Archive for October, 2007

October

31

by Kaj Kandler

OpenDocument Format (ODF), the standard accepted as ISO 26300 norm, has been mired in some controversy. The OpenDocument Foundation, a group formed to promote the standard format across different applications and platforms, has now denounced its support for ODF. The reasons cited is that Sun Microsystems, in control of OpenOffice.org/StarOffice the largest application supporting ODF, does not allow more compatibility to legacy formats such as .doc or MS OOXML. Sun favors supporting legacy document formats in the application, with appropriate import/export filters, while the ODF Foundation thinks it should become part of the format itself.

Recently, Sun has come under scrutiny for its policies surrounding OpenOffice.org and ODF. Some have even speculated if Novel instituted a fork of the OpenOffice.org project. It should come at no surprise that standards, as open as they may be, are a business tool. The ODF standard and the fact that it offers transparency which enables safety in archiving documents and having access centuries into the future forced Microsoft to rethink its own document formats. Now the ODF Foundation is surprised that Sun does want to keep out direct compatibility with the rival format(s).

However, having witnessed the discussions of ODFoundation members on some mailing lists, there also seem to be some strong personalities at work. Or is it the rivalry between MS Office Plug-in developments from the ODFoundation and Sun Microsystems that is causing all the bad blood?

The sad fallout of this is that the ODFoundation wants to morph itself into a CDF Foundation, CDF being another document format proposed by the influential standard body W3C. It will stop developing its MS Office plugin to seemlessly read and write ODF documents.

October

26

by Kaj Kandler

Apple releases tomorrow its latest version of Mac OS X called Leopard. It’s build-in text editor TextEdit now supports ODF and MS OOXML. This means it can exchange text documents with OpenOffice.org Writer, NeoOffice Writer and also with MS Word 2007.

Many Mac OS X fans now hope that Apple will soon support the ISO standard ODF in the iApplications such as iWork.

October

26

by Kaj Kandler

Can 900,000+ users a week be wrong? It appears that nearly a million people download OpenOffice.org since the release of 2.3. Mark Herring, Senior Director, Marketing, StarOffice/OpenOffice.org at Sun Microsystems Inc. reports in details about the uptick in weekly download triggered by the latest release and the publicity of the OOoCon 2007 in Barcelona.

While the numbers are impressive, I think Mark’s speculation of cost for a regular markerting campaign to reach the same results is excessive. I think it is safe to assume that the majority of extra downloads are upgrades by existing users. If this would be a commercial product, one would not need to buy millions of e-mail addresses to reach the existing users. In a traditional proprietary software model, users register their software and with that allow the company to inform them of new releases. So there is no cost of 10c per e-mail to reach the existing user base. And some proprietary products get their users to even download automatically what ever they throw at them. I see this comparison as a bit shaky.

October

23

by Kaj Kandler

Siemens jsut annouced its latest offering in small business VOIP solutions and called it “HiPath OpenOffice ME”.

This has abolutely nothing to do with the free open source OpenOffice.org productivity suite for individuals, small and larg businesses as well as education or government.

October

23

by Kaj Kandler

While OpenOffice.org Release 2.3 is just out the door, Developers like Carsten Driesner, Liang Weike and the OpenOffice team from RedFlag 2000, prepare new features for Open Office Release 2.4

One feature is the ability to create and store your permanant image list, which can be used to change the icons of the appliction w/o going through the build process. In combination with the OOo extensions I expect this to become the facility for different skins for Open Office.

The other feature mentioned is an enhanced help tip text for the print button in the standard toolbar. The new feature shows the name of the printer in the help tip text, just to remind you where your document will be printed. Sounds rather useful in an office environment, where multiple printers are available.

Liang Weike works for RedFlag 2000 the project that adapts OpenOffice for the Chineese market and helps develop new features as well.

October

23

by Kaj Kandler

Sun Microsystems updated its Microsoft Office® plugin for ODF. This plugin allows users of the leading office suite to read and write ISO 26300 compliant documents. It is not the only plugin available for MS Office, but it appears to be the most feature rich implementation of such filters to date, based on the Open Office/Star Office implementation of the ODF Toolkit.

The newly released Sun ODF Plugin 1.1 for Micrososft Office improves installation and fixes many bugs over release 1.0. It also does support now 15 languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Swedish, Brazilian Portuguese, Iberian Portuguese, Hungarian, Russian, Polis, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Korean.

