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Google Hiring Programmers to Work on OpenOffice 538

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the money-and-open-source-like-peas-and-carrots dept.
massysett writes "Google is hiring programmers to work on OpenOffice.org. "We use a fair amount of open-source software at Google. We want to make sure that's a healthy community. And we want to make sure open source preserves competitiveness within the industry," said Google's manager for open-source software. Perhaps Google's work will address an oft-heard complaint about OO.o: "Google believes it can help OpenOffice--perhaps working to pare down the software's memory requirements or its mammoth 80MB download size.""
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Google Hiring Programmers to Work on OpenOffice

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  • Well (Score:2, Insightful)

    by justsomebody (525308)
    How about their free software for Linux first?
    • Re:Well (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cbiltcliffe (186293)
      Yeah, Google Earth on a Debian box would be unspeakably cool....

      Google Desktop Search might be better done as a GUI for many pre-existing Linux tools, though. Grep, locate, find, etc. all with a pretty Gnome or KDE wrapper.

      Having said that, I've never used GDS, and it might have some incredibly cool functionality that isn't replicated by any of the above. Even so, they could still probably write that functionality as a command line program and tie it into the same GUI, though....
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Coneasfast (690509) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:51PM (#13918443)
      or how about forget the memory usage, just make it start up fast, i mean seriously i would switch the OO.o if they would

      (although i must admit, reducing memory usage and speeing up startup does overlap)
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

        by riflemann (190895) <riflemann@bb.cTE ... t minus caffeine> on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:43PM (#13918885)
        As pointed out many times, turn off Java in the OOo options. It will start a *lot* faster.
        • Re:Well (Score:3, Informative)

          by thrillseeker (518224)
          As pointed out many times, turn off Java in the OOo options. It will start a *lot* faster.

          I just tested this 5 times with the option on and with the option off. It averaged 10 vs 8 seconds. Twenty percent improvement is nothing to sneeze at generally, but 2 seconds just doesn't give a huge improvement feel.

  • Or better yet (Score:5, Interesting)

    by syntap (242090) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:45PM (#13918367)
    maybe they can dedicate some Google programming talent to getting an Outlook-killing, cross-platform PIM introduced into the suite. 2.0 introduced a database component, and now it's time to even out the offering. I like Evolution but would like to see a cross-platform PIM in the suite as an alternative.
    • Re:Or better yet (Score:5, Informative)

      by tcopeland (32225) * <tom&thomasleecopeland,com> on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:53PM (#13918455) Homepage
      > I like Evolution but would like to see a cross-platform PIM
      > in the suite as an alternative.

      Tor Lillqvist was hired by Novell [nat.org] to help get Evolution running on Windows. While I was working on Revolution [rubyforge.org] and was subscribed to evolution-hackers I remember that he'd occasionally post progress notes there.

      I'm not sure how far that effort is along at this point, although Tor certainly seemed to be making excellent progress and was patching all sorts of Gnome/Win32 bugs in various projects.

      • Re:Or better yet (Score:5, Interesting)

        by justsomebody (525308) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:58PM (#13919016) Journal
        I'm not sure how far that effort is along at this point, although Tor certainly seemed to be making excellent progress and was patching all sorts of Gnome/Win32 bugs in various projects.

        EvoWin32 progress here: http://tml-blog.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]

        Demo failed on GNOME Summit but as he writes otherwise, it should be pretty far with porting. If I remember correctly it is now about 2-3 months sice he posted first screenshots. And all libs are now in CVS and can be built
    • Re:Or better yet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by miffo.swe (547642) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (molbdeh.leinad)> on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:58PM (#13918512) Homepage Journal
      Why should a PIM be part of an office suite? Next, OO bathtub and jacuzzi? It would be better if OO dont get into feature adding mode. Instead of adding features make the ones already there better. I would much prefer if people started new projects and forks instead of trying to cram anything possible into the succesful projects. Its just piggybacking. I hate thos plier/screwdriver/hammer/axe/nailpolisher combination thingies that does everything, just very very badly. Just like office suites. I do understand the need for integration between some office apps but mail clients and calendars? Nope, cant see the connection sir.
      • Re:Or better yet (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)
        I think a PIM would be an excellent part of an Office suite. Being able to use it with ease to generate mail merges, modifying it through the database and spreadsheet apps. The reality is that email is part of the office system even if it isn't directly an office app.
      • 2 step process (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ImaLamer (260199)
        Well we can only hope that it will leave Google leaner and meaner and then the feature requests will roll in. Then when a PIM is good enough to enter the suite maybe Google will tweak it again and then we'll have the Office killer.

