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Software Microsoft

Does ODF Have a Future? 402

qedramania writes "Linuxworld seems to think ODF is a dead duck. Is the Windows monopoly too big and too entrenched? Other than diehard Linux fans, does anyone really care if they have to keep paying Microsoft to do basic word processing? It seems as though the momentum is towards a complete Microsoft monoculture in software for business and government. You can bet that big business and governments will want more than just reliability from Microsoft in return for their acquiescence. Does ODF have a future?"
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Does ODF Have a Future?

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  • Open Office will happily read/write/create MS Word files. That said, it seems that ODF is gaining popularity, not losing it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by edwdig ( 47888 )
      it seems that ODF is gaining popularity, not losing it.

      Can't lose what you don't have.
    • by Divebus ( 860563 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:32PM (#20060019)
      As CTO, I'm telling my staff that it's irresponsible to send MS Word .doc files. We're at least sending PDFs through email but haven't managed to break the MS Office habit yet. Still too many buzzword enamored people here but they're starting to understand.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HermMunster ( 972336 )
      He sounds like a dork. Completely and utterly uninformed (or misinformed). Of course there's a future for ODF. Never has there been any question.

      Our whole culture in America is based on free enterprise and a competitive market. Owning so much market share that that's virtually no competition is unhealthy for our economy and for the world.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tsa ( 15680 )
        What exactly are you trying to say? ODF will never get there in the 'free' market America has. MS has so much market share AND political influence there that ODF will never work in the USA. Luckily the world is bigger than America (in fact, it's a LOT bigger) and more and more gouvernments around the world are seeing the benefits of open standards. So there is hope for ODF. When the whole world is converted to ODF then maybe America will change too.
    • by rben ( 542324 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:54PM (#20061267) Homepage
      I'm a writer and I've been gradually convincing some of the other writers I interact with to try out Open Office. Most who try it never go back to Word.

      It's hard to sell a file format. What people buy into is the product that uses the file format. The best way to spread ODF is to continue to improve the products that use it, so people will choose them over the alternative.
  • by MeditationSensation ( 1121241 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:07PM (#20059603) Homepage
    I don't think it's a technical issue at all, it's just what people "know". Whenever I go on a job hunt people ask for my resume "in a Word .doc", as if that's the only possible format.
    • by faloi ( 738831 )
      Depending on where you're looking, it's not uncommon for HR people to use some software to search for certain buzz words in a resume. The lock on .doc files may be (have been) as much a limitation of their software than anything else.
    • Whenever I go on a job hunt people ask for my resume "in a Word .doc", as if that's the only possible format.

      That's simply laziness on their part. Laziness, and ignorance. They should be asking for your resume in a format able to be opened by Word.

      The only reason I see for MSWord as an absolute requirement anywhere are tasks to be automated either through the built-in VBA scripting language, or a COM interface to use MSWord from another program. And how many users actually ever do that?

    • True. But it's not only what people know, more importantly it is what people have access to. That HR guy could even embrace Open Office and ODF, but company policy says MS-Document standard, no Open Office for you, we need to be 100% compatible with our clients.

      Believe me, it's near impossible to convince managers that something that costs nothing can actually be better than something they shell out more dough than you make in a year. I tried my best to convince an ex-boss of mine to switch to OO. Made him
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:08PM (#20059615)
    What motivation do other countries have to send their tax dollars to Redmond so that they can write local laws?

    ODF is not going to take off in the US until AFTER the rest of the world has adopted it. So let's look at what other governments and such are adopting Linux / ODF.
    • by Trebinor ( 156202 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:11PM (#20059685)
      Kind of like the metric system.
      • If ODF became as popular as the metric system, I think it could be considered a success. Still, a lovely riposte.
        • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:40PM (#20060137) Homepage Journal
          About as many stories I hear of ODF being rebuffed in the US, I seem to hear of it being adopted overseas. Not 100% penetration, but still better than in the US.

          In that light, perhaps the metric system is the correct analogy.