Sun’s ODF plugin for MS Office supports Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2000. The latest version Office 2007 is not yet supported. The plugin supports the three leading applications in Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It integrates seemlessly and allows to set ODF (ISO 26300) as the standard file format to save when you hit Ctrl+S.

October

12

by Kaj Kandler

… unless they can get it for free.

A marketing study at the Univeristy of Arizona asks the question what makes students pay for office suite software and are free open source alternatives like Open Office an alternative to pirated copies of the market leading MS Office?

The research looked at how much students would be willing to pay for a legal copy if the consequences woudl be the two choices. It turns out that $98 is the media price students were willing to pay to own a legal license. And that registration was a wee more effective than the publication that the software is not registered with every document that is produced and shared with others.

Interestingly, a group of students that was educated of the free open source alternative Open Office did not show less incline to pay for the MS Office suite. The researchers conclude that stability of the product and logevity of the maker are more important than the price to pay. Also an important factor is the convenience of using an application that is already familiar and does not come with the pain of re-training.

* The article cited mentions in the introduction: “Microsoft Office suite claims an impressive 95 percent market share.” Benjamin Horst an Open Office dvocate from NY, pointed out in a discussion about this article that market share numbers are often misleading in the context of free software. Because, market sizes are measured in annual revenue spend for a particular product. However, free products do not generate any revenue, so the basis for comparison is off. By Horst’s estimation, Microsoft claims 400 Million Office installations, and OpenOffibe.org claims 100 Million. Ignoring the rest of the competition, he estimates a 20% market share for Open Office.

October

12

by Kaj Kandler

According to Vietnam Net, OpenOffice.org gains popularity in Vietnam. One of the leading organizations to switch is the Vietnamees Communist Party, with its 20,000 office PCs around the country. However government agencies and businesses follow suite. The movement is driven, by the international integration of Vietnam with the world economy. Vietnam wants to trade with the world and therefore must respect intellectual property rights.

as the pressure from international integration forces Vietnamese state agencies and businesses to respect software copyrights, the future for open source software seems to be brighter. Some providers of open source software products and support services have appeared

The government pushes its corporations and citizens to use legal copies of software, with full licenses. However, Vietnamese can’t afford the $200 – $500 for a fully equipped MS windows + MS Office business PC. So they switch to increasingly to open source alternatives like Open Office, Firefox, and Thunderbird. The availability of a localized vietnameese version of OpenOffice helps this effort and the nature of open source allows the country to improve on this aspect at will.

October

09

by Kaj Kandler

This morning I was greated by this CHat message on my Skype.

WINDOWS REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION
=============================

ATTENTION ! Security Center has detected
malware on your computer !

Affected Software:

Microsoft Windows NT Workstation
Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0
Microsoft Windows 2000
Microsoft Windows XP
Microsoft Windows Win98
Microsoft Windows Server 2003

Impact of Vulnerability: Remote Code Execution / Virus Infection /
Unexpected shutdowns

Recommendation: Users running vulnerable version should install a repair
utility immediately

Your system IS affected, download the patch from the address below !
Failure to do so may result in severe computer malfunction.http://www.XXXXXXXXX.org/?q=yyyyyy

I did replace the website and parameter so no one does click accidently on it.

The website linked is registered to a guy in Moscow. I did block this sender from any further communication, off course. I have gotten request to connect from harmless teenagers in China or Rumania before and simply declined. This is a new quality as it goes beyond a request to connect and might catch the unsuspecting user off guard.

Sad that a nother good service is vulnerable to Spam. I guess it is a function of popularity. Beware of any communication that comes from someone you don’t know.

October

02

by Kaj Kandler

While it emerges slowly that Lotus Symphony, a distribution of OpenOffice is meant to be a beta software and based on three+ year old code, Mathew Newton at PCWorld finds hope in the fact that the IBM engineers did manage to overhaul successfully the user interface and make OpenOffice a copy of Office 2003 rather than Office 97.

I’m not sure if this is the kind of achievemnt I’m looking for? I’d rather have serious functional improvements, stability and performance, than just a nother copy of some proprietary user interface. Not that I wouldn’t welcome a better user interface for OpenOffice.org or even one that is less riddled with bugs. But coming out with an unstable beta of an outdated application with an user interface copied from a program that is about to be replaced with a new version is not the kind of thing I’d celebrate. Especially if the more modern user interface is the main selling point and the version update of the product that has been copied is mostly about the user interface.