Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 16th Jan 2009 08:45 UTC, submitted by stonyandcher
Features, Office Yesterday we ran a story on how educational institutions defaulting to Microsoft Office may stifle some people who do not own a copy of Office or Windows. A Forrester Research report now states the bloody obvious by claiming that organisations stick with Microsoft Word not out of necessity, but out of habit.
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Sorry I disagree
by raver31 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 08:52 UTC
raver31
Member since:
2005-07-06

They stick with Word because they feel they have to be compatible with the rest of the business world, who all use Word.

They are scared of using a rival, in case other people cannot open their attachements, therefore the tender goes unread and the business is lost.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Sorry I disagree
by lemur2 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:05 UTC in reply to "Sorry I disagree"
lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

therefore the tender goes unread and the business is lost.


OpenOffice has a nifty feature where one can export any document to PDF.

If a company receiving a document cannot read PDF, then perhaps they really shouldn't be using computers at all.

Reply Score: 5

RE[2]: Sorry I disagree
by aliquis on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:53 UTC in reply to "RE: Sorry I disagree"
aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

But it's harder when you work in groups and various people may want to edit the document in question, then pdf isn't all good longer.

But yes, I really like being able to "print to PDF" in OS X.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Sorry I disagree - different issue
by jabbotts on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:36 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Sorry I disagree"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

The initial reason presented was the concern of loosing business because your application for a contract can not be opened and read. A PDF export of your bid solves that problem. Why would the potential customer need to edit the bid document you presented them with?

Now, your talking about sharing unfinished documents among multiple workers. While MS has put a lot of money into gimics like Sharepoint (maybe your company is using it fully, I'd be the first I've heard of though), it still comes down to asking if the XLS is shared so more than one user can work in it (with inherent limitations) or saying "open with read/write when user finished" when told that an unshared document is currently in use.

Really, for multiple users unless you happen to be using the 10% of Office that no one touches, any editors that can work with a common format are fine. Heck, if your working with a partner organization, save the file to office2003 doc format rather than that docx crap and let the other company do what they need to.

I think the "need" for businesses to use MS Office is far more perception than anything else. It's like the "Need" to use Photoshop when your only removing red eye or cropping/resizing images. Sure, some people need the advanced features in Office and some people need the advanced features in Photoshop but it really is a minority of people when you look at the actual intended use.

Where business have a very real "need" to use Office is with legacy lockin. If you have ten years of Access and XLS based custom coding then your screwed. Nothing does VB script like MS. All your comapany forms are XLS with nifty auto-submit functions and such, well, your probably not going to justify the expense of that changeover. That is still within a single organization though, it's not imposed justification based on "a third party uses it so we have to also".

Now, I am an Excel geek. Bending databases to my will through Excel used to be how I made my money so I've been into those dark places that 75% of users won't ever realize exist. Dump database to XLS then analyze and graph, then summarize with graphs in a presentation; yeah, I have no problem admitting that Office does some things really nicely. It's not the only game in town anymore; it had that window between WordPerfect's death and OOo's continuing maturity.

Reply Score: 4

_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

No doubt, I could use open office for this but there are inconsistencies that become annoying very fast. Example:

When Highlighting text in ms office is fine, the reverse isn't, as you cannot remove the highlighting (change colour by painting over,but not remove).

It is true that if providing to (non-editing) third parties, then PDF makes sense. But internally, is a bit of a hassle for me.

I'm quite "content" (i.e. it only just works for me) though to write up my stuff in a text file and handle the formatting later in the copy of word installed in a virtual machine with xp. The end result is never as pretty as a latex formatted doc. Nobody else seems to mind, just me 'cos I'm silly and take pride in my work.

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

I get a lot of use out of wordpad myself. notepad is great for a quick text file but wordpad gives me search/replace; I've met few other windows users who think to copy text to wordpad or Word for a quick search/replace. My particular use is replacing " " with "%20" in URLs before I paste them into documents. I prefer raw urls and text email rather than html email.

You can pretty much do an entire document in .txt (most of us did that for years before and after .wpd and .doc). It also means your documents are fully transferable to any working environment until you drop them into Word for the final formatting.

Reply Score: 2

TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

The initial reason presented was the concern of loosing business because your application for a contract can not be opened and read. A PDF export of your bid solves that problem. Why would the potential customer need to edit the bid document you presented them with?


