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Italian City To Dump OpenOffice For Microsoft After Four Years 316

An anonymous reader writes: Between 2011 and 2014, the municipality of Pesaro, Italy, trained up its 500 employees to use OpenOffice. However, last year the organization decided to switch back to Microsoft and use its cloud productivity suite Office 365. According to a report from Netics Observatory (Google translation of Italian original), the city administration will be able to save up to 80% of the software's total cost of ownership by going back. The savings are largely due to the significant and unexpected deployment costs. In particular, having to repaginate and tweak a number of documents due to a lack of compatibility between the proprietary and the open source systems translated into a considerable waste of time and productivity. The management estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.
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Italian City To Dump OpenOffice For Microsoft After Four Years

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  • Sounds like an ad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @09:58AM (#50346355)

    For some product

    • by ashshy ( 40594 ) <pooh@poeticNETBSD.com minus bsd> on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:01AM (#50346377) Homepage Journal
      Yup. Original source: news.microsoft.com
      • by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:06AM (#50346423)
        Microsoft press release or not, it's something that's happening.
        • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:19AM (#50346553)

          It matters a lot. For example what is the price that MS gave on office for that city, did they give it to them for free now to do so? Then that would matter greatly.

          • Re:Sounds like an ad (Score:4, Interesting)

            by U2xhc2hkb3QgU3Vja3M ( 4212163 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:24AM (#50346599)
            I didn't say that it didn't matter, I said that it was happening. The source of the news is irrelevant. You're right that the price of Office365 probably played a role but I'm not so sure it played a significant one. After all, Microsoft are competing against free.
            • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:48AM (#50346805)

              The source of news is not irrelevant. Any source can be biased and can present, twist or omit facts that can greatly change the substance of the news.

            • Uh .. price, i.e. TCO is obviously the key decision factor for many users. It has to play a significant role for these decisions.
              TFA is saying its cheaper to run MSFT products at large scale than the open source counterpart. Thats the news, its all about price.
              Obviously its not a 'fair match', as TCO of cloud hosted product in this decade will very easily work out to be lower, but given a choice between the available options ..

              • by dimeglio ( 456244 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @02:44PM (#50348679)
                I expect there will be a number of such switcharoos from open source to closed source then back again. It all depends who is the CIO and how Microsoft has influenced their lives.
              • "TFA is saying its cheaper to run MSFT products at large scale than the open source counterpart"

                No. TFA is saying that is cheaper to accept MSFT lock-in than to use *any* competitor. It is not a case of Office vs Openoffice but about Microsoft locking out everybody else.

                I would hope for public officials to look a bit beyond TCO and analyze the root causes for public benefit but, alas, it seems that's not the case.

                • by tnk1 ( 899206 )

                  They're not even locking people out. They're saying that they're making "open standards" and then doing their best to break anyone else's implementation of those "open standards".

                  It's like telling everyone your door is unlocked and open, and then tripping anyone who goes though it.

            • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

              The source does count, since the numbers they give really don't add up. Here's a good analysis, it's in Italian sorry: http://www.techeconomy.it/2015... [techeconomy.it]

              Also, by technical issues they mean "we relay a lot on Access and have no will to convert".

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by ZeroPly ( 881915 )
            "Free" is how they sell the change to the public. In reality, the open suites simply cannot compete with MS Office on the basis of features. I've used Linux since 1992, and have used Open Office and Libre Office at home for years. But some tasks which would be considered simple in Excel are impossible in Libre. For example, I can create a dashboard in Excel fairly easily, that pulls tickets from the helpdesk SQL database, and gives me a histogram of ages. I have found no way to do that in Libre.

            For home use
            • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @11:28AM (#50347109)

              Who the hell uses spreadsheets for ticket management..? Anyone who has the knowledge to do that should habe the knowledge why it's an awful idea.

              • by ender- ( 42944 ) <doubletwist@fear ... .net minus berry> on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @11:33AM (#50347161) Homepage Journal

                It helps if you actually read the comment [Crazy idea on Slashdot I know]. They weren't using Excel for ticketing. They were using Excel to create a dashboard displaying information and metrics about tickets in their actual ticketing system, which while it may not be the optimal way to do that, doesn't strike me as that unreasonable.

