back to article What strange beauty is this? Microsoft commits to two more non-subscription Office editions

Microsoft has cooked up fresh versions of its Office suite that will be sold under a perpetual license – and promised it will do so again in future. The software giant will deliver two editions of Office this year. As explained in a post penned by senior director of product marketing for Microsoft 365 TJ Devine, one is called …

  1. mikus

    First hit is always free-ish.

    Enslaving a new generation, why not? Or people could just use LibreOffice, a perfectly usable solution to replace Office for the past 20 years already.

    I've been working/consulting in enterprise IT space and have used Linux for the past 25 years, where 20 of that full-time personally using a Linux desktop, LibreOffice has always been exceedingly just fine to use, and something I use daily. People need for day to day probably 5% of what any office-suite does, and for that most any other solution is fine, and open-source is best for trust. After using LibreOffice/OpenOffice for so long, moving back to real MS Office on a customer provided device annoys me greatly.

    1. Chet Mannly

      Re: First hit is always free-ish.

      +1 for LibreOffice.

      Recently got a new PC and after uninstalling from the old laptop MS refused to activate the Office licence on the new one, kept trying to shove a subscription down my throat.

      Installed LibreOffice and haven't looked back. It's a little less polished, but can do everything I could in Office, and haven't had compatibility issues with any docs.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        I use LibreOffice - mainly for spreadsheets - and haven't had compatibility problems even with macros, but for me it's buggy and feels like a beta product. It's free, so the daily crashes and annoying formatting and charting bugs are liveable with, but I wouldn't want to support it in a work environment.

        1. LogicGate Silver badge

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          We use Writer for most our technical documents. Complex page numeration designed for the replacement and insertion of new pages made Word choke on the document and keel over years ago.

          Calc does not work well for the analysis and visualisation of bulk data such as traction battery pack charge and discharge curves.

          Change one object property and wait until calc has re.calculated all other items as well. Hence, we will have to continue to use Excel until software decides to create single purpose programs for this.

          My experience with presentations is that LibO will present everything, but that it tends to screw up the formatting. I assume that we would be OK if all our presentations were native LibO, but with multiple gigabytes of ppt(x) presentations to pick from, I do not see us change until forced to do so.

          Our office is, off couse, not the cloud based solution.

          LibO, Inkscape and Gimp; amazing projects by amazing people!

          1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            it tends to screw up the formatting.

            In my experience that's almost always down to font differences. It's worth looking online for some of the additional free fonts that match those used in MS tools.

            1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

              Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

              Yes but that can also happen with Word between versions.

              I used to have a customer that did vast quantities of educational material housed in ring-binders. When the content changed, in theory only the pages with the change would be sent out (the page footer contained version info). When they moved between versions of Word they often ended up having to print everything out each time. They wouldn't have had that problem if they'd stuck to WordPerfect.

              1. F. Frederick Skitty Silver badge

                Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

                A word processor isn't supposed to be used as a desktop publishing tool, hence Word being a poor choice for your customer to write their educational material with.

                Ran into this over twenty years ago, as a new generation of technical authors came along. Their predecessors had used proper publishing tools, such as LaTeX or Framemaker and SGML. Then came the next wave who insisted on submitting Word documents. Since we had a big share of the target market for these documents in electronic form (defence and legal compliance), we initially pushed back by pointing to our contracts that stated the acceptable formats such as LaTeX and SGML using the US military standard DTDs. Eventually we had to give up as the computer literacy of the technical authors cratered, and just scraped the contents of Word documents that then had to be marked up by an internal team of editors. The frustrating part was that the technical authors were supposed to be highly intelligent and degree level educated, but the editors ran rings round them when it came to computers. And those editors were all people who had left school with little or no qualifications, but appreciated a decent paid job with training.

                1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

                  Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

                  TLDR; Enshittification(*) of desktop publishing.

                  (*) Is it shitify or shittify ? Maybe it depends on if we are talking about shite or shit.

                  1. Fr. Ted Crilly Silver badge

                    Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

                    The Trailer Park Supervision report is strong in this one....

                2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

                  Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

                  A word processor isn't supposed to be a desktop publishing tool, with sophisticated flow and colour control options but it *should* be able to handle basic layout and tables without resorting to a proper DTP package or LaTeX.Maybe Word itself can't do this, but it really isn't unreasonable to expect a word processor should.

                  I've written some reasonably complex documents in LaTeX including tables, auto routing diagrams, and embedded documents (for PDF output). It's good for free, but as friendly as a cornered rat, with lots (and lots) of edge cases and opaque error messages. *This* addon works here, but not *there* and not with that other addon. If you want to do that, you should use *that* instead, but there's no obvious curated list that says 'do not use this addon except in exceptional circumstances'.

              2. herman Silver badge

                Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

                This page was intentionally left blank - every so often - solves that problem.

              3. constance szeflinski

                Re: it tends to screw up the formatting.

                Or use Frame. I know many hate it but for large missed docs it is the bomb!

          2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            Writer was always the, ahem, star of StarOffice, as it was originally called. MS Word does some things well but has never got over some of its original limitations.

