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StarOffice 8 May Be MS Office Killer 335

UltimaGuy wrote to mention an eWeek article that seemed topical, given the recent discussions about the OpenDocument format. They're running a piece discussing StarOffice 8's killer position as an alternative to Office. From the article: "However, whether StarOffice 8 can succeed as a wholesale or partial replacement for Microsoft Office will depend on the organization thinking about making the switch. Several improvements in StarOffice 8 are aimed directly at improving compatibility with Microsoft Office-formatted documents, but converting complex documents between the two suites' formats will in some cases require tweaking to preserve document appearance. In addition, while StarOffice 8 can be extended through macros and scripting, much like Microsoft Office can, these extensions won't migrate to Microsoft Office without being rewritten. However, StarOffice ships with a Macro Migration wizard that will aid in the migration of Microsoft Visual Basic macros to the StarOffice Basic macro language. There's also a Document Analysis wizard that helps determine where trouble spots might lie in the transition to a StarOffice format."
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StarOffice 8 May Be MS Office Killer

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  • Yep.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Turn-X Alphonse ( 789240 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:31AM (#13683439) Journal
    Same headline as usual I see. Everything "may" kill the leading product, but the chances of it happening are slim to none. The reason they're the leading product is the average person trusts them, the average person has no idea what star office is and won't care. If they're lucky they'll get 10% market share, if they arn't they'll llive for a few years and then die hopelessly.
    • Re:Yep.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by exoromeo ( 864886 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:35AM (#13683454)
      Agreed. Same thing with the IPod, Itunes, Windows, and so on. It may make a dent in their sales (a small one that MS may not even really notice), but as for killing it, I don't think it'll happen. MS Office has too big of a head start and too large of a market share. So, unless MS itself does something colossally stupid, Star Office killing MS Office won't happen.
      • Re:Yep.. (Score:4, Insightful)

        by walt-sjc ( 145127 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:38AM (#13684434)
        That colossally stupid thing *may* be their refusal to support OpenDoc. It is very possible that government agencies start mandating open standards (like Mass. announced recently.)

        Once more and more government requires opendoc, business will need to support it, and if business needs to use SO / OO, then more migration will happen, snowballing.

        Only time will tell, but if MS's sales really start to suffer, then they will have no choice but to support OpenDoc.
    • Re:Yep.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by The_Spud ( 632894 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:40AM (#13683486)
      In addition the 'killer' product not only has to be as good as what it is replacing it has to be way better to justify relearning how to do basic tasks. While moving between star, open or microsoft office is trivial for technical people, the average user has major problems with the gui being slighting different and commands being in different menus.

      The other big problem is that many companies have invested a huge amount of money in VB Script automation. The cost of the license for something like MS office is trivial compared to the amount spent on custom development . Unless the open source offerings can provide some sort of compatibility layer for macros and such like corporate migration is really unlikely.

      So while having good open source alternatives to MS office is a good thing there is slim to no chance of them ever replacing Microsoft word as the defacto word processor.
      • Re:Yep.. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tdemark ( 512406 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:46AM (#13683518) Homepage
        While moving between star, open or microsoft office is trivial for technical people, the average user has major problems with the gui being slighting different and commands being in different menus.

        Ummm... you've seen these [], right?
        • Re:Yep.. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jocknerd ( 29758 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:52AM (#13683559)
          Then you better switch to now. Because Microsoft Office 12 will have massive GUI changes to it. So based on your argument, your users will be better off with OpenOffice since it will be closer to the current versions of Microsoft Office in gui style and location of buttons and icons.
        • Re:Yep.. (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by johansalk ( 818687 )
          What a Mac OS X rip-off. Which reminds me, I wish open source developers would stop copying the microsoft look-and-feel in the hope that users will find it familiar, since it seems microsoft responds to this by *gasp* making a new interface! I wish OSS developers would just innovate and drop the needless burden of the Microsoft legacy.
          • The problem is that in order to do good innovation you need a research department. While there might be other ways to run such a department, the following set of rules usually work:

            1. it needs to be a full time job for a number of people (because they need to devote a large chunk of their energy to this)
            2. they need to work together in a geographical sense: while this may not be a requirement, this has always worked. Note that I don't think anybody has ever tried a physically distributed pure research tea
          • Re:Yep.. (Score:3, Interesting)

            by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) *
            I wish open source developers would stop copying the microsoft look-and-feel in the hope that users will find it familiar, since it seems microsoft responds to this by *gasp* making a new interface!