        I've never had the great experience of using Outlook and/or Exchange; but it must be tackled to replace Office in many environments.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:36PM (#13918831)
      I like Evolution but would like to see a cross-platform PIM in the suite as an alternative.

      I like evolution, but it crashes more than a 90-year-old drunk Irishman on St. Patrick's day.

  • by sfeinstein (442310) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:45PM (#13918369) Homepage
    ...since I've installed Office but is 80 MB really mammoth? That doesn't phase me. I only get mildly annoyed when I see a 500 MB or greater install, these days. Pretty crazy when you think back to the size of harddrives ten years ago.
    • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:47PM (#13918387) Journal
      Size of the install seems an odd complaint. How big is MS Office? If people find that offensive, they can always send away for the CD. I would, however, like to see some of the memory bloat taken out.
    • by garcia (6573)
      but is 80 MB really mammoth?

      Compared to AbiWord, yeah, it's kinda mammoth. I think it's about 5MB for Windows. So, the Word Processor component is only ~5MB. Why does OO have to be over 10x as large and yet still load slow, be a memory hog, and be only mildly competitive in the Windows/MS Office world?
      • by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:11PM (#13918635) Homepage Journal
        So, the Word Processor component is only ~5MB.

        Yet OOo is:

        Word Processor
        SpreadSheet
        Presentation
        Drawing App
        Math App
        Database App w/Database

        Using the same 5MB per calculation, I get 30MB (6x5MB). Now add in a boatload more features, all with cool icons, plus some snazzy templates and clipart, and you can get it up there in no time flat.

        Which isn't to say that there isn't still bloat in OOo. But it's not so significant that it should matter.
        • As somebody else pointed out the last time OO.o was discussed on Slashdot, bundling all those applications together was more of a marketing innovation on Microsoft's part than a technical innovation. The idea is to create a perception that you get better "value" when you buy all those apps bundled together, even the ones you probably don't need to use very often. When all the apps are free, however, is there really any reason why you should have to install them all at once? Seems like you should be able to
          • In OOo's case, the application *must* be bundled together. They're all part of the same codebase, and are pretty much inseperable without throwing away and rewriting the whole thing. I would be interested in knowing how much "just the core" takes, but I'm guessing it's far more than you'd expect. (Say ~20MB.)

            We can pretty much thank StarDivision for their "StarDesk" idea for this rediculous level of integration. Sadly, we're still paying for it 5 years later.

            As somebody else pointed out the last time OO.o w
            • I'm on Ubuntu. The packages are thus:

              tricky@maihem:/var/cache/apt/archives$ ls -l *ffice*.deb
              -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 29138 2005-10-22 09:47 openoffice.org2_2.0.0-0ubuntu1-0ubuntu1_amd64.deb
              -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 2813238 2005-10-22 09:48 openoffice.org2-base_2.0.0-0ubuntu1-0ubuntu1_amd64 .deb
              -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 3579878 2005-10-22 09:48 openoffice.org2-calc_2.0.0-0ubuntu1-0ubuntu1_amd64 .deb
              -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 22900216 2005-10-22 05:35 openoffice.org2-common_2.0.0-0ubuntu1_all.deb
              -rw-r--r-- 1 r
            • This is the amount of space that the OpenOffice.org (2.0.0-1) packages take up on an i386 Debian system[0]. The units are kilobytes:

              $ dpigs -n 10000 | grep openoffice
              80040 openoffice.org-core
              52704 openoffice.org-common
              10696 openoffice.org-writer
              8724 openoffice.org-calc
              7464 openoffice.org-base
              4580 openoffice.org-draw
              3000 openoffice.org-java-common
              2568 openoffice.org-l10n-en-us
              2220 openoffice.org-impress
              1120 openoffice.org-math
              692 openoffice.org-gnome
              200 openoffice.org

              openoffice.org-core appears to be 80 MB

    • by eln (21727) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:54PM (#13918469) Homepage
      Yah, 80MB isn't that bad. What is bad, though, is how much memory OpenOffice takes up, and how slow it is to load. I hope they make those issues a priority.

