silent majority who are not represented in the argument. I dont believe it's normal for people to hold your opinion, why? because office 2007 sells bucketloads.

        I personally dont have to fight against o2k7 to get my work done, but did you know that on the mac, o2k7 doesnt look the same as on the PC? it looks quite different, it's like a photoshop layout, with a panel down the side of the screen. So the key here is adaptability, if you can do it, you'll make it, if you can't, you're go against it, but eventually you'll have no choice but to accept progress, even if you think it's not progress, the majority will rule against you.

        thats your choice and I'm glad to see someone replying with an intelligent response, even if I dont agree with it, I still think you have the right to hold your opinion, unlike some people here.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          @I think you're the first...

          The reason why office 2007 sells so much is because the older versions are no longer available. I'm sure that many people who buy it would prefer to buy 2003, but can't.

          The fact that they don't think they have an alternative to MSO is also an issue.

          I bought Office Home and Student, because my youngest son's teacher would not accept a presentation created in Impress. Not because it was worse, or would not play in Powerpoint, but just because it was not created in Powerpoint. I resent having to be forced to buy a product that I do not want merely because the education system have bought the MS line, and accepted their advantageous licensing position. The same argument spans business as well.

          I am moral. I could have pirated it, but I didn't want to. Neither of my son's like the fact that they have 2007, when the school only has 2003 (they could get it nearly free, but the school does not have the budget to pay for the technicians to do the upgrade). It's different. Difference generates hostility. Some people may think 2007 is the best thing since sliced bread, but many don't.

          This is a fact, and if you don't believe it, I suggest that you talk to people who are not in the IT business as either producers or primary consumers (I mean IT departments of organisations). Poll your children's friends parents, or your plumber, or even your accountant. I really don't think that the everyone you talk about is as inclusive as you make out.

          Of course, you could take the line that if someone does not have enough money to afford MSO, then their opinion is not worth taking, but that would be elitist, don't you think.

    5. sT0rNG b4R3 duRiD
      Thumb Up

      zomg qft...


      By the way, have they actually put in a proper working outliner yet?

      The other bit of truth however to consider is most people don't need all the bells and whistles that M$ Word or OO actually...

  36. John Miles 1
    Thumb Up

    Open Office opens WordPerfect and others

    Had to open a very important 50 page WordPerfect 5 file dating from about 1984 the other day, and OpenOffice did it fine!

    Its also been opening Office2007 files ver 3.1 for a long time.

    There are about twenty file types it opens.

  37. Falanx

    Has Jarred from Anandtech found another job?

    My install of OO has always started quicker than I can reach over to throw the kettle switch, let alone walk downstairs to grab coffee. You want to stop trying to test computer software on a TI pocket calculator if you want some credibility in these reviews :-p

    Although I'm not trying to run it on a bloaty MS OS, so maybe that's where I'm going wrong... :-)

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fine, but...

    ...many organisations are still enforcing the use of the old Office 97 formats to ensure compatibility with people still on older versions of Office. There are plenty of users still on Office 2003 and earlier, because it does everything they want. Indeed there are plenty of organisations using both versions.

  39. MyHeadIsSpinning

    Office 2003 > Office 2007

    It looks better, it works better from a user point of view.

    I find it really annoying that the Open Office gurus refuse to admit that having the same efficient file compression Office 2003 has for pictures within documents is a good idea. No, the Open Office compression plugins do not work; and cropping merely removes parts of the picture I don't want to remove, you muppets.

    That said, Open Office is free and can write and save in Microsoft format which is why I use it at home.

    1. Pink Duck
      Thumb Down

      Office 2007 > Office XP

      I tried Office 2007, it left Outlook Express only able to spellcheck in French and Excel charting graphs were no longer able to use time for the x-axis. I reinstalled Office XP after that.

  40. RISC OS

    No, the key to switching to OO is...

    to be nerd with no real friends or relations except for "social netwroking friends/nerfs". They all use OOo too and you can as well. Anyone else who isn't a nerd will uninstall the crap the first time they have to finish something from work or when the wife needs to write a disertation and couldn't give a hoot about the level of compat. the OOo offers because more then likely the Prof. reviewing it aint going to be using OOo.

    If I didn't need OOo for writing TYPO3 extension manuals I would ditch the crap form my PC and used Office 2007 exclusively.