            You missed the whole "Integrated Desktop" era of StarOffice, didn't you? It looked like this. [] The first job of the OOo team was to break the applications out of that interface. With each consecutive version, OOo/StarOffice has gotten closer to the MS Office interface. In the OOo 2.0 version, they've even gotten r
        • I think Microsoft would have thought about this and put a "Switch to classic view" option. Every 4 of 5 people I have seen is using Windows XP in classic theme, classic start menu and classic everything.
      • "the average user has major problems with the gui being slighting different and commands being in different menus."

        Like the interface changes from Office 6.0 to Office 2000 to Office 2003 to Office Vista etc?

        yep, the average user has problems adapting to that. But they eventually get used to it.
    • Re:Yep.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bob3141592 ( 225638 )
      Same headline as usual I see. Everything "may" kill the leading product, but the chances of it happening are slim to none. The reason they're the leading product is the average person trusts them, the average person has no idea what star office is and won't care. If they're lucky they'll get 10% market share, if they arn't they'll llive for a few years and then die hopelessly.

      Yup. The dominance of MS Office isn't because of its technical superiority -- not by a long shot. Therefore a technically superior p
    • Which brings us to why products like Firefox and SO/OOo aren't getting widespread adoption outside of tech circles -- there is zero mass media marketing. Google may be the only tech company that can get mind-share from viral marketing, the rest are just not going to make it into Joe Average ComputerUser's head. This is primarily (aside from bullying tactics employed on PC makers) why Windows became so popular originally in the 90's when superior alternatives existed -- while the product was average at bes
    • ... that a major reason MS Office is so entrenched is that the Word document format is still proprietary and doesn't port well.

      At one organization where I was sysadmin the powers-that-were were perfectly open to the idea of moving to Linux on the desktop. They had exactly one firm requirement: complete ability to read and write Word documents. After a lot of experimenting with OpenOffice, KOffice and Abiword, I wasn't able to give them an assurance on that ability. Yeah, I know, it can be done theore

    • Re:Yep.. (Score:2, Redundant)

      by shokk ( 187512 )
      Yep. Unfortunately I haven't seen any pigs learn to fly, so I have my doubts in this too. Sure it may take away some market share. Maybe enough to make them comfortable and feel like one of the big boys. But I see them gone in a few years. The fact is that they will always lag behind in a copy-cat mode of trying to keep up with Microsoft's latest features. I've said this before and will say it again:

      The day that everyone finds some fantastic new feature that an open source app has, that does not exist
    • Re:Yep.. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sootman ( 158191 )
      An excerpt from my journal [] that I wrote in January, because I was tired of re-creating that post every time this came up...

      Remeber in the old days the saying was "No one ever got fired for buying IBM"? Now it's the same with MS. We all know business reality is ugly and non-idea but the sooner you accept that business reality is reality, as far as businesses are concerned, the better off you'll be. Imagine these two conversations:

      Boss: "Why can't Joe read the document I sent him?"
      You: "Because he has a

    • by klubar ( 591384 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:34AM (#13685168) Homepage
      For home/student use the Office Suite is quite cheap (I've seen Office 2003 for around $100 at Staples for a three-home user license). Microsoft is competing with stealing by pricing Office very low. Even for SMB and Enterprise users, sticking office isn't that much--on the purchase of a new machine Office Small Business (Word, Excel, PPT, Publisher and Outlook) costs about $190; I suspect enterprise customers are paying less than $100. At that price it's not worth looking at alternatives that are "nearly as good".

      Other than not supporting Microsoft, what's the benefit to the alternatives.
  • by Roofus ( 15591 )
    But in my experience, %99.9 of things labeled a Foo Killer never even come close to killing foo. iPod clones / competition are a prime example. Every two weeks we get an article about an iPod killer, and then we never hear about it again.

  • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
    Microsoft intentionally breaks things from release to release so that different versions of Word and Excel are incompatable and exibit the same problems that you see on star ofice and open office.

    If they have the magic-bullet that can detect all the different versions and convert them to a decent representation of the document they may have something.

    Hell, simply marketing a Microsoft office document converter will make a company very rich.
    • Please offer some proof to backup this claim. All versions of office can open documents saved by a previous version as far as I know. I'm willing to change my mind if you can give some good solid proff though. An example of proof would be a document saved under word 97 that can't be opened correctly under a newer version of Word.
      • All versions of office can open documents saved by a previous version as far as I know.

        Access 2002 will not directly open Access 97 databases. It converts them to a format Access 97 cannot read. Many VBA functions, including .ini files break between Office 97 and 2000. If you want to share databases, you have to upgrade. Access 2003 tries to block "unsafe expressions" in earlier version databases, but does not explain what these "expressions" are.
    • I heard Staroffice is more capable of opening old microsoft office formats than the new MS Office. Is that true?
    • >> Microsoft intentionally breaks things from release to release..

