back to article OOo's put the willies up Microsoft

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


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  1. John Robson Silver badge


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

    1. James O'Shea

      if only

      if that damn ribbon was actually that good...

    2. Daniel B.

      In fact

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

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

    3. Trevor_Pott Gold badge


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

    4. Marvin the Martian

      Are you suggesting: Ribbon = Son of Clippy?

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

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

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

    5. Eddy Ito


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

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Formerly happy MS Word user about to desert to OO

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

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I've already deserted to OOO

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

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

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

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OO and Ubuntu

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      KOffice is nice, too

      Here's hoping they develop along the KISS principle.

    2. kneedragon


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

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Partly true, partly FUD, partly MS

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

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

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

    1. Nigel 11

      Dated and slightly clunky UI?

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

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

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

    2. Ammaross Danan


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

      1. Penguin herder

        Not necessarily a joke

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

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

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    You know you've arrived when...

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

    1. Doug 3
      Gates Horns

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

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

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

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

  5. Yag

    Dissing concurence...

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

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting . .

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

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

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

    1. The Other Steve
      Thumb Up

      If only it were so

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

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

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

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

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

      1. Tom 35

        And I think "some retraining" rather understates the case

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

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

        1. The Other Steve
          Thumb Up

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

          Oh yes, very much so.

          1. Robert E A Harvey

            yes indeedy

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

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

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

          2. Mark 65

            2003 -> 2007

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

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

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

      2. Martin Owens


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

  7. James Pickett
    Gates Horns

    About time

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

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

  8. The BigYin

    Please excuse the swearies

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

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

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

  9. hj

    rightly so

    OOo is a full replacement for Microsoft Office.

    1. Oninoshiko

      except that it's not.

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

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

      1. hj

        was a little hasty

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

  10. James O'Shea
    Gates Horns

    yeah. right

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

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

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

    Redmond can bite me.

    1. Charles 9


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

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

    2. Mark 65

      32-bit Excel

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

      1. Tom Betz

        32-bit Office 2010 is required...

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

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

        1. rciafardone

          Funny you said that...

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

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

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

  11. Nick Haw


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

  12. Tom Chiverton 1


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

  13. FreeTard

    ARS technica

    Am I the only one who reads that ARSE technica?

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

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Acronym humour

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

  14. OSC

    Ars comments look a bit susicious too

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

    They're worth a read for their studied weirdness.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    They're right to be scared

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

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

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

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

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

    That needs to be changed sharpish.

    1. styven

      My company partly shifted.......

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

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

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

    2. Mark 65


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

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

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

  16. Giles Jones Gold badge

    They tried something else

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

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

    Using word format is like doing IE only websites.

  17. alain williams Silver badge

    Where to start ....


    * With an undefined .doc format ?

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Also at school

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

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

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      More school

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

  19. paul brain
    Gates Halo

    Understandable but...

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

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

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

    I miss Office 97 ;-) and Bill.

  20. James 93


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

    1. alain williams Silver badge

      OoO is certainly good enough for 80%

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

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

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

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

      1. ForthIsNotDead
        Thumb Up

        @Alain Williams

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

        I agree, that in the case of documents and spreadsheets with macros porting them is definately an issue that needs to be considered.

        I just wanted to speak up for OOs Writer software. I am currently in the middle of writing a techinical book. I thought about using Word, but after all these years, Word still does "stuff" with the formatting that I don't understand.

        I decided that since this was a new, from-scratch project, I might as well look at OO. I installed it, and also found a good document on the web specifically about writing large documents (thesis, books etc) with OO. I followed the advice given, learned how to set up the document the way it needed to be set (e.g. offset margins on left and right pages), set up all my fonts/typefaces etc and... 242 pages into the book (all 242 pages in the same file! (there's a navigator that lets you jump around your document easily)) I've had no problems whatsoever. In fact, it's been a pleasure.

        I've found that generally, OO Writer is 'transparent' - it doesn't seem to place any barriers between me and the work I am concentrating on. I don't have to shift my concentration from being an author and writing, and wrestling with the features of the software. It 'just works'. It's very easy to write and format as you go, and hence your mind is not distracted - the writing can flow naturally. Nice.

        The klunky interface is fine by me. It means it looks the same on my Windows PC, or on my Linux netbook! Yay! I can write on the train, or in the house. Bonus. The MS 'fisher-price' interface looks like it was designed for babies and was an instant turn-off for me when I first saw it. Why should I have to learn to use a peice of software all over again?

        I'm very happy with OO. $0 is a great price. But even if i'd paid, say, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 pounds for it, I would consider it to be very good value for money!

    2. Daniel 1

      RE: "average joe is a different matter more bothered on price"

      Fragment (consider revising).

      1. James 93



    3. Charles 9

      It depends on the level of business.

      Basic business types who just need to be able to type up letters and so on will probably have no trouble with OO since all they want are the basics. Once your template files are converted over and they understand where the Print and Save icons are located, you can probably just let them have at it.

      Where the trouble arises are with the power users. THEY are the ones who actually get into the nitty gritty and script like mad and use those complex spreadsheet formulae. For people like them, OK, they're probably set in their ways; leave them with Office. But what percentage of the average workforce actually comprises that level of sophistication?

      1. James 93

        good point

        But basic users will want ease of use and i still think MS out performs on this point.

        1. The Other Steve

          Show me all these basic users.

          Obviously, this is going to vary a lot from industry to industry and shop to shop, depending on what the staff actually do each day, but it has been my experience that after a while everyone develops their own unique set of tricks, key shortcuts, macros, etc that become as natural to them as breathing.

          And they don't like it when you change them, because they've got jobs to be getting on with.*

          This is not to bash OOo, the same would apply switching the other way.

          *I realise that I am in a minority of commentards when it comes to this, but I personally do give a shit what users think, and if they're unhappy, you're probably doing it wrong.

        2. Charles 9

          When it comes to the basics...

          ...I think they're pretty much equal. Indeed, OOo may take the KISS prize over Office07. I found a lot of what most users will need can be contextually located with a highlight and/or a right-click. It makes for a rather simple mechanism for making those little changes. Now, I will admit that Your Mileage May Vary, but unless they have intricate setups, script a lot, or use obscure tools like Equation Editors, most user tweaks can probably be duplicated in OOo without much trouble. I know that toolbars and hotkeys can be customized and template files can still be used. Maybe it wouldn't hurt to do a little asking to see just how much users use Office beyond the basics.

      2. Chris Puttick

        Power users

        Were actually the ones who had least issue, because they got on and figured it out or were quick to ask the "how do I" questions. The only people who needed to be left with MS Office was the finance team because of the old accounting package they use. Once that gets ripped and replaced with OpenBravo or similar, game over. The only copies of MS Office left will be 5 on a terminal server for use with clients that insist on collaborating on docx...

  21. Alien Doctor 1.1

    Leni Riefenstahl

    Leni Riefenstahl would have been proud to produce this piece of propaganda for the M$ party in the 1930's.

    I almost fell off my chair laughing when the advert mentioned the excessive costs of FOSS - have M$ forgotten how much their software and support contracts eat into IT budgets?

    1. The Other Steve

      Godwin already ?

      Yes, yes, that's right, MS are comparable to the Nazis. Well done, you. Come back and make that comment again when they start bussing people to the camps.

      1. Nanki Poo

        @ Godwin already ?

        I would actually have agreed with you if it wasn't for the slight Stalinist/Third Reich style back-grounds being used for the background of the Ooo criticism part of the video.