                • by Captain Splendid ( 673276 ) <capsplendid@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @11:41AM (#50347227) Homepage Journal
                  Which is fine, but if you're going to use such an edge case to make the claim that one suite of software is superior to the other, you're on thin ice.
                  • It is an interesting functionality for a spread sheet. Lets take a look at it. One sheet could hold the data base data. Another sheet can hold the various calculations for a given row, or componets on the desired dash board. Another sheet can hold the Dash Board. Yup, Libre Office does that. Sounds to me like someone is to lazy to google it, or to stupid to google it, or both. What does that say of those that govern?
                  • Which is fine, but if you're going to use such an edge case to make the claim that one suite of software is superior to the other, you're on thin ice.

                    But this is not the only edge case, there are lots of them. As the OP said, Libre is fine for most users, especially home users, but many people run into lots of edge cases, and even if their task is doable, it will take more effort and time. For businesses, that means it's costing them money.

                  • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @01:08PM (#50347955)

                    Which is fine, but if you're going to use such an edge case to make the claim that one suite of software is superior to the other, you're on thin ice.

                    If that one edge case was his entire case against Liber Office you'd have a point, however he just cited it as a single example. I expect that when it comes to features in spreadsheet apps it's a bit like search engines. The searches that make or break a search engines is not the ability to return hits for not common searches like "america's got talent winners" it's being able to return results for a large set of rare and specific searches like: "ip67 rated bulkhead mounted sma connectors" or "new old stock 1965 mustang steering box". If you talk to people who use Excel extensively to analyze data you'll quickly find that the reason they find LibreOffice lacking is not because Libreoffice is lacking basic features, it is because the Libre Spreadsheet app is unable to perform a for a wide collection of really specific 'edge' tasks that Excel can either do out of the box or for which there exist well established and professionally maintained third party Excel expansion packages. All of that is simply down to Excel having been around longer and having many more users doing a wider variety of specialised tasks that Libreoffice Calc has had and for Libreoffice Calc that boils down to the fact that gaining market share will be a long and tedious up hill struggle.

                  • Pulling data from an external data source and reporting on it is a pretty common use of Excel in businesses. It's hardly an edge case.

            • But some tasks which would be considered simple in Excel are impossible in Libre.

              Or greeting cards in MS Publisher vs. Open Office Writer/Draw.

            • by pjpII ( 191291 )

              Actually, I find that I have to keep both on my computer for easier work. I do a lot of work with text heavy CSV files, like linguistic concordances drawn from a database. Libre has features that Excel doesn't, such as regular expressions in filters/searches, and much much better handling of UTF-8 for export. I often find myself with workflows that require BOTH, which is absurd. Luckily, I don't have to pay for Excel, my employer does, so it could be worse.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet ( 841228 )

            They probably didn't have to pay them anything, its just common sense.

            1.-You use tool Y, you write applications in tool Y, save important work in tool Y, and are easily able to find workers that are skilled in tool Y. 2.- You then switch to tool X to "save money" but like most bean counters they only look at the initial cost of X and never calculate the transition costs that switching to Y will cost the company, namely that it will 3.- cost money to have somebody rewrite all those applications (because as w

        • Re:Sounds like an ad (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @02:35PM (#50348631) Homepage

          Because microsoft gave them unlimited free use licenses for 5 years.

          And they will have the exact same problems, as Office 365 has huge incompatabilities with a lot of older word docs as well as spreadsheets, etc...

          It's a BS article trying to spin the fact that Microsoft caved in and gave the city a lot of free to ge tthem to switch back.

      • by nazsco ( 695026 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @11:30AM (#50347135) Journal

        even the press release cannot mention a single good reason for it except "we have been conned in the past and now must pay the price... for pagination!"

        • even the press release cannot mention a single good reason for it except "we have been conned in the past and now must pay the price... for pagination!"

          Yea, it actually sounds like they really failed at training. Yes, converting a document from one format to another, I've found, will often give you different page breaks. So... don't rely on the page breaks. You can use hard breaks, document sections, template formats, etc., and not deal with that issue.

      • Yup. Original source: news.microsoft.com

        Even if Microsoft is the messenger that doesn't mean the message, that a town tried FOSS and found unexpected costs, is untrue. Liars will tell the truth when the truth is coincidentally on their side.

        The town should have had an easy way to report their difficulties to the FOSS developers and the FOSS developers should have been responsive. Such reporting and response is necessary for FOSS adoption. I think this is the first thing to look into, not the messenger, not competition's sales force.

        • by orasio ( 188021 )

          That, or you can RTFA.