    1. Chris Thomas Alpha
      Thumb Up

      another one gets it! it's a virus spreading through the interwebs!!!!

      damn straight, thats exactly what most people do.

      but if it looked good, worked well, had optimised processes that people actually use in the way that people actually think, or people are used to, your argument would be reversed.

      lotus symphony 3 beta 2 has the ability to reverse that trend by making a version of openoffice that seems that it was designed in the last couple of months instead of 10 years ago, it's not perfect, but it's actually quite nice, if they made it faster.

      I ditched using openoffice also, it's awful software, even if it does give me a warm glow of changing the world, free software, etc, etc. It's like gimp, millions of people scream at the developers YOU ARE WRONG YOU ARE WRONG YOU ARE WRONG and yet, the same interface for about what? 10 years? I am sure the same problem exists with the openoffice development team

      it's only now they are changing? why? because someone must have realised the reason why people don't use it, I mean, 10 years isnt a lot to wait for someone to drop his stubborn are bang on the money.

  41. Chris Thomas Alpha

    you can tell the freetards are here because

    you see everyone modding down everyone who has the correct point of view, thats the problem with freetards, they dont believe that someone can think for themselves and agree with the status quo, they believe that anyone who does this, must be a corporate schill.

    unfortunately for them, there are more of us than there are of them.

    so mod us down, you're still wrong :D

  42. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    @Chris Thomas Alpha

    Your shrill voice repeating the same ill-informed arguments for rolling over and submitting to Big Business as it owns you is getting tiresome.

    I can only hope that the Beta version of Chris Thomas is better, and by the time they get round to the release candidate, the rough edges will have been knocked off, and it will be fit for purpose.

    1. Chris Thomas Alpha

      ill informed


      if I'm ill informed, you'll have no problems in pointing it out, but as it happens, you're just another guy putting down myself as a person who has repeatedly put point after point and instead of going against the argument, you go against the man. well done, you win the prize for being in the idiot group.

      ill informed? prove it, otherwise, shut it, nobody is interested in your "omg your so wrong!!!!one!" arguments.

      it's all there, read it, disprove it, but dont come here spouting crap like that and expect anyone to take you seriously.

      1. Chris Thomas Alpha

        you can tell I was right

        because within 2 minutes of putting my reply online, it gets modded down 1 point.


        I didnt ask anything other than, put up an argument, I didnt shout, nor scream, nor abuse (badly)

        I asked that if you have an argument, please, tell us all why you disagree, go into some more detail about why I Was wrong and why I am misinformed.

        Yet, after that, I get modded down, have to wonder why someone would be AGAINST opening their opinion up to scrutiny. The problem here is that people dont want to explain themselves, because they are wrong and because they are ultimately full of shit, like most screaming freetards

        they must have a key on the keyboard that says "reply crap that doesnt matter"

        you dont want to detail your opinion? must be something wrong with it, THATS THE SCIENTIFIC WAY. you are just playing politics and showing yourself a fool for doing so.

        Here is an article on my blog about how to perform online discussions, I hope it helps you peter gathercole in your quest for becoming an intelligent human being as opposed to a freetard who thinks arguments are won by who shouts the loudest.

      2. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

        @Chris Thomas

        I posted about alpha, beta and release candidate for laughs, and judging from the thumbs up, several people understood.

        But having just read the comments again, several of your arguments just do not add up. You've used the fact that MS Office sells in large volumes to justify it's goodness, without taking into account the self-perpetuating dominance that Microsoft have on the market. Many copies are sold because of FUD or momentum, not because people make a reasoned comparison.

        You've also effectively said that because you understand and were willing to learn the ribbon, that anybody should be able to, and if they do not, they are lazy or in some way intellectually challenged. That is far more insulting than anything I've said, including the alpha, beta, rc jibe.

        I have said that change taxes some people, but I've experienced lots of people who just don't understand why this constant churn is necessary. They get bewildered by the huge range of options, menus and inconsistencies between packages and different versions of the same package. This is not because they are stupid, but because they use computers as tools rather than the computers being their profession. They want to learn something once, like riding a bicycle or driving a car, not have to relearn it every five years.

        The term freetard is very derisive in the way you use it. Not everybody who uses Open Source software is to be scorned. There is much in Open Source that is good, and just because someone gives their work to the community in general is not a reason to sneer. Save your scorn for those people who steal other peoples work by not paying for licenses. Of course, it may be that you are one of the people who feel threatened by other people giving away their work for free, but you should only be worried if the quality of the package you write is worse that that in the Open. The answer to that is to either get better, or find another career.

        I buy good software, and all of the music and other media that I consume. I use Open Source because it often does the job I need, and saves me money. I don't steal software, movies, music or books.