      Well, of course. That's great marketing strategy.

      It is also Microsoft setting the rules for the game the open source challengers are playing. Their determining the design specs for StarOffice/OpenOffice. As long as MS can do that, open source will be a distant also-ran.
    • At my last job, I was the lone OSS user in a sea of technophobics. Kind of odd for an Internet based distance learning company, but we won't go there now.

      The owner had a hard line that Microsoft was on top because they were the best, and anyone who said different was just plain stupid. "If it was worth anything, it would cost money" was a phrase I heard on the few occasions when I brought up OSS.

      OSS started to cheap in when several members of the sales staff found their IE installs no longer functioned.
    • Silly claim (Score:2, Interesting)

      by notaprguy ( 906128 )
      Love 'em or hate 'em but Microsoft has better backward compatibility that almost any software company...sometimes to their detriment. They get beat up all the time on /. and elsewhere for not making great leaps forward because of their concerns with backward compatibility. It's not like their complete idiots. If they wanted to they could throw Office and Windows legacy code out and start fresh. But if they did it would piss their customers off. Show me your proof that MSFT intentionally adds incompatibilit
  • No way man! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Average_Joe_Sixpack ( 534373 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:32AM (#13683445)
    MS XML will keep MS Office on top for years to come!
  • In the end (Score:5, Informative)

    by Kawahee ( 901497 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:33AM (#13683449) Homepage Journal
    In the end, it's not going to matter how open ended and interoperable StarOffice or it's file format is, it's going to come down to what's more convenient at the present time. For companies, this means swap everything over to StarOffice, (possibly) retrain their staff, as opposed to waiting out for Office 12, upgrading to it and having everything work the same.

    However Microsoft has already alluded that users of Office 12 may need to be retrained anyway, so SO8 and O12 may be on a fair playing field, and actually come down to quality of software, something Microsoft has been paying a lot more attention to recently.
    • What about ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lord_rob the only on ( 859100 ) <shiva3003&gmail,com> on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:41AM (#13683491)

      Companies will keep their installed versions of Office and won't even care of upgrading to Office 12 ?

      • Yes. I recently had a position at a Fortune 500 company that was still standardized on Office 97. The cost of the site license and the resources necessary to upgrade were deemed too expensive.

        Granted, their IT policies also amounted to "Let the users do whatever they want whenever they want, and never try to correct them or you're fired." IOW, they were colossally dumb where IT was concerned.
      • Not only that but retraining for Office 12 will likely be minimal compared to retraining for an entirely new product. If the users were already trained for Office the amount of training required to move to Office X++ isn't going to be that much.

        But, if you are moving to an entirely new software suite then it's going to be a whole new ball game. Especially with interoperability issues.
      • except they can come unglued when new machines are purchased with Word12 bundled on them... we're currently having this problem with inter Word compatibility cos our new machines come with Word 2003 and some of our old machines are having problems reading documents that have been through those word2003 machines, even though, we've saved them in word97 format...

        we're now actually contemplating switching everyone to OpenOffice 2 rather than upgrading everybody to Office 2003... we want to take the hit once, r

        • I call nonsense...
          we've saved them in word97 format
          There's no option to save in "word 97" format unless you save in rtf. The .doc file format has changed since 97, but it's backwards and forwards compatible.

          In other words, I think you're stretching the truth.
        • Any larger company won't have this problem, as they have site licenses and will replace whatever was shipped with new machines with their standardised HD images anyway.

          What grandparent suggests, however, works only as long as those old versions are provided support, because no large company will run anything important without valid support contracts. This will eventually mean forced upgrades.
    • SO8 may have nice features, but I wouldn't expect sudden phasing out of MS Office. It might be a slow decrease in number of Office users - but it won't be radical - I would guess it will look similar as for the browser market - slow decrease of IE (despite other browsers respect standards, have many plugins, etc) and slow increase of FF and alternative browsers...
    • by OSXCPA ( 805476 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:51AM (#13683551) Journal
      I've used every version of word since 5.0, WordPerfect 5.x and 6.x and now OpenOffice, plus others.

      It shouldn't take more than 15 minutes of looking at the menus - which are almost identical for most end-user functionality anyway - to grok OpenOffice.

      Inertia keeps MS Office in place - the vast majority of the functionality of Word, for example, is either unused or not-understood anyway. I am asked *weekly* how to insert tables, align text, etc., by people who have never used anything else but Word for their entire professional careers. Say 'mail merge' and you get blank stares from most users, IME.