          The problem was unrealistic expectations. They went from an all msoffice operation, to a hybrid one.
          msoffice is not compatible with anything else. You can migrate away from their formats, but you can't really interoperate with them without a lot of fiddling around.
          That's costly, and wasn't accounted for in the original planning. Shockingly, it costed time and money.

          • That, or you can RTFA.

            The problem was unrealistic expectations. They went from an all msoffice operation, to a hybrid one. msoffice is not compatible with anything else. You can migrate away from their formats, but you can't really interoperate with them without a lot of fiddling around. That's costly, and wasn't accounted for in the original planning. Shockingly, it costed time and money.

            I did read the article and you are completely mistaken. The problem is OpenOffice's failure at being compatible. If it paginates wrong an OpenOffice developer should fix that. If macros are missing an OpenOffice developer should add those.

            A hybrid approach is a given in the sense that outsiders will be sending or expecting office documents even if you are 100% OpenOffice internally. Compatibility is not an unrealistic expectation, it is a business requirement.

            • If it paginates wrong an OpenOffice developer should fix that.

              If will paginate wrong if a different MS Office setup is being used as well.

              Unless you strictly control pagination, the exact breaking points on pages will depend on what fonts are installed on the system. Both MS-Office and Open/Libre Office get their typesetting metrics from the printer fonts, not from some hard-coded internal source.

              Before TrueType came along, in fact, it was pretty much a crap shoot, since the only fonts available were the ones that came with the printers and different manufacturers/mod

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:03AM (#50346395)

    That is a message for new organizations to start with open standards from day 1. Otherwise you will get so dependent on proprietary standards that moving out of them may never be worth again.

    • by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:59AM (#50346893) Homepage

      Day 1 is long past. You have to deal with files from other folks outside the organization. Conversion back and forth between Microsoft and Open Office is glitchy and unfortunately everybody you deal with has a word, excel or powerpoint file to give you.

      • by ClickOnThis ( 137803 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @02:00PM (#50348351) Journal

        Day 1 is long past. You have to deal with files from other folks outside the organization. Conversion back and forth between Microsoft and Open Office is glitchy and unfortunately everybody you deal with has a word, excel or powerpoint file to give you.

        In my experience, transfer of a document from one copy of MS Office to another is not necessarily trouble-free. Sometimes MS Office isn't even compatible with itself.

    • Except the article doesn't explicitly support this. The documents might be coming or going to businesses or other governments that use MS Office so it may not even matter.

  • by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:04AM (#50346405)
    I am an editor of sorts. My coworkers all use MSWord 2010, and the formatting gets thrashed every time they pass a document around. Inevitably I am called to fix it, and do so by opening it in LibreOffice.

    Furthermore, I would argue that retraining everybody to Microsoft's cloud docs itself constitutes "a considerable waste of time and productivity", but I guess whoever in Pesaro's IT department that got under-the-table money disagrees.
    • by minstrelmike ( 1602771 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:10AM (#50346469)
      And it seems like a press release because there is actually a 3rd enterprise option: Google Docs. I mean, if you're going to investigate solutions, actually look around.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Fuckin' I've worked in a LARGE governmental organization that made 2 format switches and you know what they have that most businesses don't?

      A shit ton of documents, dating back YEARS

      So you're not just dancing around with a version or three out of software X, you're plumbing the depths with garbage from 15+ years ago and god only knows what level of mess. I don't like Microsoft OR its formats but what costs actual money, taxpayer money, is having some manager somewhere tell you what you need to support and h

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by 0123456 ( 636235 )

        I have Word documents from the 90s. Hey, guess what? They don't open in a modern version of Word.

        I had to track down a copy of Word from the Windows 3.1 era to be able to open them.

    • I've found formatting trashed regardless of office suite, mainly it goes down to whether the staff understands how to properly format documents.

      It may be that Microsoft Office/Office users are more tolerant to formatting transgressions.

  • by orasio ( 188021 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:05AM (#50346411) Homepage

    From TFA:

    "We encountered several hurdles and dysfunctions around the use of specific features," Bruscoli says in the report. "What's more, due to the impossibility of replacing Access and partly Excel (various macros used on tens of files), we decided we had to keep a hybrid solution, using the two systems at the same time. This mix has been devastating," he adds.