        Very subliminal Opensource-Communism iconery anyone?


  22. Miek

    A title is required

    That Video: What a load of Bollocks!

    We have OOO Installed alongside $MS Office for when $MS Office cannot cope with it's own documents.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Absolute tosh!

    In 2003 we ordered 3 new server licences, 1 Exchange licence, 75 cals for both and 75 copies of Office 2003

    Over the last 12 months we've transitioned to Open Office. We have 3 simple rules

    All internal documents are to be done in Open Office format

    All external documents are to be saved as a PDF only

    All machines have MS Office viewers installed

    We have had no problems with this.

    A few months ago we ordered, 3 new 2008 server licences, 1 new Exchange 2010 licence, 75 cals for both, but this time, no Office, just 20 copies of Outlook for the laptops that need to work offline. Everyone else gets OWA.

    Guess what, last week I received a call from MS, they've noticed a discrepancy in our number of licences and they want to do an audit.

    Outlook is the only thing we havent been able to suitably replace so far, but it's not for lack of trying. It's just soo bloody good at what it does

    1. The Other Steve
      Thumb Up

      < THIS!

      "All external documents are to be saved as a PDF only"

      Excellent, well said.

      That should be mandatory IT policy everywhere , if you don't need to edit the document, you need the .doc (or whatever). If you do, you can all agree a format to use that enables collaboration.

      The whole 'interoperability' thing has always been a massive red herring.

    2. blodwyn
      Thumb Down

      Big Brother is alive and well

      "Guess what, last week I received a call from MS, they've noticed a discrepancy in our number of licences and they want to do an audit"

      Am I the only one who finds this distasteful?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Try again.

        Distasteful.. Arrogant is more the term I have in mind.

        A few weeks ago I went through a kids machine for a fellow inmate who was concerned about what sons best friend had been doing on sons machine (one of those kids who "knows" all about computers).. Removed all the "cracked" software and put in FOSS alternatives.

        The machine now runs faster and malwarebytes no longer has an orgasm of terror when it is run.

        There are upsides beyond price to OOo and all the Foss alternatives

      2. A J Stiles


        We were visited by FAST once, coincidentally (?) just after ordering enough parts to build two dozen PCs ..... and one copy of Windows XP Home Edition.

        They were most put out that we were unable to accept their offer of reduced price licence compliance checking software as (1) it would not run on any of our (all Linux) machines and (2) for us, "licence compliance" invariably means handing over the Source Code when asked politely.

    3. C 2

      they (MS) want to do an audit

      LOL, Audits are purely voluntary! Tell them to go [insert insult here] and see if they get the message.

      NEVER let software auditors into your organization, unless they are PART of your organization. They are ruthless leeches who are just as likely to plant 'unlicensed software' as they are to find it. Then they charge astronomical fees/fines while STILL not getting you any type of licenses for anything they find. Also they look for the SLIGHTEST discrepancy, including any shareware.

    4. Robert E A Harvey
      Gates Horns

      bully boy tactics

      >I received a call from MS, they've noticed a discrepancy in our number of

      >licences and they want to do an audit.

      I should tell them to P*ss R*ght Orf.

      If I go into the co-op and buy 3 pairs of shoes they don't accuse me of shoplifting 3 pairs of socks.

      Tell them that for security reasons they have to be accompanied at all times by someone who will cost them £45 per hour.

      Time to install a linux server and some samba goodness, I feel.

    5. Anonymous Coward

      MS or the BSA?

      In either case, tell 'em to sod off.

      They like to pretend they've a legal right to come stomping in and check up. They haven't, even if you're doing nothing wrong I'd tell them to shove it.

      Perhaps is everyone was as difficult as me MS and the BSA would stop acting like they are a legal authority!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the only problem is...

        ... In the UK MS and the BSA use Trading Standards for their enforcement. Trading Standards do have right of entry into any business premises within the UK to perform an inspection of any of the many things they are chartered to do. They have also been chartered with the task of Software Licence Compliance funnily enough.

        MS and the BSA use TS as free labour. If an investigation goes nowhere, Trading Standards foots the bill, not MS or BSA

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That is, of course, one of the many...

          problems with mega corps. They are able to buy all the government support they need to enforce the standards they want. How do we stop that gravy train?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Great video!

    That is a nice video for sure.

    The effects were well-presented adding increased emphasis in a way that did emphasise the points being made without obfuscating/swamping/drowning stuff behind presentation techniques.

    As for Office, well I thought life would never be the same without it but Pages, Numbers, Excel and maybe (when I get round to it?) Bento along with Comic Life and a lot of Adobe stuff more than makes up for a loss of Office.

    On the other hand Office with Publisher is a great combination.

    Part of me wonders if this is not an indicator that office type apps have evolved to the point of not being special but being required on a daily (hourly) basis having evolved so highly over time that the shortfalls are difficult to find.

    So, maybe there are two themes to consider?

    1 - Office as part of market share

    2 - how to augment/supplement office apps fearing the relative decline of "stunning" office apps and making it relevent to 21st century

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Writing on the wall

    I have a dream... a dream of a world where 3 decades after the dawn of the PC, anyone with a computer can write a formatted letter... using their PC, right out of the box, with no additional software...

    1. Anonymous Coward

      I had the same dream

      but it stopped 15 years ago, with my first ever pc. I simply switched it on, booted into windows 95 and fired up wordpad.

      It might not be very fancy, but it is a basic word processor, than can easily be used to write a formatted letter. I never owned a windows 3.1 machine, but i assume it had a similar application with it. mac's too.

      A full office suite is not really about writing basic letters, in IT they get used to produce highly technical documents, where tables, images, objects, etc all have to be exact. There is also the sharepoint, outlook, OCS, collaboration angle for MS office, which doesn't really have an alternative in OO. We've never actually used it for anything, but apparently it's one of the major reasons MS office was chosen for us by the architects.

      Also, these decisions are made by management in the end, just try prying PowerPoint away from them and giving them impress instead!

      1. A J Stiles


        WordPad is *not* a "basic word processor". It is a *fake* *prop* word processor -- a text editor that has grown in the wrong direction. You can apply bold, underlining and italics, change the font even; but there is no spelling checker!

        Maybe I'm old-fashioned, preferring what's on the inside over how it's presented; but I'd sooner have a correctly-spelt document in a single, fixed-spacing font with no emphasis than a badly-spelt document with bold, underline, italics and proper proportional spacing and kerning anyday.

        Then again, if WordPad was good enough for serious use, they wouldn't sell so many copies of Office.

        1. Charles 9


          ...didn't even allow for Full Justification (a nice thing to have when you're actually writing a letter--particularly a business letter) or center- or right-aligned tabbing. At least Write (the Win3 predecessor) allowed full justification even if its WYSIWYG wasn't really up to par.

          1. adrianrf

            full-justification? seriously?

            are you one of those duffers who still types two space chars after a period, too?

            fully justified text is for the clueless, only; it markedly and obviously diminishes legibility.

            <a href="">Here's a book</a> you might benefit from reading.

            (despite the title, the typographical content thereof isn't platform-specific; the Mac was simply the first platform to deliver routine, consistent access to sophisticated typesetting concepts previously the sole domain of graphic design and print production professionals.)

            1. Robert E A Harvey


              "fully justified text is for the clueless, only; it markedly and obviously diminishes legibility."

              That will be why it is used in so many books then?

    2. Anomalous Cowturd

      I have a reality!

