back to article Oracle charges $90 for Sun's free ODF plug-in

Oracle is now charging $90 for the free Sun plug-in that teaches Microsoft Office how to use the latest open document format. As noticed by The H, if you visit the home of the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office, there's still a big red button that says you can "Get it Now. Free." But if you actually click on that button, …


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  1. Brian D. Switzer 1
    Thumb Down

    Colour me not surprised

    Oracle will put an Oracley (ie. steep) price tag on everything.


      Someone is terribly confused.

      This is no way to poke Bill and Steve in the eye with a stick Larry.

      This will do nothing to help marketshare for Oracle and probably won't be that great of a cash cow either. It's terribly pointless.

      It's like someone fell out of a time vortex from 1990.

      1. noodle heimer

        well, yes

        "It's like someone fell out of a time vortex from 1990."


        You've seen photos of the man, right? This is entirely in keeping with the "greed is good now won't someone put two in my center of mass" attitude that the man simply radiates, a hot stream of Bush era piss off simply fountaining out upon you.

        Until now, only corporate types went near anything Ellison touched. He's the anti-Jobs, moreso than Gates, really. But now, with the Sun buy, I think his exposure to the world will start to go up, up, up.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    Like, nuts.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo



    It's not FREE if it costs 90 BUCKS.

    I mean, how fucking hard is it for a massive corp like Oracle to do this...?

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

      Under Dutch law

      If they advertise it as free, they MUST deliver it free. Sounds fair enough.

      Does Oracle want to kill ODF?

      1. Ian Michael Gumby

        Could be wabbit, could be...

        Oracle wants to monetize its purchase of Sun. As the author points out, this was closed source and a potentially valuable piece of software for the enterprise.

        Sun gave it away for free because it required critical mass for the adoption of Open Office. If there were no way for People who are forced to use Microsoft to read documents from Open Office, then you would see people forgoing the opportunity to use Open Office. By default that's an automatic win for Microsoft.

        Now that there are enough people willing to use Open Office, how much are you willing to pay for the continued use of Open Office? Meaning that if your clients are using open office, and you need to be compatible, what are you going to do?

        If people don't want to continue to use Open Office and Microsoft, then they don't have to purchase it. If they stop using it, then Oracle can kill the product and save money. If enough people pay up, then Oracle makes money.

        Its the name of the game. Support Open Source as long as you make money doing so...

        Its called capitalism.

        The point the author makes about the price and comparing it to the student price of Microsoft Office is a red herring. The target audience is the 'Enterprise' and not some student.


        1. Logics

          He did not...

          [[[The point the author makes about the price and comparing it to the student price of Microsoft Office]]]

          He compared it to the price of the standard suite. $90 x 4 = $360. Price of Standard Suite =$399.

  4. Viv

    Not sure how I feel about that?

    It seems like another good reason not to buy office more than any thing else, Oracle is acing as we all thought it would to put a dollar value to everything it owns.

    1. Oninoshiko

      i think everyone has it wrong

      I think you're looking at it half wrong. it IS a good reason to not buy office, and that may be the point. Some governments are making it a matter of law to use standard formats, combine this (inabilty to use ODF 1.2) with that MSO can't even properly edit standard OOXML, and it really makes the case for OOo. It's not like there is any love loss between MS and Oracle.

      I can use OOo for free to edit the format or use MSO for 9200 USD to do it.... hmm... carry the one.... yes, I think I know what I'll use....

  5. Squirrel


    Does the price increase for each physical processor or per core?

  6. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    But what about...

    the $49 "Standard Edition" license? You can buy a single copy of that if you look hard enough.

    I guess Oracle is determined to get their money back any way they can.

    1. Doug Glass

      So? What's Your Point?

      What do you think for profit corporations have as their reason to exist?

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        no, what's your point?

        my main point was to point out, without necessarily pointing fingers, that Cade had conveniently ignored the $49 Standard Edition in his article. That's understandable as it doesn't make as good a story as Oracle charging $9000.

    2. spp

      No longer $49

      Now you've done it; they've gone and upped the price to $90 from this link as well.

      1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

        I was mistaken

        Doh! The $49 price I saw was for the standard version of Star Office (the suite), not the ODF plugin. My bad. Apologies to Cade and all that.

  7. Ed Vim


    Gee, thanks Oracle. I use for myself almost exclusively (and hopefully the Oracle top management won't do this same treatment of OOo) but I tend to see mostly MS Office situations as far as work issues. MS has done a really bizarre and sloppy adoption for Open Document formats so it was nice to have an ODF plugin from Sun itself to fall back on. News of this expensive, 'free' change is disappointing to say the least. Even if the plugin wasn't Open Source previously and this absolves Oracle from any FOSS issues, it's still disappointing to see Oracle maintain their usual 'corporate' stance on things even as minor as a supplemental plugin.