        I find the poor grammar, and lack of correct capitalisation in people's comments notable. I equate it to people having an unreasoned rant, and not taking the time to consider their use of English, which I extrapolate to mean that they have probable not considered the content of their comment either. This was the cause of my 'foaming at the mouth' comment.

        You come across as dogmatic, condescending, and often arrogant. If you came across like this during a sales pitch, I would probably quietly show you the door, regardless of whether you tried to impress me with the quality of your designers, programmers, or the result. But I respect your point of view, even if I don't agree with it.

        The fact that you can't take criticism, or reasoned argument without descending to insults (and you've done this more than anyone here) probably indicates some type of insecurity.

        I'm leaving this particular set of comments now, because I don't think I have anything else to say without repeating myself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Hear, hear

          "You've used the fact that MS Office sells in large volumes to justify it's goodness"

          Indeed, it's called "Appeal to Common Practice " and it is a fallacious argument.

          By this argument IE6 is "the best" browser as it is (depending on exact metric, I know) the most popular. Anyone who has to actually work with and code stuff up for IE6 knows that this is a patently false statement!

  43. Chris Thomas Alpha

    Fact is that office 2007 might not...

    be the best interface you can use for these tasks, but you all are failing to see what I'm really trying to say, I can't imagine why it's so difficult, but I will spell it out.

    EVEN IF, office 2007 has it wrong, they clearly put effort into designing the tools so that they look professional, they act professional and they are used by professionals.

    OpenOffice by contrast, looks like it was written by a blind monkey with leprosy. almost everypart of the user interface looks ugly and unprofessional.

    So, freetards, please get off the pedestal, you clearly didnt understand what I was trying to say. It's not that office 2007 is amazing OMG it's so super cool, but it's PROFESSIONAL, wheras openoffice is not.

    I personally like the ribbon and I know lots of people do and I am able to grok the argument that says the silent majority will never be see, it's the noisy majority who complain, so I can understand that whilst you hear lots of arguments about the ribbon being awful, I can also understand that most people don't care, nor mind and are able to adapt.

    openoffice developers need to realise this and take their application in directions that make it look more professional.

    1. Tom 35

      Office 2007

      The real reason for Office 2007 was they needed an upgrade. Every one who was going to upgrade to 2003 had, companies that had paid for SA were feeling ripped off. They had to produce an upgrade and it had to be shiny so they could sell it to managers in a few powerpoint slides. Sure they put some work into new features and usability but that was secondary to "we need an upgrade, and we need it now, and it has to look big!". Like Vista (and also like Vista it didn't work until after the first service pack).

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Then do a different theme!


      Personally I find M$O a processor hungry mess. We have our own views on things ... but if you don't like the style of openoffice there is no problem changing it. That is if you are a reasonable programmer. ... Not something you will ever be able to do with M$ code!

      Personally I'm just happy everything looks identical on my Linux notebook or my Linux development machine or the token Windows box for those customers who have yet to see the light!

  44. Neil Greatorex

    @Chris Thomas Alpha

    Don't get so worked up man! It's only software.

    Use what you want to use, don't use what you don't want to use, let it all slide by..

    Go have a beer. Or 3.

    Me: I'm still using WP5.1 as I haven't yet found anything better :-)

    1. Chris Thomas Alpha
      Thumb Up

      hmmmm beer...I like...

      this one :D

  45. Ivor Kintol D'uso

    @Chris Thomas Alpha

    Chris! Chris! Mummy says your tea's ready.

    Leave that computer & make sure you wash your hands before you sit down.

  46. Colin Barfoot


    Are you not a fan then Chris Thomas Alpha?

    I'm with you on the OpenOffice looks bloody awful. The font picker still screws up on novelty fonts. And that sodding life-belt icon needs throwing out to sea. Presumably they used OO Draw which I find unusable, etc., etc.

    I think it's a general malaise of FOSS: they are pretenders to the BigCorp throne - we can do better than that paid-for stuff; here's a free copy. OpenOffice is a near clone of old MS Office, Gimp is a near clone of old Photoshop, and all of them _worse_ than the original versions - never mind the modern ones. Even of the more usable desktop managers GNOME is mis-proportioned and awkward to use - ironically the easiest way to improve its look is to use Microsoft fonts (KDE's even worse). There's no actual innovation in the UI - it's just lazy - oh we'll use a dialog box and some check boxes for that.