      Ubuntu! Or just about any other GNU/Linux Distro of the last five years, if you don't like brown.

      Now we just need to persuade PCWorld and the like to start selling them.

      I shan't be holding my breath.....

  26. Anonymous South African Coward Bronze badge

    Office versus Office

    Been using OpenOffice since it was known as StarOffice 3.x - and prefer it above bloaty Office2007.

    That danged ribbon waste my time every time I have to find a function.

    Besides, OpenOffice can open the same set of doccies on both Linux and Windows, no need to run Wine on Linux just to read a M$-formatted document.

  27. jack 6

    Microsoft Office is definitely not for us

    At HumanRightsTV we changed to Open Office years ago now and have never had a problem. We installed Ubuntu as the OS a long time back and we have all but left Microsoft behind. Whenever I see colleagues or clients they are usually amazed at the abilities I can demonstrate in their office with my Ubuntu laptop.

    Then I watch them try to handle Microsoft products generally and I weep with laughter as I watch their struggles; "And you paid for this did you?" I always ask. very often I get the question, "Why can't I do what you have just done on your laptop?" and the answer is always, "Because you pay for something that just is not that good."

    1. C 2

      "Because you pay for something that just is not that good."

      That is *pure* gold :)


      Anyone else think "Microsoft Works" is an oxymoron? MS Office 2007 is pure torture, I get support calls for it on a daily basis, and it has been here for YEARS. And *why* did they take features out of Excel, unless anyone has found where you can still sort several columns of data by the column of your choice .. go try and see the error message for yourself.

      And who thought it was a good idea to nix the older MS Orifice formats since Office 2003 sp3?! What about mandated archived documents?! Open Office to the rescue and don't look back!

      Speaking of idiotic software design, has anyone else noticed that wordpad in Windows 7 has been ruined by that damned ribbon?!

      There is also the MS spyware issues, go look in the Scheduled tasks in Vista or 7 and see how many times a day the MS Office version of WGA (OGA) runs!! Its right in there with the Google updater, notifier et all... big brother indeed!

      Seriously how many times does a SINGLE license of the worlds most bloated word processor need to be checked?!


      1. CD001



        Speaking of idiotic software design, has anyone else noticed that wordpad in Windows 7 has been ruined by that damned ribbon?!


        Really? I've had a Win 7 desktop for best part of a year now and it's never occurred to me to actually even load up WordPad (been using OOo at home since forever - long before Win7) ... I might load it up for the first time tonight to have a looksee :)

        That is assuming it appears in search - I soooooooo hate the Win7 start menu and the way you can't organise the damned thing yourself.

        -- and yes, the only reason I have a Windows PC at all is because it's my gaming box.

  28. Joel 1

    Price competition

    OOo has had a major effect already - the price of buying Office for home users has come down hugely - and this is almost certainly due to the competition from OOo. When Office was north of £200, the argument for using a free version that is "good enough" was much more pressing.

    Mind you, I'm still using Office X for Mac from nigh on 10 years ago.... good enough for me....

  29. RW

    The human costs of swapping software

    This has been a consistent result of the Microsoft marketing strategy: every release of Orifice has differed sufficiently from the previous, in terms of both function and interface, that users had to be retrained.

    The switch from Orifice to Open Orifice[*] is no more costly in these terms than going to the next release of Orifice.

    [*] Yes, the pun, dreadful as it is, is fully intentional. Suck it up, dudes!

  30. Bilgepipe
    Gates Horns


    "Microsoft is trying to convince customers who have fled the company’s Office software in favour of an open source alternative to return to the proprietary flock by publicly dissing its rival."

    Typical MS tactics. Why not just make a better product and let it speak for itself? Oh, that's right, they *can't* make a better product.

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      Keyboard decoration

      >Oh, that's right, they *can't* make a better product.

      you owe me a new keyboard.

  31. Avatar of They
    Thumb Up


    People leave MS and try OOo then go back because they can't be bothered learning a very slight change to the way they do things. And they need familiarity.

    I have never met anyone that went to office 2007 from office 2003 and thought, "wow this ribbon makes it easier to work."

    A change takes time, and OOo is just as good as Office if you give it a little work and learn the changes, which took about half an hour for me of lazy messing about.

    But OOo getting grief from MS, you know you have arrived.

  32. spegru
    Thumb Up


    One thing I've found with sending docs external using OOo, is the simple act of exporting to PDF (one button) removes formatting worries and ensures the content is safe too!

    If you really need editing too, just save as doc/xls or whatever. the only problems you get sometimes is around font sizes from Impress, but that seems to be because of different versions of PPT and not an OOo problem at all!

  33. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Who's got the bigger balls and defining passions

    Who makes better sublime use of hosted documents and shared ideas? Who provides the best succour for Beta Manna from the Deep C Trawls and AICapture?

    Provide that Win Win Special Service to IntelAIgents and you Driver Active Reality Environments.

    Who has Servers aplenty for that AIdDynamic Energy Current Supply and Innovative Novel Generation?

    1. Someone Else Silver badge

      I Think the answer to your question is:


      But I'm not sure...

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        trying to make sense

        of amanfrommarse?

        tsk, tsk.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All I have to say is...

    Man, do I miss WordPerfect.

    1. Robert Moore

      Anyone else remember WordStar

      I miss WordStar.

      Damn I feel old.

      1. John Robson Silver badge


        Or does that really date me?

        1. Winkypop Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          I was a whiz at Multimate

          Ahhhh, memories...

      2. Dylan Fahey


        Anyone else remember WordStar →

        Does anyone remember ever getting a mail list to work with Worststar?

        1. BorkedAgain


          ...on the TRS-80.

          NOW who's old?

          (And Visicalc for the spreadsheeting goodness...)

    2. handle

      You haven't lived

      What about Wordwise on the BBC Micro?

      1. Charles 9

        For me... was Fleet System and SpeedScript on the Commodore.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Me too

      Me too.

  35. Stevie


    The only issue I see in the debate over changing from MSOffice to OpenOffice (or whatever it is called this week thank you Sun sorry Oracle) is that everyone who is a vociferous supporter of OOo seems to be thinking of the product as a bundled spreadsheet/word processor etc and not as an integrate office suite.

    When confronted in the flesh by OOo evangelists I often ask "Can you do a mail merge from a source database that contains the information in stored queries or views?" and typically get back a blank look.

    OOo is still an office suite for geeks rather than for someone who needs to do integrated stuff back offices typically thrive on. It's database product seems nowhere near as capable as MSAccess, being more like the elementary thing that ships with MSWorks.

    At least, that is true of the version I have installed.

    1. spegru


      of people never do mailmerge. I have never needed to, that's for sure

      As for Access, do real people use that?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You pretty much failed when you said you were using Access.

      Access is a toy.

      1. Mark 65


        Access is a toy, and you'd be surprised at how much power users like playing with it. The idea of having your own shareable database under your own control is very appealing. It's no enterprise level db for sure but it's bloody well used within the enterprise make no mistake - I've had to clean up enough in my time to know.

        1. CD001

          It was..

          Access: it was good for creating relational diagrams before MySQL Workbench got up to scratch... but as an actual database? People use Access for that?

    3. Stephen Bungay

      @Stevie: Geeky?

      You say you ask this question "Can you do a mail merge from a source database that contains the information in stored queries or views?" and then have the gall to say that OOo is an office suite for geeks? Most M$ Office users I've met have would look at you with a blank stare as well because they have no idea what a query is let alone a view, databases are not their forte.