    They didn't replace MSOffice in the first place, they had a hybrid solution, which was costly, due to compatibility issues. They should have been able to know that beforehand. msoffice doesn't play well with others, it doesn't even implement any standard format. If you absolutely need to use msoffice in some spots, you should forget about interoperating, and just use msoffice everywhere.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      you can open older versions with other programs, but if your spreadsheet has lots of macros, functions or is tied to SQL analysis or reporting services or some other big data server you might have issues if you switch. the basic parts of excel are a commodity. it's the nice features that some people need that are worth paying for like the ability to do data analysis at the desktop instead of asking someone to write a report in cognos or SQL or whatever
      • And while Excel works for those areas which you explain, it is hardly the right tool for that job either, just convenient. Get a real SQL reporting tool

        • And while Excel works for those areas which you explain, it is hardly the right tool for that job either, just convenient. Get a real SQL reporting tool

          The best camera is the one you have with you. Sometimes, the same concept applies to other tools.

    • Oh, the horror~~~ (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:16AM (#50346515) Homepage

      Besides:

      Excel (various macros used on tens of files)

      Tens of files ? Oh my god that is sooooo many.... Hercules himself would be needed to sort through all of them.

      And from the /. summary:

      The management estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.

      15 minute per employee ? That's so horribly long, it's almost as long as their daily coffee pause! They have surely logged tons of overtime because of this! Unpaid overtime! The Italian economy is crumbling because of the daily 15minutes it takes to fix a malformet .docx import into OpenOffice.org !!!

      ~~~

      I can't decide if this is a disguised parody.
      Or if Microsoft have decided to advertise *how easy* it is to actually switch to even an out-dated alternative like OpenOffice.org (not to mention that LibreOffice.org is getting more development and much more bugfixes)

      15 minutes per day ? and 10 Excel file needing fixing ? Common, sound's like it's actually even easier than a major upgrade of MS Office itself.

    • Poor project planning and requirements not noticed until the last minute. Most of these conversion projects are wrapped up in the "OMG I SAVE $$$$" ballpark without looking at the whole picture. This is why you are seeing a startling lack of "X gov't switched from MS to OpenOffice(or clone)" these days.

      People started to realize that there are somethings that MS Office has a stranglehold on and no matter the how cheap the other software is you cannot get rid of Office 2k20. That and the conversion factor
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This story should have been:

      Vendor lock-in is real, and it's very hard to shake off.

  • If they switch to anything it should be Libre Office.

    Unfortunately they are getting sucked back into Microsoft products. Very sad, considering that they had already broken free of it's stranglehold.
    • Re:Libre Office (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TWX ( 665546 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:12AM (#50346487)
      For some things it won't help.

      We use numerous highly-customized document templates that simply don't like anything except MS Office, and have occasionally had problems over the years even with MS Office and problems as features are tweaked by Microsoft.

      Part of the problem is that users that are extremely proficient with MS Office do not want to change, much like users that were extremely proficient with WordPerfect didn't want to change either.
  • by juanfgs ( 922455 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:08AM (#50346453) Homepage

    I've worked on a state office migration project before, it's no surprise for me that this kind of efforts always end up with the same outcome. The thing is that migrating a state office is a painful process, and tends to generate discomfort on many people, from the office workers to the technical staff.

    Here in latin america we may have particular problems regarding that.

    Many office employees don't want to fully disclose their working environment because: oh surprise! they hardly do any work at all! They just sit there in their computer and complain when their favourite radio stream which uses proprietary technology from the 90's. I wonder how much of these "propietary files" were actually mail-forwarded .ppt/mp4 files and flash games.

    Technical staff has to be trained, and usually that doesn't go well, they are not cooperative and feel the migration process as a personal attack on their capacity and skills.

    It doesn't help either that internal politics get involved in the process when some office workers think they're being audited, and actively seek to shut down the migration process through political means (which they usually have way more experience than the guys doing the migration work).

    Overall the employees feel migration processes as a unnecessary burden, an attack to their perceived right to do what they please with the state's resources without answering anyone and a challenge to their competence. It also prevents high-ranking bureaucrats to get all those juicy commisions from propietary software vendor's.

    • by rbrander ( 73222 )

      As I just posted, THIS state has been a lost cause for some time. Italy is the second-most corrupt, (and poorly run) country in western Europe after Greece.

  • by gQuigs ( 913879 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:14AM (#50346497) Homepage

    LibreOffice won the developers so it gets many more fixes
    https://phoronix.com/scan.php?... [phoronix.com]

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:22AM (#50346579)

    Maybe they should have used LibreOffice instead of OpenOffice, then. Of course, if the city had standardized on OO (or even LO), wouldn't the compatibility issue (ie re-paginating), be on the receiver's end, not the city's? Something sounds odd about this, at least the way it is being spun. Then again, Microsoft is involved...