          3. herman Silver badge

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            Use gnumeric not calc.

          4. JulieM Silver badge

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            If I was doing the same fairly heavy maths over and over again, I wouldn't use a spreadsheet for that -- I'd write myself a simple program (possibly even in Fortran -- why, yes, I am that old) just to generate the data points, and spit them out as a CSV.

          5. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            "Calc does not work well for the analysis and visualisation of bulk data such as traction battery pack charge and discharge curves."

            I use Igor. Excel couldn't deal with really large data sets so I found this some years ago and it works well for that. We used it to analyze all of the telemetry data we'd get from rocket flights.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          You might want to look at OnlyOffice for a slimmed down Excel clone that does most of what you need.

          1. RegGuy1 Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            Well in @LogicGate's case he seems to want to use a general tool for some very specific purpose: Calc does not work well for the analysis and visualisation of bulk data such as traction battery pack charge and discharge curves. How to tar exceptionally good software just because it won't perform an edge case. If you've got huge amounts of data needing sophisticated visualisations I'd politely suggest a general tool such as a spreadsheet shouldn't be the expected path to follow.

            What a poor excuse to stick with the devil. Although I'd also say that for the entire OS, which comes with so much shit bundled and locked down that it is impossible to remove, thus making it god awful to work with. It is precisely because of this that, for at least the last 25 years, my first task always is to put Linux with its office suite on, and say goodbye to pester-ware, shit-ware and snoop-ware.

            Or, TL;DR, fuck off Microsoft.

            1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

              Re: First hit is always free-ish.

              What you're missing is that there are legion 'edge cases' of processing data in Excel. Word processors? Presentation programs? There's usually viable alternatives for those.

              Excel? Not so much. It's not good at formatting, but gets used for that. It's not good at databases, but gets used for that. It's not even particularly good for writing formulae because it's quite easy to output a sensible sounding (but wrong) result if used incorrectly.

              However the alternatives generally require spending more money, take longer, need increased learning, or all three. Additionally, if despite the fact that spreadsheets are fundamentally good at quickly throwing together a compromise solution, Excel does something and Calc does not then Excel is the better package at least for that purpose, and perhaps full stop. It does not matter it could be architected in Python or R, with greater effort (but a better solution) on the user's behalf

            2. LogicGate Silver badge

              Re: First hit is always free-ish.

              RegGuy1:

              You may not have noticed it, but I wrote very positively about our day-to-day use of LibO and open source productivity software in general.

              I then described the reason why I could not use some parts of LibO in some of my day to day routines. This was a general observation, not a complaint.

              With regards to leaving the OS alltogether: Our CAD software does not work without an MS OS, since it is heavily integrated, and there is no way that we will give up on all our models, drawings, documentation and 20+ years of training on this software in order to migrate to something new and shiny. That train did not just leave the station years ago; there never was a train at all.

              As for kicking out MS Office (in our case 2010): Not an option, since our CAD program integrates MS Office for stuff like curves from tables.

              So: we live with what we have, and use progressively more open source software as their capabilities become sufficient for our requirements.

            3. katrinab Silver badge
              Meh

              Re: First hit is always free-ish.

              I generally use either Jupyter or html+javascript for visualisations. For the latter, I use a fairly minimalist Python backend to query a database and spit out json, usually from MongoDB with the data organised in the most optimal way for fast queries. Then d3js on the front end for graphs, and vue3 for tables and other stuff.

          2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
            Alert

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            If you are requisitioning it for work, double check the spelling before you fill out any requests, to check that auto-correct hasn't changed it to OnlyFans

          3. keithpeter Silver badge
            Windows

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            @Charlie

            Not your downvoter but OnlyOffice appears to emphasise cloud and collaboration.

            The OA is specifically targeting offline / permanently-own type software.

            Just putting this out there for spreadsheet aficionados : Gnumeric (linux/*BSD only). My use case is a bit unusual but Gnumeric can do monte-carlo type simulations with a million cells on a core-duo/ 3G RAM without breaking a sweat. LibreOffice Calc is 'spinning the hourglass of death' with the same recipes.

            Gnumeric can also act as a front end to the GLPK linear solver which in turn support a subset of the AMPL linear model programming language, but that is probably a total edge case for most here.

            1. LogicGate Silver badge

              Re: First hit is always free-ish.

              Thank you for the tip on Gnumeric,

              Sadly no WIN binary available (yet), so not yet useable in my office, but worth keeping an eye on.

              1. keithpeter Silver badge
                Windows

                Re: First hit is always free-ish.

                @LogicGate

                Don't hold your breath on the prospect of a Windows binary for Gnumeric. Not so far as I am aware on the roadmap at all.

                1. LogicGate Silver badge

                  Re: First hit is always free-ish.

                  I thought so too, However, the website has a placeholder for a possible WIN binary download link http://www.gnumeric.org/download.html with the clear and consize "We do not currently release or distribute Windows binaries." The "currently" bit, however, leaves a tiny spark of hope. At the same time, it seems to build a lot on GNOME, which, as far as I know, is not a part of the WIN ecosystem :)

                  1. Not Yb Bronze badge

                    Re: First hit is always free-ish.