          Maybe the limit has more to do with how many politicians Microsoft can buy. For many years they ignored politics, preferring to exert their force against "business partners." After the antitrust suits they began to learn about US politics, and with ODF they began to meddle in state politics. But there are subtle difference in politics in every political entity - do it wrong and you're even worse off. They've just put a lot of effort into China, obviously because it's a big emerging market. They'll likely put a lot of effort into India, too. But beyond that, it starts getting little - and local.
      • No, because ODF is actually an improvement rather than just a different arbitrary set of rules.
      • by hitmark ( 640295 )
        i just wonder what kind of snaffu will be the file format equivalent of entering metric as if its imperial and sending a multimillion sat into the wrong orbit...
    • Exactly. What most USA-based media forgets is the cost of legitimate ownership on a Microsoft stack is **way** out of reach of most businesses of your usual Western economies.

      All the more reason running unauthorized Windows installs have a happy future everywhere but probably the U.S.

      Unrelated comment:
      The more uncertainty and lack of information media outlets have the better when it comes to OO.org and Linux distros. Reliable "speeds and feeds" is what managerial types use to justify raping another market
      • It should be pretty easy to push for ODF at the local government level for non-US governments.

        If nothing else the tax savings will be worth it. You can run on the "I just saved our city 5 million local units of exchange every year for the next 20 years! That's 100 million local units of exchange I've save this city. Vote for me AGAIN!"

        And once the file format monopoly is cracked, look for Linux deployments to increase.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          That's a very nice idea, but examine the history of pushing ODF through in Massachusetts. Applying a little common sense to a situation that just so happened to directly threaten microsoft and cost the IT guy his job.

          Citizens are the **last** ones to benefit when we aren't involved in our government. Always.
  • In short. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by liquidpele ( 663430 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:08PM (#20059619) Journal
    It's like firefox. It's a great alternative that only computer literate people will every try, and that most businesses will ignore because it doesn't matter for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by quanticle ( 843097 )
      It's a great alternative that only computer literate people will every try, and that most businesses will ignore because it doesn't matter for them.

      And then the alternative will gain marketshare to the point that even mainstream consumers are trying it out, which will cause businesses to notice.

      Honestly, the analogy I'd think of is Imperial vs. Metric. The rest of the world isn't nearly as wedded to Microsoft as the US is. Therefore, we're likely to see uptake of ODF become significant elsewhere before it
    • by lixee ( 863589 )

      It's like firefox. It's a great alternative that only computer literate people will every try, and that most businesses will ignore because it doesn't matter for them.
      Nonsense. I installed Firefox on dozens of computers for family and friends who are far from computer literacy. They use it exclusively now and thanked me for introducing them to it.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jellomizer ( 103300 ) *
        It is one thing to get them to use a different web browser that works good with the threat of virusus and spyware otherwise... But it is an other if you want people to start changing their habbits just because you think it is morally right. As far as they are conserned I have Word at Home, I have Word at Work... My documents move easilly between them... Using Open Document Format means I will need to learn an other Word Processor for home, won't be supported at work... so why bother. Just use a Microsof
      • Can we agree on "that only computer literate people will try, or people who have a computer literate in reach who decides it for them"?
    • by masdog ( 794316 )
      There are other reasons why businesses ignore firefox - application compatibility. There are some things that only work well, or work at all, in Internet Explorer. Heck, there are some things that won't work in IE7 that work fine in IE6.

      I'm sure there are a lot of IT people in business that would like to move away from IE to Firefox, but it would just be too damn expensive to redevelop critical software to remove the IE-only components.
  • And vice versa. Who uses DB2 at home? Or Oracle? Or SQL Server? But I'll bet anybody using Open Office Base has as many ODB files lying around as a Microsoft Office Access user had MDB files lying around.

    The needs of the enterprise and the needs of the individual are different- might they not be better served by different formats?
    • Sorry to see you modded down as a troll. It's undeserved. You're absolutely right that goose != gander. If Google Docs can do a better job of rendering to page I can see that suite becoming dominant in homes. Of course MS Works (an oxymoron if I've ever seen one) will soon become a free, ad-based suite so the battle for free office suites should be hot and heavy!
  • by martin-k ( 99343 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:14PM (#20059735) Homepage
    If you accept OOXML as your organization's file format, you are limiting yourself to Windows. The specs contain many Windows-specific things (for example, EMF and VML) that it's very hard to implement on a non-Windows platform. Why would you as a purchaser want to do that, while you still have a choice in desktop operating systems?