      Of course, if history teaches us anything, their programmers will spend a year looking through the code, decide it's impossible to deal with, and start from scratch. We should expect Moz^H^H^HGoogle Office to be ready for prime time in about 5 years.
    • Well, KOffice is 19 MB, for example (in source form). Binaries seem to be similar in size, depending on what exactly you do and don't need (debug info, for example), of course, as well as on your architecture, distro etc. That's a quarter, and KOffice is not significantly less full-featured than OOo.
    • I agree. For an entire office suite 80MB is quite reasonable to me. We're not talking about a one-task webbrowser. You get a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package, drawing tool and more in that 80MB. I haven't looked recently, but I'm pretty sure that MS Office is at least 2 or 3 times that size on the CD.

      80MB may be awkward for those on a dial up modem, but put into context, it isn't that bad. I suppose that it would be nice to modularize it so that bits are downloaded as needed. A 20MB
      • You get a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation package, drawing tool and more in that 80MB. I haven't looked recently, but I'm pretty sure that MS Office is at least 2 or 3 times that size on the CD.

        Office 2003 Pro is nearly 6 times as large, 477 meg according to the install point we have at work.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      is 80 MB really mammoth?

      Compared with less than 20MB for (the much faster) KOffice? In any case, I don't think it's the download size per se that is the big deal, it's just that it's a convenient metric that roughly correlates to some sense of bloat.

  • by saskboy (600063) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:45PM (#13918373) Homepage Journal
    If Google's programmers can get OO.org to open as quickly as google.ca does, I'll find a way to pay for Open Office! That's about my only complaint left with Open Office, is that it should start taking input in a simple text window within seconds, and worry about filling in the rest of the program later. That way I can open it up, start typing, and not have to wait 20 - 70 seconds for the blank sheet of e-paper to show up.
    • Well, they seem to have fixed it on my end. Google's load time today makes OpenOffice look snappy...
  • Please... (Score:3, Funny)

    by th1ckasabr1ck (752151) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:45PM (#13918374)
    Never say OO.o again.. I cringe whenever I see something that might possibly be an emoticon.
  • Bugs (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gr33nNight (679837) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:46PM (#13918380)
    I am not being a troll but hopefully some of these programmers can help fix some of the http://qa.openoffice.org/iz_statistic.html [openoffice.org] 5721 bugs listed, some of which are from 2002!

    My boss has made it a priority to seriously look at replacing MS Office with OpenOffice when that buglist gets below 1000. We shall see if that can happen.
    • Re:Bugs (Score:5, Insightful)

      by bernywork (57298) * <bstapleton@NoSpaM.gmail.com> on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:57PM (#13918502) Journal
      As RedHat said once, 'People complain about the bugs in our software, they refer to our bug database, and our outstanding bugs' (This isn't a direct quote but you know what I mean) that's because the bug database is open. How many bugs do you think are outstanding in Microsoft's Office code base?
    • Re:Bugs (Score:5, Informative)

      by nvrrobx (71970) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:08PM (#13918612) Homepage
      You've got to be kidding me.

      I work in the software industry, and every product ships with bugs. That's just how it works. Most companies put a severity level on bugs. Severity 1: ship blocker. Severity 2: really should fix it. Severity 3: we *might* get around to it.

      The bug databases don't necessarily contain just bugs - there can be feature enhancements, documentation errors, etc.

      Looking through the link you posted, I see 5603 defects in the "new", "started" or "reopened" categories. Of those, 7 are "P1" (aka Severity 1) defects, 144 are "P2", 4083 are "P3", 1160 are "P4", and 209 are "P5".

      I didn't look at exact specifics, but some are probably localization errors - not functionality bugs.

      Please learn a little more about the software development life cycle before making a comment like yours. Educating your employer about this would probably be a wonderful idea also.

      So, for the bugs that would stop you from getting your job done, I see 151. It looks like it's time for you to evaluate OOo in your organization.
  • Again? (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Is there anything Google isn't involved in?

    Anyway, thumbs up :)
  • by Trigun (685027) <evil AT evilempire DOT ath DOT cx> on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:47PM (#13918388)
    I am glad that Google is going to help out openoffice. I just installed OO2, and, although impressive, lacks the polish of a professional application. Hopefully Google can bring its minimalistic design to the codebase.
  • by illtron (722358) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:47PM (#13918389) Homepage Journal
    So much for ever getting a real Mac OS X version OpenOffice.org. Spare me your comments about NeoOffice and the X11 version working on OS X.

