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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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  • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:18PM (#42005163)
    Yeah, let's go straight to, "someone was bribed". Whatever you do, don't think about what they said in the article.
  • by jedidiah (1196) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:23PM (#42005239) Homepage

    It's proof of nothing.

    All we really have is mindless "fragmentation" rhetoric.

    > "does not even have a ribbon yet"

    That is only a good thing.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:43PM (#42005525) Journal

    Proof again that LibreOffice is no MS Office replacement.

    No, this is only proof of the strength of Microsoft's vendor lock-in.

    It has been stated over and over again that without exact formatting and file compatibility it will not be useful.

    Which it would have, if only Microsoft adhered to standards. Somehow open source software is able to accurately render HTML, PDFs, SVGs, but not DOCs? The only reason this would happen is if someone is playing fast and loose with the specs.

  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:45PM (#42005551) Journal

    What is it in a decent wordprocessor like Word that users of wordprocessors find useful, and that OOo doesn't handle?

    The #1 missing feature that Open/Libre office lacks compared to word is being word.

    Different is not acceptable. It must be identical including all misfeatures and bugs.

  • Shills? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:46PM (#42005561)

    Story is tagged "shills" and "msshills"? If you put the monetary cost aside, how can you still say with a straight face that OpenOffice is superior to MS Office?

  • by ifiwereasculptor (1870574) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:48PM (#42005581)

    Because they're stupid. They're using OpenOffice from 2007! Five years ago! Ditch your fancy Ubuntu 12.04 and run Debian Etch for a few weeks to understand the kind of frustration those dumb, dumb IT managers put their employees through.

  • Re:Shills? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:51PM (#42005617) Journal

    Like this. OpenOffice is superior to MS Office. See, my face didn't change at all.

  • by Spazmania (174582) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:55PM (#42005691) Homepage

    No. No. A thousand times, no. Basing your actions on what you *wish* other people would do is a losing strategy. You have to base your actions on what you reasonably project that other people in fact *will* do.

    Other people will use Microsoft Office, and most will continue doing so for the foreseeable future. Since they trade documents with each other all the time, they'll expect to do so successfully with you. Without the degradation that comes from import/export cycles. They expect to walk in with a power point on a CD, place the disc in your PC and display it on your projector. If you can't adequately support these things, you're the screwball who can't achieve a business norm.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DogDude (805747) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:58PM (#42005717) Homepage
    I doubt blame has anything to do with it. It cost them too much money/time to use OO. They're switching. It doesn't matter to them why OO costs more to use, just that it does.
  • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Friday November 16, 2012 @04:58PM (#42005719)

    Yeah, let's go straight to, "someone was bribed". Whatever you do, don't think about what they said in the article.

    What they DID say in the article is that Freiburg is using OOo 3.2.1, which is two-and-a-half years old. It also mentions that the city didn't consult any open source software experts. That may or may not add up to "someone was bribed", but it sounds at least a little bit fishy to me.

    The only way for the Freiburgs of the world to throw off the yoke of MS oppression is to support FOSS. And no level of government has any business conducting OUR affairs using propietary data formats that can be easily held hostage.

    I get seriously pissed off with LibreOffice, (and with Linux for that matter). But I stay the course because ultimately, freedom requires watchfulness and maintenance, and we'll never be truly free if we give up control and autonomy for the sake of ease and convenience. It's easy to be seduced by the latest bit of shiny, and that's a good part of the reason why our world is so fucked up.

  • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:04PM (#42005807)

    I'm using a 5 year old version of Office and not having problems.

  • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by davidbrit2 (775091) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:14PM (#42005989) Homepage

    What they DID say in the article is that Freiburg is using OOo 3.2.1, which is two-and-a-half years old.

    Like Office 2010?

  • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:27PM (#42006159)

    More likely, the Microsoft-indoctrinated employees don't want to learn a new interface, and have spent the last few years whining about it. This happened to even the M$ lock-ins when Office transitioned to the "ribbon" -- I was having to cover for desktop support during that time, and fielded at least twenty calls a day from people who wanted to roll back to the previous version.