    I prefer OpenDocument, and I am putting my money into it: OpenDocument export is finally finished for our TextMaker [softmaker.com] word processor and will be released in a few days.

    • Prime Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WED Fan ( 911325 ) <akahige.trashmail@net> on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:44PM (#20060201) Homepage Journal

      Folks, this is the heart of the matter. This is what needs to be understood by both sides of the argument:

      If you accept OOXML as your organization's file format...

      What the poster misses is that people don't ... D O N O T accept or reject a file format. They, with the small subset of geeks on /., don't give a flip about file format. They accept or reject a program.

      For ODF to be accepted, it has to be part of a program that most users have installed.

      Program acceptance is usually established by:

      • Home users: Use what they have at the office, or what came installed on the system
      • Businesses: Use what is considered the business standard for their vertical, especially if other businesses require a particular program (vicious cycle)
      • Perception of Support: He who has the biggest company must have the best support, or, so it is perceived. Also, many bosses and dicision makers have a problem with OSS because they perceive a lack of support structure "Gee, this CAD program is nice but its OSS. Doesn't that mean its 2 kids in their parent's basement?"
      • Perception of Longevity: He who has the biggest company will be around for a long time, or, so it is...(it took both Hyundai and Kia years to get established in the U.S. because no one knew if they'd be around)
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      EMF isn't hard to support on a non-Windows platform. Mac apps have been supporting EMF for years. There are many available libraries that allow conversion between Windows EMF/WMF and Mac PICT/Quartz2D available. Stop FUDing.

      And VML isn't tied to Windows. It's implementable on any platform. It's hardly used by anyone anyway (not that SVG (the result of merging VML and PGML) is used much either, for that matter).
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:16PM (#20061569) Journal
        To properly support WMF you need a complete implementation of the Windows GDI, since a WMF file is just a stream of GDI function calls. While it is possible to implement on other platforms (WINE have a fairly complete implementation of GDI now), it is trivial on Windows and much, much harder elsewhere. Most WMF converters only support the most commonly used GDI functions, to simplify matters, and often don't support all of the flow control the format allows.

        Imagine how loudly Microsoft would be complaining if someone proposed a 'standard' format that was a serialised stream of X11 commands.

  • ...but only if it's old.

    From the fine article:

    "The deadline is July 20, 2007"

    I'll get right on it then.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:18PM (#20059785) Journal
    Websites hardwired to support just IE, hacks and stuff that does not even consider that other browsers can exist. That was how the web was some three years ago. Even now FF does not have a majority marketshare. Even in techie websites it garners nearly half the market share, depending on how you measure it. In non techie websites, it scores below 20%. Still it made a big impact on the way the sites are created and maintained.

    The MS-Office monopoly has so far been nearly impossible to beat. But things can change quite rapidly. Terms like vendor-lock and interoperability will eventually penetrate the skulls of the thickest CIOs and CTOs.

    It would help if the supporters of Free Software and Open Software would stop fighting the internecine battles and start uniformly supporting Open Standards. Even before you mention the word Open Standards, immediately others pushing Free Software agenda and Open Source agenda push their pet projects, creating an impression it is all one and the same and one can not have Open Standards without also Open Source and Free Software. They are different.

    You might not agree that replacing MSFT monopoly with some kind of duopoly (like it is with Intuit-Quicken and MS-Money). But it is definitely better than the monopoly. Once the customers are educated about the vendor lock and compatibility the duopoly will naturally break down. Eventually there will be enough space for Free Software, Open Software, and Close source software to coexist.

  • by Luft08091950 ( 1101097 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:18PM (#20059793)
    First of all "Linuxworld" is anything but. They should be required to change their name to "MicrosoftFUDsterPretendingToRepresentLinux." This would at least clue readers into the fact that they're anti-Linux.

    LinuxWorld is just trolling and spreading FUD with their "just too big, why bother, you can't win, give up, don't try, it'll never work, it can't happen, you're just wasting your time, resistance is futile" rhetoric

    Their words are as dog farts. They are not to be considered!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Good grief. Agree with them or not, but it's hardly FUD. It's a legitimate observation; Microsoft has the vast bulk of the office market, and everyone else, OpenOffice and Wordperfect and all the rest, pretty much have to play catch-up and play-nice.