Obviously you've never worked on a bid proposal. Most state what formats are allowed, typically just Word. And you won't even be considered if your proposal is not within the given guidelines.

This matters greatly for small and medium sized companies since they are very concerned about winning the few proposals they draft as they don't have the resources to go after more than that. Those few are typically to the big companies or other institutions handing out money or projects. So they don't have much choice.

Big companies typically deal with the really big institutions and government. So it's the government in the driving seat.

So, if you really want to change it - get the government to stop requiring their proposals be in Word format. (Yes, I've worked on one!) Talk to the GAO. THEN you can start getting the big institutions that rely on the government (whether defense contractors or not) to use something else and eventually trickle it down to everyone else in the dependency chain.

This is why Microsoft is keen to ensure that the government uses their products, an really doesn't like having to compete on an even ground - and why they have fought tooth and nail over ODF and OOXML the way they have.

Reply Score: 1

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

You mean like an rfi/rfq/rfp process? I may or may not have worked on a bid preposal.

Do they specify Word 2007 .docx format or just Word.. say.. the almost universal 2003 file format? Also, why would they want it in a Word document in the first place. How about using the converters that save X format as Word2007 files?

Convincing my government to require open file formats probably wouldn't help you much unless your up here with us other northerners.

Requirements of the bid are a real fact of business though. The only bit I'm stuck on is the idea that bids are required in .docx format when the objective is only to be able to open or scan them in through a Word sesson on the receptionists workstation.

Reply Score: 2

TemporalBeing Member since:
2007-08-22

You mean like an rfi/rfq/rfp process? I may or may not have worked on a bid preposal.

Do they specify Word 2007 .docx format or just Word.. say.. the almost universal 2003 file format? Also, why would they want it in a Word document in the first place. How about using the converters that save X format as Word2007 files?

Convincing my government to require open file formats probably wouldn't help you much unless your up here with us other northerners.

Requirements of the bid are a real fact of business though. The only bit I'm stuck on is the idea that bids are required in .docx format when the objective is only to be able to open or scan them in through a Word sesson on the receptionists workstation.


When they require it to be in Word, its typically because either:

1) They are requiring electronic delivery (e.g. E-mail, FTP, CD, web-site upload, etc.)
2) They are providing an explicit form only available and usable in Word.
3) All of the above

So even if you fax it in, often #2 comes into play. Though most are no longer faxing - they want #1, in which case they want it in Word because that is what _they_ use as an organization - or its what their secretary uses who then puts it into another format (e.g. push it into an internal website), but it's all he or she understands (or all the organization care for them to understand).

Sometimes their internal software that breaks down the proposals only reads one format - Word 2003, Word 2007, whatever. So they do it for that reason.

It's now always laziness on their part - sometimes its just cost effective to continue using that same bid-proposal system instead of rewriting the thing to use a newer format. In either case, it'll likely be years before such systems - which are probably typically built on Microsoft and interact with Microsoft products easier - are ported to ODF, etc. and let the system open up more.

Sad, but true.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Sorry I disagree
by OMRebel on Fri 16th Jan 2009 21:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Sorry I disagree"
OMRebel Member since:
2005-11-14

You can edit PDF's in Open Office v3.0.

Reply Score: 4

RE[2]: Sorry I disagree
by _txf_ on Fri 16th Jan 2009 11:19 UTC in reply to "RE: Sorry I disagree"
_txf_ Member since:
2008-03-17

Certainly. But what happens when they want to edit said document... They'd have to use adobe's crappy and expensive editor.

I have a similar situation myself. I want to write all my documents in latex, as they sometimes contain formulas, are quite lengthy (as a result are a pain to format), plus it looks damn good in comparison to anything produced by word. Unfortunately, my document gets passed to at least 2 other people who may or may not edit it. It also gets archived and others might have to edit it in the future.

All those other people use word, so I have to use word (or open office, but that gives me more trouble as every time it gets to me the formatting is F**ked in some way or another).

Edited 2009-01-16 11:21 UTC

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Sorry I disagree
by morglum666 on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:42 UTC in reply to "RE: Sorry I disagree"
morglum666 Member since:
2005-07-06

You can set this up in about 30 seconds. You install cutepdf, and off you go. Works like a normal printer with any windows program, including word.

I think you can even use it commercially for free.