    4. handle


      "When confronted in the flesh by OOo evangelists I often ask "Can you do a mail merge from a source database that contains the information in stored queries or views?" and typically get back a blank look."

      The blank look is because they haven't got a clue what you're talking about, because they have never wanted to do such a thing.

      It simply proves what so many people keep saying - Microsoft Office is completely unnecessary for the vast majority of users.


      "geeks" indeed...

      > When confronted in the flesh by OOo evangelists I often

      > ask "Can you do a mail merge from a source database

      > that contains the information in stored queries or views?"

      > and typically get back a blank look.


      > OOo is still an office suite for geeks

      I think you have that exactly backwards.

      OO is an office suite for normal people that don't want anything terribly "geeky".

      I would be surprised if you've ever done a mail merge either.

    6. C 2

      RE: "Can you do a mail merge from a source database blah blah...

      As a matter of fact *I CAN*! Oh, BTW Access isn't a real database, its more like MS "Works" in the respect that it does, barely. Even a paltry 100,000 records can easily kill it or hang it up for 10 minutes trying to find something. Oh, and I only have v3.2.0.

      And BTW Open Office can access more databases and files than I even knew existed, clear back to "D the Data Language" for DOS .. Mail-merge THAT!

      Speaking of geeks ...

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        MS Works..

        .. doesn't ..

        'nuf said.

    7. Bodincus

      Two Clicks away.

      "Can you do a mail merge from a source database that contains the information in stored queries or views?"

      Open an existing or new text document, click on "Tools", and select "Mail Merge Wizard".

      Follow the easy instructions to connect to any database you have access to.


      I mean, if you are not a lazy M$ drone, that is.

      If you learnt how to do such "advanced" tasks on M$ Office, it'll be a doodle to learn again how to do it in OOo.

    8. A J Stiles

      Mail Merge?

      I would write (have written, even) a Perl script to read a MySQL database (or CSV file) and perform some regular expression substitutions on a hand-crafted PostScript document. But maybe that's just me.

      Most "normal" people -- if they even realised there was actually an alternative to retyping each time -- would simply write the letter with obvious placeholders; do a search-and-replace with the correct details for each recipient in turn (copying them from a spreadsheet and pasting them straight into the search requester if they were *really* savvy); then ctrl+Z undo all the search-and-replaces, rinse and repeat.

      I have actually seen people adding up figures on a spreadsheet with a calculator, then entering the total into a box. They thought it was magic when I shew them how to enter a formula! Advanced users are very much in the minority.

    9. Alex Willmer


      "When confronted in the flesh by OOo evangelists I often ask "Can you do a mail merge from a source database that contains the information in stored queries or views?" and typically get back a blank look."

      I expect you'd get the same blank look from most Office evangelists as well, if you asked them that question. It's a fairly obscure one.

      Disclaimer: I'm a card carrying OOo user. I find it good enough, but not great. I haven't used Base in anger, from what little I have I'd tend to agree it's no Access. I have used Access, and it's made me angry as often as not.

    10. Martin Owens


      As an Ubuntu guy I can say honestly that's database management systems are the worst. It's easier to set up your own mysql database and populate that than deal with the hideously grotesque mail merge, bibliography or other features. Pro tip, try and use bibliography on a default ubuntu install. heh.

      I don't use Microsoft Office, I don't really know what that product does. I just know oo.o isn't a good db app.

    11. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Would have to agree

      In a business context integration with Exchange and SharePoint cant be beaten. You also have SharePoint designer, One Note, Publisher and Infopath so you really are getting good value if you make use of these products. Volume licensing options can be very good value and they often allow for use at home rights as well.

      In any of these debates I tend to believe watching the market will highlight the best course of action. If the vast majority of the market is using a particular product it is usually the best approach to take. If the market changes then it is usually because a better alternative has appeared.

    12. Stevie

      Double Bah!

      Every one of these replies just proved my point for me. Of course real people do mail merges - they are the backbone of any business that needs to contact a customer, subscriber or alumni base for any reason. That would be schools, magazine publishers, computer resellers, drug companies, camera warehouses, car manufacturers, pretty much anyone who doesn't spend their day with the computer itself as an end in their work lives.

      Once again the evangelists lose the argument by not understanding it. Everything written in response to my post can be summed up as "It's not the softeware that needs work. You're too stupid to know what's good", the same argument that has been used so successfully to show the benefits of Linux to the desktop market for over a decade and seize the workstation market from Microsoft.

      Oh wait...

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        You didn't read the posts, did you?

        In Open Tools > Mail Merge Wizard, follow the prompts.

        In MS Office 2007 or 2010, I have no idea whatsoever because I can't find it. I used to know where it was though.

  36. ZenCoder

    I switched to Open Office in 2003, haven't looked back.

    I need a word processor to write letters and print envelopes and I use spread sheets. Its possible that Microsoft has made some amazing innovations in their Office technologies that will revolutionize the way in which I do these tasks, but I doubt it.

    A friend of mine demonstrated how Open Office 2.x would slow down intolerably when working with the huge spreadsheets she deals with at work. She definitely made the right choice in sticking with MS Office.

    It all depends on what you need from your Office Suite, but for almost every home user and many businesses Open Office meets their needs.

    1. John Sturdy

      There's a difference in what you can do about it

      If Office performs badly, you can complain to MicroSoft, and nothing will happen (although if you're a government-sized organization you might be able to lean on them).

      If Open Office performs badly, you can hire someone to profile it and work on fixing the area in which its bad performance affects you (provided you're a big enough organization to hire a programmer).

  37. Christopher E. Stith
    Gates Horns

    Tune in at 11!

    We'll be tackling a new revelation: people used to one interface take some time adjusting to a new one!

  38. Ian Johnston Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    No need, is there?

    Last think I heard was due to become LibreOffice or some such nonsense, clearly flagging the usual FOSS problem of "developers more interested in arcane political points and rivalries than actually meeting user needs". It'll be dead within a year or two.

    1. Martin Owens


      Oh yes, political rivalries, that's all it is. The people behind the decision weren't serious and cautious managers of a very large project making a difficult decision. They were blind free software nut cases.

      What do they teach in schools these days.

    2. LaeMing

      I think it is more a case of

      developers not giving Oracle a chance to sue their butts off since said company now "owns" the term "OpenOffice".

    3. Francis Boyle

      Don't you mean

      Last think I heard Sun Microsystems had become Oracle Corporation or some such nonsense, clearly flagging the usual commercial problem of "managers more interested in money making schemes and business rivalries than actually meeting user needs".

  39. Dest

    Open Office Works Just Fine.

    I use OpenOffice and I have had no problem with it.

    In fact it is in many ways better than MS Office and it's easier to use.

    There are a lot of businesses though that are paranoid about using anything but Microsoft products but that appears to be changing due to cost concerns.

    I watched the video and it's just more of the same FUD that Microsoft always uses to try to scare people.

    What was it they said? "Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they went back to MS Word".

    As if to suggest that the people who were forced to use OpenOffice against their will were so confused and mentally deficient that they messed up the whole system with it because they just couldn't adapt.

    OpenOffice and MS Office do the same tasks and are not all that different.

    And who ever relies on Microsoft for support anyway?

    If you do call their support which I have done in the past you get some person usually in India who use a Talksoff program on their computer to try to hep you but knows nothing other than to read what is on the screen.

    That is what they call "support".

  40. Asoces


    <blank look>

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    ooo - handbag!