                    "We do not currently release ... Windows binaries." has been there for at least 7 (and probably 10) years. Unlikely to ever change unless someone figures out how to build it for Windows, and jumps in with "OK, I'll create the binaries, here's some samples to prove it", etc.

                  2. MachDiamond Silver badge

                    Re: First hit is always free-ish.

                    "I thought so too, However, the website has a placeholder for a possible WIN binary download link http://www.gnumeric.org/download.html with the clear and consize "We do not currently release or distribute Windows binaries." The "currently" bit, however, leaves a tiny spark of hope. At the same time, it seems to build a lot on GNOME, which, as far as I know, is not a part of the WIN ecosystem :)"

                    When I started in aerospace it was a small company and I elected to BYO on my computer. I set up a Mac Pro and the others looked at me sideways until they saw me running Windows..... and Linux........and MacOS, easily switching between them at will with copy/paste intact across VM's. It allowed me to choose the best applications for what I was doing while also using things such as Solidworks which was our CAD application. SVN was a bit of a Kludge having to be 3 separate commits, but it got to be habit so no itch.

            2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

              Re: First hit is always free-ish.

              It (OnlyOffice) runs fine without the cloud. It's not perfect but for many it's nice, slimmed down version of MS Office. It's "free and open source" but it seems for some that there's only room for LibreOffice in this space.

              1. Not Yb Bronze badge

                Re: First hit is always free-ish.

                OpenOffice still exists, but, yeah, trust Oracle? hahaha...

                1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

                  Re: First hit is always free-ish.

                  Oracle had no interest in OpenOffice and was happy to give it to the Apache Foundation to look after. It's what I tend to use but, at least on a Mac, I'd say OnlyOffice "looks" more polished.

    2. Mike007 Bronze badge

      Re: First hit is always free-ish.

      Fine, until you start sharing files with clients who open them in Microsoft office and think "what incompetent idiot put this together? The boxes don't even line up properly..."

      If there is a risk of that happening once in every 100 documents, that is unacceptable for most companies.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        Then use a PDF, or an open standard like ODS.

    3. JulieM Silver badge

      Re: First hit is always free-ish.

      I've seen far too many CVs in my time that were formatted for 216*279 (US Letter) paper, with spaces used for positioning and ad hoc font changes instead of styles; and claiming "intermediate to advanced MS Office skills".

      And maybe it's time Word Processors got smart enough to fix this sort of stuff; using the time between keystrokes to build up a collection of styles and setting tab positions at the first non-space character following a stream of spaces as a document is (badly) created, and turning the mess into something manageable.

      1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        "And maybe it's time Word Processors got smart enough .."

        No it isn't because that would just be someone else deciding how I should format my docs and I don't need to be bugged every five seconds cos I don't do things the way that a programmer who never uses the product beyond the odd five-page write-up decides. If someone's smart enough to get a degree in engineering then they're smart enough to learn to use the tools they use to get their job done and the fact they've shown no interest in doing so speaks volumes. Also, if they're claiming any skill level then they need to show a certificate or shut up and if they're submitting Word docs instead of pdfs for their CVs then they shouldn't be getting an interview

        Christ - that I didn't start that as a rant, but it seems to have ended up as one. Too much coffee this morning maybe!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          If your job description instructions don't include "send CV in PDF format", why throw them out if they used something other than your favorite proprietary format?

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: First hit is always free-ish.

            These kinds of things always made me wonder what they want of a staff member. When I looked at changing jobs and the application process seemed unconnected with getting the right person I just didn't want to apply. i.e Did they want expertise or sheep*.

            *In my experience....sheep.

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: First hit is always free-ish.

              "When I looked at changing jobs and the application process seemed unconnected with getting the right person"

              The problem is companies think that hiring has to go through HR rather than the old way of the department head handling it. The problem is that HR people live in a bubble that excludes knowing what those jobs require, what the company does and, apparently, don't know much about their own jobs to boot. I have a folder of job postings with such glaring errors that I'd never want to work with those firms. If they care so little about that sort of thing, I imagine that working there would be like a room full of chimps hurling feces all over. The bigger the company, the worse the problem. The last large company I worked for never understood that I wasn't "requesting" a day off, I was letting them know I wasn't going to be in that day. The HR people had the opinion they were in charge of my life and where I had to be each day.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          "No it isn't because that would just be someone else deciding how I should format my docs and I don't need to be bugged every five seconds cos I don't do things the way that a programmer who never uses the product beyond the odd five-page write-up decides. "

          I think that some of the developers don't realize that every industry and even sub-industries have a traditional way of formatting documentation. It's no use fighting those systems as you don't endear yourself to everybody else so it's wiser to just shut up and go with the flow. Just look at what a mess legal documents are. It's archaic and don't get me started on patent drawings. After all of that, look at what the city/county might want in formatting on a solar installation you propose to put on your house. It's like they tried to dumb down technical documentation and came up with something that makes no sense to anybody, but it must be done that way or they'll send it all back and charge you to resubmit it again. The software just needs to let you decide how to format something and provide tools to make that easy and the ability to save the formatting as a template.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        "And maybe it's time Word Processors got smart enough to fix this sort of stuff"

        You mean adding AI? No way.