      Yah, it has fine functionality - my only substantive gripes with Word are the price and the opacity of the .doc file format. I use OO at home, but I don't expect my Corporate Overlords to bother switching. Ever. They would have to think too much about something they regard as beneath their notice - that, and the admin staff would likely scream bloody murder. They'll allow a retraining on 'new features' of Word, but if you try to explain that 'gee, this would be a perfect time to try a new/better/free/different/similar alternative to Word, since the file formats a re new...' you'll get absolutely nowhere - they 'know' word, and that is powerful motive for maintaining the status quo
      • You need to add the price of Outlook to the price of StarOffice to make the comparison. The vast majority of small offices buy the MS stack for two reasons:

        1) Support is cheap: you can find a monkey-me to fix (find the right patch) by throwing a brick.

        2) The stack includes Exchange/office: Many Word-Processors & Spreadsheets, etc..., that are roughly the same for most purposes. But MS lookOut includes decent scheduling built in & that they are used to using.

        You can throw VB scripted crap in, but t
    • For companies, this means swap everything over to StarOffice, (possibly) retrain their staff

      I have never understood this retraining issue. I have swapped offices over from MS Office to Open Office with very little re-training. There may be some exceptions (such as Mail Merge) but most users are now power users, and don't use complex features. They can recognise simple formatting controls and they can open, save and print documents.
    • Personal Users (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iamlucky13 ( 795185 )
      Don't forget about Joe Sixpack who bought the $400 Dell on sale for school, then realized that it only comes with Works suite, which has Word, Outlook Express, and Works. He gets to school and finds himself needing to make presentations and use real spreadsheets (not Works crap), but he was planning on spending the remaining $300 that tuition left to his name on books, not Office Small Business Edition. I see potential for Star or OpenOffice to appeal to him. Of course, it would have to be able to share wit
  • by NineNine ( 235196 )
    Anybody can build a word processor. Take a 1st year college kid's programming project. Add features. Add features. Repeat. Spreadsheet, same thing. The question is, does Star Office contain a perfect replacement for OUTLOOK? If it doesn't, there's no chance in hell it'll be used outside of the geek community. On top of that, is it 100% scriptable by office clerk types, like MS Office is?
    • Spreadsheet? Wrong! OK, I love OpenOffice 2.0 beta, but Calc is a hopelessly worthless piece of junk for anyone doing any serious analysis or report creation using spreadsheets. And yes, people, a SQL report looks like utter shit compared to a chart with bright colors for the executives your reports go out to in the end. "DataPilot" is not something some college kid can just sit down and code in a couple of evenings, and it shows from how useless and difficult to use it is in OpenOffice compared to Excel's
      • I highly agree, I use OO for text documents but when I need a spreadsheet, I go to excel. I hate to say it but it is the best spreadsheet program out there. I'd probably suffer through it if it weren't for the awful text entry, which is what I spend most of my time doing!

        While you can make some nice SQL reports with nice graphs and such, it's sometimes quicker to use excel rather than create a new DB, setup the tables, create the report or do whatever analysis you want to do.

        When I need a DB, I use a DB, bu
    • Eventually this may help, Evolution for Windows [] .
      • by jsight ( 8987 )
        Interestingly, the project that you mention is kind of dead at the moment. Novell is paying some guys to convert if for them, though.
        • I did put "Eventually" in italics, but perhaps should have used bold?

          Anyway, the SourceForge project page lists five active developers, so I wouldn't quite call it "dead" just yet.
      • I just started a new job where I am forced to run Windows. We use Groupwise for our email. I've got to say that Evolution's mail client runs circles around Groupwise. I sure hope Novell incorporates Evolution into Groupwise.
      • It seems weird that no one has ported it before now. Outlook is a piece of shit. Really. I have to use Outlook 2002 day in day out and the only thing going for it is that it's an email and calendar built into one. The mail portion is on par with Netscape Communicator 4.x (actually worse since NS didn't lock up randomly while syncing to the server), the calendar is a simple PIM.

        The only reason it even exists as far as I can make out is because once a company gets MS Exchange, it's about the only client tha

    • Mod parent overrated. This is naive, at best.