    Hate to say it, I prefer MS Orifice to Open Orifice, but equally despise both, because each of them equate to stuff I hate doing.

    I love to write, but find this level of Word Processing software completely overburdened with shit I don't need, but have to use at work.

    There's only *one* reason I prefer MS Orifice, everyone else uses it, so I don't have to battle with formats - I can open those shitty work excel documents that make my skin crawl, crank up Word to splatter out another painfully constructed technical specification and open yet another 'paint drying on the back of my eyeballs' PowerPointless presentation.

    Any Office suite is just an excuse to fritter away countless hours pontificating on formatting, instead of actually sending a simple plain text missive.

    Give me a plain text editor any day of the week, good old eMacs or Vim, or Notepad++

    Paris, because her Orifice is open all hours...

    1. Mostor Astrakan

      Quality standards of Word documents

      Ogods... I just spent about two days hacking and wading my way through a big Word document, the information in which will have significant influence on my future work. It had lots to comment on, being written by a non-native speaker[1], and I didn't even start on the actual layout.

      Fonts changing willy-nilly. Margins floating between Zero and Two Inches with no clear reason why. No two bullet lists looking the same, presumably to illustrate all the beautiful different ways in which Our Lord and Mircosoft allows you to list things. Some of the pages on A4, where others are on Letter landscape, maybe to accomodate a picture that Word thought wouldn't fit on A4 size paper. Headers and footers appearing, changing and disappearing at random (which is really handy if you have to write comments on it. "About Page Unnumbered about three down from where you suddenly switch to Helvetica").

      I'm sure the person wrote it with the same amount of pleasure as I read it.

      This is why, when I have a big document to produce, I use Komposer, a WYSIWOTSIT web page editor. Its most important feature is that it doesn't have all the formatting crap that MS (or Sun) bestows on us. When I'm happy with the words, I'll cut-and-paste it into a Word document. At least that way, I won't have to deal with all the editing damage that you can inflict on your document with mis-aimed clicks and I can concentrate on, you know, actually producing the words and the pictures.

      [1] And damn you, *I* am a non-native speaker. It doesn't excuse the crap English.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Tools for real work

      When I have to write a document (typically a large and complex one), I do it with a proper document processing system, e.g. LaTeX (and emacs, let the wars begin). No way would I do it with an executive desk toy program made for writing letters.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        @Tools for real work

        LaTeX and emacs!! WAY the best.

      2. Penguin herder


        I'm with you on LaTeX - great stuff! Emacs, I'm not so sure. TeX Maker is really pretty good, just as Code::Blocks does a nice job on the little bit of C/C++ I use.

    3. LaeMing

      I agree

      My preferred document format is a very small subset of HTML - basically Heading, Paragraph, bold, italic, lists and one or two other useful formatting and structure tags. Anything more is just arseing around to try and cover up a lack of real content!

      Has an advantage of showing well on any screen-size at a any font size.

      Paper? That is what you wipe your butt with isn't it?

    4. Anonymous Coward

      re: ooo - handbag!

      Good for you then LaTeX is available for all OS platforms!

  42. Flash_Penguin

    Open Office presenter view?

    MS can still innovate. Till OO gets a presenter view, my training company will be going nowhere. As the IT admin of an SBS server I'm still looking for equivalent functionality for outlook too.

    Don't get me wrong I use OO at home to stay legal and avoid the MS tax on my varied boxes, but we have money to make at work, and the FOSS equivalent doesn't cut it at this time, for features and compatibility with clients.

    Shame, cos we would like a free solution in these tight times.

    1. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Don't upgrade to MS Office 2007 then

      They broke presenter view completely - it became literally impossible to have the presenter view on Primary and the slides on the second monitor from a laptop.

      Obviously Microsoft decided that I needed my notes on the big projector, and the slides on the tiny laptop screen.

      This was after spending fifteen minutes trying to find what they'd done with the settings.

  43. GrantB

    Anti-piracy measures have helped OO

    Some organisations that I have worked for seems to not bother with cost/benefit analysis but just buy Office for every seat (MS make that easy with various site license options). Mainly the organisations wanted to make sure everybody had Outlook, (which really is a pretty good email client), but I personally like Word and Excel 2007 as well. Other Office applications like PowerPoint, Access and Visio, I find can be buggy or at least not as polished as other apps. In my experience Outlook + Exchange was only used for email/calendar/contacts that could setup meetings easily; never seen half the features of Outlook (like journals) ever used.

    Individuals on the other hand, when faced with the retail price of Office, for just writing resumes, essays for school etc and/or have a few spreadsheets for tracking house hold expenditure, have to make a tougher choice. In the past (I am thinking back to Win3.11/Win95 days), they had options like MS Works bundled with a lot of PC’s, which was so crippled that generally I found friends and family used to ‘borrow’ a copy of Word/Excel from their work or friend. Using a free or cheap alternative product never seemed to be an option.

    Now MS have clamped down with product activation, I find those same people are getting Open Office instead. It does everything they need, so MS must worry that people are not only trying the free opposition, but they might find it good enough that when the kids go off to university & into the workforce, they might be happy enough to stick with OO. Certainly at one place where I had input into buying software, we brought Office 2007 for those that needed it, but programmers and other non-power users* got OO and Thunderbird.

    I am amused that MS are always going to be stuck between a rock and an hard-place. They can’t build into Windows a decent enough set of application like Ubuntu or Apple can (despite the fact it would make Windows even stronger), as they make so much money off selling Windows and Office licenses separately. So they end up still having to bundle Wordpad (without a spell check) and trying to ensure non-Office apps are crippled. My elderly father-in-law couldn’t figure out why his new (at the time) XP laptop could not be used as a type writer without buying new software, so he ended up using MS Mail for writing and printing documents until I installed OO for him.

    *tip for IT managers – never tell people that they are getting the cheap, low-end office package; half the people find it an insult & want MS Office, even if they never do anything that couldn’t be done in Google Apps.

    1. A J Stiles
      Thumb Up


      Absolutely spot on!

      Ease of piracy of MS products effectively prevented anyone else from getting a look in. Why spend £50 on an inexpensive office suite, when you can get MS Office for nothing? And home users already trained on (pirate copies of) MS Office will want their employers to use (and therefore pay for) MS Office if and when they get jobs.

      A pirate copy of MS Office isn't a lost sale for Microsoft. It is a lost sale for anyone else trying to punt an alternative, inexpensive office suite. Nobody actually has to make a single pirate copy of "Cheap Office 2010" for the vendors to end up going out of business, thanks to piracy (though that isn't what it will be blamed on, of course; it'll be blamed on them producing an inferior product).

      Unfortunately for Microsoft, (and decent Open Source software in general, for that matter) is immune to this effect. And if Microsoft clamp down any harder on piracy, there will be somewhere else for users to turn.

    2. admiraljkb
      Thumb Up

      re: Anti-piracy measures have helped OO

      Yeah. I've got 2 legit copies of MS Office 2003 (technically more than that with my Technet that I got for OS testing) that go unused after system rebuilds because the install/activation is more trouble than it's worth for the type of documents that I do. The install takes forever, and not to mention I have to find the darned CD first (it's somewhere around here) and then enter in the keycode from hell (and at least one typo when I do it), and then re-activate them and possibly have to get on the phone to confirm it's legit... Contrast that with Openoffice/LibreOffice? Download via BitTorrent (very FAST that way) then install. No codes, no activation, and no phone calls about software I legitimately have licenses for with the MS Rep on the other end being convinced I'm pulling something quick.... From my perspective OO is VERY friendly compared to MS.