    I know Google can't *stop* a Mac port, but they've got an awful track record of supporting Macs. I'm sure they won't direct any of their resources toward the recently announced new effort to build a Cocoa version.

    Oh well. Pages is nicer anyway than OpenOffice, even if I do have to pay for it. It's a shame that the businesses and governments that would be willing to consider OpenOffice want it to have every ounce of the feature bloat that MS Office has.
    • Well... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Solr_Flare (844465)
      I will agree that Google and Mac support just don't seem to mix well sadly. But, the "bloat" in OpenOffice is probably one of the things google is best suited to streamline. Lots of features does not have to mean lots of bloat if properly designed and implemented. That, imho, has been Microsoft's biggest failing over the years, and is largely responsible for the countless lurking bugs and security flaws.
    • by WWWWolf (2428) <wwwwolf@iki.fi> on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:59PM (#13919019) Homepage
      So much for ever getting a real Mac OS X version OpenOffice.org. Spare me your comments about NeoOffice and the X11 version working on OS X.

      Okay, but I won't spare you from a small note that Google isn't the only one who contributes to OO.o. They may not exactly have a stellar record on supporting Mac on their own projects, but here, they're contributing stuff on a cross-platform package backed by folks who want to keep it running on Windows, Linux and (to a very small extent) OS X.

      I don't think that sudden appearance of Google programmers makes OO.o Linux and OS X support magically disappear over night! That would be very silly!

    • How does assisting in one effort deny other efforts.

      Assuming Google does NOTHING to help the MacOSX community, they will still make 00.org smaller, and that will still make it easier for those who do perform the port.
  • by katana (122232) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:47PM (#13918391) Homepage
    They have to make a nifty "GOO.ogle" logo.
  • Mammoth? (Score:2, Informative)

    by 75th Trombone (581309)
    I mean, yeah, I wouldn't fancy downloading 80 MB over a dial-up connection. But this IS an entire office suite we're talking about.
  • by dextromulous (627459) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:48PM (#13918399) Homepage
    Maybe it's just me, or does 80MB not seem like that much when you're downloading an office suite? It's been a while since I've download^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hseen people download MS office, but isn't it in the 1+GB range? Granted, it has more features/programs, but in my books, 80MB isn't enough to complain about these days.
    • Core AppleWorks 6 compresses to 2MB. Installed with options, it's around 10-15MB, if I recall. And the majority of that size is templates, clip art, etc, which could be downloaded as part of the optional install process.

      Does AppleWorks have all of the features of Microsoft Office? No. But aside from some Excel functions, it has all of the features of Microsoft Office (sans email) that I've actually used.

      With a plugin architecture, it shouldn't be hard to have a small but functional installer that downlo
  • by mrn121 (673604) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:48PM (#13918401) Homepage
    "And we want to make sure open source preserves competitiveness within the industry."

    should read:

    "And we want to make sure open source preserves competitiveness against Microsoft."

    Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just find it funny that they don't just come out and say what we all know they are thinking.

  • Kill Windows (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:48PM (#13918406)
    Could Eric's attempts to kill MS be anymore obvious? IIRC 40% of MS' profits are from Office. If people (read: companies) realize that free (and higher quality) is better than $300-600 / license (and lower quality) the open source world could start to get the penetration it needs to hit a tipping point.
    • Re:Kill Windows (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Teckla (630646) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:50PM (#13918954)

      Could Eric's attempts to kill MS be anymore obvious? IIRC 40% of MS' profits are from Office. If people (read: companies) realize that free (and higher quality) is better than $300-600 / license (and lower quality) the open source world could start to get the penetration it needs to hit a tipping point.

      Mod parent up. This is a good point.

      All competitors of Microsoft - whether or not they're in the office suite business - would do well to consider donating developers and code to OpenOffice.org. It would hit Microsoft right where it hurts - in one of their two major cash cows - making it harder for Microsoft to compete in general (because less money would be flowing from their cash cows into their other divisions).

    • Outlook (Score:3, Interesting)

      by everphilski (877346)
      The office suite is still missing Outlook, and without a suitable drop-in replacement most companies will gladly stick with Microsoft. Outlook just works, and works nicely...

      -everphilski-
  • Mammoth size? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:49PM (#13918410) Homepage Journal

    or its mammoth 80MB download size.

