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German City Says OpenOffice Shortcomings Are Forcing It Back To Microsoft 480

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-of-worms dept.
The city of Freiburg, Germany adopted OpenOffice back in 2007, mostly replacing the Microsoft Office software it had been using previously. Now, an anonymous reader tips news that the city council is preparing to abandon OpenOffice and switch back. "'In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled,' the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties. 'Therefore, a new Microsoft Office license is essential for effective operations,' they wrote. ... 'The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice,' the council wrote, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council." The council was also disappointed that more municipalities haven't adopted OpenOffice in the meantime. Open source groups and developers criticized the move and encouraged the council to consider at least moving to a more up-to-date version of the office software suite.
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German City Says OpenOffice Shortcomings Are Forcing It Back To Microsoft

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:12PM (#42005091)

    Well, libreoffice could fullfill their all dreams. It's amazing! Using it every day with my cute Ubuntu 12.04

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:20PM (#42005191) Homepage

    If you want to beat MS Office, start with natively reading and writing their formats. I don't mean importing from and exporting to the formats. I mean adopting at least the older formats and all their issues in your core.

    Why, you ask? Because everybody else is going to send you .doc, .xls and .ppt. And that's what they expect to receive back from you. And as you load and save these documents in your respective Office suites, it's not acceptable for them to degrade like a jpeg.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:22PM (#42005219)

    The article mentions two issues I concur with. The excel clone "Calc" is not in the same league. And importing/converting between MS and open document isn't that good either.

  • by The Moof (859402) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:55PM (#42005689)
    Short answer: No.

    Longer answer: OpenOffice (and LibreOffice) chokes on documents created in newer versions of Office (2010, possibly 2012). It can leave out parts of the document entirely. The elements are usually the geometry objects (line arrows, word balloons, etc). This little problem actually got a customer pretty pissed off at me because I referred to the document missing some key components that were actually there when viewed in MS Word.

    For personal use, advanced users, or environments where you can strictly control document formats, OpenOffice can work. However, if you need to be able to read documents coming from uncontrolled sources, it still has a very long way to go to become viable replacement for Microsoft Office.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:09PM (#42005893)

    >if only Microsoft adhered to standards

    What you fail to understand is, like it or not, altruistic or not, Microsoft *is* the standard.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:43PM (#42006383)

    I use both M$ Office and Libreoffice. For personal reasons and bias, whenever possible I use LO instead of M$O, for the following reasons:
    1. To see whether LO is ready for daily use;
    2. To determine what differences exist between both;
    3. To test which features would recommend one suite over the other;
    4. To test if documents can be created and use in a mixed environment and
    5. To better understand the actions of a monopolist in trying to avoid competition.

    Now for my opinions and conclusions:

    1. LO is ready for day-to-day use wrt the things I do (text documents, spreadsheets, presentations _and_ drawings.
    Most of my documents are read and created using LO.

    2. Differences between LO and M$O do exist. In about 1% of documents I receive, I may need Excel for some weird feature; in most cases, the suites are equivalent. But compatibility is greater in text, ok in spreadsheets, usually good enough in presentations and LO is better than M$O wrt drawing (has anyone heard about the ancient M$ Draw?)

    3.Now, the best "feature" of LO is being easier to use than M$O (because of all the problems the "ribbon" creates). Also, LO is more object-orientated: click on something to change its properties, which is easier than some hidden menus in M$O to reach some desired setting. M$O imports better html, though, both in Word and in Excel, but I suspect Firefox could help here. LO is a lot more versatile with free standard formats, so usually I use it first to open any file, including M$' proprietary ones.

    4. After editing, as a last operation odf documents are saved as the equivalent M$ format. No one complained till now, but I have the extra care of opening them in M$ apps before sending. I assume in an LO-only workplace things will be simpler; this "M$O is the standard for external communication" reveals extreme lack of IT knowledge, since documents can be sent as pdf files to external parties. Nothing can be easier.