      Course for me, having already switched to Firefox, Thunderbird, Filezilla, 7Zip and OO ended up convincing me that Ubuntu was the way to go when the Vista debacle occurred. Personally I think this is what MS is more concerned about. If people are using cross-platform apps, then they can more easily jump platforms altogether (regardless of platform), which then kills TWO MS cash cows in one blow.

  44. Steve Evans
    Gates Horns


    Curiously, it's interoperability which has caused me to install OpenOffice on the most machines... machines which up until now were happily working with Office2003... Why? Well because people kept emailing docs in M$'s latest and greatest format, and not wishing spend $$$ upgrading to yet another version of office I searched round for something which could read docx.

    I now notice M$ seem to be releasing far more format converters so 2003 can now read the newer formats... Too late M$!

  45. Nick Galloway

    Oracle support?

    Given the on again, off again actions of Oracle in relation to Open Office, is there perhaps some 'assistance' from Oracle to denigrate the impressive performance and features of Open Office?

    The open source movement is primarily a counter response to Microsoft, so there is no change of status there. Oracle on the other hand is playing both sides in trying to seem open source friendly while trying to pull the resourcing for Open Office and possibly make some revenue from the project. Without alienating the open source crowd they assist Microsoft in attacking their own product to assist in winning sympathy but having the option to pull the plug should they feel so inclined.

    Conspiracy theorist I may be but the timing seems a little too coincidental.

  46. Lewis Mettler 1

    learning from Microsoft reports

    You can learn a lot by reading Microsoft's required public reports.

    Such as the fact that IE is NOT free. Contrary to the employees that spout out about you have to buy IE and shut up because it is free, IE is not free. Microsoft claims that some 35% of the revenue from OS sales includes "unearned income" which Microsoft says includes IE. So not even Microsoft itself claims IE is free. Unless, of course, they are attempting to defraud customers. Then it is free. But, officially it is not free.

    For the slow learners anytime you pay money for a product it is not a free product. Only idiots and fools think so.

  47. Philip Hands

    credit where it's due

    Just in case the people who contributed quotes are upset about the fact that their names flashed by so fast as to be invisible, here's the list of quoted people for Google and posterity:

    James Fleming -- Infrastructure and Support Manager, Speedy Hire

    Jeff Cimmerer -- Director of Technology for the Pitsford School District

    David Sterling, ICT Manager, Central Scotland Police

    Bülent Türker, Product Manager, Scarves Department, SARAR Group

    Eugenio Mariotto, ICT Director, Cobra Automotive Technologies

    Eros Borgogelli, Information Systems Coordinator, Ciar

    Eugenio Mariotto, ICT Director, Cobra Automotive Technologies (again)

    Randal C Kennedy, InfoWorld

    Tisome Nugent, Educator, Orange County Public School

    Sergey Sakharov, Buisiness Process Optimisation, Art of Transport Logistics

    Darek Muraszko, Information Systems Administrator, Kaczmarski Inkasso

    Igor Gentosh, Head of System Integration Department, Kredobank JSC

    Tiziano Battilana, Information Syatems Coordinator, Euromobil Group

    Joerg Lenze, System Administrator, Heinrich Berndes Haushaltstechnik GmbH & Co. KG

    Leonid Medvediev, Head of IT Department CISC SPC "Borschagivskiy Chemical and Pharmaceutical Plant"

    Bailey Mitchell, CIO, Forsyth County Schools

    I do hope that it improves their employment chances being involved in a FUD campaign in which most of them say things that boil down to "we didn't properly plan and fund the migration to an alternative, so the project failed and we had to scuttle back to mummy with our tails between our legs".

  48. Chris 3

    Someone needs to have a word with Dr. Tisome Nugent

    ... at 1:30 in the video she opines: "I've had students who turned in files that they've converted from OpenOffice with formatting problems - that affects their grades."

    I found myself wondering what sort of educator docs grades due to formatting issues without first saying, "Could you try re-saving this, it has formatting problems".

    From her LinkedIn profile, it she says that her goals are

    "... each teacher she works with will be equipped and supported to help their students to walk away with the necessary tools to be successful in the academic, social and career environments. She is an educator because she believes that every individual can be successful. Tisome enjoys working with the students that many consider “ difficult” or in challenging high poverty environments or with non-traditional learners because she believes strongly “that to whom much is given, much is expected.”"

    The "necessary tools" in this is case would appear to include Microsoft Office. Just what a student in a challenging high poverty environment needs to hear.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "... at 1:30 in the video she opines: "I've had students who turned in files that they've converted from OpenOffice with formatting problems - that affects their grades.""

      I caught that too. Without checking, I had hoped she was a graduate teaching assistant and just going through the motions for a service course, but the Ed.D explains it even better. BTW, I know one Ed.D who is a really damn good scientist, so it can happen.

  49. Philip Hands

    funny how a quick search on the contributors turns up...


  50. Nick Wallis

    OO is too slow...

    ...on a 5 year old g4 iBook.

    Office 2008 for MAC OTOH just works, and at a usable speed.

    1. Charles 9

      Have you tried the latest versions?

      OO2 and especially OO3 certainly seem to move at a nice clip. If you think your 5yo iBook is pokey, try the 9-year-old 1.1Ghz AMD Duron on one of my machines. It doesn't do too shabby with Ubuntu 10.04 and OO3.2.

  51. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

    Interesting conflation - easy solution..

    Interesting that MS mixes Open Source Linux and the Apps on top of it. Easy solution: use Macs with OOo, and employ someone with an actual brain to support Ooo. Let's be honest here: who has EVER called MS support for basic Office use?

    There's another reason to switch to Mac - *that* version of Office has not yet been bastardised with the ribbon rubbish, so it's still usable.

    There is, by the way, an EXTREMELY compelling reason to use OOo - it is able to repair damage to MS documents that Office simply dies on. The longer documents get, the closer you are to a fatal crash - a process accelerated by the use of a lot of cut & paste. At some point, you will no longer be able to open the document - unless you use OpenOffice which simply opens it, takes out the debirs and allows you to clean it up.

    Now *that* is enhancing productivity. MS Office, in my experience, surely is not.(*)

    (*) Having said that, for any Office package it pays to teach people about the use of styles and do content before styling. It reduces the number of wannabee DTP merchants..

  52. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    I did a quick & dirty test of OO with our students submission

    It was a few years ago, and I'm sure things have improved, but of about 250 Word documents submitted by our students, OO wouldn't open 8 (actually, it wouldn't open 12, but 4 of those were corrupt files which wouldn't open in Word either).

    If I were a business getting invitations to tender, person specifications or other documents from outside, being unable to read 3% would not be acceptable.

    I've also just had to deal with a student who has found that a package (name escapes me) on his mac (not OO or Office for Mac) doesn't reads the lecturers notes from PowerPoint files, just the slides.

    In the real world - especially the world of students heading for life in the NHS - Microsoft Office remains the sensible choice, like it or loathe it. "I'd like to live in a society where we all use open source" is commendable. So is "I'd like to live in a society where we can all leave our doors unlocked." But neither is going to happen in my lifetime, and the early adopters are going to get badly burned.

  53. Erwin Hofmann
    Thumb Up

    OOouch ...

