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Why Google Should Embrace OpenOffice.org 277

Posted by timothy
from the because-it's-soft-and-squishy dept.
CWmike writes "Preston Gralla has a decent idea that could move the office needle: If Google really wanted to deliver a knockout punch to Microsoft, it would integrate OpenOffice with Google Docs, and sell support for the combined suite to small businesses, medium-sized business, and large corporations. Given the reach of Google, the quality of OpenOffice, and the lure of free, it's a sure winner. Imagine if a version of it were available as a Web service from Google, combined with massive amounts of Google storage. Integrated with Google Docs, it would also allow online collaboration. For those who wanted more features, the full OpenOffice suite would be available as a client — supported by Google. wouldn't be at all surprised to see this happen. Just yesterday, IBM announced that it was selling support for its free Symphony office suite. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine Google doing the same for OpenOffice, after it integrates it with Google Docs."
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Why Google Should Embrace OpenOffice.org

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  • Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:10PM (#23660099)
    What does OpenOffice offer the average user that Google Docs is lacking?

    And why would Google use OpenOffice to fill that gap when they could just improve Google Docs?
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by peragrin (659227) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:21PM (#23660303)
      what really gets me is that google docs uses Open Document format as it's default output. use open office locally and google docs on the road for the same document.

      you can swap back and forth. You can use google docs to store your files pass US customs and download them again quickly and easily once you have passed customs.

      i am not seeing the point of the article.
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:32PM (#23660477)
      What does OpenOffice offer the average user that Google Docs is lacking?

      Not running in a browser on AJAX, the stupidest application 'platform' ever congealed?
      Working reliably when offline?
      Working reliably with large documents, with embedded images etc?
      Performance? Even if you thought OO.o was slow, you'll be amazed at how badly you can bog things down if you implement it in mighty javascript, inside a browser.

      And why would Google use OpenOffice to fill that gap when they could just improve Google Docs?

      You mean by making google docs a real application instead of a gimped web based browser hosted mess? Why re-invent the wheel? Just enhance oo.o to store docs to google's servers and call it a day.

      Personally though, I don't know why anyone would even BOTHER with google docs. If you want web based document access I think we should be striving for remote desktop hosting and application publishing.

      Citrix already has this, and if you've ever used MSOffice as a published Citrix web application, you'll know what I'm talking about. None of this flaky ajax crap. Accessible from anywhere. Documents exist on the corporate server. It costs a bundle to license though and I don't know if it supports linux. -- but isn't that where FLOSS shines? I'd rather see this over another half baked AJAX app.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by joshtheitguy (1205998)

        I don't know if it supports linux.
        Oh it does, my travel laptop at work is running Kubuntu 8.04 and I can access any citrix application hosted on the company's servers flawlessly. Just download the linux x86 ica client from www.citrix.com, install, import the SSL certificate issuer's public cert (if necessary I know I had to but it is easy to do) and you are done.
        • by vux984 (928602)
          Oh it does, my travel laptop at work is running Kubuntu 8.04 and I can access any citrix application hosted on the company's servers flawlessly. Just download the linux x86 ica client from www.citrix.com, install, import the SSL certificate issuer's public cert (if necessary I know I had to but it is easy to do) and you are done.

          I know there is a citrix client. But can host one publish Linux Applications from a Linux Server? That is what I was referring to. And if not with Citrix... with anything?
          • by Rich0 (548339)
            Well, in theory X11 has always worked that way. Just point your DISPLAY at your local terminal.

            The main disadvantage of X11 is that it doesn't handle latency well, unlike Citrix. NX helps this a bit - a FOSS equivalent would be nice.
      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Threni (635302) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:55PM (#23660849)
        > Not running in a browser on AJAX, the stupidest application 'platform' ever congealed?

        Web apps are shit, period. If you want security, run in a virtual environment, or just stick with apps from people you trust, like Google.

        Otherwise you get flaky, embarrassing, unresponsive bollocks which fails the second there's a network problem anywhere between the servers in the States, thousand of miles away from me, right up to my ISP and the little bits of metal connecting to me. Plus my data isn't being sent halfway around the world for some spotty bedroom boy to packet sniff and/or fuck about with. That's the worse possible solution.

        Surely you want the opposite - apps downloaded from the net, run locally, with internet access as and when needed - infrequently, probably.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by dave562 (969951) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:58PM (#23660877) Journal
        Citrix already has this, and if you've ever used MSOffice as a published Citrix web application, you'll know what I'm talking about. None of this flaky ajax crap. Accessible from anywhere. Documents exist on the corporate server. It costs a bundle to license though and I don't know if it supports linux.