  • Any experiences on WPS Office [wps-community.org] for Linux? Better or worse than LibreOffice?
    • by caseih ( 160668 )

      I used to be pretty excited about WPS. However it's certainly not better than LO. I was quite disappointed with it actually. I tried opening a fairly large spreadsheet we use in it and found that LibreOffice actually did a better job handling all the formulas. WPS (a year ago anyway) seemed to have a lot off ERR values for whatever reason that LO doesn't get. I didn't investigate further.

      Also WPS office has moved to a freemium model now (which is understandable). So besides the occasional nag, it canno

  • by DidgetMaster ( 2739009 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:29AM (#50346641) Homepage
    Some people seem to be under the impression that free software is always a better choice than proprietary software. Some of the stuff released as open source software is garbage and there is often little or no incentive for those who wrote it to fix it. There is also a lot of good stuff out there with wide community support as well. I have used a lot of open source AND proprietary software and there is a lot of good and bad stuff in both camps. It is amazing to me how many people will spend many hours and extra training costs in order to get something working just so they don't have to spend $20 for a license to something else that works a lot better. If I find some really good software and the guys who built it want $50 from me for their efforts, I am happy to pay it. My time is worth something.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:32AM (#50346661) Journal
    MS-Word baked some incredible unscrutable cruft into its pagination and formatting. Its managers imagined WYSIWYG as the biggest feature over WordPerfect that had formatting codes. They took it to insane levels by changing the formatting when the printer is changed. Imagine that! Everytime the document is opened, if the printer has changed in the mean time it would repaginate. Later it killed WordPerfect by making every printer maker adopt to MS driver spec. Now the document is back in charge, telling the printer what to print. But the cruft that got baked into Ms-Word could not be backed out. Not easily, not without breaking its alleged allegiance to backward compatiblity.

    It is so bad, its alleged "open" "standard" OO-XML has binary cruft in the spec. The spec basically says "whatever the old MS-Word did with this binary is the standard". Even Microsoft is not able to come up with a reference implementation that does not depend the ability to execute the original MS-Word6 binary buried under several layers of emulation.

    This is the real way to build a cash cow. No one else can paginate the way old Ms-Word6 binary did. And if you inveigle your customers into incorporating that pagination as the essential part of their process, then you can laugh at them, tell them you are going to squeeze till they yelp, and they can do anything about it.

    • by crtreece ( 59298 )

      They took it to insane levels by changing the formatting when the printer is changed.

      Oh, what a (hopefuly not too hazy) memory that brings back. Mid/late 90s, working as a store computer tech, I once spent half a day trying to figure out why a client who had just installed a new printer could only select from a few fonts in Word. Somehow the system was using a generic driver for the new printer, and thus Word was only giving a few options for fonts. IIRC, installed the updated, device specific driver, set the printer as the system default, and went for a 3 beer lunch.

  • They lost me at... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rbrander ( 73222 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:33AM (#50346671) Homepage

    ...300 people @ 15 minutes a day, after it was 500 employees total in the organization. It's utter bullshit that 60% of the staff are involved in document production every day, much less so much that just the tweaking was 15 minutes.
    It's the exact smell of the bullshit I've seen for 25 years every time an IT department had already made a decision and made up numbers to justify it. Generally, they come up with the money number by working backwards and hope that nobody knows the internal workflows well enough to critique it. But this one fails when we only have one other number to work with, it's so over-the-top.
    Then I remembered that Italy is the place that proves Donald Trump really could win: Berlusconi is Trump mixed with Rupert Murdoch and won election. It's the second most corrupt country in western Europe after Greece.
    This switch was probably just bought and paid for.

  • Heck, I have issues with MS Word where documents I create that are fine on the shared printer near me are completely messed up when someone else opens it and their default printer is not the same...
  • by Sloppy ( 14984 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @10:41AM (#50346733) Homepage Journal

    In particular, having to repaginate and tweak a number of documents due to a lack of compatibility between the proprietary and the open source systems translated into a considerable waste of time and productivity. The management estimates that every day roughly 300 employees had to spend up to 15 minutes each sorting out such issues.

    This is unsurprising. As you may recall, in his "3rd Treatise on Government," John Locke wrote:

    Reader, thou has endured my discourse on how government shalle answer to the people, and I praise three for thy patience. Let us now broach the particulars of the responsibilities of government.

    Chief among these, is pagination.

