Archive for the ‘MS Office’ Category

March

12

by Kaj Kandler

At ZDNet, Christopher Dawson compares NeoOffice vs. OpenOffice vs. Office 2008 vs. iWork. He obviously comprares them on Mac OS X, as GeoOffice or iWork and Office 2008 are special releases for the Apple Mac platform.

His report is influenced by his experience managing the IT for a school in Western Massachusetts. Chris concludes:

iWork is very slick and integrates well brilliantly with iLife. It’s easy to use, but powerful enough for serious users. However, it’s lack of compatibility with open file formats is of concern. Office 2008 is also slick and highly functional but not nearly as effortless to navigate. Even with academic pricing (iWork is priced around $10/license academic versus almost $70/license for Office), Office is a bit pricey and hard to justify when cheaper or free alternatives exist. OpenOffice for the Mac really isn’t worth a second look right now given its lack of integration and compatibility. NeoOffice has its niggles, but is generally a solid, easy to use office suite. Even if you choose iWork of Office, it should be installed on all of your users’ machines to ensure compatibility with their students. It could certainly stand alone, as well, but the relatively inexpensive iWork is a hard bit of kit to pass up.

November

24

by Kaj Kandler

I never cared for Hotmail, the Microsoft online mail account. I always found it not very user friendly. Hotmail was bought by Miscrosoft in 1997 to compete with the then dominant online mail provider Yahoo! Now, Sabeer Bhatia one of Hotmails founders, has launched an new venture in Online Office document software, called Live-Documents.

Mr. Bhatia is Chairman of Bangalore based, InstaColl and wants to compete with Google, Microsoft, Adobe and many others with a browser based application to create, edit and manage office documents. Documents can be shared with anyone who has an e-mail for notification of changes and edited online in a Adobe Flex based application. Live documents also supports off line work on documents through a plugin for MS Office 2003. The company also plans support for Open Office as well as a Flash based local client program from the company itself. Offline documents are synced back to the central service ASAP. The storage server allows light document management services such as permissions to edit or print a document as well as attaching workflow tasks like review and approval.

The new service is available on an invitation only preview basis. The company plans to offer free service for personal use and business use for a fee.

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

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.

September

18

by Kaj Kandler

Today, IBM released Lotus Symphony, its version of OpenOffice.org as a free offering to business, government and consumer users.

The productivity suite is free to download. Interestingly the website only presents three applications, “Documents”, “Presentations” and “Spreadsheets.” The Database functionality of OpenOffice.org is apparently missing. The Suite supports Windows XP or Vista and Linux RedHat or Novell SuSE. A discussion about MAC OS X support has already started in the support forums.

Lotus Symphony does naturally support ODF and also can read and write the Microsoft Office formats most of the time. The latest MS OOXML is not yet supported.

Unfortunately this is another species in the jungle called Open Office eco-system.

P.S.: If you are PC veteran, you might remember the Lotus Symphony for DOS, which included Lotus 1-2-3. This is not the same!

August

17

by Kaj Kandler

Michael Brauer clarifies the status of OpenOffice.org’s work on MS-OOXML (aka ECMA-376).

He says that OpenOffice.org does work on supporting the format with input and output filters. this means you will be able to open a document from MS Office 2007 and to save it for Office 2007 users. Office 2007 is currently the only application that supports the new format our of the box. Older MS Office versions can be upgraded.

Michael reports that the current status is reading text from OOXML documents and that there is still a lot of work to do to reach satisfactory compliance. However, he remarks that as the format is now looked at by the International Standard Organization (ISO) for further standardization and that there are many complains from interested parties about incomplete definitions and contradictions of other standards. So he expects the format to evolve and undergo changes.

Michael also points out that OpenOffice.org will fully continue to support ODF (ISO 26300) as it’s default document format.

July

11

by Kaj Kandler

The Linux distributer TurboLinux has announced it will participate in the project to convert ODF files into MS Office 2007 compatible versions. TurboLinux will offer its expertise in Asian languages such as Chinese and Japanese for converting documents.

The ODF converter is a Microsoft sponsored open source project that wants to bridge the interoperability gap between the new ISO standard format ODF and the proprietary world of MS Office. Its development is behind the abilities of Sun’s MS Office plug-in, only supporting text documents at this time. However it supports Office 2007.

July

11

by Kaj Kandler

According to Erwin Tenhumberg and an article in the German Computerwoche, many schools in Germany consider switching to OpenOffice.org. While the majority of 1200 schools uses MS Office, 25% are thinking about the switch to Linux and/or OpenOffice.org