        1. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          > You mean adding AI? No way.

          Oooohhhhh, you haven’t used Word 365 with all its AI garbage then. You thought Clippy was annoying? Times that by a hundred with a side order of getting in the way and you won’t be able to find the off setting fast enough.

          Whoever directed that development needs to be met down a dark alley by a bunch of people with a proposal to get out the door.

      3. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: maybe it's time Word Processors got smart enough to fix this sort of stuff

        (cough) WordPerfect (cough)

        I went through a phase of training most admin staff at a few London hospitals in how to do things properly. Nowadays nobody seems to care anymore.

        Don't encourage a Microsoft product to be "smart" (why do you need a leading zero on that phone number?).

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: maybe it's time Word Processors got smart enough to fix this sort of stuff

          "I went through a phase of training most admin staff at a few London hospitals in how to do things properly. Nowadays nobody seems to care anymore."

          There comes a point where all of the changes that keep getting made are done for change's sake and make no sense. Instead of making things easier, it makes one sit down and learn a piece of software they'd been using for ages all over again. There's software I use that is quirky, to say the least. The trouble at this point is I've used it for so long I can get things done quickly with it. If they actually fixed the glaring issues and polished up the UI, that would slow me way down again and probably at a time when I've changed/updated my computer and all sorts of things are different. eBay has been really bad with this. Every "improvement" to their selling UI adds another couple of levels of pages and removes information that, while rather staid, was easy to parse a whole bunch of things at a glance with the old layout. The one thing I keep requesting that never materializes is a "blocked seller" list so I can make sure that I never buy something again from certain sellers in the same way I can block buyers who are a PITA.

      4. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        I once wrote a 50 page report in Word (likely 2013) and took it for sign off by QA. He immediately handed it back to me and told me the font size and type was not regulation. Sigh.

        Anyhow, I thought I’d fix that by changing the font size and type in the Normal style. Kaboom! It took me three days to get the document back in order.,,

        1. IvyKing

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          That's where I think MS went astray when transitioning from Word for DOS to Word for Windows. Word for DOS had a rather decent approach to style sheets and MS went to the effort of creating a book about how to create and use style sheets. As long as one was consistent with naming and using styles, changing font size and typeface would be attaching a style sheet with the appropriate font size and typeface.

          The "downside" of style sheets is that one needed to have an existing style sheet prior to writing the document and one also needed to use the style sheet as the only method for formatting the document.

      5. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        Word has always suffered from effectively embedding the printer driver in the document. I think this goes back to the GDI / printer mismatch and was an attempt at a quick WYSIWYG fix.

        My first version of MS Word (version 2.0) came with a brilliant tutorial that emphasised the importance of using styles to format documents and was my introduction to this approach. The tutorial was missing in the next version (6.0) which had all kinds of additions that pandered to the ad hoc approach.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          And since I never needed anything more complicaed that a 2 or 3 page report that seems to be where I've stuck for a few decades. And I've never, to be fair, worked with anyone who did anything else, in my day job.

    4. Empire of the Pussycat

      Re: First hit is always free-ish.

      Trouble with LibreOffice is that there's not reliable document compatibility with MS apps.

      If you need to exchange documents (read-write) with others using MS, things can get very bad, very fast.

      I'd hoped to use it recently instead of coughing up for a subscription, unfortunately the problems (just a simple Powerpoint file) were so bad I had to give MS more of my money.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: First hit is always free-ish.

        Powerpoint('s file format) is an abomination that should be consigned to the depths of Hell. I'm not surprised LibreOffice has trouble with cross-compatibility.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: First hit is always free-ish.

          But possibly also the one least likely to need sharing cross platform. I'd be very wary of any kind of collaborative work (e.g. training) that relied on a shared PowerPoint. But either way, I'd be surprised if there were many use cases.

    5. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: First hit is always free-ish.

      +1 more for LibreOffice

      It's been working great for me. I imagine that if I had very special formatting needs such as what blood sucking lawyers use, M$ might be the only (damnit) option. Not that LibreOffice couldn't do it, but access to templates/forms might be an issue if they use M$ only functions. The crap that 99.9999% of people never need, so isn't a big deal if alternatives leave them out.

    6. VK2YJS

      Re: First hit is always free-ish.

      Yes, the open source products have a standard Windows user interface, MS Office uses their own weird and annoying one.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: CUA

        A bit of history here:-

        https://www.fknsrs.biz/blog/ibm-cua-basic-interface-design-guide.html

        There was a time when I suspect developers thought they should use CUA to cover their arses (CUA), but MS has blown a hole through that laudable concept.

        The referred to article mentions "walk-up-and-use". Now the mantra seems to be "walk-up-and-be-confused".