      ODF works great for me, and I've never personally had anything rendered badly in OpenOffice, save for some ancient RTF documents written in a fifteen year old versions of MS-Works and IBM Works. However, when I do communicate with other people and send docume
      • Actually, I would expect an mag named "Linuxworld" to promote linux.

        Sounds like they have been subverted to me.
  • File format isn't what people are worried about when purchasing software, it's the software itself!

    Office is expensive, but OpenOffice doesn't look as good, doesn't work as well and feels cobbled together.
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      Wrong. If the next MS Office didn't support Word .docs, it wouldn't be popular at all. It's the same with any other commonly used format in business. People choose an application first because it does what they need, and second because it does what they want.
    • I have both MS Office and Open Office installed on the computer I'm currently using. I almost always use Open Office, even though MS Office has already been paid for. I see advantages and disadvantages to both, but to say that Open Office "feels cobbled together", strikes me as an odd feeling to have...
    • Office is expensive, but OpenOffice doesn't look as good, doesn't work as well and feels cobbled together.

      Funny, I feel the same way about MS Office. I suppose it just comes down to what you use most, I only ran MS Office about half a dozen times in the last three years while running OO thousands of times. No question, OO is good enough for me, and it keeps getting better at a steady rate. New updates just arrive automatically along with my regular apt-get upgrades and I have never once seen a regression. It's hard to overstate the importances of no regressions. It would be just intensely painful to have

    • by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:47PM (#20060257)
      "File format isn't what people are worried about when purchasing software, it's the software itself!"

      That's not the debate here!

      We're talking about the format being used to create and store publicly owned information. The government is funded by the citizens. The citizen should not have to pay an additional Microsoft tax in order to access government documents. The government SHOULD BE worried, even though they probably are not. Even if ODF is adopted as the standard, MS has the option of supporting it in their applications along with everyone else. The reverse isn't true if the government decides to institutionalize vendor lock-in.

  • by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:24PM (#20059901)
    I'm pretty sure ODF isn't dying. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure that Office 2007 natively (or with a plugin available from MS's website) supports ODF as a native format to save and open from, just like you can specify that Word uses .doc instead of .docx.

    IMHO, ODF is far from being dead.
  • If someone installs a ring in your nose, is it really smart to save money on a hacksaw?

    The entity that installed the ring, expects to recover the cost of the ring, plus a lot more.

    Freedom is not free, but slavery costs more.

  • Once Upon a Time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:29PM (#20059993)
    Once upon a time, there were dedicated word processing solutions. Anyone remember the DEC based WPS-78. Or the IBM MT/ST and MC/ST?

    Then there were text editors tied to document preparation systems. Anyone remember RunOff/Runnem?

    Then there were integrated full word processing software that you could load onto your general purpose computers. WordStar anyone? Surely you remember Word Perfect!

    All of these existed and flourished well in their time, and all existed before MSWord, whose first incarnation on the PC/XT was wretched!

    To say that MSWord can never be dethroned is bunk! MS loves to hear this talk, since you're defeated and they win before the battle has even begun. Previous solutions lost out when something better and cheaper came alone.

    The more MS hikes the cost of MSOffice, the more they make it more difficult to use (WGA on Office anyone?), the more they remove MSWord from the virtually free Works package, the more Open Office improves while maintaining its low, low cost of Free, the more OEM's cut costs by preloading OO so that you have it right out of the box, the more MS has to worry about.

    Talk defeat, and that's what you'll get. Then only MS will be cheering.

  • by MonGuSE ( 798397 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:30PM (#20059997)
    The rest of the industrialized world seems on track to adopt ODF as the defacto standard for government documents (Brazil, India, France, India, Denmark, Belgium, Malaysia, Croatia, Norway, Spain, Argentina). All of them have either adopted ODF as a standard or appear to be in the process. California is considering it and while Massachuesettes may be saying the OOXML is an open standard and can be used internally I still am under the understanding that all government documents will still have to be made available in ODF format as well as whatever other formats they choose as well.