    Microsoft spreads the FUD (Fear, uncertainty and doubt) thing again ... well done OOo you've spread successfully your very own FUD (Fear, uncertainty and dismay ) in to the hearts and minds of Microsoft ... what an achievement ... and just proofs that OpenOffice is good ...

    Oh, by the way, if we would program macros in OOo, MS Office would look old ...


  54. Anonymous Coward

    I can practically do all of my work

    Using free software. Alas one of the main things I need is my boss' Access database, and everything I've tried to run it on that isn't M$ fooks up hugely. ~sigh~ so close to completely ditching M$...

  55. Russell Howe

    I think I'm the only one who likes the ribbon

    I think it's much more intuitive than a toolbar.

    Sure, the people who are set in their ways and incapable of handling change moan until they're blue in the face but it's a pretty flexible interface and the keyboard accelerators are decent.

    The fact that half the buttons just take you to the age-old Office '4.3 (or '95 at best) windows (c.f. Fonts, Paragraphs, etc in Word, cell formatting in Excel) is a bit shit - they could do with a redesign in many ways.

    Still, the ribbon's a step in the right direction IMHO. It just makes toolbars look so clunky.

    I believe MS have a patent or copyright or something on the ribbon, so of course it's in their interest to push it as much as possible.

    Still, as a piece of UI design I thought it was pretty good.

    1. CD001


      Then why are "Macros" in "View"? They've nothing to do with viewing or layout. Looks to me like they just sort of got dumped there since they got rid of "Tools".

      The ribbon interface has one very serious drawback - it has a far more limited amount of available space especially when further cluttered with icons. The "classic" dropdown menu approach enabled far more options, laid out in a far more specific tree structure without having to mung things together just because you've run out of space in another section.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      You sir, are 1 in 6 billion.

      You're the first person I've ever heard of you likes it.

      Have you ever used it on a wide-screen monitor?

      Personally, I would like to use the pixels on my monitor to display my actual work, rather than pretty icons.

      Toolbars can be re-arranged, and usually 'pulled off' and often even stuck to the side - which is perfect for word processing for example, where you're usually writing in Portrait.

      Secondly, with the Ribbon, I always have to click at least twice to get to the tools I need - with floating toolbars, it's one click.

      I know the ribbon can be 'collapsed' - but then, it hides my work when it pops up which makes adjusting headers a memory game.

  56. Sarah Davis

    the add speaks for itself

    clearly MS fears Ooo to sucj an extent that they spent money on an anti-Ooo advert. I've converted almost every client i've ever had to Ooo with none of the problems mentioned in the add. There was one problem which did crop up a few times but apparently users found an easy enough work around by searching forums online.

    The best thing about Ooo is it's not MS, the 2nd best thing is it's free and therefore not a rip-off

  57. mfioretti

    that video is not about office suites

    but about drug addiction. Several comments resemble those of people who can't stop taking cocaine, see

  58. Clinton


    I get Ribbon Interface Application Anxiety every time I open an Office 2007/2010 application.

  59. Dylan Fahey
    Paris Hilton

    If your employees are so stupid that they can't grock OOO, then ...

    If your employees are so stupid that they can't grock OOO, then you need to hire some new employees. It's that simple.

    PARIS: Even I can open a .coc, I mean .doc file with open office.

  60. Cyfaill

    World standard OOo

    If it were not for vote fixing by Microsoft with the ISO...

    OpenOffice would have the only Document format standard that has recognition as a world standard.

    Sadly the ISO soiled themselves in the voting process.

    I mention this as a observation of the power by corruption that Microsoft uses to buy, steel or otherwise cheat the world of a competent set of document standards that would make everybody’s life just a little bit easier.

    I only use open source software with our company, for the last 13 years.

    Not once was it a requirement of any agency of any organization that showed any objection to the documents I could produce with OpenOffice or its predecessors over the years.

    Years ago I had to be clever with conversions but since version 3.1 OOo

    that was history long gone... direct application production as a save for PDF has been in OOo for some time.

    As for the schools teaching MS word... The schools failed, not the availability of a genuine ISO standard in documentation. just another sign of the lagging school system and entrenchment of inertia to obsolete thinking.

    Fact is OpenOffice works extremely well and its interface only looks familiar... not old... its what people understand, that’s why it looks old.

    Is that a problem or something else... nobody was born knowing how to use a word processor.

    I give you the ribbon as example number one, of new unfamiliar confusion.

    Neither flag the real problem.

    Corruption of what the idea of a standard is... Microsoft likes corruption, it permits its existence.

    What if Microsoft were to fail as a company... It could happen. Were would you be with their closed source word processor?

    Give OpenOffice 3.2x a shot... for the future belongs to that which is... freedom to see and use a genuine world standard.

  61. Baggypants

    Whats that Oracle?

    Your suddenly backing OpenOffice? I wondered why you suddenly woke up.

  62. PsYcHoTiC_MaDmAn

    let me quote an email I received

    "I have had one or two people contacting me about difficulties opening the practice Excel file. This file is in the Excel 2007 format and may not open in earlier versions of Excel. Excel 2007 is the version referred to in all of the materials associated with the exercises and because Excel 2007 is markedly different from earlier versions you need to use this version to complete both the practice and the forthcoming assessment.

    The good news is that Excel 2007 (along with all of the other Office 2007 programs) is available on all of our networked PCs"

    however, I can open, and do EVERYTHING required using OO3.2

    and on a similar note.

    I wrote up an essay in OO, saved as .doc and sent it to someone to proofread. it oped and rendered perfectly. however, the changes they made resulted in a complete FU of the formatting (very complex formatting.... images with legends and a table......)

    every time I have to use windows/M$ I cringe at how annoying it is...... though need to get a windows partition set up for the odd game...

  63. Adey

    2011 for mac

    OpenOffice is a sack of crap for professional use. i'm a mac user so i have no love affair with Microsoft. If you work in professional environments OO is just shocking in virtually every element except that its free. If you are a mom and pop outfit that just needs to write a few letters or add up your accounts go for it.

    right now i'd advise anybody to switch to mac and use office 2011 = menus and full macros

  64. Anonymous Coward

    Grew up on OO

    Then was forced to use MS Office in new job. Yuck! If given the choice, I'd never use MS Office again, especially Excel.

    A slick commercial from MS is like a campaign visit from Obama this year. It means they're scared..

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Speaking of Microsoft Office... and their IDIOT ideas

    Office 2007 - I gave it a try - and the ribbon? No way to switch it off? In the bin it went.

    Open Office - I tend to make BIG documents, with lots of color pictures in them.

    I also do some great artwork and graphics and I like the DRAW program immensely.

    However I had to have a HUGE HUGE HUGE HUGE shitfight with the IDIOTS in Open Office - over two issues.

    The first one was after having placed "pictures or diagrams" into an OO document, they failed to provide the rational of if people make documents with pictures, they expect the document to keep the pictures in it.

    The stupids however designed the program, required one to manually break the links from the document to the pictures.....

    Save the document for later use (a PC upgrade two or later), or transfer to another machine, or send to another user via email - and there goes all your "embedded" pictures.

    The next major fight I am having with them (still ongoing) is the prohibition or stopping of one from embedding one's own fonts, into ones own documents.

    All this horse shit they spin about backward compatibility, and archival quality records.... with the ODT format - for all time - it's fucking crap.

    I mean you can buy CD's with 10,000 fonts for $10, and there are all of ones fonts on ones system from all of ones software to use.....