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: CUA

          For me the ideal system starts with "walk-up-and-use" that covers the basics, and which many if not most users may never need to go beyond. i.e Start programme, create product, save/print and close. Then offers something more complex, with clear and simple explanation of what it's for and instructions how to start to try and do it. For users who want to make more use of the software. Ultimately pointing users to a pro-Level with full explanations of what the software can do if used to its full and explanations of how everything works. For uses who need to become experts and manage edge cases.

          This is seldom the case though. Too often the user ( e.g. me) is presented with a page full of options and panels - none of which is obviously "get started".*

          And helpfiles that seem to explain how to use individual components without actually saying what they're for, when to use them and how they might be useful

          An obvious example ( to me anyway) is layers in graphics software. Because you can't see a layer so it's not obvious that it's there. Until you try to do something simple, like copy and paste, but you can't because somewhere along the lines the programme has added a new layer and the bit you want to copy is secretly buried in the lower level even though you can still see it. Or you try to paste and you can't because the programme has added a new kind of layer that you can't see is there and which has a purpose.

          In effect there's an awful lot of software that dumps the newer but generally IT competent user into the area of "I ought to be able to do this, but I can't because it just won't let me and I don't know why"

          *"Wizards" were created as a work around for this. But too often they seem to be guides on how to do something you don't want to do, in a way that's far too complex to get a handle on for future independent use.

  2. djnapkin

    In the legal field it's comon to have a software package that drives Word. For example customer database entry + word template -> custom word doc. How does this scenario work in a web-only situation?

    1. ldo

      Re: comon to have a software package that drives Word

      It would be more reliable and more efficient, instead of trying to drive a GUI app via a script, to directly use a document-format library to create and manipulate the documents.

      For ODF, for example, you have libraries like odfpy that let you directly work with documents compatible with LibreOffice, without having to go through any LibreOffice GUI apps. I use this for my own time and billing system.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      With the right license subscription, you still have locally installed versions of the applications. So if you rely on plugins, you wouldn't go web only.

    3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      For most users, the Office 365 subscription you purchase includes the right to use Word, Excel, etc on your desktop. Some of the low-end non-consumer Office 365 subscriptions only give you access to the browser-only versions of the Office 365 apps - but Microsoft do make it clear which subscription does/does not give you the desktop apps.

      1. Lazlo Woodbine

        I'm pretty sure all the paid for versions of Office 365 allow local installation, with most of them allowing for up to 5 installations across Windows and MacOS.

        Only the free version of Office 365 Online is web only

        1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

          For consumers: Yes.

          For business: No. There are plans which exclude the desktop versions of the apps. E.g. The "Basic" plan listed on Microsoft's site clearly excludes desktop apps.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            You also need to be cautious if using a Remote Desktop server AKA terminal server. Some of the cheaper plans that give access to the desktop apps don't allow shared computer activation, which is required for RDS environments.

    4. NATTtrash
      Holmes

      How does this scenario work in a web-only situation?

      Like OP I too am a long time *nix + LO user, having to work daily with other MS users. What I see in my professional use case is that, yes, those web versions of Word and Excel do work, but they also have significant eye brow raisers. First of all, since you are not a MS registered user, you do need to jump through 10 million hoops to get to the application to begin with. IMHO MS did a master stroke there, applying the EUs 2FTA requirement to serve their own use case and make it way harder to enter their walled garden (MS Authenticator). Some that come to mind immediately: web versions do not have all options/ capabilities of local versions. Seamless portability between local vs web MS applications can be troublesome and require extra work infile. And this one that makes me roll eyes every time: the MS window dressing about file compatibility. If you have a file in on-line versions of Word, you can File > Save as > Download them as an open document. But, if you then open this ODT locally with LO, it looks like nothing you exported out of Word. If you have an ODT and you upload it to the SharePoint of the people you're working with, and open it in Teams/ Word/ Excel/ PowerPoint(web version) you will see... nothing. You can do... nothing. Upload and double click your (LO exported/ native) Word, Excel, PowerPoint, what ever file, and it opens and you can view and edit. PDF, no issue at all.

      I agree with other commentart here that LO improves every time in its compatibility with MSO. It's a one way street however, because at the same time MS does what is best for MS with all this open document window dressing/ camouflage being just enough to serve it own not so open, "why don't you just use what you're supposed to use, we are the industry standard" needs...

    5. katrinab Silver badge
      Windows

      I'm guessing your software package relies on VBA. In that case, it won't work, and VBA seems to be abandonware, so I would look at migrating off that regardless.

      There are ways to do it in the Web version of Word, but a far better approach would be to have your software spit out a docx or odf file which you could then edit/print out anywere that supports them.

      1. MJ67

        Baggage

        There is awful lot of stuff out there that relies on VBA. Including stuff from Oracle and lots of in house developed solutions - there is an awful lot of reworking required to get that onto the web.

    6. JulieM Silver badge

      What a faff

      My preferred method is to have a script that reads stuff directly from the database; then generates a PostScript document directly, using a custom library I created (and haven't had to add much to in the way of extensions for a long time, now .....) that can then either be sent straight to a laser printer or converted to a PDF and attached to an e-mail.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What a faff

        What a god-awful solution. I mean, if everyone did as you suggest, how would Microsoft fleece you?