    You have to remember while MS Office has a large install base but most of the time when documents are made available on the web or exchanged via email, it is done in the form of PDF's. That means that since Open Office can output to a PDF without purchasing other tools that it actually has an advantage over all versions of office pre 2007.

    It will take some time because of the install base of Office XP and 2003 out there but when companies look to upgrade in a cost effective manner and potentially need to utilize both ODF and Doc formats they will choose Open Office. Microsoft looks like it is going to put its head in the sand and not implement ODF into Office 2007 and therefore it will force those who need to work with government agencies to either constantly convert things or use Open Office. Also remember that it looks like MS Office 2007 does not have built in export to pdf functionality its an external plugin that has to be included or installed and that it looks like for anti trust reasons MS may have to disable that functionality at least in the EU if not the states as well. If I'm a company I don't want to have to buy Office and then Acrobat crap just to be able to write to PDF's.

    All that OO has to do to cement their viability is to refine the UI a little more. I find some functions cumbersome for those used to Office's interface but those that have to switch to 2007 from Office 2003 seem to become even more baffled.
  • As more and more people stop caring about what office suite they use, MS Office will lose market share. The question is not if, but when, and to whom. Will OpenOffice.org take over, or will people skip it and switch directly to the next generation: Online office suites?
  • It seems to me that open formats are most important for government archival purposes. That is, state governments are producing huge amounts of public documents that really ought to be preserved for posterity. Saving them in an open format (free from copyright protection which lasts 120 years in the instance of an institutional author like MS) seems to be a pretty good step to take towards that goal.

    My question is, what are the practices of digital archival in state governments? Do they even have one? I

  • by Chabil Ha' ( 875116 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:32PM (#20060025)

    ODF isn't there to dethrone MS as the word processor of choice, to think so is a bit foolish. It's there to provide a format that *everyone* can use. I will continue to use MS Office because I think it's a superior product, but ODF allows me to *save* my MS Office documents to format that *anyone* else can use, but more importantly convert from when I want to read my own documents in 20 years.

    Remember, ODF is not a platform, word processor, gizmo, Office killer, etc. It's only a standard in which to format documents.

    • Well, i used MSOffice 2003, because it started faster than OO and it is 'more compatible with itself'. Now our company installed MSOffice 2007 and in response I installed and use OpenOffice. I won't learn a new text editor just because M$ thinks so. OpenOffice is almost as good as MSOffice 2003.
  • Just a question that's never answered well, and might have prevented this problem to start with. Why was ODF created in the first place? Why not just run with RTF, which to this day seems capable of saving everything in a Word document, even if it does blow up documents with embedded images to ungodly size on occasion. Was it necessary for the OO people to have a format they owned completely? If they'd just taken RTF, would we have this big schism today?
    • ODF is based on OO.o 1.0's XML format, which was also OO.o 1.0's default native format. So it was just easier to create ODF, the default native format for OO.o 2.0, based on what OO.o 1.0 was already doing.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:53PM (#20060355)
      RTF is outdated. It's like HTML3.2 on the web: it's capable of recording formatting decisions but not of indicating structure.

      A properly prepared word-processing document these days, whether written with Open Office Writer, Word, or any other decent wp-program, is prepared using styles. You can't do that with RTF. It was inevitable that someone would come up with an XML-based format at some time, because RTF is just too inflexible and incapable of structuring a document.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Nibbler999 ( 1101055 )
      Because RTF is a proprietary format owned by Microsoft.
      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @03:30PM (#20061819) Journal
        Actually, the problem is that RTF is at least two proprietary formats owned by Microsoft, a proprietary format owned by Apple, a proprietary format formerly owned by NeXT (and now also owned by Apple), a proprietary format owned by Corel, etc.

        The basic RTF spec is about two pages long, and about as complex as HTML 1.0. Like HTML, it defines a simple way of extending it. Word can export documents as RTF that include all of the formatting of the original. The catch? That nothing else can read them. Remember early on in the last browser war where IE and Netscape both defined large numbers of extensions to HTML? Imagine a situation like that, but with half a dozen browsers. Now imagine the browsers also edit the document, and strip out any markup they don't understand. That's pretty much the situation with RTF.