Reply Score: 1

RE: Sorry I disagree
by rhyder on Fri 16th Jan 2009 10:09 UTC in reply to "Sorry I disagree"
rhyder Member since:
2005-09-28

I think that another problem is the chilling effect caused by over zealous OO evangelists in the past. I always found OO to be extremely buggy up until the 2.0 days. Prior to that, it's style handing and section headers were extremely unreliable. I wonder how many people were convinced to try it when it was pre 2.0 and ended up saying "never again".

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Sorry I disagree
by jabbotts on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:39 UTC in reply to "RE: Sorry I disagree"
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

The recent drama doesn't help either if the rumours of Suns ability to alienate the remaining OOo developers is true.

Reply Score: 2

The feature discussion in Microsoft Word
by porcel on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:02 UTC
porcel
Member since:
2006-01-28

While Word is without a doubt one of the more powerful and feature-packed word processing applications, it's also the case that most people use only a small subset of the features Word offers - it's just that each user relies on a different subset of features, making it hard for some to use less powerful and less feature-packed word processors.

I have heard this comment countless times, often from Microsoft reps themselves, mostly without any statistical backing. In our testing, we have done more than 300 office to openoffice migrations in the past five years, the subset of features is actually almost always the same one for a given company position or department.

Repeating something ad nauseam does not make it true. For the majority of users, openoffice is more than ready. In fact, in the feature discussion, there are openoffice writer features that either don´t exist or don´t work as well in word

Reply Score: 7

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

Repeating something ad nauseam does not make it true. For the majority of users, openoffice is more than ready. In fact, in the feature discussion, there are openoffice writer features that either don´t exist or don´t work as well in word


OpenOffice is quite a bit more full-featured than Word is. OpenOffice can handle documents in ODF 1.0, 1.1 and 1.2 formats, PDF, Microsoft legacy formats and Office 2007 XML format.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openoffice#File_formats

OpenOffice uses standard (non-proprietary) macro languages such as Java, Python, Basic and Netbeans. There is a much greater chance that macros will be able to operate anywhere and with other applications, not just on one type of system.

http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Extensions_development

OpenOffice runs (feature complete) on Windows, Mac OSX, OpenSolaris and Linux as well.

One can even get a FireFox extension to display OpenOffice documents.

http://wiki.services.openoffice.org/wiki/Firefox_ODFReader_extensio...

Edited 2009-01-16 09:29 UTC

Reply Score: 4

aliquis Member since:
2005-07-23

Personally I liked how images just didn't skipped around and ended up on whatever webpage sometime when you pasted them into the document in Staroffice vs word. I know one can change how text flow along objects in Word but it always used to mess up anyway.

Reply Score: 2

News at 11
by Soulbender on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:04 UTC
Soulbender
Member since:
2005-08-18

People are creatures of habit. Surely a groundbreaking revelation to us all.

Reply Score: 9

Actually...
by boudewijn on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:09 UTC
boudewijn
Member since:
2006-03-05

At the company I work for currently, although everyone's got Microsoft Office on their systems and we're using exchange, our documents are mostly written in Google docs. And we're thinking of moving to gmail, too. Just for perspective: after the latest hiring round we're at 100+ employees.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Actually...
by KAMiKAZOW on Fri 16th Jan 2009 12:23 UTC in reply to "Actually..."
KAMiKAZOW Member since:
2005-07-06

I'd guess that a major KOffice developer would encourage his company to switch to open solutions instead of just let the company replace one proprietary solution (MS) with another one (Google).

Reply Score: 2

RE[2]: Actually...
by boudewijn on Fri 16th Jan 2009 12:28 UTC in reply to "RE: Actually..."
boudewijn Member since:
2006-03-05

I don't think I'm in a position to do that, actually, just being a lowly developer.

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Actually...
by KAMiKAZOW on Fri 16th Jan 2009 15:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Actually..."
KAMiKAZOW Member since:
2005-07-06

I don't think I'm in a position to do that, actually, just being a lowly developer.

I just wrote "encourage", not "making the decision". Are you never talking to your collegues? :-)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Actually... - security isn't a concern?
by jabbotts on Fri 16th Jan 2009 13:46 UTC in reply to "Actually..."
jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Have you looked at any security concerns with moving your companies intimate data to a third party?

The Google license clearly stating that any data stored on google servers as documents or email belong to google for whatever use they choose now or in the future. Now may be benevolent but through Google on hard financial times and corporate law will require that they derive whatever profits from that collected data that they can (if other finance sources don't work out first). Also, your data is not stored in an encrypted blob only accessible by you, that means everybody at google has access to your private data along with whatever criminals manage to get in.