        And if you want to take it to another level, you can implement something like this...

        http://www.sonicwall.com/us/products/Secure_Remote_Access.html

        It will do RDP or Citrix connections via a web browser, no VPN client software required. So anywhere you have a web browser and internet access, you have access to your applications and documents. Of course it isn't free, but when it comes to IT, I find that you get what you pay for.

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

        by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <sherwin@amiNETBSDran.us minus bsd> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:06PM (#23661011) Homepage Journal
        Just use FreeNX+OpenOffice.org. Free, works great with Linux, does the job at least as good as Citrix, if not better.

        X11 is a wonderful thing, and extensions to it like FreeNX are quite incredible.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Firehed (942385) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:09PM (#23661063) Homepage
        For the most part I agree with you. However, remote access doesn't offer the realtime multi-user collaboration that's a part of Google's online office tools. Setting up centralized documents on the cheap is quite possible these days - I work for a company that sells that kind of thing, but for all intents and purposes it's an interface wrapped around a glorified subversion repository with some unrelated features that deal with the rest of that whole intranet thing. Hell, truly dumb it down and just have an FTP server. DropBox is one of those newer Web2.0 things that's basically a fancy wrapper around FTP (once again, we're starting to realize that user interface and ease of use is key to adoption); it's only meant for one user at a time and is more of a personal cross-computer document syncing tool. However, none of those to my knowledge deal with what happens when two people want to work on the same document at the same time. What we have at work has a check-in/check-out system, and DropBox would probably just give one user a read-only copy (since it treats it more like a network drive than an ftp server, and that's what happens on a local network). Google Docs/Spreadsheets, on the other hand, allows multiple users to edit the same document in real time and have each other's changes pushed to all other editors as they're being made, much more along the lines of SubEthaEngine [codingmonkeys.de].

        Granted, not a whole lot of people need that kind of functionality most of the time. For what I do, it's actually a great asset - it sure beats the hell out of emailing a document back and forward a dozen times over the space of ten minutes. And the functionality, again for what I do, is plenty - I'm just sharing lists of ideas with colleagues and clients 95% of the time. All of your points against Google Docs are very much valid, and I was going to point them out myself. The accessibility during offline time is the real killer for me, as I don't have a cellular card for my laptop and can't be bothered to pay for wifi at hotspots, so it certainly can't replace a desktop text editor. Some combination of a desktop editor, the "push FTP" of DropBox, and the realtime collaboration of Google Docs would be THE winner, but that's asking for a lot.

        At the end of the day, there's no one tool that's right for everyone right now. OOo is free, functional, and will get the job done for most people. Word is expensive, more functional and stable, somewhat faster, and has advanced features for power users that most people will never go near. Google Docs is free, limited in functionality, but doesn't require installation or local storage.

        (Yes, I know I didn't really address the whole Word/Citrix thing; however, assuming you have VPN access then you're already able to get to the central repository and then there should be no reason to bother with the published web app through Citrix thing since you could just locally install OOo/Word - the file access is the crucial thing there more so than the app itself. Yes, this still isn't quite what you meant, but humor me)
        • The accessibility during offline time is the real killer for me, as I don't have a cellular card for my laptop and can't be bothered to pay for wifi at hotspots, so it certainly can't replace a desktop text editor.

          If you use the US English version of google docs and if you check the box that says you're willing to try their advanced features, you can work on google docs while off-line. It downloads a google client to your machine and allows you to work off-line using your internet browser, and when you get

      • Re:Why? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ady1 (873490) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:21PM (#23661217)
        I have used Citrix and to be honest, it is horrible. A royal pain in the ass to use on a regular basis. I would take Google docs any day over that torture.
        • by Rich0 (548339)
          Are you sure it wasn't a poor implementation? Citrix works pretty well, and I've seen it used in lots of places with thin client terminals (hospitals in particular). Now, if you're not using it in seamless mode than that IS a pain!

          Where it shines the most is with client-server applications over high latency WANs. Most client-server apps aren't designed to handle latency - but Citrix is and it isolates the app from the link. I've seen client-server apps that took seconds to respond to entries that went t
        • by vux984 (928602)
          I have used Citrix and to be honest, it is horrible. A royal pain in the ass to use on a regular basis. I would take Google docs any day over that torture.

          Citrix, when configured properly by people who know what they are doing is a joy to use.