      Outlook is fantastic for an organization that uses Exchange. Many MANY others use Outlook Express, which is already present in Windows. They also have Thunderbird, The Bat!, a million other email programs, webmail, and soon, Evolution. The only reason you believe an email program SHOULD BE bundled with productivity apps (which it rarely is, case in point, Apple and iWork/ is because MSOffice has always bundled these mostly unrelated functions togethe
  • Kill the I/O (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tarqwak ( 599548 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:39AM (#13683482)
    As long as StarOffice/ startup time is I/O (HDD speed) bound it wont kill anything.
  • by OctoberSky ( 888619 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:46AM (#13683520)
    I like competition, in fact I like it alot (go Yankess!). Anyway, no single program is going to kill MS Office. Or any MS product as widely used as Office. Maybe a second version, maybe a third but it is going to take time.
    There are just too many people using it (MS Office) right now, and as we all know people can't handle change. This might be the start of the downfall of MS Office but it is in no way the killer.
    First they need to get popular. Then that popularity needs to spread among Information Services people. Businesses need to show an appreciation for the product and want to share that appreciation. They will tell others businesses and that will spread the word.
    But programs like this need to learn how to walk before they can run with the big dog.
    • I like competition, in fact I like it alot (go Yankess!). Anyway, no single program is going to kill [Word Perfect 5.1]. Or any...product as widely used as [Word Perfect]. Maybe a second version, maybe a third but it is going to take time.

      There are just too many people using it ([Word Perfect]) right now, and as we all know people can't handle change. This might be the start of the downfall of [WP Suite] but it is in no way the killer.

      First they need to get popular. Then that popularity needs to spread amon
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's hardly going to be a 'killer' when even MS Office starts up faster under WINE (no preloading). Open/StarOffice is a colossal mess of old code inherited from StarDivision -- it's immensely slow, bloated, memory-hungry and inelegant.

    Oh sure, no doubt 500 geeks with 3 GHz machines will reply "It's fast on my box" but so what? There are TENS OF MILLIONS of circa-1 GHz 128 MB PCs in businesses and homes around the world, and for them, OOo is so much slower than MS Office it's almost unusable. Kudos to the O
  • Business Opportunity (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Threni ( 635302 )
    Isn't there space in the market for a company or app which converts from MS to StarOffice? And/or what are the licensing implications for a large, multi-site company to purchase one single copy of MS office and have their IT department use it to convert incoming MS files into StarOffice format?
  • Replacing MS Windows or Office or Outlook or what have you with a better product _might_ happen one day. But I think that just as people will continue to have heart attacks, to pay too much at the pump or be confronted with social ferment and civil unrest because of their stupid governments, people will make do with 'good enough' software that 'gets the job done most of the time'.

    The reason being that most people relate best to what they understand and how they think. And that is in most cases: average. So
  • by therealking ( 223121 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:54AM (#13683566) Homepage
    Come on, they've been calling it an MS Office killer since it's release. It's not going to kill MS Office, especially when it's ability to read office doucments.

    You guys need to understand, "open standards" mean squat to the users, they are only important to the techie types. Most people are NOT looking for an alternative to MS Office and aren't not going to be swayed with out something really amazing

  • by ( 910009 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @08:54AM (#13683570) Homepage
    StarOffice I don't think will kill MS Office. However, 2.0 if the marketting is done right could be what Firefox 1.0 was. It could bring a good amount of MS Office users over. OOo 1.x didn't do it because it was missing too much stuff. The interface was very different than MSOffice, many features didn't exist, and file compatibility was poor. All this has been corrected, and with a good amount of marketting and press coverage it could be huge.
    • by aristotle-dude ( 626586 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:15AM (#13683688)
      Explain to us how a free version with less features and interoperability will be a killer for Office while Star Office will not? The 70 dollar price tag? Uh pal, MSFT came into the position they are in now because of penetration into the corporate sector. Once it was entrenched there, people wanted to be compatible with the office so they bought it for the home. Star Office offers brand recognition and is backed directly by Sun Microsystems. From the perspective of an IT purchaser, they will look at Star Office before they would look at Open Office. These guys don't want to mess around with downloading an installer for beta/alpha versions of Open Office but rather want a stable release with extra features like spell checking, dictionaries, clip art libraries and pre-configured database interfaces.

      A price tag of 70 bucks is nothing. How much time does it cost you to setup Open Office properly and how much time is spent updating beta releases? Price that out at a typical IT workers pay rate and figure out which one is cheaper. *Hint* ?It's the Star Office version.

  • All three of the properties in the subject need to be covered but you will see a weakening of Office's grasp.

    Compatibility isn't 100% (probably never will be, it's a moving target). A company with the resources can migrate and test it's current documents to see if savings can be made.

    In terms of features it is lagging a bit, there needs to be some killer features integrated. Being able to interogate databases, embedding SQL reports or statements into documents to bring back data or information etc..

    Price is
  • by ggvaidya ( 747058 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:04AM (#13683621) Homepage Journal
    So: FreeBSD is going to kill Linux, Linux is going to kill Sun, Sun is going to kill Microsoft, Microsoft is going to f-ing kill Google, and Google is going to ... kill evil?