What your org chooses to do is, of course, fully up to your management. I'm just curious to know what security considerations where discussed before you started migrating data outside the company.

Reply Score: 2

Force it
by Buck on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:36 UTC
Buck
Member since:
2005-06-29

The best way is to teach your recipients how to open pdf files. I've found it to be quite effective, that is, if you have the authority to do so.

Also, in my opinion Word allows for a sloppy formatting. We've all seen our share of insanely formatted Word documents where its features were overused, such as using Word for handling very large tables. iWork on the other hand seems like a saner environment to work with, not that it completely frees the user from messing up but still...

In the end it probably comes do to education - first you learn how to use alignment, then how to divide your document into paragraphs, sections and use page breaks and then choosing the most convenient alternative word processor comes naturally. Unfortunately most office people don't have the capacity to learn anything new and would rather do a sloppy job with the tools they think they know.

Reply Score: 3

Education in a specific software
by aliquis on Fri 16th Jan 2009 09:49 UTC
aliquis
Member since:
2005-07-23

Personally I have never understood why schools focus education against the office package specifically. I'm born 79 and have used computers since I was like say 8 years old or something but I've learned by using.

I know that you can set font sizes, fonts, marginals and such in any application for writing, I have a fairly good sense for how to find those functions but don't expect to find them in a specific place. But give me some time and I'll get whatever I wanted to do done even if I have never used the software before.

And yes, most people just use a very small part of the functionality so why not teach the common stuff in general instead of Office specific?

Things was easier in the days of claris works ;)

Anyhow, I used Pages yesterday, I had no idea where to set marginals and move around layout elements but once I found them it made quite a lot of sense to have them there they was instead of hidden away in some deep menu where you need to have learnt where it's located to find it.

Reply Score: 7

3rdalbum Member since:
2008-05-26

Re: "Things was easier in the days of Claris Works"

Not really - if you'd given me a Clarisworks document, I wouldn't have been able to have opened it. I used Symantec Greatworks :-)

Reply Score: 2

jabbotts Member since:
2007-09-06

Teach students skills not brand names.

The current aproach is to teach a brand name. Students don't learn computers and office programs, they learn Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. This is like teaching all the shop kids to use a hammer but only if it's a B&D #4 hammer with B&D #4 nails.

Students come out of school and sit infront of a machine that isn't Office and they have a panic attack; "but this isn't Word, how can it possible write words?"

Stick them infront of anything but WindowsXP desktop and they can't even figure out how to reach out and touch the bloody mouse.

Teach students how to use word processors not Word. They should use two or three at least during the yer they do word processing, spreadsheets and basic databases (this was Grade10 around here). If a file format can not be opened in multiple word processors; it's not accepted within the schools; sort of like all those government offices deciding that documents to and from constituents should be accessible on more than just Windows/Office crippled systems.

Reply Score: 8

Fiona
by Thom_Holwerda on Fri 16th Jan 2009 10:26 UTC
Thom_Holwerda
Member since:
2005-06-29

It's remarkable how Fiona seems to be applicable to everything.

But me and everybody's on the sad same team
And you can hear our sad brains screaming

Give us something familiar
Something similar
To what we know already
That will keep us steady
Steady, steady, steady, steady
Steady going nowhere

Reply Score: 2

From TFA
by evangs on Fri 16th Jan 2009 14:00 UTC
evangs
Member since:
2005-07-07

businesses may still be using Word because it is familiar to users or because they have a legacy investment in the application, not because it is the best option

Being familiar _and_ working with legacy documents can mean that Word _is_ the best option. Not everything boils down to technical features.

Reply Score: 3

RE: From TFA
by spiderman on Fri 16th Jan 2009 15:06 UTC in reply to "From TFA"
spiderman Member since:
2008-10-23

If you have legacy documents from earlier versions of MS word, chances are that the format is no more supported by the newer versions of MS Office. In that case, OpenOffice may handle the documents better than MS office itself, because different versions of MS Office are not compatible with each other. I don't buy this argument about compatibility. Closed proprietary format certainly isn't a long term solution for compatibility. Your documents will be effectively unreadable in 5 or 6 years.