    • by blueZ3 ( 744446 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:33PM (#20060995) Homepage
      In the past this has meant "whenever a competing product looks like it is gaining parity with Word"

      This is completely unacceptable for a long-term document archive solution. It's not an open format, so you have to rely on Microsoft making "converters" for older iterations available, or reverse engineering. In addition, you have to realize that since the formation is closed, your reverse-engineered implementation may not correctly handle some "features." And that when MS decides to change things, your solution may not correctly handle the new "improved" format.

      Not that Microsoft would intentionally break compatibility, of coure... What is it that the Office team says? "RTF isn't done until OpenOffice won't run"
  • by Geof ( 153857 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @01:41PM (#20060159) Homepage

    Right at the end, the article suggests an alternative:

    A new set of formats, perhaps based on a wedding of XHTML+, CSS 3.0, and RDF, or perhaps an interoperable enhancement of ODF, is in order.

    Earlier on, the article talks about how it's too expensive to "rip out and replace" MS Office with ODF. Well yeah. Often in technology, a new technology doesn't have to be better - it has to offer something compelling that the old one doesn't, such as a lower price, convenience, mobility, or networking. The new technology gains a foothold in its niche, then starts to expand beyond it - without necessarily ever completely replacing the older technology. Thus we have cell phones displacing land lines, YouTube pressuring television (despite its crappy quality), MP3s replacing CDs, laptops gaining on desktops, digital cameras edging out film, etc.

    So it seems to me that the strategy of perfect emulation is a strategy for failure: if ODF does exactly th same thing, is the freedom it offers enough to compel organizations to switch? (We might say yes, but then we know the consequences of lock-in and we don't have to make the up-front investment.) On the other hand, for all its weaknesses, HTML offers all sorts of things that Word lacks (e.g. accessibility and reformatting for differetn devices, universal browser support, Net-friendly, strong semantics), and is probably good enough for most uses. Thoughts?

  • most people are going to use MS Office like a fancy typewriter. For them, it does not matter what happens in a few months. The need to write a memo or letter, they need to send it to other people, it might even be printed and filed. Long term projects are opened frequently, and during a version change converted.

    There are only two reasons that I even notice. I create many documents and on a frequent basis I need documents from one or two years ago. Often, in the past, I have not been able to open tho

  • A rule of thumb when trying to replace one product in the marketplace with another is that the new product needs two tangible advantages. ODF needs to have one "gotta-have" feature that non-technical people can understand and appreciate in order for it to successfully beat out Office.

    Yes, ODF is theoretically cheaper then Office. However, the productivity boost of spending $500 / employee is a bargain when the employee's time is worth $50 / hour! (Remember, a guy making $20 an hour really does cost the company $40-$50 an hour.)

    The "Open" aspect of ODF is too abstract for many people to understand. To the non-technical person, Office "just works".

    Thus, in order for there to be a demand for ODF, there needs to be tangible features that work better with ODF then Office. What tangible features could people appreciate from ODF? Here are some suggestions that come to mind.

    • ODF works better through email because it's easier to filter out viruses.
    • Some web services that require the user to upload documents work better when used with ODF.
    • An ODF-based Office Suite has really cool fonts.
    • Automated document generation products work better with ODF.

    Thus, to repeat, in order for ODF to really succeed it needs to have easy-to-understand features that non-technical people will desire. Competing on price alone won't beat Office.

  • by vinn ( 4370 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:19PM (#20060791) Homepage Journal
    Well, the blurb for this article is confusing 2 different things - ODF's relevance and Microsoft's dominance. I'll put on my IT Director hat and toss in my $.02.

    There's some big News To Me in this article and I wish the open source community would do a better job of informing the rest of the world of this crap. This article mentions that Microsoft's OOXML format can't be implemented by other vendors. What?!?!? That's News To Me. I'm sure the article is right, but frankly, I don't keep my nose to grindstone enough to follow this kind of religious news any more and it's the first time I've heard MS restricts who can implement this file format. It also says it's an import-only format that's basically junk. Really? I didn't know that and I just assumed that the format was reasonable and worked. Can the rest of the world's new organizations please make a big deal out of those facts?

    OOXML is crap and ODF works. That's important and I didn't know it.