    Take the state of significant size, Italy, as one example. While I can only hope that some day the grace of God shalle grant us sufficient meanes for pagination to no longer be one of man's undying labors, today in 1694 Italy has sixteen thousand workers who must tirelessly check page numbers. Yet our author can envision a future where a mere three hundred workers, paid from public coffers, have daily duties requiring precise pagination.

    If their tech is correctly compatible with their legacy uber-shitty database and proprietary spreadsheet, which are apparently not capable of writing standard-format files, this will take mere seconds. On the other hand, if their software cannot make sense of the undocumented inputs, our author can imagine this taking up to fifteen minutes per day. Yet whichever the case, at least three hundred of them will be relying on pagination every day. Even in the ultimate society with fully responsible government, it is the law of nature that we shall never go back to scrolls where nobody gives a fuck about page numbers.

    How he foresaw this, I cannot imagine. But you have to admit, he was right on target. Most people who are familiar with late 20th century technology would never even think of this, since in day-to-life you rarely care about pagination, or especially if your page breaks match someone else's -- indeed you probably only rarely think in terms of "pages" at all. Yet Locke had the distant objectivity, in order to see that pagination would some day return to being an important topic, worthy of peoples' -- nay, The People's -- attention.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @11:38AM (#50347201)

    I've been doing end user stuff for years, and Microsoft Office is a de facto standard. It's not because it's the absolute best product out there, but because compatibility needs to be maintained. Most -simple- documents and spreadsheets will open in one or the other. The problem comes when you get documents created with a Word template that someone got very creative with while building it. This happens a lot in engineering organizations, places that have document control/management systems, and yes, governments. Word has never had the easiest-to-decode formatting methods; that crown still goes to WordPerfect for the closed source world, and some law firms still use it today. Little stuff like page breaks, font kerning, and special positioning that don't matter in a simple document but matter a lot in a formal contract are sometimes very hard to find and fix in Word, for example.

    The reality is that even though the format sucks, everyone is used to it and works around the quirks. Is it right? No, but it happens. No one outside of scientific publication is going to advocate for regular users to write their documents in TeX for example, even though that's the perfect example of a completely open, known formatting standard.

    I think open source office suites are fine as long as you don't have crazy formatting needs and you don't have to share complex documents with too many Microsoft Office users. Otherwise, like the article says, users will waste time tweaking little things in their documents instead of doing productive work. If you're a small shop that has standardized on Linux, that's fine. One of the lifeblood things the company I work for does is respond to RFPs from governments. The standard response usually needs to be added to their crazily-formatted Word docs and Excel spreadsheets, and $deity help you if your use of LibreOffice is even thought of as the reason that a bid is rejected.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Italian city of Padua has been using libreoffice for many years. No Microsoft licences have been bought nor they will be in the foreseeable future. Maybe we have better employees.

  • This is another case where the 80-20 rule comes into play. Almost everyone could switch to LibreOffice, but there are edge cases where Microsoft works better.

    I uninstalled Microsoft Office and installed LibreOffice on my work laptop about a year or so ago. I'm a web programmer, so I use it only once every couple of weeks, to read and sometimes edit Word and Excel files from coworkers. So far so good. I even made a user guide with Write, including drawings made in Draw. I published it to PDF, so compatibilit

  • by 3.5 stripes ( 578410 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @12:39PM (#50347745)

    Someone got money for that, or a kickback..

    That's just the way things like that work in municipal government.

  • ... to properly implement software that complies to open standards, is seen as a failure of open software to reproduce those bugs and non-standard features? Hm ... where have I seen this before?
    • I mean, imagine if this happened with hardware: "Hi, I have a USB and I'd like to read my files" "Oh, I'm sorry, our USB-reader is only compatible with USB sticks made by our company. It can't read just any USB you give it because we use a different method to write and read data from it." What's the correct response. Is it "Oh, well, I'll buy a usb that's only compatible with you guys then", or is it "well, fuck you and your company, I'll get a reader that reads USBs like it's supposed to"?
  • by DaMattster ( 977781 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @01:14PM (#50348015)
    The Italians didn't deploy it properly because I have never had any pagination issues when moving between .docx and .odt formats. Of course, I am using LibreOffice but the difference between Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice shouldn't be that extreme.
  • by Snufu ( 1049644 ) on Wednesday August 19, 2015 @01:59PM (#50348337)

    Mussolini Word. Guaranteed to keep the trains running on time.

Nothing succeeds like excess. -- Oscar Wilde

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