Edited 2009-01-16 15:08 UTC

Reply Score: 1

Why should people change?
by systyrant on Fri 16th Jan 2009 14:51 UTC
systyrant
Member since:
2007-01-18

I hear this one a lot. People who use Microsoft Office most of the time feel no need to change. It works just fine for them. It's the standard according to them. So on and so forth.

I don't know if Office supports writing to ODF, but if it does then maybe the best solution is to convince people to save documents in that format. Don't try to convince them that OpenOffice is the greatest or that some other solution is the best. Let them use what they want and save in a more universal format. Then someday in the future maybe they will be ok with switching when they see that they docs they have will work just fine in many other office formats.

(Also. Lets not forget Excel. Most people I know that are die hard Office users are that way because of Excel and not Word.)

Reply Score: 2

RE: Why should people change?
by garyedwards on Fri 16th Jan 2009 21:25 UTC in reply to "Why should people change?"
garyedwards Member since:
2009-01-16

I doubt that MSOffice ODF will make a difference. ODF was not designed to be compatible with MSOffice, and conversion from native binary to ODF will result in a serious loss of fidelity and business process markup. If the many ODF pilots are an indication, the real killer is that application specific processing logic will be lost on conversion even if it is Microsoft doing the conversion to ODF. This logic is expressed as scripts, macros, OLE, data binding, media binding, add-on specifics, and security settings.

These components are vital to existing business processes. Besides, Microsoft will support ISO 26300, which is not compatible with the many aspects of ODF 1.2 currently implemented by most ODF applications.

The most difficult barrier to entry is that of MSOffice bound business processes so vital to workgroups and day-to-day business systems. Maybe the report is right in saying that day-to-day business routines become habit, but not understanding the true nature of these barriers is certain to cloud our way forward. We need to dig deeper, as demonstrated by the many ODF pilot studies.

The report, "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: The Microsoft Word Love Story," by analyst Sheri McLeish, suggests that businesses may still be using Word because it is familiar to users or because they have a legacy investment in the application, not because it is the best option.

"Because Word has become so entrenched in the enterprise in the last 25 years, organizations cannot easily move off of it," she wrote. "So despite the noise made by the new Web-based authoring tools -- most of which are free for a limited number of users -- they have failed thus far to realize enterprise adoption."

I wonder if Forrester is capable of determining when it is that necessity becomes habit? Or is it a matter of convenience? The evidence is clear from the many ODF pilot studies that it is the MSOffice bound business processes that are the impossible barrier. Years of client/server development around the Microsoft Office productivity environment has left Microsoft owning the "client" in "client/server".

No doubt these desktop bound business systems will transition to the Web. The productivity gains of doing so are extraordinary. The question is, will this transition be done through a "replacement" of MSOffice and the surrounding productivity environment? Or will it be a gradual re-purposing of that environment?

The ODF pilots scream loudly that rip-out-and-replace efforts are costly and disruptive. Which leaves us with this sad observation: if OpenOffice can't crack into existing MSOffice bound workgroups and workflows, then neither can the Linux Desktop.

Massachusetts and California determined from their ODF pilots that the only reasonable way forward was that of "re-purposing" MSOffice, moving to open and Web ready document formats using the same route that Microsoft used to transition to OOXML-XAML: the Microsoft Compatibility Pack ( a plug-in to MSOffice editors).

Replace or re-purpose? Unfortunately for Google, Zoho, BuzzWORD and other Web centric replacement efforts, there is still the workgroup problem of costly disruption. The truth is; conversion breaks documents. And does so at both the fidelity level and, most importantly, at the business process level.

Still, there is no reason for a non workgroup user to not move immediately to OpenOffice or Google-docs. HTML-CSS/JSSS is the most ubiquitously interoperable format ever to reach critical mass. For MSOffice bound workgroups though, HTML-JSSS is not an option. Microsoft has made sure of that. Instead, Microsoft offers users a very high level transition from binary to OOXML to XAML "fixed/flow". XAML is of course the proprietary Web format/layout model that is part of the platform specific Windows Presentation Foundation.

Users of MSOffice can of course choose Open Web formats, protocols, and interfaces; but at the cost of breaking both document fidelity richness and, the complex-compound business process richness of workgroup documents. Reuter's Rule: conversion breaks documents! Still, MSOffice users do have the choice between broken but Open Web compliant document formats, or, rich, compound business documents useful across the emerging sprawl of the MS WebStack-Cloud-RiA model.