    Some clue as to why may be offered here, Intel, Sun, RedHat, Novell, Canonical and some academics. I don't believe any of them has had a successful - we'll say loved - desktop product.

    The web browsers are a noticeable exception, but even they look better on Windows.

  47. Anonymous Coward

    OOo more like a fat Whippet and not a fat Labrador

    I truly regretted buying Office 2007. I was an idiot because I knew nothing of the idiotic ribbon nonsense. I tried for a while then ditched it and went back to using OOo. I have accepted that the money was 'lost' though user stupidity...yeah, should have checked it out first.

    We live and learn. The reward is that OOo 3.2 is the dogs...

  48. Curt Vile
    Thumb Down

    Personally speaking...

    ...I find OpenOffice wholly unusable because of the deranged way it handles paragraphs. Simply put, it doesn't allow the user to search and replace across paragraph boundaries. This makes actions which are a breeze in MS Word - like finding two paragraph codes in a row and replacing them with a single paragraph code and a TAB (for example) - a brain-croggling adventure in regular expressions.

  49. Philip Lewis
    Thumb Up

    Entertaining ... and I agree

    The Alpha version of Chris, is, in fact exactly, perfectly spot-on correct. I regret that the youinger nerd brigade have some issues with this fact.

    I have been waiting what seems like an eternity, but is really just 10 or so years, for a professional "look" for OO. I have been disappointed with each and every new version.

    Now, like Alpha-Chris I have personally been in this business a long time, in fact since Bill Gates was in High School. And I learned a long long time ago that the visual aspect is the single largest factor in software acceptance, perhaps followed functionality. Code quality is almost at the bottom, as long as it sort of works most of the time. the great unwashed masses will put up with anything, as long as it has a cool, professional and visually appealing interface (MS may be responsible for this dumbing down and low expectation level, but that is another discussion)

    If you do not believe this, then you have missed the entire corporate history of microsoft, which is one of selling "flash" at the expense of quality, followed by endless upgrades of functionality at the expense of quality. In fact, the reason that Office fills about 4TB is all the "flash" that makes it look so cool and professional and slick. As far as I am concerned, it's still pretty braindead at formatting, but hey, what do I know, I just use it. OO is not too slick at formatting, especially once you start slipping in images and fancy wrapping and column formats either.

    IMHO WP 5.1 still does a better job at text formatting - but unless your a legal document writer, it's probably a no-brainer to choose MSO, because, well, it looks slicker.

    So, thanks to the Alpha version, I look forward to seeing more of him here!


  50. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

    Back in the fray.

    I know I said I'd stop, but the latest comments about desktop managers, and the look and feel of some noticeable Open Source packages got my attention again.

    It is clear that some people here just are not prepared to give any ground to Open Source. The comments about look and feel from Colin Barfoot point out the fact that if there is a different look and feel, there would be complaints about difficulty of use, lack of common interface etc. If the look and feel is made similar to other packages, there are complaints about lack of innovation. There is no common ground that would satisfy these two positions.

    Yes, the font handling is not as good as it could be in several places, but the comment about using Microsoft fonts is only true because so many web sites and documents use Microsoft specific fonts (such as Arial and Calibri, for example). If you do not have access to these fonts, because of some licensing conditions, then substitute fonts must be used, which will always look odd unless the metrics exactly match. If document writers and web designers kept to the common subset (and by this, I do not mean the Microsoft CORE font set, because this is licensed), then everything would work much better. This is another example of Embrace and Extend that Microsoft is so fond of. It is interesting that CORE fonts are available for Windows and OSX, but Microsoft have not granted a free-to-use license for the rest of the industry. I wonder why this could be!

    I don't know how many people here have looked at the complexities of font design, but to make a font that uses the same spacing metrics, but is sufficiently different from another licensed font to avoid copyright infringement is very difficult. And with Microsoft changing their standard fonts from one proprietary set to another proprietary set in the latest Office incarnations just reinforces the moving target argument.

    The whole technology led world is currently in such an inward looking spiral, requiring change for changes sake and revenue generation, and going faster and faster so that it will eventually implode. I hope for all of your sakes, that it comes apart gracefully, rather than a nasty mess.

    And for the record, I too have been working in the industry since before the IBM PC was launched, though slightly after Bill set up Microsoft. I've seen and used X10, X11, NeWS, Looking Glass, Sun's pre-X windowing environment, Motif, CDE, Aqua and virtually all versions of Windows. The difference is that I started with UNIX, and I am still earning my living in that environment, extending it to include Linux. This longevity in a single industry sector is something that few can claim.

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