          Trying to host incompatible software from an under powered server on an inadequate network by people who don't know what they are doing? Yeah, I've wanted to throw my laptop out the window too.

          Citrix done right, and the average user doesn't even really know the app isn
          • by ady1 (873490)
            Google Docs, when being run over a fast computer with a decent network connection is just as joy to use.

            Okay maybe not joyful :P but I do get to use it once in a while and never had any complaints.

            I'm sure you would agree that maintaining any kind of servers take a lot of effort and money. Now Google has no former experience or desire to go in application hosting business. They do have a lot of webserver on their disposal though and they can, without investing significant amount, host all sort of web applic
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by vux984 (928602)
              Google Docs, when being run over a fast computer with a decent network connection is just as joy to use.

              No. No its not. Google Docs isn't as full featured, and javascript in a browser isn't remotely as powerful or as flexible as what can be done with a native app either run locally, or even hosted via Citrix. There really is no comparison.

              Now Google has no former experience or desire to go in application hosting business.

              Really? I'll buy the no former experience, but pretty much everything they do lately is
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        But why start with OpenOffice? They would probably be much better off starting with KOffice. It shouldn't take much to get it working on Windows, Linux and MacOS, now that KDE4 is out, and it's a much better starting point than OpenOffice. OpenOffice is slow, huge, and from what I hear, has terrible code.
      • Google will bring Docs to the desktop with Google Gears backing it in Firfox3 and Safari. That will allow the web app to work offline but primarily be connected. It's a better plan that Citrix because apps should not have problems "dropping out" until time to update with the server.

        I'd like to see and OO.org plugin to directly go to Google Docs... I think there already is one from some third party. If Google goes any further for companies they'll go the "appliance" route. They sell google servers you can
        • by vux984 (928602)
          Google will bring Docs to the desktop with Google Gears backing it in Firfox3 and Safari. That will allow the web app to work offline but primarily be connected. It's a better plan that Citrix because apps should not have problems "dropping out" until time to update with the server.

          Yawn. Why would I -care- if I can run 'google docs' offline? I -already- have multiple free offline office suites to choose from for -that-, and they don't run in a ridiculous mess of javascript on a browser.

          GoogleDocs really mak
    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moderatorrater (1095745) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:37PM (#23660563)
      First, it doesn't operate entirely over the network ajax-style. For most things, you don't need the document to be online and updated live. When I'm using Google Docs, especially the spreadsheet program, it's dirt slow and slows down the rest of my browsing, too.

      Second, it provides an interface that's familiar to people, better than google docs. For a nerd like me or most of the people on slashdot, google docs works just fine; for people like my parents, OpenOffice is more familiar. Google can make internet browsers sing and dance, but the browser just can't replicate the experience as well.

      Third, it gets existing OpenOffice users to switch to google docs. The ability to save to google docs as easily as to the hard drive would be a compelling feature, at least to me. I run a DnD game online and I use google doc's spreadsheet to manage characters; this would make it a lot easier for me and my players to use it all.

      I would use this for my DnD game and most of my documents that I could possibly want in multiple places (and that wouldn't be interesting to law enforcement or identity thieves).
      • Exactly (Score:3, Insightful)

        by R_Dorothy (1096635)
        It's analogous to using $your_favourite_mail_client to access Gmail via IMAP. You still have the web interface if you want/need to use it but you can also take advantage of a familiar application running locally that's specifically designed for the task.
    • >What does OpenOffice offer the average
      >user that Google Docs is lacking?
      Why should we ever improve on software? Why should software ever do more than perform basic tasks poorly?

      These are the attitudes behind your statement. Google docs is not as good as open office. Open office is not as good as microsoft office.

      The arguments that people usually make are, "do you really need those extra features?" and to some extent it is true. I don't *absolutely* need everything that Microsoft Office has to offer,
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by aplusjimages (939458)
      There is a character limit to Google Docs. I thought it would be a good idea to get some video game walkthroughs saved to my Google Docs, so I didn't have to look them up all the time, so I copied the text to Google Docs and some of the files had too much text for Good Docs to handle.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by J Story (30227)

      What does OpenOffice offer the average user that Google Docs is lacking?

      And why would Google use OpenOffice to fill that gap when they could just improve Google Docs?
      Footnotes. Text boxes. Styles.

      Whether Google can put these into their online Docs is a valid question, but it doesn't look easy.

    • by no-body (127863)
      Uploading a .xls spreadsheet with some more fancy stuff - comments, pulldown selects and text boxes to google docs and downloading it again as .xls, it's lossy in such a prohibitive manner to be unusable. Considering it a "toy".