    7. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Microsoft has an expensive subscription package to help you do that badly…

  3. ldo

    Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

    Remember, a large company like Microsoft is never going to do anything out of the goodness of its heart†. It’s always going to be about profit, and about heading off competitors that might be seen to be eating into that profit.

    †assuming it has one

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

      Libre Office has been getting significantly better at reading Office docs in my limited experience. And it's quite good in its own right as well.

      It is not that hard to build a good (e.g.) word processor. Most of the "features" added by MS to Word since 2000 have been useless decoration with little practical benefit. But that's just my personal opinion.

      1. Roopee Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

        I would go further and say they actually detract from the product, which is why I still use Word 2000...

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

          2010 for me. And LO is my usual programme anyway. Ironically, it's mostly Publisher that keeps me on Office at all. As I've said on numerous occasions, it's Publisher that SOHO users need for the small posters, little invitations, displays, menus, adverts and so forth. Stuff too limited and/or ephemeral for a proper design and print job. So of course that's the element that MS don't include for the SOHO editions and want to eliminate. Fucking morons!

          1. Trixr

            Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

            I found Scribus to be fine despite its horrible UI - at least it's not quite as horrible as classic GIMP. And you can import Publisher files in there without too much hassle.

            Canva is also surprisingly OK, once you enable the option to view print bleed and realise the option to add crop marks is in the print dialogue.

      2. PhilipN Silver badge

        Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

        “getting significantly better at reading Office docs”

        That’s the point. New Office needed from time to time to selectively break this or that feature on conversion to Libre Office.

        1. ldo

          Re: Office needed from time to time

          Given that Microsoft Office itself is known for screwing up formatting of documents just from moving them from one machine to another, perhaps the fault doesn’t lie with LibreOffice?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Office needed from time to time

            I've seen the latest versions of Windows Word & Mac Word differ on how a document should look.

            1. DJV Silver badge

              Re: Office needed from time to time

              Oh yes, I've suffered from that as well when at university. Back then (mid-1990s) there was always a rush to secure a computer for working on - either Mac or PC - you had to grab what was available. The EXACT same version of Word could never display the same document identically on one type of machine if it had been saved on the other (and sometimes not even on the same type, either).

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Office needed from time to time

                And people PAY to have such quality software. Ah well, clearly the world is full of idiots.

      3. ColonelDare

        Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

        Not just your own personal opinion. Mine too :-)

      4. katrinab Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

        For Word, I agree; but for Excel it is a very different matter. The new features introduced since Excel 2016 really do make a difference.

      5. Terry 6 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

        See icon

    2. Ianab

      Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

      I would suggest you are right.

      There is probably a small, but non-zero, base of users that do NOT want a cloud based Office suite, and if they had to, they might go with Libre Office. So they either have to kiss that revenue goodbye, and increase the Libre user base, or continue to sell a Stand Alone version, which retains the users, and still makes some profit.

      So yeah, they aren't doing it out of the kindness of their hearts.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

        "So yeah, they aren't doing it out of the kindness of their hearts."

        The mind boggles at the thought of Microsoft even having a kindness of their hearts.

        1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

          Re: Trying To Stem The Tide Of Defections To LibreOffice

          Or even a heart.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Huh?

    > regulated devices that can't be updated, manufacturing devices that never go online, and medical testing machines "that run embedded apps that must stay locked in time"

    Why the hell would any of these things run Office??

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      It makes no sense.

      "Businesses that don't want to be screwed about by constant feature changes made only to justify a cloud subscription" and "Businesses that have realised cloud subscriptions cost much more" makes more sense.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      I would imagine the most likely case is a "secure" site where internet access is verboten. However, in such a scenario with the slightest chance of external infected files coming in I would seriously question the sanity of using any MS Office products, and even Windows itself (though properly locked down it can be tolerable, but a PITA for uses due to locking down).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Huh?

        "slightest chance of external infected files coming in"

        Any place like that will have machines which connect to the internet to get virus definition updates etc, then disconnect, load your USB key and scan the single file you want to transfer, copying it locally if it's deemed ok.

        Then it will disable USB, before opening up a connection to an intermediate network for just long enough to copy the file to another scanned share location, and then waiting for another usb stick/file whatever.

        It can be a right pain to get anything in unless that system is well put together.

    3. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: Huh?

      Also, only five years.

      FIVE YEARS!!??

      It takes two to three years just to get certification in those markets, let alone develop a product.

      The existing ten year supply guarantees are already the shortest most industrial and medical device manufacturers can cope with and still meet their legal obligations.

      You'd have to start the upgrade and recertification process for the next version a year or two before MS admitted the next version exists.

    4. Marty McFly Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Huh?

      >Why the hell would any of these things run Office??

      Duh, self-serving interests. Having more Micro$oft products on a system increases its risk profile dramatically. Installing Office is an excuse to sell overpriced and under functioning Defender too.

  5. Bebu Silver badge
    Windows

    Only thing about libreoffice...

    is that it always seems to me it ought to be office libre.