    5. Regarding M$ actions, not much in that regard -- or the LO guys are really good with countermeasures. Actually, most of our problems arise from incompatibilities among versions of M$ software, thus I believe Freiburg won't have a happy life after some 3 to 5 years in the future when M$ decides their new Office won't be compatible with the previous one.

    Specifically regarding your question, there's nothing special about Word. Other apps, F/oss or proprietary, do more or less the same with little variations -- one of the reasons being that word processing is widely understood after all these years and there's not much to add anymore. In fact, it annoys me to no end that some fellow coworkers still move the cursor one character a time (with the keyboard arrows), so I suspect even basic Android apps would be more than enough to replace Word.

    People who want to buy M$O, I suppose, are doing the blame game (it's not my fault, it's M$'!) or believe in old golden days when life was better and maybe spending money could bring those days back again... well, for me it's the opposite: I remember when there was a lot of word processors and Word was not one of them -- and people worked quite well, thank you very much.

    But then, I'm biased and pro-F/OSS...

  • by utoddl (263055) <Todd_Lewis@unc.edu> on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:43PM (#42006387) Homepage

    Word has an understandable formatting model. That is, all the formatting for a paragraph is stored in the paragraph mark. You can select a paragraph mark, copy it, paste it somewhere else in the document, and you have a paragraph formatted identically to the original. In OO, your text may take on different formatting depending on whether you backspace away a paragraph mark vs deleting it. No kidding. Also, there's no way to reliably copy a paragraph from one place in a document to another and retain the formatting without adding sacrificial paragraphs before and sometimes after the text you are trying to copy. Seriously. OO's formatting model is just broken.

    Until this basic problem is addressed, people will -- rightly -- prefer using word. I've been fighting oo's formatting for years, and frankly, I'm sick of it.

  • by allsorts46 (1725046) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:50PM (#42006475) Homepage
    Every time there's a story that mentions OpenOffice, I check to see whether this bug [apache.org] has been fixed yet. It hasn't. The comments are probably TL;DR, but the idea is that if you attempt to join two paragraphs into one paragraph that would be longer than 65535 characters, it discards all text beyond that point. No warning, no way to undo, and worst of all, absolutely no interest from the developers in fixing it. The standard response? "You shouldn't make paragraphs that long". It's a word processor - it should handle text. Microsoft Office has no such issue.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:54PM (#42006513)

    Here's [freiburg.de] an actual example for the type of document that have to be created in a municipal administration all the time - and they have to be provided in formats that can be opened by citizens (which in reality means doc, docx or pdf).
    I don't know how much faith you have in OO/LO but I would not want having to create forms in it that need to work flawlessly in MS Office.

    The other half of the problem is interfacing with other administrations (especially applications for EU/federal/state funds) which usually don't OO/LO file formats.

    /someone who has actually worked in a municipal administration (in Germany)

  • by zapyon (575974) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:10PM (#42006741)
    Other cities like Munich (LibreOffice) and Leipzig (OpenOffice) are doing just fine [linux-magazin.de] with the same family of office software. Without further information it is moot to guess if a) the Freiburg admins were not willing or capable of installing and configuring OpenOffice in a way that was satisfying to users or b) the users were unwilling to use the software (something different? something new? no way!) or c) some city managers decided to rather put some money in Microsoft's purse for any number of reasons (similar things happened to other public offices in Germany before).
  • by RobbieCrash (834439) * on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:17PM (#42006821)

    Because it abandons the idiotic digging through 3 levels of dropdowns into a modal dialogue which obscures the formatting I'm trying to alter, and requires me to jump into another modal dialogue because the thing I want to do has multiple settings. I hated the ribbon when it first came out, I nerd raged about it, then I used Office 2007 for 3 months to learn what my users were going through, and now I look at that menu paradigm and I shake my head at how poorly designed it is.