    Oh well. I still have the free (to download and to use) older ver. 3.1 installer that just gained more 'sentimental' value.

  8. Solomon Grundy

    OSS Business Model?

    Yep, here it is. FOSS has always been and will always be a vehicle for real business. Get the community involved, create solid software, then sell the hell out of it with no payback to the "community".

    While I realize the plug in was never strictly OSS, the mideset is the same. Now that it's not free anymore "everyone" is going to hate it. Competing in the business world means you have to be able to cover your expenses. If you're working in a highly IT leveraged environment that means you've got to pay for your software. (No different than utilities, rent, or other recurring expenses).

    We've never bought into the "free" software ideal and never will. It's a product and someone should get paid for producing and selling it. We firmly believe that and that's why we've been growing even during the economic clustef*^k. We create and others buy. No one should expect any less.

    1. Logics

      Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

      [[[Competing in the business world means you have to be able to cover your expenses. If you're working in a highly IT leveraged environment that means you've got to pay for your software....

      We've never bought into the "free" software ideal and never will.]]]

      I actually know several people who have bought into the free --no quotes-- software ideal and are rich doing it. It is called, "If you are not a corporation and can afford to, pay me what you think my software is worth. if you are a corporation, pay me or buy my competition."

      You would be surprised how well it works. It works so well, even non-OSS developers use that model.

      Furthermore, the plug-in was not a "community involved" development. Only the OOo suite was.

  9. John Tserkezis


    I'll just keep on using then shall I?

    No problem, I can leave my wallet were it is...

    We need a "Katching!" icon...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    In my opinion 90$ is a resonable penalty

    for failing to understand you can use OO for free. With it you get excellent support for ODF whatever version you fancy, a decent support for MS Office format and above all, a nice sum of money in your pockets. Of course OO in far from perfect but hey, in that case you just pay for the quality of MS stuff plus for the Oracle plugin and everything will be fine then.

    I'm a FOSS supporter but this time I'm with Oracle because if you really want to go ODF way then you should do it properly.

  11. RecursivelyRedundant

    Living up to its name

    orac le | el caro

    The expensive one!

  12. Goat Jam


    90 bucks for an office plugin? HAHAHAHA

    That's so typical of Oracle.

    Larry must be needing a new Yacht or something

  13. Tim Bates

    It's still free...

    Go to, download Open Office, install, don't use MS Office... See, still free.

  14. alien anthropologist

    Don't get it..

    Why on earth would you want an ODF plug-in for MS Office, when you can simply choose not buy and use MS Office, and download and use Open Office for free!?

    Don't tell me that you need MS Office to create documents using Open Source document formats - Open Office is perfectly capable of doing that. And doing it better.

    Oh.. I see. You're a big company that needs to use MS Office as part of your deal with the devil (also known as Microsoft), but at the same time, you want to benefit from the Open Source community and source... And now you are bitching 'cause you have to pay for the ODF plug-in too.

    Mine's the one with "Screw You" on the back.

    1. el john

      Not everyone works alone

      I'll tell you why...

      Even if I use OpenOffice myself, I cannot force everyone with whom I share office documents to do so. So, if I want coworkers, board members, grandma, uncle bob and whoever to be able to open, read and edit the ODF documents I create, I need to tell some of them to install the ODF plug-in. (Which is less intrusive for them than to uninstall MS Office and install OpenOffice.)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Well, duh!

        Tell all your coworkers, board members, grandma, uncle bob and whoever to download and run the portable version of Open Office and that's it. Heck, it's free, it can run along MS Office, and they don't even need to install it so there's no chance in hell it would damage their Windows. I've been doing this at my work for years now so trust me they can give it a try there's absolutely no risk.

      2. Jerome 2


        ... you could just save the document in Microsoft format for them, easier than persuading all those folks to install a plugin?

        1. Ammaross Danan
          Thumb Up


          Shhhh Jerome 2, the commentards might hear you. Why would anyone do something as simple as using ODF for their company and simply save it as a .doc to send it out to others? Everyone already has to do it due to .docx...shouldn't be hard.

  15. Tom 7

    Why do people still pay to make life hard for themselves?

    It still amuses me that people use 19thC paper shaped documents to slow their computers and employees down and increase their IT expenses beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

    'Documents' are the horse trailer tied to your Lear jet.

  16. TeeCee Gold badge

    Calling MS!

    Would you mind awfully updating your implementation of ODF in a patch when you have a minute and leaving Oracle looking like the bunch of twunts they are?

    You know you want to........I would.