    Sure, its memory usage is a bit heavy (though it's worked fine for me), but 80 MB doesn't seem like such a big download, considering what you get. Microsoft Office now spans more than one CD. Even when you omit the media (images, clipart, etc.) that come with MS Office, OOo must still be considerably smaller.

    Not that I'm criticising their intentions - if they make it even smaller than 80 MB I won't complain.

  • Google has the right idea. Their superior backend software and architecture might could allow them to extend their email service to other applications. Gmail offers better email than most large commercial clients, yet it takes up no footprint on the host machine and can be accessed from any browser. A pared down version of open office, that had almost all the features but a 90% reduction in size seems like a worthy project. It would be 10 megs, with procedural graphics and very efficient code so it woul
  • Mammoth? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by imemyself (757318) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:51PM (#13918432)
    Now, I'm all for making things smaller if they can be, but how exactly is 80 megs a mammoth download? I mean the pre-beta of MS Office 12(really different interface btw, not sure that I like it), is like 1.2 GIGS. If anything I think OOo needs to start including clipart/multimedia/etc. Screw file size, features will be more important than that to most people. And if there's actually some poor guy out there will dial up he can just ask a friend for it.
  • Usability? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by MrNonchalant (767683) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:51PM (#13918434)
    The two things Google is known for are sophisticated algorithms and usability. The article (acording to the summary) touches on algorithm improvements. I just hope Google can also bring clean looks, platform GUI integration, user testing, and usability to OpenOffice. They need it. I don't like the current Office, but I like OpenOffice a lot less. Further Office 12 looks like it could really bring a lot of innovation to interface design, open source will need to follow suite to be competitive. Often techies forget that user experience is the biggest user-measurable quality.
  • by Sheetrock (152993) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:51PM (#13918441) Homepage Journal
    Google believes it can help OpenOffice--perhaps working to pare down the software's memory requirements or its mammoth 80MB download size.

    First off, kudos to anybody who steps in and gives the Open Source movement a monetary hand -- and I gotta figure they're one of the top contributors at this point.

    This is absolutely the right move. Word processing software has probably the most unnecessary bulk of any class of software on your operating system (the e-mail client placing a close second.) There was a day these things could fit in 640K, and while there are certain advantageous features such as spell check we would all be benefited by a more modular approach to installation that asks you what you need and what you don't.

    Really, this seems to be the tip of the iceburg. With the increasing price of oil, I can't help wondering what the face of computing is going to look like five or ten years down the line. The average computer uses as much as 140 jack-o-lanterns worth of coal to run on any given day. Much of this is spent on wasteful peripherals we could do without, such as fancy 3D graphics cards or optical mice, but even more is being spent on processing power well beyond the needs of the average user.

    Inefficiencies in microcomponent fabrication mean that a great deal of the electricity that goes into your computer is given off as heat. Techniques such as reversible or quantum computing hold much promise in the future for putting more energy into computation but today it is up to the consumer to safeguard the environment.

    In a way, the argument is the same as with vehicles -- most people don't need a SUV or a top-of-the-line system but many choose to get them to compensate for inadequacies or because of marketing -- but with computers at least it is impossible to argue you are "safer" for having a faster system. Indeed, you are more likely to run viruses or worms without realizing it because you don't notice the hit in operating performance.

    I've noticed that I've been holding on to computer equipment longer and longer these days. Oh sure, I have to fix a power supply here and a fan there, but besides slack engineering standards from software companies there is little reason to keep up with the hardware treadmill... and at least one compelling reason not to.

    But much of the responsibility falls on the software developers to design for efficiency. That's not to say that they don't, but I think that as a priority in particular for software deployment to third-world nations operating efficiency will only rise as part of the software design philosophy.

    • by Solr_Flare (844465) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:14PM (#13918655)
      Not the google/OO.o thing I mean, but efficiency in computer software/hardware design. A lot of people have talked over the years about the effects the breaking of Moore's law would have on the computer industry. As long as companies could rely on exponentially increasing computer speeds, efficiency was largely ignored for many years except, perhaps, in certain parts of the server/mega-computer arena.

      Now that we are begining to aproach the end of the line for the current computer hardware technology, much much more emphasis is being placed on effeciency instead of raw speed. You can see this change in attitude reflected in everything from processor design, to modular software and operating systems.