    The ribbon also allows features that I had no idea existed, but have complained about not existing, to be brought forward without ruining the UX. With the ribbon, I can hover over a confusing icon and get a valuable tooltip rather than having to either open the help menu or click the thing and hunt around the new modal dialogue to determine if it's the right menu item I clicked on. It's also customizable in a way that the old menu system is not. If you don't want to have it taking up valuable real estate, collapse it and you'll

    The old menu system makes sense, but keeping it is skeuomorphic and bad UI design. When computers were first designed and primarily navigated by keyboards the menu system made sense. There are much better ways to do things that require less clicking, less hunting, and less frustration caused by "Was that edit>file>format>paragraph>spacing, or page>printing>setup>paragraph>spacing?" Now it's "Page Layout tab> spacing" for both. The old way of doing things was annoying before there was an alternative, it's just stupid pig-headed stubbornness of the old guard to talk about how great it is.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Bacon Bits (926911) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:32PM (#42007041)

    If you think you're wasting time fucking around with formatting in Word, you probably don't want to move to LaTeX. LaTeX is for typesetting. It's sole purpose is for designing how a document should look. All it does is formatting. Conversely, it contains very little to aid a writer in producing or editing the content of the document. The only reason I can think you'd really need to move to LaTeX for is if you have very complex layouts such as those in mathematics textbooks.

    Honestly, your wife probably just needs to rethink her workflow. She needs to draft the content without worrying about formatting. Then she should revise it. Then format the document. Then do a final edit. You should never be writing and formatting at the same time. That is a tremendous time sink that tends to produce haphazardly written content with haphazardly presented layouts, and using LaTeX will not help. I had to make this change myself when I started doing a lot of documentation. It is difficult at first, but tremendously improves the quality and enjoyment from writing. In Word, you should just use the default font and headings until you know that the content is done. Use inline footnotes temporarily. Use things like [Insert picture here] when drafting. When your content is done you do layout and make things look good.

  • by Lisias (447563) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:36PM (#42007077) Homepage Journal

    They are running a local government. They do not need to listen to any private company. Make a policy which requires communication in ODF. block DOCX at the Firewall. Automatic security lockdown if the malware suite detects anyone attempting to lunch one. 90% of bullshit solved.

    +1 Informative, please. Parent is not trolling.

    The proposed measures will, indeed, improve internal security.

  • Re:Too late (Score:1, Informative)

    by peppepz (1311345) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:44PM (#42007161)

    MS does is when they do their idiotic "version-specific upgrade" thing, and when they do that, I can always just wait for the next iteration of Windows that doesn't suck.

    Doesn't seem to work with Office. Office 2007 had the ribbon interface, Office 2010 still had it. Office 2012 has BOTH the ribbon and "the design language formerly known as metro". Still waiting for the iteration that "doesn't suck".

  • Re:Too late (Score:4, Informative)

    by theguyfromsaturn (802938) on Friday November 16, 2012 @08:51PM (#42008595)

    Seriously, how does using MS Office not result in performance impairment frustration and aggravation. Most of my students issues stem directly from use of MS Office. That's all they know, but it's still their main source of aggravation and frustration. From very poor iteration procedures (seriously, you can't force recalculation of cells past a certain point once Excel has decided that it's just done, however many times you try to recalculate), to handling in Word of figures, arbitrary variables (for template automation) to little things like an actually usable mail-merge, or compatibility with older .doc formats MS Office just sucks. The article is disengenuous at best. MS Office has nothing (useful) that OpenOffice doesn't have, and lots of things that it's missing.

  • by FaxeTheCat (1394763) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @04:21AM (#42010673)

    Telling me they were going to audit me under their Software Asset Management scheme.

    Unless you own the company, they are not auditing YOU. They are auditing THE COMPANY.
    This means that you should not respond to the request. Give it to the management. Because being audited can cause financial liabilities, this should go through the legal counsel of the company.

    Auditing is not for the tech guy. I know this from experience. Bring in the legal people first. With a little luck, you will not see much of the whole process.

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