    Never underestimate the power of concentrated whine.

  • by thesandtiger (819476) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:28PM (#42006173)

    Exactly so.

    I had to bail on OOo because it didn't interact perfectly with various documents created in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. 99% of the time it was fine, but that 1% of the time caused enough headache that I gave up on OOo and just used MS Office. OOo's non-identical nature wound up costing me about 4 hours of work time and teammates another 2-3 hours total of lost productivity in just one instance - that was a cost in lost time of much more than the license would cost.

    I can't even migrate my team to a variant of OOo because there are dozens of different teams, agencies, groups and other organizations we deal with regularly and again - 1% of the time weird shit happening unless we have MS Office isn't going to cut it.

    So, left with a choice of primarily using OOo (but keeping MS Office around just in case) or just using MS Office alone, it's a no brainer.

  • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bistromath007 (1253428) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:28PM (#42006175)
    "the yoke of MS oppression"

    I present People's Exhibit A showing why everyone thinks open-source zealots are completely nanners.

    The only time I've ever felt oppressed by things 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. Office in particular is probably MS's best product, and definitely the best of its kind. Anytime I've ever tried to use something that is not Word or Excel, which is frequently because I am poor, I have felt nearly imprisoned by the poor interface, missing functionality, and lack of anyone else to ask when I can't figure something out.

    It's good that FOSS exists, because competition is important, libre projects lower the barrier-to-entry for aspiring devs, and computers are important enough that gratis options should be available. However, demanding that others use an objectively inferior product on the ideological basis of opposing the industry standard's producer for the cardinal sin of being and acting like a business is much more like what I'd call "oppression." People don't use OpenOffice because it sucks. Leave them alone.
  • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:29PM (#42006183)
    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.
  • Re:Too late (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kiwimate (458274) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:42PM (#42006355) Journal

    I get seriously pissed off with LibreOffice, (and with Linux for that matter).

    So you're using these products not because they make you more productive but because of philosophical beliefs? Fine and dandy if you have the luxury of the time/expense to be able to do that. It doesn't work that way in business.

    The only way for the Freiburgs of the world to throw off the yoke of MS oppression...

    Plays well to the masses here on /., of course, but this kind of statement does come across as a little extreme to people who don't automatically see big corporations as evil and instead work on dollars and efficiency. (I know, you can come up with all kinds of examples as to why MS is more expensive. You should use those, rather than this inflammatory language.)

    And no level of government has any business conducting OUR affairs using propietary data formats that can be easily held hostage.

    Oh come on. Do you really think Microsoft is going to blackmail world governments, or leave them without any recourse? Not to mention the fact that there are entire cottage industries that have grown up around the concept of third party interaction with these data formats.

    If you want to be taken seriously, you need to act seriously. Don't throw around stupid accusations. (At the very least, you automatically start scaring the lawyers who will see any mention of bribery as libel. Got some evidence? That'd be different.) Don't throw around shrill political angst. And don't tell governments that they positively must use a product, and in the very next breath rail about how terrible it is. That weakens your argument quite a lot.

  • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich (1673220) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:54PM (#42006515) Journal

    They don't want control and autonomy. They want their computers to be easy and convenient to use, and they will follow the path of least resistance to that end. They are computer users with a specific job to do, and that seems to be the thing that FOSS developers in general are forgetting. It's a little like expecting airline passengers to make sure all the airworthiness directives on the airplane they are flying in are complied with.

    Maybe silent updates would have mitigated this problem.

  • Re:Too late (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:16PM (#42006797) Journal

    Oh please! Now how many times has it been said here "The first 90% is easy, its that last 10% that is hard"? Anyone who has worked in an office for any length of time knows there are about a dozen features that the employees use...problem is its a DIFFERENT dozen for each bunch of employees. some might be Excel jocks and thus need the VBA macros, some might be hooked on Access and thus need the DB support (and I'm sorry but Base is a crashy POS, it really needs some of the love that Writer has gotten) and I'm sure a lot of them are using headers and footers and tracking changes...which lets face it LO/OO just don't do that very well.