    Now, let's look at Microsoft's dominance in the marketplace. I guarantee you that every IT Director in the world is figuring out how to get OpenOffice in the door and figuring out what role it can play. When I look at my budget for the year I want eradicate any line item having to do with licensing. Realistic? No. Can we cut back on things? Hell yeah. We don't need every PC in this company having a copy of MS Office. For us, Outlook is a bitch, but the Exchange web client is pretty good. Visio and Project are tough ones, but not everyone uses it. Some people have custom integration with Excel, but those people are also a minority. Oh, and there's the religious thing with using free software, that's nice to me and gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

    So when you look at the landscape, the single biggest obstacle appears to be document formats.

    And really, I know that's not even much of a concern. We already rely on the MS document formats as being the default. Maybe if ODF is so good we should consider switching our default formats now. Maybe that should be the first step in our migration. I could care less who came up with the document standard as long as the documents open and do what I expect them to do.

    • by borizz ( 1023175 )
      For a project replacement, try Open Workbench. I think it's opensource (it's at least free beer). The company I intern at uses it for its projects.
  • I'm sure there would be plenty of folks who would PAY for it and use it. Individuals and Businesses.

    But they don't because that would eat into their proprietary OS cash cow.
  • by rs232 ( 849320 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:25PM (#20060883)
    "Is it game over for OpenDocument? Probably. We've been expecting Massachusetts ITD to publicly revise its open formats mandate to include Office Open XML (OOXML) ever since Louis Gutierrez resigned as CIO in early October 2006. That was as clear a signal that ODF had failed in Massachusetts as needed by anyone in the know"

    How can you equate political machinations with the the technical merits of a document format. If OOXML was so technically superior then why did MS need to get the decision to go with ODF reversed and Peter Quinn [groklaw.net] effectivly FIRED.

    Yea I know, they just cut his funding and ignored his recommendations .. same thing ...
  • ...are incredibly standard as documents, which is almost all created in Word. They're however not standard at all as output format for other software. I'm hoping ODF will become the editable output format, in many ways like PDF is the non-editable one (yes, I know you can edit PDF files but I've hardly seen anyone do it). Need to edit together three reports from different software? All output to ODF, edit in application of choice, save/export. It has a lot of potential a little bit "outside the box" of MS O
  • by IGnatius T Foobar ( 4328 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @02:59PM (#20061341) Homepage Journal
    I think you're all overlooking something important here. Regardless of whether Microsoft wins the battle against ODF, they've already left the door open for OpenOffice and other products. Why? Because in order to plug OOXML as the supposedly "open" standard, they had to document it and not patent it. Compared to the ridiculous amount of energy that had to go into reverse-engineering doc/xls/ppt, this makes life much easier for the free world. Even if OOXML ends up becoming dominant (I refuse to ever call it a standard), we still win.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by marcosdumay ( 620877 )

      Nice dreamming, but you can't really implement OOXML by the documentation and Microsoft has patents on it (that they promisse not to use against people that fit some impossible criteria).

  • by Hektor_Troy ( 262592 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2007 @07:36PM (#20064651)
    I work as a hotliner for a computer retailer (no, not Dell).

    The latest trend on our computers is to bundle them with a trial edition of Microsoft Office (60 days). This doesn't support saving your files it seems, nor priting or anything else even remotely useful apart from viewing documents.

    Once we explain customers that they have to pay Microsoft to get a fully functioning version of the program, they almost always ask where to get something else, that works without having to pay for it. I always tell them to try out OpenOffice.org - see if it fits their needs. If it does, great - they've just saved a minor fortune. If not, they can always switch back to paying for MS Office.

    Same when the computer is bundled with MS Works, which for some really arcane reason doesn't want to play nice with MS Office.

    While I've no feedback from all of the customers that I've advised to try out OO.o, I have heard from several of them that they will never use MS Office again, when their trial version is so "buggy", that you can't even use it properly in the trial period.

    Does ODF (well, something other than MS' formats) have a future? I would say it has a big future as long as Microsoft shoots itself in the foot instead of luring customers in with fully functioning/compatible programs.

    But maybe that's just me.

In seeking the unattainable, simplicity only gets in the way. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982