One of the problems Microsoft Web competitors face is that there is no barrier to Microsoft's embracing Open Web productivity with proprietary formats, protocols and interfaces. Yet these same competitors are totally locked out of the MSOffice bound business system transition to anything other than the MS WebStack-Cloud-RiA model.

Does the Open Web even have a worthy alternative to XAML "fixed/flow"? I would argue that the WebKit layout and document format model is certainly rich enough (edge running HTML5-CSS3-JS-SVG-DOM2). But they still can't penetrate those MSOffice bound business processes!

Time to concentrate on Open Web re-purposing of MSOffice. Where's wiki-WORD when you really need it?

~ge~
http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dghfk5w9_165f7ntr6cz">It

Reply Score: 1

My university
by GODhack on Fri 16th Jan 2009 15:44 UTC
GODhack
Member since:
2008-05-16

In my university ~80% PCs have both MS office and Open office 2.x (noone cares about updates) and everyone is free to use what they want. Sad true that in this situation most still use MS Office.

Reply Score: 1

Invincible Cow
Member since:
2006-06-24

People can't switch because there aren't any good alternatives to world.

OpenOffice 3.0 is buggy as hell.

As an example, when I tried to open a word 2000 document with no formatting whatsoever apart from line breaks, OO managed to replace a lot of the line breaks with page breaks!

Another example: Select a picture, the picture toolbar pops up. Now close it. But select the picture again, and the toolbar pops up again. Now close it. And keep closing it. When you've closed it 200 times and opened it 0 times, then it starts to get annoying.

Another example: I tried to drag and drop styles between documents, and even though I know I do it correctly, sometimes it doesn't work, and OO crashes.

The spell checker (in my language) of the latest OO is a completely ridiculous piece of crap compared to the spell checker in a ten year older version of Word.

Yes, I tried OO on both Linux and Windows, full of bugs and crashes on either OS. I find AbiWord a lot more stable, but sadly its text layout is even worse than OO and it lacks a lot of features.

Sure, OO.org has a lot of features, but doesn't matter as long as the spell checker sucks and the software crashes regularly.

Then for online office programs, these are a joke, and I don't understand how people can possibly think that they are usable for anything serious.

Oh, and we have SoftMaker Office. Nice and fast, we should all switch to that. The only real alternative I know of, I didn't try their spell checker, though.

Reply Score: 1

Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

Though I don't normally use OOo 3.0 due to finding it unsuitable for my purposes, can you explain how do I drag-n-drop styles between documents in Writer? I couldn't find how to copy styles between documents apart from template creation.

Reply Score: 2

LOL
by Bobthearch on Sat 17th Jan 2009 02:30 UTC
Bobthearch
Member since:
2006-01-27

LOL at this entire topic.

I just started working at a small research company, 30+ employees and at least that many computers. One of my tasks today was to install Office 2000 on a reformatted laptop.

So why didn't they install a newer version or a different program?

First off, the company already paid for it.
Second, it works very well.
Third, it's the same version that every other computer in loaded with.
Fourth, it's the software that every employee has been using for nine years, so everyone is well-trained and accustomed to it.
Fifth, because the company has thousands of documents and files created with Office 2000. No need to ever be concerned with compatibility, filters, conversions, etc.

It really is amazing how well this old software works, with no need at all to upgrade. It actually seems that most of the software at use in the company is either written in-house, or it's ca. 1998 commercial programs.

Just pointing that out since this outfit seems to be a near-perfect example of "habitual" software users.

Reply Score: 2

RE: LOL
by Temcat on Sat 17th Jan 2009 14:32 UTC in reply to "LOL"
Temcat Member since:
2005-10-18

Amen to that. I too find Office 2000 superb. I only transitioned to 2003 because of fewer crashes and better file recovery, but for me the UI is better in 2000. And it's unbelievably fast.

Reply Score: 2

Full MS Office compatibility is essential
by Dave_K on Sat 17th Jan 2009 11:08 UTC
Dave_K
Member since:
2005-11-16

I've worked for several charities and government organisations over the last decade. All of them receive numerous MS Office documents on a daily basis. MS Office is the package used by 99% of the other organisations that they deal with.

OpenOffice.org 3 does a fairly good job of opening MS Office documents most of the time, but it's far from being 100%. I've been trying it with some of the grant application forms, financial spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations that I've received in the last week or two. Quite a few of them did not open correctly, and there's no guarantee that the documents saved in OpenOffice will open perfectly in Word.