      In no small part, one of the reasons the *nix's have become so popular(other than low cost) is that they are extremely customizable. So, you can have all the features you need, but toss out everything else you don't. This allows for a much more effecient, secure, and orderly system.
  • by karearea (234997) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:53PM (#13918451)
    Getting the memory usage down would be a godsend. It seems that 'big' OOS projects seem to have tendancies to hog memory - Firefox, OpenOffice.org - what causes that?

    The download is not that bad (how big is MS Office?). What is bad is that the update requires a new download rather than an update/service pack type thing.

    Can 2.01 be a smaller download to update a 2.0 install, rather than a complete download that'll try to install itself to OpenOffice.org2.01?

    Just my list of demands, feel free to ignore :-)
    • Deer park firefox (1.5) includes incremental patching instead of re-downloading the entire application again. For openoffice: wait, search for an improvement request report, or get working.
    • A degree of bloat is caused by cross-platformness.

      For example, a mail client written just to run on Windows can use the system addressbook. A mail client like Thunderbird that runs on many platforms has to implement an addressbook as a component because it can't guarantee the host system will have one it can access / have one at all.

      Given the choice between writing code to access equivalent functions on different platforms, considering the differences between Windows, Mac OS and Linux/KDE or Linux/GNO
      • A mail client like Thunderbird that runs on many platforms has to implement an addressbook as a component because it can't guarantee the host system will have one it can access / have one at all.

        That's not writing cross platform code, it's writing bad code. What it should include is an abstract address book interface. This would be accompanied by instances that wrapped the features of the Windows, OS X / GNUstep, GNOME, KDE, etc. address books, and a fall-back that provided basic address book functiona

  • Maybe File Sharing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by baggins2002 (654972) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:54PM (#13918467) Journal
    Maybe they'll add some of the file sharing features that are in MS Office. This has been a major stumbling block to bringing OO into small to medium size businesses.
    • by kwalker (1383)
      I must plead ignorance regarding MS Office file sharing features. Every office I've worked in has used Windows (or at least SMB) file servers to share files. I have yet to see any MS Office program share a document. What constitutes "file sharing features"?
      • by sparkz (146432)
        I've been working for Sun for the past 6 years. Therefore, I've been using StarOffice. It's what I know, it's what I'm used to.
        Actually, most of that time I've been using OOo - no significant difference.

        Now I have to use MS Office and MS Outlook. I took a simple 1-page Word document, removed the details from it, and emailed it to somebody saying "This is the format you need to use to make this request".
        That seemed pretty straightforward - give him the blank version of the document.
        Now, whenever he emails me
  • Revenge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tom (822) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:55PM (#13918477) Homepage Journal
    Sounds very much like a "Hey Bill, before you think you can take away our toy, make sure you don't lose yours" move.

    The day Google starts to write their own Linux desktop is probably the one where you should really, really get rid of that M$ stock...
  • by Mostly a lurker (634878) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:59PM (#13918529)
    My vote for the most likely development by Google is a version of Open Office based on storage of documents on their servers accessed via an AJAX type browser interface.

    Before anyone starts screaming about privacy and Google becoming too powerful, let me say that I find such a prospect very attractive for individuals and for small and medium size businesses. Let Google handle the backup issues and provide appropriate conversion utilities when communicating with others. While I am quite competent to handle such issues myself, I would be tempted to use a Google service such as this myself. It is so convenient having documents stored on a globally accessible server and not having to maintain that server oneself.

  • Go Google! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by openfrog (897716) on Monday October 31, 2005 @04:59PM (#13918530)
    This is a powerfull message to anyone being involved in the decision process over the state of Massachusetts: "We do support the Open Document standard!". A welcome move at a critical time.
  • Commoditization (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wolfemi1 (765089) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:00PM (#13918545)
    This is brilliant! If memory serves, the only two things Microsoft consistently makes money on are their OS and their office suite. Since MS has already "declared war" on Google, the smart thing to do might be to return fire, by commoditizing the operating system and office suite markets.

    How do you commoditize an operating system? One way is to make web services that can be accessed by any standards-compliant browser. Check.

    How do you commoditize an office suite? By backing and improving a free-of-charge office suite, and by providing coders, money, and publicity to the project. Check.

    I wonder what MS will do now? I think that if they have to fight to maintain a monopoly against Google, IBM, Sun, and the entire F/OSS community, they may well have a losing battle.

    Eventually.