    It's my machine, it's my software, I bought and paid for it.... and these dumb fucks say "OH no you cannot embed your own fonts in your own documents because it entangles 'US' in copyright"......

    Move your neato carefully formatted documents and drawings OFF of the computer of origin and onto another, or save them and reopen them in a different OS machine - and there goes your margins, line spacing, word and letter spacing, fonts and layout/s..... all of it fucks up and turns from WIZARD + document; into a 12 point Arial font.....

    It's that fundamental level of stupidity - like putting the steering wheel in the center of the roof, outside the car...... because 99% of the time, you don't actually need to be turning a corner so 99% of the time it's just in your way, and everyone can reach it - making it democratic steering.

    Just had a vicious fight with a friends XP system.... Shit eh? Microsoft do not include anything remotely sane that could be called "disk imaging software" for backing up... Nooooo they include that shitfest called "System Restore" - where all the trojans, virus's and other malware hide out.

    And MS's "backup software"....... Last time I used that was like 7 or 8 years ago... Yes it was that bad - and never ever using that again. The fact that these people in MS dump such shit on the market.....

    I mean there is so many fundamental reasons - as well as MS's sleazy consumer spyware configurations.... with the secret hidden files and folders, and encrypted "data gathing on the consumer" formatting......

    Microsoft - "Oh the dogshit repacked in new wrapping paper with a BIG RIBBON".....

    And their crap non existent customer service..... "Hi my name is Joe, what is your name and credit card number?"

    They pull such greedy stupid shit that they are never ever getting another look in.

    1. Jay Clericus


      Looks like tool has lost the plot, maybe post without the need to use swear words and you might have a point.

      Have to admit have never bothered with additional fonts, customer service on free software ?

      check out

      If you need someone to hold your hand, pay MS $$

  66. DrXym

    OOo has its faults but then again it works

    OpenOffice is not for everyone and has some pretty glaring usability issues. Even so, the thing is free, cross platform, feature rich, has excellent support for MS formats and uses an open format.

    Basically anyone be they an individual, a small business or an enterprise should be evaluating this software. If it works then great you've just saved yourself a fortune and unshackled yourself from Microsoft Office and possibly Windows too. If not then submit feedback to OO but use something else for the time being. What's there to lose?

    MS Office is a great product, of that there is no doubt but it costs a lot of money and is packed with features very few people actually need.

  67. Jay Clericus

    no way

    Been using OO for years on windows and linux, it works well. Company laptops had office 2003, so they got upgraded to office 2007 and all my menus and the way it used to work vanished, took a long time to get used to it again, helped a lot by a MS program that showed stuff in 2003 and how it worked in 2007.

    The comments for the video have been disabled, looked like spam from MS who seem to be worried..

    For the most part, people at work use the basic level of office and it would not matter what office suite was used

  68. tim-e

    How do you think I feel?

    I work for Oracle - I *have* to use OOo.

  69. PhilBack

    OO great for fast equations writing

    OpenOfffice has DMaths and the equation writer, something that makes MS products irrelevant for me in that area.

    Agreed that OO may not be for everyone, but it works well enough for us. Even if I do have Office2003 here, I have no intention of using that crappy ribbon interface from hell.

  70. This post has been deleted by its author

  71. h4rm0ny
    Paris Hilton

    Wearing a ribbon with pride...

    Honestly, I can't recall the last time I read so much concentrated whining and neophobia. I've seen plenty of non-technical people using the ribbon quite happily. It's pretty intuitive. Yet the supposedly tech-adept audience of El Reg are wailing and moaning like they've been asked to communicate with Office by morse code. Pathetic showing, all of you!

    Paris, because I have no doubt she is more capable of using Office 2010 than most of you lot by the sounds of it.

  72. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

    @Ribbon Lovers

    You have completely missed the point. Allow me the time to enlighten you. Microsoft is a corporation. This corporation sells us a product that we can choose to buy – or not – at our leisure. There are competing products available, many rapidly approaching “good enough.” Open Office is – for the large part – already there.

    What does this mean? Put simply, if you are not required to use Microsoft Office as part of the terms of your employment (as I sadly am) then you are not required to use it at all. This has some interesting side effects. The first of which is that you are perfectly free to simply not buy it if the product doesn’t meet your requirements!

    This is where the ribbon comes in. Not everything “new” is automatically “good.” Certainly in the real world “newer” does not automatically translate into “better.” (E.g. “the new Coke” or any GM car made between 1995 and 2009.) If Microsoft decides to change the interface on their product to something I personally find counterintuitive, then who are they – indeed, who are YOU – to suggest I should simply suck it up and use this product I don’t want anyways?

    The point is that I don’t have to. I can use an alternative product and be far happier and more productive than I would be if I chose to stick with Microsoft Office. Don’t get me wrong – I love Office 2003. I still have it in use on my VM, and I would gladly have bought Office 2003 for the missus and myself when we replaced our PCs.

    I don’t happen to like Office 2007/2010 because of that damned ribbon. Microsoft produced something that I – the customer – didn’t want to buy. There was zero incentive for me to spend money to purchase this software that didn’t meet my requirements when a perfectly usable and free alternative that behaves exactly as I want it to behave is available. Thus Microsoft lost out on the funds I had set aside for a software refresh. Not only did they lose my money for Office…but without the requirement to support office I simply had no reason to install Windows.

    Without Windows on my desktop PCs, I really didn’t see the point in maintaining an SBS install at home. Thus Microsoft has lost – by my most current count – five copies of Windows 7, one copy of Small Business Server and four copies of Microsoft Office in my household alone. All of the previous versions of this software are in the midst of being replaced with a fully licensed Redhat stack.

    The lesson here isn’t one of “suck it up, cry-babies.” The lesson here is that Microsoft isn’t a government. They aren’t our employers. They have no means of requiring us to consume a product beyond actually making a product we want to consume!

    In this Microsoft appear to have failed. I am a Small to Medium Enterprise systems administrator. I used to write a sysadmin blog around here on El Reg. A little perusal of this blog would tell you that the environments I support are largely Microsoft. What is of interest is that of the twenty-four networks I maintain all but two of them view Microsoft as “legacy software.” It is maintained only because they have a handful of applications that require its existence. In every other instance, these folks – SME folks with little training – are abandoning Microsoft in droves for Linux or OSX. This is not at my insistence: the choices were made by the business owners. I was brought in because I know a fair amount about making Microsoft products coexist with Linux as is required during a transition away from Microsoft.

    When I asked each of these business owners “why are you undertaking this expensive transition away from Microsoft software” the answers are fairly consistent. They all boil down to “Microsoft has stopped delivering us the kind of software we actually want. Instead they are delivering us software that locks us in and locks us down whilst delivering us nothing new of value. If we wanted that, we’d buy Apple.”

    And so they did.

    There’s a lesson here. The lesson is not so simplistic as “people fear change” or “the customer is always right.” The less is thus:

    The individuals who actually pay you for your work will only submit to such an arrangement so long as one of two conditions are true:

    1) You produce work of a quality that enhances the quality of life of the individual purchasing your work.

    2) Your produce a vital good and there are no alternatives available.

    For many people the world over – including the nontechnical types – Microsoft is no longer producing a product that enhances the quality of life for those who purchase it. What’s more, they no longer have a monopoly. With alternatives available, zero worthwhile leadership, warring fiefdoms inside the company and a complete lack of worthwhile products capable of meeting increasing competition I have to agree with all the SME owners who contract me to work on their networks:

    Microsoft software is legacy software. Treat it as such.

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