    Some schoolroom scars never fully heal. :)

    I purchased a full copy of Office 2017 for her indoors but in the event preferred openoffice, then libreoffice as they were closer to the Office versions she was using a decade before.

    Don't have much use for Word or Excel etc and the when the infrequent need for formatted text arises I just knock some troff output as ps or pdf.

    A good while ago I used the mom macro package to produce decent pdf documentation - not as painful as might be imagined.

    A bit too old school for most but in a similar vein contemporary students in the physical and mathematical sciences eschew Word etc and use latex extensively. (Mostly tex live on ubuntu.)

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "The future of work in an AI-powered world is on the cloud"

    Nice words, but MS' actions state otherwise.

    See also: Microsoft promises Copilot will be a 'moneymaker' in the long term

    Hopefully the first signs that the wheels are falling off this particular bandwagon.

    1. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: "The future of work in an AI-powered world is on the cloud"

      If that's the future of work, I'm glad to be retired!

      1. Zazu56

        Re: "The future of work in an AI-powered world is on the cloud"

        ^^^ This ^^^

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Keep your data close, and your AI closer.

    "The future of work in an AI-powered world is on the cloud,"

    Was this comment written by an AI (in the cloud)?

    Because ISTM that the way AI is moving is from the cloud, onto local instances. Ones that are under the control of the individual or organisation that hosts them, locally. Without the need to leak all their data to some unknown location that does not have their best interests in mind.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Keep your data close, and your AI closer.

      An ever-bigger AI which no-one really understands, in a cloud so big no-one can see it's limits, making weird and incomprehensible decisions?

      Sounds like a new religion to me. The G in AGI stands for God.

      Help!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Keep your data close, and your AI closer.

        "Randomized weakly god-like AIs", just what we need.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Even the 'Run locally'

    perpetual licence version wants to use the MS Cloud for the Autosave functionality. For that you need to log on with your MS account and then Big Bro MS gets to read all your work.

    I wonder if those users who write docs for Lawyers know that their systems could be sending their docs to MS?

    FSCK MS.

  9. Zazu56

    Upgrade? Not me…

    I use locally installed office 2007 and as yet have absolutely no need get anything bigger or better.

    1. DoctorPaul

      Re: Upgrade? Not me…

      I thought that I was OK with a "perpetual" copy of Office 2010.

      Then M$ switched off the activation servers.

      1. Julian 8

        Re: Upgrade? Not me…

        bypass those

      2. X5-332960073452
        WTF?

        Re: Upgrade? Not me…

        Activated Office 2010 Professional Plus perpetual just yesterday online.

  10. 43300 Silver badge

    "Prices for all will jump by ten percent over the current comparable version of Office 2019"

    Office 2021 LTSC is the current version

  11. David Newall

    Numbered styles don't work

    Though I say it through gritted teeth, Microsoft's office is better than LibreOffice in styles for numbered paragraphs. Microsoft's just works exactly as you'd expect, Libre's doesn't work in any sense.

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: Numbered styles don't work

      I've spent all my $life surrounded by engineers who didn't understand Outlining or even that it existed. It would appear that many of them have gone on to work for LibreOffice which, I agree, has the most fucked-up version of creating numbered outlined documents that I've ever seen. Makes me pine for Mass11.

    2. abend0c4 Silver badge

      Re: Numbered styles don't work

      I've never bothered with recent versions of MS Office because these days I don't have to deal with long and complex documents.

      However, when I did, beyond a certain document size and a certain number of revisions, Word's numbering was incredibly fragile and would randomly misnumber things if you so much as added or deleted a small amount of text. Or hang. No doubt it has improved. Nevertheless, when it comes to documents with complex structures, I'm far from convinced that WYSIWIG is the correct approach - even more so when most documents of that kind are no longer destined for paper, or are destined for multiple media.

  12. 43300 Silver badge

    This is just going to be the subscription version frozen in time (apart from security patches) at the version which exists when it's released, and with device-based rather than user-based licensing.

    This is what the 2021 version is. I bought a very small number of licenses for machines used for a specific purpose which have a shared account and I didn't want users signing into their Microsoft-linked accounts. It still tries to get them to do this(sign in buttons, etc), so I resorted to using Libre Office on those few machines (they really only need to be able to view a few files and occasionally make very basic edits). There is seemingly no M$ version which doesn't try to get users to sign into cloudy accounts!

  13. Zippy´s Sausage Factory
    Unhappy

    Prices for all will jump by ten percent over the current comparable version of Office 2019.

    Can't subscribe? Won't let us treat you as a permanent cash cow? That's OK, we're just going to gouge you for every penny we possibly can.

    Micros~1: Who Else Is There?

  14. navarac Silver badge

    The Subscription Treadmill

    Anything to get off of the subscription treadmill, although I moved to LibreOffice years ago. That was even before I moved off Windows to "another" OS (without mentioning names!).

  15. Tron Silver badge

    I'm OK with standalone Word or LibreOffice.