    My, America *is* a violent place these days, isn't it? :P
  • by sethadam1 ( 530629 ) * <adam.firsttube@com> on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:06AM (#13683633) Homepage
    I am going to tell you something: MS Office WILL fall. So will Windows. History tells us it will happen. The only questions are when and how.

    It's a safe bet that "when" is not anytime in the near future, so "several" to "many" years soonest. So is StarOffice 8 an MSOffice killer? No. And Sun knows that. So on to the "how."

    What they hope to do is get into just a few businesses. for the home, StarOffice at work. They will get better at compatibility. They will get the name out there. Empires don't topple in a millisecond. It takes chinks in the armor. Google is a chink. Firefox is a chink. AIM is a chink. Linux is a chink. And StarOffice wants to be one too. None of them was a threat 5 years ago. Now they are all forces to be reckoned with. Anyone trivializing the role of StarOffice needs only think back a few years ago and remember what these other things were then.

    - Mozilla mostly sucked; there was no Firefox.
    - Google was the best search engine, but was definitely not the main one: Yahoo, Hotbot, and Alta Vista ruled.
    - AIM - actually, all of IM - was barely used. Only ICQ was really established.
    - Linux was still 2.2 and was pretty much unusable by non-techies.

    StarOffice 8 may not be the nail in the coffin, but it IS significant. It's the first useable drop in replacement with commercial backing. And in a few years, we'll see where it's at. If that's not news, I don't know what is.
  • *Everything* has to be discussed in terms of whether it will, or won't, kill, maim, cripple, weaken, tumble, block, spoil, ravage, or skin the knee of Microsoft? Can't we just once discuss a software title all by itself? Does the entire universe revolve around Redmond?

    Here, like this: "I've used OpenOffice applications infrequently, and while I wouldn't describe them as perfect, they show some promise of being a solid software title in the near future.", or "I love my OpenOffice suite! The features are ju

  • This story deserves to be modded +5 Funny.

    (Seriously, we should be able to mod the stories.)
  • There's a single reason we wouldn't migrate to StarOffice. Because when we save the document in "OpenDocument" format, there's no guarantee that the person that needs to recieve that document (outside the company) will be able to read it.

    And that folks, is the crux of the problem. If we can't have compatibility outside the company, it's much harder for us to make use of the product. Fortunately, OpenOffice is free and we can always send a link with our document. "If you cannot open this file, please downloa
  • by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:22AM (#13683726) Journal
    The bottom line is: Star Office can never beat MS Office, because it emulates MS Office. To send MSWord and PowerPoint to their well-deserved place on the ash heap of history, will take a replacement that shoots higher. It's not good enough to match the MS Office feature set and be cheaper. The cost of the software is trivial, compared to the lock-in that comes from familiarity alone.

    For an Open-source office replacement to kill MS, the word processor has to be better than Pages and InDesign combined. The presentation program has to be better than Keynote. The spreadsheet has to be better than Lotus Improv. Not better by a little bit, either: they have to completely blow MS's products away. They have to make the deficiencies of MS's products glaringly obvious to anyone who spends a couple of minutes comparing them.

    Until the Star Office guys aim that high, they won't make a dent in the monopoly.

    • i mostly agree with you, but besides obvious (lack of resources) there is one other reason that seriously slows down progress. and ms knows that.

      the fact that msoffice file formats change and are closed, thus making a moving target isn't the worst part.

      much worse is the fact that aiming at compatibility with msoffice in regards to file formats in some cases that leads to mirroring of features, even downgrading in some cases.

      for example, =-and-less-than-1.1.x has a very powerful fontwork functionality
    • But as soon as people start designing replacements that aren't 100% emulations of MS products, other people turn around and say, "Open source will never replace Microsoft because people don't want to spend three minutes learning how to do things in a new and better way"...
  • The Basic script language that StarOffice uses is poorly documented. At a minimum I need a method to crawl through the document object model. In Star I could not find a decent opbect model reference much less examples of how to access portions of the document. Even worse, I could not see how one could develop custom add-ins using Toolbars and Buttonbars. And as another tiny annoyance, how do I support custom metadata? The OpenDocument format is less than clear and I don't see BuiltInDocumentProperties or Cu
  • Most PHBs are never going to go for switching to StarOffice. There is a definite advantage from the business perspective of a single-source vendor for office software. For one thing, interoperability between different software functions at a company. For another, better forecasting of costs.