      What works to some degree is a shared gmail account to send documents as email attachments.

      Better than having a script running under a browser (assumed this is google docs) would be a server having the actual applicaton and some interface shooting user input and server output encryp
    • Say... how do you make a list in Google Docs like the following?

      1. Point 1 1.1. Point 1.1 1.1.1. Point 1.1.1 1.1.2. Point 1.1.2 1.1.3. Point 1.1.3 1.2. Point 1.2

      AFAIK, it's not possible right now.
      • Oh, line breaks and spaces aren't working here. What I meant is a numbered list like this... with indentation.

        1. Point 1
        1.1. Point 1.1
        1.1.1. Point 1.1.1
        1.1.2. Point 1.1.2
        1.1.3. Point 1.1.3
        1.2. Point 1.2
    • by debatem1 (1087307)
      The tab key.
  • by yog (19073) * on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:11PM (#23660121) Homepage Journal
    You can already import and export to OpenOffice from Google Docs. What more do we really need? Furthermore, I doubt that Google would gain much from taking sides. They are the premier provider of web services and that is where they should stay. Desktop applications are the past, web services are the future. Microsoft Office as a desktop application will eventually fade, too.

    Now, if Google wanted to give OOo a nice grant, that would be most welcome :)

    • by KGIII (973947)
      Meh... Color me blind but web services are the past. Am I the only one who recalls getting compute time scheduled and then using a terminal or accessing most everything over the network from a terminal? All that is old is new again.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by maxume (22995)
        It all goes in a big cycle. If networking were truly ubiquitous and fast, and your cellphone or credit card was a powerful computer and reliable authentication device that could inspect a display for eavesdropping devices and so forth, you would happily run all your applications, everything, over the network, simply for the convenience of never losing any data.

        Since they aren't, we carry bigger devices around and do a poor job securing them, but we live with it, because it makes the most sense given current
    • by greenguy (162630)

      Furthermore, I doubt that Google would gain much from taking sides. They are the premier provider of web services and that is where they should stay. Desktop applications are the past, web services are the future.

      How is that not taking sides? In the unlikely event web services eclipse desktop apps, Google will have an enormous head start, and they'll most likely allow and even encourage folks to use ODT.

      More likely is that the line between desktop and webtop apps will gradually blur (e.g., "cloud computing"), and... Google will still have an enormous head start. Rather than OOo and Google Docs trying to replace each other, they will probably fade into each other over time.

    • by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @08:00PM (#23662169) Journal

      They are the premier provider of web services and that is where they should stay. Desktop applications are the past, web services are the future.
      Off the top of my head, I can think of several desktop applications that google produces:

      Google earth. Google desktop search. Google Chat.

      Their goal is not producing web services, it's making data more accessible. Making it easier to access google docs from a desktop office application may very well fall within that scope.

      As others have noted here, google docs does not perform terribly well. For performance-intensive things, desktop applications are still better solutions than web-based ones. Office applications are one of those things -- they have tons of functionality.

      Google would do well to:
        * make it trivial to save and load google docs docs from within OO.o
        * add real-time collaborative editing of google docs to OO.o

      It's just not possible to get all the functionality of OO.o into a web app, and have it perform comparably on the same hardware.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:13PM (#23660143) Homepage Journal
    Imagine the repercussions if a large technology company like Sun Microsystems helped the development and support of OpenOffice.

    They could twin its codebase with their own corporate version [sun.com] and then the sky would truly be the limit.
    • by snl2587 (1177409)

      Yeah, I think the article completely ignored Sun's role in the OpenOffice.org project. Of course, this would be great thing if it wasn't already happening...or was the suggestion to also do a corporate takeover of Sun?

  • by Wulfstan (180404) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:14PM (#23660181)
    I was working with a teacher on Sunday night trying to prepare a presentation in OpenOffice (it was running incredibly slowly) and she said "I hate OpenOffice". She isn't a geek, she doesn't particularly like computers, but to her it was a huge disappointment to have to use OpenOffice instead of being able to use PowerPoint.

    So far from a knockout punch, I think OpenOffice barely registers in terms of it's disruptive influence. I don't use it, my employees don't use it and everyone I know who has to use it hates it. Perhaps it's time as a community we considered alternatives. The "quality" of OpenOffice isn't something I think people are particularly happy with.
    • I'm not sure it's right to call it the "quality" of OpenOffice that people have a problem with. Sure, people dislike qualities of the software, but they don't dislike it for being "poor quality".