    I wrote my thesis on Word 4 for the Mac on a Classic. Kept using it for pretty much everything. Word processors generally missed an opportunity to simplify the minimal DTP required for producing books. Just headers, footers and positional work on the pages. If anything they offer too much choice, but it is usually possible to get it to work. By trial and error, as manuals now appear to be illegal.

    I now write everything from invoices to books on LibreOffice. Some folk require Word file formats, some PDFs - it spits out both. Just install and go.

    Despite rarely have much good to say about MS, I'm happy to cheer them releasing something as a standalone app. I don't care what their motives are. Anything that isn't subs/cloud gets my vote.

  16. martinusher Silver badge

    What's the Catch?

    That's my first reaction when reading this.

    I suspect it is something to do with Open Office or similar. This actually works really well and would suffice for a good slice of the Office customer base. Its just that most users will prefer to stick with what they know -- Office -- and limp along with it if they're not given a good reason to switch. Making Office entirely subscription based would qualify as a "good reason" so I'd guess that its best to sell the punters a cheap, if limited, edition to keep them in the pen than try to get them to buy -- rent -- a full blown copy.

    (After all, The Cloud is a bit like the Hotel California for applications -- "You can check out but you can never leave.....".)(Alternatively -- old US-speak here -- the "Roach Motel of Applications"......)

    1. Headley_Grange Silver badge

      Re: What's the Catch?

      I think you're right on all counts. MS had the luck to be in the right places at the right times to become a de-facto standard and people stick with what they know. When I quit to go freelancing 15 years ago I thought nothing of transitioning to a Mac (I'd never owned one before) but I bought Office for Mac, Outlook for Mac and Parallels and Win 7 so I could run MS project - all that £MS investment without any research into alternatives, or even trying the native Mac ones. MS was the go-to solution - albeit in happier days before Windows desktop ads, subs and ties to MS accounts. Now I run LibreOffice which I find a bit buggy but OK and I've not found any limitations in features or performance compared to MS. I've even got an alternative for MS Project somewhere, but I've forgotten the passwords to those dark, damp, underground cellars where waterfall scheduling is done so it doesn't get much use these days.

    2. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: What's the Catch?

      It's not limited, just doesn't get any feature changes (which many will regard as a good thing, of course). It also doesn't include any of the cloudy services (ditto).

      I think it's more a case that they've pushed as much of the market as they can to subscription services, but want to hang onto the remainder of customers who can't / won't move to these.

  17. herman Silver badge

    Standalone educational version

    My wife (teacher) uses the standalone educational version of MS Office on her laptop PC and it works fine. Internet access is sporadic, so an online version would be a pain in the derrier.

    1. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Standalone educational version

      That's likely to be the subscription version. There seems to be a perception that this is solely online - it's not: It does have cloudy versions of the programs (and they aren't great for other than basic stuff) but it also has the standard installable programs. Can't remember what frequency they do a license check at, but it's days or weeks so a constant internet connection is not required. If they exceed the time-out period (or if the license expires / is cancelled) then they go into read-only mode.

  18. Stu J

    Why the hell would you want to install Office on an embedded system...?

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Why the hell would that embedded system be running an OS that you even /could/ install Office on?

  19. Snowy Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Sorry

    What is to stop Microsoft in a few months or years saying "Due to technical reason we are going to have to close it down, but you can buy another licenses to get the new next version of Office "something or other"

    Edit: Windows 10 was going to be the last version of Windows until it was not.

  20. ecofeco Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Microsoft? Perpetual?

    Are we talking about the same company?

  21. vekkq

    "for use in exceptional circumstances"

    I believe these circumstances stem from GDPR rules. No other way for MS to make a buck than to release an offline version.

  22. Terry 6 Silver badge

    That being said...

    I have to admit that I simply loathe the way that LO/Writer does templates. I think WORD was doing it better in Word 6 for DOS, unless my memory has faded.

    Word allows uses to select FILE\ NEW \TEMPLATES then either create a document from available templates, across a range of tabbed folder locations or a new template. All (in WORD 2010 at least) cleanly and clearly laid out.

    Writer allows the user to select several paths (in the paths options) but will only follow the baked-in default path and one of the user paths (preselected in the management section).

    And to use a template when you choose FILE\ NEW\ TEMPLATES it opens a small rather horrible square window that shows all the available templates by name, in a single flat, explorer type list with a choice of all templates or just the application specific subset (icon view doesn't help much), which seems to be designed on the assumption that you might only have a handful. It's just rather horrible IMHO.

    1. yetanotheraoc Silver badge

      Re: That being said...

      Try sharing templates across Windows, MacOS, Linux, and iOS.... quirks galore! I put *all* my templates in a single folder on Dropbox with a big-time kludgy hack naming scheme:

      ext-actual-template-name-versionnumber.ext

      Ugh, I need a shower just mentioning that. Finally, you can put a shortcut to the templates folder in the OS-expected location.

  23. Kev99 Silver badge

    Hurry up and buy a subscription for your perfectly capable software. Why? Because mictosoft needs to continue to rip off its customers and keep the greedy goofs on wall street happy.

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