    Sure, StarOffice may be cheaper in the long run... but I don't know how much it will cost me to change over. I know that I'll be under or at budget with MSOffice. The risk of going over budget (for many in manag
  • by mrjatsun ( 543322 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:26AM (#13683747)
    Certainly not going to kill MS Office. But hopefully it will chip away a little. If it keeps the MS Office market from growing, and even makes it shrink a little, I think that's a big success in itself. MS is having a hard time finding places to grow their company (why there's going to be so many versions of Vista :-) ). Hell, If it keeps some folks from upgrading to the next version of office, that's a big plus in my book.

    I think the biggest mistake os StarOffice/OpenOffice is not supporting Mac OS X out of the box. A package that is supported on Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris (I work for Sun :-) ) is what is really needed to be successful in the long run. PDF would have never had made it if it didn't do that...

  • Are there some publicly available complex Office documents that could be used to test compatibility? I hear a lot of complaints about how StarOffice-saved files look different in MSOffice, but I've never seen that happen myself. Could someone please post an example? That way office suite programmers could use it as a test case to debug their layout engines.
  • by Jeff Hornby ( 211519 ) <jthornby@sympati[ ]ca ['co.' in gap]> on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:35AM (#13683805) Homepage
    You know this reminds me of a cartoon one of my philosophy profs showed me in university:

    There's a church with some grafitti on it reading:

    God is Dead

    and a gravestone reading:

    Nietzsche is dead

    Oddly, I'm not sure I believe StarOffice is going to kill MS-Office any time soon.
  • SharePoint (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WED Fan ( 911325 )
    Honestly, if StarOffice, or OpenOffice for that matter, does not seemlessly integrate with SharePoint, I'm not seeing a major switch for any organization that is using SharePoint. The combo of SharePoint, and the soon to be released v3 with Office 12, forms a massive killer app that corporations would be crazy to move away from. MS stays a step ahead of the competition by upping the ante on what is considered useful in the organization. Now, someone create a MySQL based portal, using Mono, support ShareP
  • by reallocate ( 142797 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @09:40AM (#13683844)
    StarOffice and OpenOffice or AnyotherKindofOfficeClone won't replace Office so long as their major selling point is compatibility with Office. If someone is looking for their first bundle of office applications, then StarOffice has a chance. But, why would existing, satisfied, MSOfifice users spend cash to replace Office with something whose claim to fame is that it is (almost) compatible with Office? Why endure the hassle of running macros and conversion programs to convince StarOffice to digest your MSOffice documents when you already have MSOffice to do that job quite nicely, without the conversions and the macros.

    Anything that has a chance to replace MSOffice needs to deliver capabilities that are an order of magnitude better, and it needs to inundate the marketplace with shiny shrinkwrapped boxes.
  • by dpbsmith ( 263124 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:05AM (#13684088) Homepage
    Hmmph. Reminds me of what a wise Editorial Services manager once said. She was told that a certain conversion process was "99% reliable." She said "It is useless to me unless it is 100% reliable, because unless it is 100% reliable we will need to proofread it again, and proofreading accounts for more than two-thirds the work we do in preparing a document."

    It doesn't matter if most of the simpler conversions do work, because it takes just as much time to inspect a conversion that works as it takes to inspect one that didn't.

    And the better the conversions, the worst the problem--because you'll tend to let your guard down, and the errors that do occur will be infrequent and subtle, but just as serious.

    This was a department that prepared NIH grant applications and papers for submission to scientific journals. The NIH grant applications were limited to IIRC twenty pages and had to be submitted on preprinted forms with boxes print on them for the text of the application. It was not rare for scientists to use every square millimeter of available space. If a conversion changed a line break and resulted in a line spilling over to a 21st page, it was a disaster.

    And, guess what: equations need to translate.

    They found that out the hard way: when they submitted a grant application in which the text had been munged by some "transparent" conversion... that had changed all of the alphas and betas to A's and B's.

    Now, you'll say, "but this same problem exists when you transition from one version of Microsoft Word to another." And, yes, you'd be right.
  • No, it's not. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:07AM (#13684118)
    MS Office has evolved well beyond a simple suite of Word Processor, Spreadsheet and Presentation software.

    I'm no fan of MS but I can recognize that the office package is much more than just the programs. The major program used by most businesses is Outlook in combination with MS Windows Server 2k3 as a domain controller. People use outlook and exchange because they work with other things, like the Blackberry server software (which, if you can believe it, is even more unstable than exchange.)

    I love open source and use it whenever possible. The problem with MS stuff is that everyone uses it, it's compatible with software from other vendors, and there are a lot of programs built on top of it. If you don't have full Outlook compatability (including calendars, address book, etc. because all these things are stored on the exchange server) then nobody will seriously use your software, point blank. The open source alternatives do not (no, they don't, I have several people at my office who try to use them and they don't work right; calendars get out of sync, address books get wiped, etc.)