      There are probably still people who are stuck on Word/Excel because of some particular feature. The rest of people who aren't happy with it, in my limited experience, it's because it doesn't look great and it runs slowly.

      The first could be done with an interface facelift. Probably not a huge deal, if there's th

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blazer1024 (72405)
        I hate OpenOffice because of its quality.

        I'm not a heavy office user.. I mainly use it to write an occasional report... maybe draw a diagram.

        But it's SO damn buggy I can barely use it! For example, I was illustrating a graph algorithm with Draw, and it was working quite nicely until I had to undo several levels.. then the alignment of everything went screwy. Nothing that moved during the undoing was anywhere it should have been. A redo didn't fix it either. (Not that alignment is ever quite right in that th
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by zeroduck (691015)
          Did you file a bug report?
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Goaway (82658)
            Tracking down and properly documenting a most probably intermittent and random bug in order to file a big report that is actually useful is not really the kind of task one feels like doing when one just wanted to draw a diagram.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Dan100 (1003855)
        OpenOffice is a dead end for a FOSS competitor to MS Office. I've used OOo since before it was bought by Sun, back when it was product of the German company StarDivision and had a funky "workspace" faux desktop thing going on. I used it at uni because it was free, but it was crap and ended up doing all my work on uni workstations as they ran MS Office.

        I've tried using OOo on and off since, including quite a major project recently. It's just so buggy! Write would never apply my user-defined styles properly

    • by urcreepyneighbor (1171755) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:26PM (#23660393)
      OpenOffice sucks. I'm sorry, but it does.

      Maybe under ideal conditions - like, oh, the same sort of environment that would make Crysis happy -it's "fine", but it's not an Office killer.

      It's a bloated pos that's nothing more than a clone of Office. Not a very good one, at that.

      Show me an Office-compatible suite than I can install on a PII / 300MHz (one of the boxes within my reach), that doesn't have performance issues, and I'll show you The Office Killer.
      • Anybody try Lotus Symphony yet?
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by davidsyes (765062)
          Try Lotus SmartSuite... Get hold of a $7.00 to $30.00 unopened, resold CD. Unfortunately, 1-2-3 has some mouse issues in scrolling in Win4Lin and in VirtualBox (maybe even in windoze), but the STARS of SmartSuite have to be Word Pro and Approach, the WYSIWYG, end-user, no-programming skills-required front end.

          I'm creating a screenplay/dialog management tool in it, and the regrettable thing is there is no stand-alone executable, and no way to simply run the finished files by end-users unless they have the fu
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        I'm running AbiWord and Spread32 on an XP Pro eeePC. Not a suite, but fast and small.

        OpenOffice is too big and slow compared to MS Office 2003. Office 2003 ran fine on the eeePC, but it was way too big for what I actually need.
      • I hate it that OpenOffice is so often associated as "one of the best open source software" among with Linux and Firefox. Every time I've tried OOo (on Linux) I've immediately hated it. It's slow, bloated and annoying to use. Disabling its annoying "helpful" features takes a lot of time. So a while ago I bought MS Office 2008 for Mac, in part just so that I can say I would rather buy MS Office than use OOo for free.

        (And no, I won't try to help them make it better just because it's open source. I'm busy enoug
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      I've written integration software for Office, and then ported it to support OpenOffice. The performance of OpenOffice was literally 10x faster. Things were happening so quickly I had to check to make sure that the code did in fact run. While there may be some feature/function support missing in OpenOffice that is present in Office, I find that as a casual user it meets my needs, and the price is right. I seem to recall a Time Magazine letter to the editor (if I'm remembering this right) where a legal se
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dave562 (969951)
        I have to admit though, I sure miss the old reveal codes capability in Word Perfect.

        I used to use WP 5.1 and I'm not sure what you're talking about. Word will show you all of the underlying formatting for your document. In Word 2003 you can simply Shift+F1.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by zx-15 (926808)
      Mod me down as troll but OpenOffice Impress was kind of pathetic. Last time I needed to prepare presentation in it, Impress was really bad - it would use about 50% of the CPU when I was editing text, do something really annoying every two minutes, and crash every fifteen minutes. However, when I tried to reproduce that stuff with my old presentation using OpenOffice 2.4, these bugs got all fixed.