  • by LaughingCoder (914424) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:04PM (#13918575)
    It seems to me that if companies like Google need to hire programmers to work on the "less glamorous" aspects of FOSS applications, that points out a significant weakness in the FOSS development model. This has always been a pet peeve of mine regarding FOSS ... the applications never seem *quite* finished, or *quite* up to real commercial standards. True, many are very good, and true, many "commercial" products are lacking. But when you compare the best commercial products with the best that FOSS has to offer, FOSS always seems to come up short.

    Now please let me put on my flame-proof suit before I click "submit". ... OK, fire away!
    • by potpie (706881) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:11PM (#13918633) Journal
      It seems to me that if companies like Google need to hire programmers to work on the "less glamorous" aspects of FOSS applications, that points out a significant weakness in the FOSS development model.

      One may also say that if companies like Google are willing to hire programmers to work on those aspects, that points out a significant strength in the FOSS development model.
    • It seems to me that if companies like Google need to hire programmers to work on the "less glamorous" aspects of FOSS applications, that points out a significant weakness in the FOSS development model.

      What part of the FOSS development model requires that all FOSS programmers be volunteers? One of the best parts of FOSS is that a small group of users (individuals or companies) can hire a FOSS developer as a consultant to add a particular feature they need. A proprietary software company might never add tha
  • by RoadWarriorX (522317) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:09PM (#13918615) Homepage
    Just wait till he finds out that Google is hiring people that directly affects his bread and butter software -- Office. He'll throw a couch at the person who tells him the news...
  • by vectorian798 (792613) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:11PM (#13918639)
    Why is it that whenever Google does something, everyone is ready to praise them for pushing OSS etc? Google has much to gain from OSS software and advancements in it, because they use so much of it. Like any other company, they want to save where they can and that's all they are doing.

    What we should be really doing is thanking the developers of OO. OO is a great program, especially given that it is relatively young and has to have a lot of functionality. As others have pointed out, 80MB is not at all massive for a program like OO. I am not sure what these speed issues others bring up are, it is quite fast for me. Whether it uses Java or not is irrelevant to the majority of users. You have to understand that most people don't care whether Java is closed or not. It is the final product's functionality that matters most, so quit your bitching.

    What I think OO needs is a better interface and more of the lesser-used features that make MS Office such a complete suite. I know many of you think MS Office suffers from feature bloat, but there are always people who make use of a lot of the lesser known features (like Format Painter!) - for the stuff it packs in there, Office is quite blazingly fast. One bad example of bloat would be Eclipse, because when you have lots of features, speed and interface matter a LOT more. Hopefully, OO will get this right.

    My 2c.
  • by RoadDogTy (921208) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:17PM (#13918685)
    Predictably there are a lot of threads already (and presumably will be many more) about how Google's intent is to either combat Microsoft by offering a free & competetive Office suite, or to further develop Open Office in the interest of some sort of Google offering of Open Office as a hosted application. There could be some truth in both of these, however I think the main reason Google shows some token support for open source initiatives like this is simply so that developers (/.'ers included) will sit around and talk about how cool Google is, since OSS is very en vogue helping it is a very way to stay hip. Why else would Google (and other companies) fund/support initiatives like Wikipedia, etc. Its a method of low cost, and fairly effective, brand advertising.
  • by Jason Earl (1894) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:28PM (#13918775) Homepage Journal

    Google is investing in OO.org for the same reason that Sun, Red Hat, Novell, and even IBM (to a certain extent) are investing in OO.org. If Google can make OO.org a more useful competitor to MS Office for a nominal investment then that investment is definitely money well spent. This has little or nothing to do with Google's use of Free Software, and everything to do with the fact that with Microsoft Office is vulnerable. OO.org is actually pretty competitive, and Microsoft's upcoming format shift means that people are going to have to deal with format incompatibilities no matter what they decide to use.

    Google execs know that Microsoft begins to lose sales of its ridiculously profitable office suite to OO.org that investors will demand that Microsoft stop focusing on new endeavors (like MSN) and focus on its bread and butter businesses. Increasing the viability of OO.org is almost certainly Google's most cost effective weapon in its fight against Microsoft.

  • Philanthropy (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tony (765) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:29PM (#13918785) Journal
    Why is it that every comment asking, "Why is Google doing this?" come to the conclusion that Google's intent must be related to money in some way?