  17. Mikel

    If I add more RAM is that an extra license?

    And what if I need to run OpenOffice on my quad-core box - is Larry going to charge extra for the extra cores?

    Oracle is not in the giving stuff away business. As soon as we get over that and get to porting everything we can that Sun touched, the better off we'll be.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Please adjust your medication

      This plugin is for Microsoft Office, it has nothing to do with Open Office.

  18. westlake

    Waiting for the next shoe to drop

    > Go to, download Open Office, install, don't use MS Office... See, still free

    $90 for a MS Office plug-in tells me that Oracle expects to see a real, measurable, return from any investment in

    Either delivers the enterprise market - as a first-tier productivity app - or it doesn't.

    If it doesn't, Oracle will cut it loose without a second thought.

  19. Criminny Rickets


    Why would I want to pay $90.00 for a plug in to read ODF files. If for some very strange reason someone sent me a file in ODF rather than a Microsoft Word doc file, I would just tell them I can't read that format and to resend it in Word format, which Openoffice is also able to save in. No plug in needed. Then, if enough people do this, OpenOffice's share will go down as more and more people will switch back to Microsoft office just to stay compatible with the rest of the business world.

    1. Logics
      IT Angle

      Which is exactly why they should not do this!

      I was waiting to see when someone would figure this out.

      You have to give the plug-in away until ODF hits critical mass. Up until now, I do not think it has even though many govt.s use it as the standard for their business. This will just make govt.s re-consider the decision they made earlier.

      [[[switch back to Microsoft office just to stay compatible with the rest of the business world.]]]

      You also figure that all the business world are using the same MSO suite, right? Because the MSO version x document format is not compatible with the MSO version y format.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Good business...

      This is a good business move by Oracle, but IMHO selling licenses in packs of 100 is just slightly left of stupid. Most SOHOs would buy 1-4 but not 100 plug-ins. What is the benefit of the support that they are selling? This is a plug-in, it should operate transparently as a part of the program, unless the "support" cost gives access to fixes and upgrades for the term of the support purchased.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    Well done

    That is exactly what we want Oracle to do: Stop the "Free Software" pipe dream and make the former SUN business sustainable. It would even be OK to charge 50 Euros for OO. It clearly is a piece of software worth that much.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      You're totally mixed up

      When you say free software are you thinking of :

      a- free as in beer (aka freeware) as the ODF plugin is or

      b- free as in freedom of speech as OO is

      c- you weren't thinking at all

      In case it's the second answer, then you should know by now that Oracle and for that matter any company distributing FOSS software is free to charge whatever price they like but they can not remove any of the freedoms granted by the LGPL license.

    2. Logics

      It has a name.

      It is called Star Office

    3. Stephen Bungay


      Who is "we" because it certainly doesn't include "me".

  21. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    If you have to use MS Office,

    how far can you get by opening a document in OpenOffice and then cut-and-pasting it into MS? Or vice versa?

  22. James Le Cuirot
    Thumb Down

    Insult to injury

    Isn't it bad enough that we have this battle against OOXML on our hands? This just adds insult to injury.

  23. Identity

    Not at all surprising

    This is the same business model used by schoolyard drug dealers -- give 'em a little something for free, and then when they're hooked, charge 'em up the wazoo. But that's capitalism for you. At least you wont have to go cold turkey...

  24. Juillen 1

    Supporting Star Office.

    The plugin is designed to support the sales of Star Office.

    In business, the rationale goes: If we purchase an office suite, can people read it in MS Office if we send it?

    If the answer is no, then for a lot of people, the decision is "we can't use it then".

    Creating a plugin for MS software allows people to use MS software as a content creator (it does have some pretty things in it), and save as ODF, allowing standardisation on that, along with sending documents in ODF anywhere, and stating that a 'reader' extension can be obtained for free if they find they can't read the document.

    So, with one fell swoop, Oracle have put a roadblock on adoption between companies of ODF. The better standard is MS Office formats, as Star Office reads them tolerably (though not completely reliably), whereas it won't read current ODF standards at all (unless you add $90 per desktop on top of what you've already paid!).

    Oracle have a history of trying to monetize everything they can think of, finding out that most of the things they tried to put a cash value on fail to sell at all, restricting their business in an area then deciding to pass it on 'free' as a supporting application, then discovering that the 'free' helps boost the sales of related high value items.

    Currently, it'll only negatively affect Star Office (and thus Open Office) as interoperability will be curtailed, with only one standard workable (Microsoft's, as everyone tries for compatibility with that), and make Star Office seem the troublesome not-quite-right product, as it always has to play catchup with MS's changes.