      Also Impress seem to be the worse part of OpenOffice, Write and Calc are pretty good, at least for the last two y
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by junner518 (1235322)
        OpenOffice Impress is not powerpoint. It just isnt. It doesnt have some of the cool templating/artsy fartsy stuff powerpoint has. However, it is usable. And for something that costs nothing it does its job. At least the presentations can be saved as ppt files for interoperability, and recently I did a presentation and everything transferred correctly. And I had pictures, animations, sounds, etc.

        You could say I'm impressed :p
      • by mysticgoat (582871) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:18AM (#23664423) Homepage Journal

        I like OOo since Writer and Calc do what I need, Base is rock-solid where it counts, and Draw is at least adequate.

        But I am one of the few clear seers who know that the first and biggest step to improving an organization's performance is to ban the use of PowerPoint. (The second step, which would also result in a significant boost in efficiency, is to limit the use of MS Access to persons who have the training to know when it is actually the right tool for the job-- which, in corporate America, is roughly 3.72% of its current usage.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by h4nk (1236654)
      I totally agree. I start to moan whenever I see it firing up. Large spreadsheets and docs are particularly painful as I often get the scroll-lag-of-death where the screen is about 5 seconds behind every click. I've given up on dragging the scroll bar completely.
    • by Thai-Pan (414112) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:10PM (#23661075) Journal
      I'm glad I'm not the only one.

      When I was a student, before getting assimilated by MS (I am now a MS employee), I ran Linux exclusively on my school laptop and used OpenOffice full time. There's no way around saying it, it was a terrible experience. When it wasn't crashing, losing my documents, or in some other way completely failing to function, it was painfully slow, bordering on unusable.

      I stuck by it and fiddled with it until one day in a lab I had to do some extensive spreadsheet work. Specifically, getting data out of a tab-delimited file, approx 15,000 rows and ~5ish columns. Every way I could possibly attempt to open, paste, import this file would throw OpenOffice into a seemingly endless loop. I'd wait 20, 30, 40 minutes, but it couldn't handle this 100kB file no matter how I diced it. I made all sorts of excuses as other students were doing the same thing in mere seconds on their Windows PCs or Macs. It was the last straw for me and I gave up, and used the lab machine with MS Office to do the same thing in about 5 seconds. A similar lab experience only a few weeks later, and I ended up dual-booting my laptop "just for Excel", and before I realized it, I liked the whole Office suite better than OpenOffice. I still used Linux primarily at that time, but every time I needed anything remotely Office related, I simply found OpenOffice to be inadequate.

      Sorry, I'm really not trying to be a troll about this, and I know many folks will scream bloody murder at me for even posting because of my bias. But before I had such a bias, I tried so very hard to love OpenOffice, and just couldn't. Like Wulfstan said, the quality of OpenOffice is just not very good.

      If I were Google, I'd be working hard to carve out this niche market for online services and stay out of desktop apps beyond perhaps plugins for better online integration. OpenOffice doesn't fit with Google's business model, and frankly, I think Google could probably crank out something superior to OpenOffice from scratch anyways.
      • by AnyoneEB (574727) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @07:48PM (#23662041)

        Needing MS Office is a bad reason to switch away from Linux. It runs quite well on wine.

        Personally, I do not use either because latex covers almost everything I would use an Office suite for. In the rare occasion I need a spreadsheet, I use gnumeric because it works a lot better than OOo Calc. That said, Excel is a great piece of software. A good replacement for it would be quite a project.

        • by PCM2 (4486)

          Needing MS Office is a bad reason to switch away from Linux. It runs quite well on wine.

          My understanding is that Office 2007 doesn't even install properly under WINE (which, IMHO, is the version you'd want).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Kjella (173770)

          Needing MS Office is a bad reason to switch away from Linux. It runs quite well on wine.
          Office 2007: Bronze
          Office 2003: Garbage (apps at Gold but doesn't install)
          Office XP: Silver
          Office 2000: Bronze
          Office 97: Garbage (apps at Gold but doesn't install)
          Office 95: Garbage (apps at Bronze but doesn't install)

          May I ask what you consider "quite well"? The AppDB guys at wine seem to disagree with you.
      • by merreborn (853723) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @08:09PM (#23662269) Journal

        I stuck by it and fiddled with it until one day in a lab I had to do some extensive spreadsheet work. Specifically, getting data out of a tab-delimited file, approx 15,000 rows and ~5ish columns. Every way I could possibly attempt to open, paste, import this file would throw OpenOffice into a seemingly endless loop. I'd wait 20, 30, 40 minutes, but it couldn't handle this 100kB file no matter how I diced it.
        I used OO.o for years for manipulating the exact same kinds of files, and found it vastly superior to Excel. Excel struggles to correctly read many varieties of CSV files, and loves to mangle data -- try opening a CSV full of ISBN numbers, and watch Excel helpfully mangle them to floats. Whatever you do, don't save the file, or Excel will *overwrite* your 10+ digit integers in exponential notation!