    I don't trust corporations (look at my posting history). But, I've been very impressed with the impression I get from Google. Yes, perhaps they are doing this for the PR, or to turn Microsoft's cash cow into hamburger and yummy, yummy steaks; but might it also be that Google is doing this because it has some extra cash, and since it benefits so greatly from free software, is just trying to give something back?

    Maybe?

    Anyway, in the end, it doesn't matter, as well *all* benefit.
  • Throwing bodies? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ramses0 (63476) on Monday October 31, 2005 @05:51PM (#13918963)
    Excuse me for being contrarian (and I don't have all the links), but TFA's headline is a good example of what's wrong: "Google throws bodies at OpenOffice"

    OpenOffice is not self-sustaining. It only exists because people are being paid to work on it. I believe a decent link is the following...

    http://www.openoffice.org/editorial/interview_joer g_heilig.html [openoffice.org]:
    """What is your role now in OpenOffice.org/StarOffice and what was your role in architecting the OpenOffice.org project at its inception?

    I am responsible for the StarOffice engineering and in this role also responsible for all engineering work on OpenOffice.org done by Sun employees. At the time of OpenOffice.org's inception I was responsible for StarOffice's base technology and involved in all the engineering discussions around open sourcing StarOffice. """

    IANAOSOSC (I am Not an Open Source Office Software Contributor)... but contrast that statement with AbiWord, KOffice, Evolution, InkScape, etc. (AbiWord and KOffice both had their versions of kernel-traffic-like summaries which allowed me keep up with various development issues and see how their insides worked at one point or another. OpenOffice needing an FTE to manage other FTE's who are writing code is a recipe for "code because we tell you to".

    It seems like certain types of companies exist solely to make the most complicated build processes, technology decisions, etc. This is as opposed to the OSS way of "Keep it Simple, Stupid" ... when you start making it complex with $n+1 dependencies and steps the project either gets refactored or dies (and "Large(tm)" corporate invovlement generally has higher resistance to both the refactor and die options, as some areas seem to be personal vanity areas or have other political rather than technical motivations ... aka: Java).

    http://ooo.ximian.com/hackers-guide.html [ximian.com]:

    """Building and hacking on OpenOffice.org (OO.o) entails climbing a fairly lengthy incline. Hopefully this document will make the learning curve somewhat steeper and more abrupt, and will give you a walking stick to help you out."""

    Which isn't to say that having somebody "big" like Sun behind an office suite is all bad. It's because of them that we have the clippy-like thing, the chm-like thing, the templates, wizards, import filters, and all the other mostly boring "feature checkboxes" that we do now in OO.o.

    If I could wave my magic wand and have everything the way that I want, I'd split out the OO input filters (seem to get really good reviews and good personal results). Kill the really-tight integration between Presenter, Writer, Drawer, etc... (although if that's the way MSOffice handles embedded tables, etc., maybe it's a necessary evil?). And a healthy helping of de-cruftify, especially the preferences panels. Maybe a FireFox-like project to strip down OpenOffice would be helpful.

    Just my outsider's perspective....

    --Robert
    • by idlake (850372)
      OpenOffice is not self-sustaining. It only exists because people are being paid to work on it.

      Almost all open source work is paid for. And there is nothing wrong with that: that's the way open source is supposed to work. The real problem is not that Google pays for OOo, but that not enough people have reason and cause to pay for other useful open source project development.

      You are right that OOo's particular heritage and codebase discourages contributions and community development. That is a big problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 31, 2005 @06:09PM (#13919117)
    Apparently, an aged Richard Stallman has been recruited by Google to help them in their efforts. After taking one glimpse at the code, Stallman said he "recoiled in morbid disgust". "Jesus f***," he said, "I'm going to have to re-code this thing from the ground up... using LISP." Stallman's project is said to be under the codename "emacs" and will be useful for everything.
  • by istartedi (132515) on Monday October 31, 2005 @08:32PM (#13920125) Journal

    ...companies to pull off one of the few FS/OSS business models that's sound, simply because of Google's size. The model?

    1. Release FS/OSS.

    2. Short stock of Proprietary competition. Or, drive dollars away from them towards you; since shorting is an unpopular tactic that might cause PR or even legal problems.

    3. Profit. Oh yeah, big time!

    Hate to burst the bubbles of people who still have them when it comes to the big G, but human attempts to create large, idealistic organizations have a nasty tendancy to end in failure. Exactly what is "not doing evil" when your only choice is the Google office suite?

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