  25. harrydeo
    Thumb Up

    Good For New Sun

    Sun had way too many freebies in fact almost everything was a freebie. Not only that it was also Open Source. Now, I do not have anything against Open Source, but it should be utilized properly to drive revenue and at the same time serve community. Sun projects were unable to achieve either, Where. if you look at IBM, which made sure that they not only foster the community but also had enough distinction between open source and commercial product so that they can charge USD 3000 per seat. (I am talking about Eclipse and Rational Studio). Another example is Apple, which have System Software of all Apple platforms Open Source they are probably the closest system built. Makes lot of money as well.

    Oracle is trying to do the same. If they don't do it then probably they have to lay off lot of Sun employees to cut into the acquisition cost. And That nobody likes.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      There's one failure in your reasoning

      FOSS is usually the result of a community of developers working together. A company that comes up and take all this work to monetize it for its own profit and without compensating all the contributors, well this is what we can call theft. Yes, Apple makes a lot of money but did they give something back to all those who contributed to the code they used to build their fortune on ?

      Saying that Open Source should be utilized properly to drive revenue scares me. It's like saying it is OK to pilfer their work since they're giving it away for free anyway so in can't be theft.

      1. sisk

        Erm...not quite

        Actually a good chunk of open source code is contributed by companies trying to improve upon a product they're using. This is especially true of the bigger OSS projects out there, and OpenOffice is certainly one of the biggest OSS projects in the world. It contains code contributed by the likes of IBM, Novel, Sun (of course) and probably a dozen other companies.

        I can only name a couple big OSS projects that are the work of independant developers. And even with those many of those developers have arrangements that allow them to contribute code while on the clock at work.

        Frankly a business model that results in companies making money off of OSS is fine with me. OSS would never have gotten to where it is now if no one could make money off of it.

        That said why would you pay $90 per user for a MS Office plugin when you could just install OpenOffice and use it when you have a file MS Office won't read? $90 is a pretty steep price for what ammounts to a convenience factor.

      2. harrydeo
        Thumb Up

        Monetization is very important

        As I said. Its about monetization. If you cannot do that then it is not going to work. If you employ and pay people to work on something that has to be given for free is simply not going to work, if you do you will be in loss.

        1. Logics

          But that is the short term outlook

          You don't say, "Oh, my product has value so I'll have to charge for it," when there is a bigger guy out there with an arguably better product.

          First you have to get people to see the value in your product and what value is there in StarOffice or OOo when those who use the arguably better product cannot collaborate with you? "But of course they can. I can read the MSO format." Then why have an ODF format? That is what Oracle is charging for; the use of the ODF format --a far better format with marked advantages, in a product that cannot compete.

          If they want StarOffice --Correction, Oracle Open Office-- to survive, they need ODF to be adopted and this is not the way to do it.

          If they want ODF to survive, then they have to ensure it is world-readable and this is not the way to do it.

          Oracle Open Office Enterprise Edition goes for the same price as the MS ODF plug-in with the same minimum license requirement of 100 seats. Is that a good business model to make the ODF the de facto standard?

  26. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Holy cow!

    Really I have nothing else to say....

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Anonymous Coward

    Just out of interest

    How many have they sold? Like if you buy Microsoft Office you're going to pay extra to read Open Office documents? The plug-in for free was a way of bringing Open Office into the mainstream and charging for it I think is a nail in the coffin of Open Office. never mind how long did we think it was going to be free for - what is it and how does anyone justify charging for something that was already written. I think in bucks per byte of code it is probably more expensive than Open Office itself.

  29. Random_Walk

    So for once Microsoft has 'em beat?

    Last I checked, Microsoft actually does offer a free plugin to MS Office (2003, 2007, and probably 2010) that reads and saves files to ODF.

    Creepy, that...

  30. Fred Tourette

    The Kill Shot

    For everyone who thinks this might push people *toward* OO, say Hi to the Easter Bunny and Santa for me. My money is on this greed-based decision being the shot that puts OO down for good, and anyone sitting on the fence deciding OO v. MSO will jump down and head toward Microsoft.

    Thanks a lot, Larry, you fucking asshole.

  31. Logics

    The FLOSS community will probably stop this... developing their own plug-in for free. It is in their (the OASIS team and the OOo team) to see ODF take market share and so developers from these two teams (and probably from the IBM/Lotus team and perhaps Corel WordPerfect team) will probably do everything within their power to make a free MSO plug-in available under GPL/LGPL without using any of Sun's code.

    When --okay, if and when-- this happens, Oracle will no longer be making a profit from this --which, as I have pointed out earlier-- sells at the same price-point as Oracle Open Office Enterprise Edition.

    In the meantime, it will hinder the adoption of ODF in the workplace.

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