        Regarding performance, years ago, when I voiced the same complaint here on /., someone suggested disabling Java in OO.o. It made a big difference. I was using a 1.x version at the time; I don't know if this is still the case in 2.x.

        The performance may not be stellar (although I really don't recall noticing a substantial difference), but in terms of functionality, there are many areas where OO.o outshines MS Office.
        • by stubear (130454)
          Perhaps you should learn to use cell formatting and tell Excel EXACTLY what type of data is being placed in the table. You should also look into using a database for storing information like this. Excel is NOT a database app, it's a spreadsheet app. They serve different purposes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by jadrian (1150317)
      KOffice has lots of potential. Quite light, the code is much cleaner and very modular. It's also going to be multiplatform. I wish a fourth of the effort being put in OpenOffice was being invested in KOffice instead.
    • by siwelwerd (869956)

      I was working with a teacher on Sunday night trying to prepare a presentation in OpenOffice (it was running incredibly slowly) and she said "I hate OpenOffice". She isn't a geek, she doesn't particularly like computers, but to her it was a huge disappointment to have to use OpenOffice instead of being able to use PowerPoint.

      Really? My non-geek fiancee has used Open Office on my laptop to do presentations for school and hasn't had any complaints, other than the default save format is not ppt (which I think I could change if the hard drive on that laptop didn't die).

  • I like OOo but would rather not see ads integrated into it. Google selling support for it? I don't see that happening - they aren't in the selling support business, they are in the search and targeted advertising business. The idea of integrating OOo and google docs is nice, but selling support isn't a good model for individual users, ads are.
    • Or they could mine your documents for data. We, the slashdot collective, has already agreed that "Do no evil" doesn't hold. However, this might be even too much for the evil parts of Google.

      Just a random thought. Now, take that tin foil hat off.
  • you mean like this? (Score:5, Informative)

    by nguy (1207026) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @05:20PM (#23660291)
  • If Google really wanted to deliver a knockout punch to Microsoft...
    A knockout punch? As we all saw in the "anonymous PDF" thing the other day, even Google can't get off Microsoft Office for basic business documents. I think a lot of people would be happy if Google even started to edge up toward 10% market share in the next couple of years.
  • File -> Download File As -> pdf

    Used to give OpenOffice.org as the pdf creator (within pdf tags), it now gives "Prince 6.0 (www.princexml.com)". So IMHO Google docs are moving away from OpenOffice.org
  • It annoys the hell out of me trying to use it as a 'real' office suite. The excel and powerpoint clones just aren't up to the task. It's ok for quick, casual tasks but so is Google docs. I don't see the advantage for google in adopting it.
  • What a business should be doing is continuously reinvigorating it's core business to meet future needs. Google is the business of selling ads. It could get into the business of selling support, but then it is going to have a problem like MS, where it will do many things, few very well, and the things it does do well will get done less well. Therefore, any discussion about google and openoffice.org has to address how such work will help google sell ads.

    The article mentioned IBM. IBM is in the business

    • The point of diversifying is that one business can dip, without hurting the company on the whole. That is part of the reason Microsoft won't disappear any time soon, even if a major product flops.

      Google is primarily an advertising company, but they have all kinds of differnt products and services.
  • by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:01PM (#23660925) Homepage Journal
    Get your -1 Troll points ready, but unfortunately this is the truth. Sun has a stranglehold on OOo, which often stops developers from contributing code, or playing nice. Because of that, there are a variety of OOo forks out there. China's RedOffice has an Office 2007 ribbon-type sidebar that looks very promising. Symphony's UI is a huge step up over OOo. Go-oo.org and OxygenOffice provide many often requested features, templates, fonts, clip-art, a better solver, etc. NeoOffice seems to be the only one really focusing on solid Mac integration.

    All these improvements could be contributed upstream, but because of Sun's tight gripped control, they won't be. Sun isn't just going to hhand it over to Google, and I doubt Google is just going to sell Sun's product, unless Google felt like they had a strong-enough influence in the product's development.

    I agree that Google Docs is poor in its execution, but I doubt that OOo is the way to go for them. I see a product like Zimbra, that was developed with the web in mind, not an app forced into a browser, and that is where the future lies.