    Its all about using the right tool for the job, and like it or not for many businesses the right tool is MS Office. Does that mean LO is bad? Nope, in fact its part of my standard install on every HOME unit, because home users aren't using the funky features and thus only need the basics, which LO is great at.

    And let us not forget the Open Document Foundation has only had control...what?.. a couple of years now? Its gonna take a LOT of work to fix what Sun screwed up by keeping strict control. Hell anybody that thinks LO is ready i invite you to go download and inspect the code...its a mess, those guys have got their work cut out for them.

    So how about we give the Germans some slack, maybe LO/OO just isn't ready for their use case at this moment. I have no doubt in 4 or 5 years, once they have had a chance to make the code modular and clean up the cruft, that LO will be a dozen times better and may even have all the features that the SMBs want. But until then you can't expect someone to go with a tool that doesn't work because its "free". To use a /. car analogy that would be like you going in to buy a jack to fix a flat and someone goes "You don't need that, here is a free screwdriver!"...uhh..not really helping change the tire there, free or no.

  • Re:Cue the excuses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by crutchy (1949900) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:55PM (#42007259)
    its too bad the only excuse apparent from the summary is the "divergence of the development community", which seems like a piss poor excuse for switching from free software to paid.

    and TFA is even worse...

    using OpenOffice for word processing alone is not possible, the council said, adding that they estimated that only 80 percent of the word processing could be done using the open source suite. "With spreadsheets and presentations this percentage is significantly lower,"

    if they can't get word processing done in OpenOffice, perhaps they should check their keyboard connections or hire staff that aren't complete morons because they will likely also have difficulties with Microsoft Word

    i wonder if they have actually compared the number of developers working on either of LibreOffice or OpenOffice with Microsoft Office. i would think that either of the free office development teams would be comparable to Microsoft's, especially given the lack of financial or geographic restrictions for involvement in FOSS projects.

    i know that the real reasons have nothing to do with the software and everything to do with bribery, but surely there should be a trigger at some point for a higher level investigation of corruption

    excuses yes, but only on the part of the idiots in the city of Freiburg council

  • by Johnny Loves Linux (1147635) on Friday November 16, 2012 @06:57PM (#42007299)
    It's a policy issue. Here's the solution to the Gordian knot: The city sets the policy that all government documents received externally or written internally must be written using the ISO/IEC 26300:2006 standard format (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OpenDocument) or pdf format. That way the Microsoft people can use their Microsoft office, and everybody else who doesn't want to be forced to use Microsoft products can use OpenOffice/Libre Office/Google docs/whatever. After all, that's the point of open standards -- everybody can use their own software to implement the standard. See? One big happy family and no bitterness. Now after having solved their painful and expensive problem, when do I get my consultant fee of 50000 euros for solving their problem so quickly?
  • by marcosdumay (620877) <marcosdumay@@@gmail...com> on Friday November 16, 2012 @07:41PM (#42007919) Homepage Journal

    ...or something that's just plain better...

    They have. Libre Office has old style menus, that are plain better.

    Or do you have a link for that "why the ribbon is A Good Thing" article the GP asked about?

  • by egranlund (1827406) * on Friday November 16, 2012 @09:21PM (#42008879)

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

    And here I thought that your 's' key had broken and you were forced to use the dollar sign instead...

  • by testerus (526125) on Saturday November 17, 2012 @01:53AM (#42010211)
    Three German municipalities (Munich, Jena, Freiburg) and some Swiss authorities just put together €140,000 to fund improved OOXML support in openoffice/libreoffice.
    Improved OOXML support for LibreOffice and OpenOffice [h-online.com]
    Wouldn't it make sense to wait for the results before dropping openoffice?

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