    You're not going to beat MS at their own game. Their marketroids are very good at convincing CTOs they need the latest and greatest MS product, and if you use them as the products are supposed to be used, they work well enough. SharePoint is already the most popular corporate intranet platform, and it's integrated with Office as well. Office is a client/server package, and if you want to replace MS Office, you have to be compatible with the server.
  • by amcdiarmid ( 856796 ) <amcdiarm AT gmail DOT com> on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:29AM (#13684347) Journal
    I can't beleive that no one has pointed to it yet: []

    This is not my Sig.: Give me $.02 anyway, I want it.
  • by neo ( 4625 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @10:53AM (#13684623)
    Office is already dead, it just doesn't know it yet. When I can edit documents online from a web page and it looks and feels like an application then you know no one is going to buy MS Office ever again. The real question is who is going to build the AJAX suite and what pricing model will they use.

    We've all known for years that "Applications Are Not Possessions". You can't own "Word". You can have a CD with a copy of Word on it, but you can't own it. You can put that CD in a nice shiney box and fool people into thinking they can own data... but they can't. No one can own data.

    For year's MS has fooled people into thinking they were buying products when they were actually buying data. Software building is and will always be a service. Let me repeat that for those who don't get it. You can't own data, making data is a service. There's even a word for making a service look like a possession, it's called "Productizing." MS got rich by taking something that was infinately reproducable and selling it like a commodity. Great marketing.

    AJAX will kill that. When people realize they can pay $15 a year for the service of word processing online, Word dies and the people who make $15 a year on a million customers win. Send me the royalty checks.

  • by UtSupra ( 16971 ) <alfredo&octavio,net> on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:04AM (#13684750) Homepage Journal
    The fact that SatrOffice does not run for the Mac shows the weakness of the product. Mac zealots are easy picking for an Office competitor. That's why Microsoft makes a version of Office for the Mac, they know that's a possible leakage point. Sun seem to be clueless about this. Nobody seem to realize the combination of two things. How many things really take hold when they are release for Mac (USB ports, Mp3 players, Music downloads (legal ones), etc) and how much companies like Microsoft realizes this... If the competitors don't see it, Microsoft can (and does!) get away with a half-baked effort.
  • by simetra ( 155655 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @11:19AM (#13684932) Homepage Journal
    Even if... StarOffice or OpenOffice offered a superior, free product, the suits will not care, because they see Microsoft Office as a defacto standard. Anything else is chintzy, cheap, shoddy crap that only used-car salesmen and pedofiles would use. Really.

    Here's a dramatization to illustrate the status symbol aspect of office suites:

    Two suits are sitting across from eachother on an airplane. They both have AISLE seats damn it! Aisle! (Note: when asked for a seating preference, all respectuable suits quickly and forcibly answer Aisle!)

    Suit1: Here's the floppy with our annual sales report on it.

    Suit2: Thanks.

    Suit1: You should be able to read it fine, it's a Word Document.

    Suit2: Oh, no problem, I've got OpenOffice.

    Suit1: What?

    Suit2: OpenOffice, it's a free office suite, compatible with Microsoft Office; Word, Excel, etc.

    Suit1: Uh, okay, whatever.

    Suit1, thinking to himself: What a frikkin loser.

  • by WoTG ( 610710 ) on Friday September 30, 2005 @04:20PM (#13688287) Homepage Journal
    My best guess is that MS's monopoly over the Office suite market will end when China, India, South America and co. become important in the software market to lead large-scale changes.

    We all know that the functionality of OOo is good enough for the vast majority of users. Why don't most of us switch? Because of switching costs. The file format is critical because it's how we send documents to each other. And most of us need to send and receive files from vendors, customers, and peers without pissing each other off with obscure file formats that impede work flow. Plus, since everyone knows and uses MS, there's a familiarity benefit - we've all used it at school, at work, and we have friends who use it.

    In the places where computer penetration is much lower than "the West" the network benefits of using MS software are much, much weaker. I.e, since few people have MS Office installed, there is minimal file format advantage or familiarity advantage to using MS Office. Also, in those places, the relative cost of MS Software is much higher than the open source alternatives. Even if MS released a USD 50 Office + Windows combo in China, that would be the equivalent of at least a weeks labour for the average worker there. Plus, that would invite rampant grey market imports back to the West.

    IMHO, I think that it's inevitable that the rapidly developing nations will adopt OSS, especially OpenOffice. When that portion of the global computer market becomes large enough, we'll start to see mass migrations in the West as well.

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