    When Google has an office suite that was designed with a web interface in mind, that works as fast as Zimbra, please let me know.
  • by ikeleib (125180) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @06:06PM (#23661013) Homepage
    Google hired developers to work on OpenOffice.org, but found it difficult to fill all the vacancies. They seemed unwilling to work on the project understaffed and the people they hired now work on other things.

    You can see a C|Net article about their hiring from a while back:
    http://news.cnet.com/Google-throws-bodies-at-OpenOffice/2100-7344_3-5920762.html [cnet.com]
  • I'm not affiliated with these guys:
    http://www.ulteo.com/ [ulteo.com]

    You have 1GB of storage with the free account and can use OO.org as a webservice. They also have a "Virtual Desktop" which is a stripped-down KDE environment with OO in Windows thanks to CoLinux.

    I tried it out and found the Virtual Desktop fairly impressive- the sort of thing that Joe Schmoe can use well; but unfortunately adding programs to it is a hassle which makes it unsuitable for my (admittedly fairly specific) needs. Their "online desktop" has
  • I'd rather they (or anyone else) would develop a word processor that doesn't make me want to cut my hands off and write raw HTML by whistling morse code into a telephone because it would suck less.

    I am SO tired of every word processor out there, including the one by the white kool aid clan, mimicking the worst drawbacks of word because it makes it a bit easier to roundtrip documents to and from Word. I'd rather have the native format something like Docbook, but I'll take HTML if that's the only way to get real nested document structures and markup as THE native format.
  • ...isn't that an implicit admission that the product you are supporting is buggy, flawed, and/or has insufficient documentation?
  • by SEE (7681) on Wednesday June 04, 2008 @07:53PM (#23662091) Homepage
    Seriously, why should Google want to focus on delivering a knockout to Microsoft? Google doesn't need to do an office suite, and Google doesn't need to do an OS. Google's doing just fine being Google.

    Were there a lot of people running around in 1980 saying Apple Computer had to start building mainframes in order to knock out IBM? I mean, that would make just as much sense.

    IBM tried to knock out Microsoft with OS/2. How'd that work out?

    Novell tried to knock out Microsoft with its purchases of Unix, Digital Research, and WordPerfect. How'd that work out?

    Sun has been trying to out Microsoft with Java and StarOffice and whatnot. How's that working out?

    And now, Microsoft's been obsessively focused with trying to knock out Google, pouring billions more into MSN. How's that working out?
  • Wow, in the comments posted so far I'm seeing a lot of Microsoft sycophants trying to convince us that OOo is some sort of buggy amateur project. I guess when you threaten a cash cow like MS Office you're going to get a lot of pushback.

    Anyway, given the architecture of OOo it really would be easy to get its full functionality running inside a web browser. Remember that in order to be cross-platform, OOo contains a UI layer that abstracts and decouples the operating system's widget set from the core applic
  • OOo sucks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by menace3society (768451) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @01:29AM (#23664467)
    Seriously. Everything[1] Google does, they do well. Internet search, desktop search, usenet, picasa, Google Earth/Maps, browser applications like Docs and Gmail, all phenomenal successes.

    OOo is a piece of crap. No, really. I do not think you could come up with a worse productivity suite without specifically designing it that way, and you certainly wouldn't have as much adoption.

    OOo is a (bad) clone of Word, mixed in with XML-pedantry and a really bad case of the second-system effect (made all the worse because none of the people involved had anything to do with the first system, which is Word itself).

    It, in a nutshell, shows the reason why getting free software onto the desktop has been so difficult: half the community is focused on feature-for-feature competitiveness and replication of the original product, and measures its success in market-share, and the other half of the community just hates MS software and tries to do the exact opposite, under the guise of "doing it right the first time." As a result we get something that actually manages to be slower than its MS equivalent in every respect, because on top of all the original features we copied without trying much in the way of procedural abstraction or optimization, we have even more stupid ideas bolted on, like using compressed XML files for the native data format, questionable default parameters that someone decided are "more correct", and the occasional bizarre bug.

    The same sort of thing is starting to happen to Firefox, too. It started out just trying to be fast, but then a number of advocates got on board and decided that more people should use it, and in order to get them to do that the browser should try to be all things to all people. Now Firefox is getting bigger, more bloated, and slower, and in a few years will just be another bald, fat, middle-aged, useless browser program that got passed by.

    All this is a long way of saying that Google shouldn't touch OOo with a ten-foot pole. It goes against everything they stand for: simplicity, usability, obviousness.

    [1]: Except Orkut. Sorry.

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