Sending messed up documents, or having to email back requesting documents in a different format, would waste time and make us look incompetent and unprofessional. It's all very well talking about standard formats like PDF, but most of the people I work with wouldn't even know what that was.

Don't get me wrong, it would be great if the charities I've worked for could save a bit of money by using free software, they're funded by donations and tax payer's money after all. But at the moment the costs of switching to OpenOffice are higher than the cost of MS Office licenses, and switching to Linux is downright unthinkable. I can't imagine Microsoft's dominance of office computing being shaken any time soon.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

I've worked for several charities and government organisations over the last decade. All of them receive numerous MS Office documents on a daily basis. MS Office is the package used by 99% of the other organisations that they deal with.

OpenOffice.org 3 does a fairly good job of opening MS Office documents most of the time, but it's far from being 100%. I've been trying it with some of the grant application forms, financial spreadsheets, and powerpoint presentations that I've received in the last week or two. Quite a few of them did not open correctly, and there's no guarantee that the documents saved in OpenOffice will open perfectly in Word.

Sending messed up documents, or having to email back requesting documents in a different format, would waste time and make us look incompetent and unprofessional. It's all very well talking about standard formats like PDF, but most of the people I work with wouldn't even know what that was.

Don't get me wrong, it would be great if the charities I've worked for could save a bit of money by using free software, they're funded by donations and tax payer's money after all. But at the moment the costs of switching to OpenOffice are higher than the cost of MS Office licenses, and switching to Linux is downright unthinkable. I can't imagine Microsoft's dominance of office computing being shaken any time soon.


The (government organisation) recipient of a lot of documents could always install both MS Office and OpenOffice at the same time. It would cost them nothing extra to install OpenOffice alongside MS Office.

That way, charities could spend nothing on OpenOffice, and send documents to government organisations, would could in turn open them with OpenOffice, whilst other parties could continue to send MS Office documents, which the government organisation could also open with MS Office.

There is no need to allow Microsoft to lock everyone in, and to give Microsoft a free, government-sponsored monopoly and hence a free ride.

In fact, I'm pretty certain that in most countries it is both unconstitutional and illegal for the government to spend public funds exclusively in the best interests of just one private company.

Edited 2009-01-17 11:56 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

The (government organisation) recipient of a lot of documents could always install both MS Office and OpenOffice at the same time. It would cost them nothing extra to install OpenOffice alongside MS Office.


They could potentially do that, but it isn't very likely to happen is it?

While all the documents we receive are in Microsoft's formats, and all the organisations we work with, whether government, commercial, or other charities expect us to use those formats, we'll keep on using them. It's just damage us if we tried to rock the boat.

Even if 50% of the other organisations were using OpenOffice, we'd still have to buy MS Office to deal with documents from those who don't. Some companies just wouldn't want to fix something that isn't broken, especially if they have loads of existing documents in use.

Having to deal with OpenOffice too would just make things more complicated. It'd mean that staff would have to be trained in dealing with the differences, learning which documents are opened in which application. They'd have to know which document formats were required for different companies, rather than saving everything in the default MS Office formats.

There are advantages to having a standard, even if it means that we're locked into paying a Microsoft tax.

Reply Score: 2

lemur2 Member since:
2007-02-17

" The (government organisation) recipient of a lot of documents could always install both MS Office and OpenOffice at the same time. It would cost them nothing extra to install OpenOffice alongside MS Office.


They could potentially do that, but it isn't very likely to happen is it?

While all the documents we receive are in Microsoft's formats, and all the organisations we work with, whether government, commercial, or other charities expect us to use those formats, we'll keep on using them. It's just damage us if we tried to rock the boat.

Even if 50% of the other organisations were using OpenOffice, we'd still have to buy MS Office to deal with documents from those who don't. Some companies just wouldn't want to fix something that isn't broken, especially if they have loads of existing documents in use.

Having to deal with OpenOffice too would just make things more complicated. It'd mean that staff would have to be trained in dealing with the differences, learning which documents are opened in which application. They'd have to know which document formats were required for different companies, rather than saving everything in the default MS Office formats.

There are advantages to having a standard, even if it means that we're locked into paying a Microsoft tax.
"

As of 2004, the estimated business adoption of OpenOffice stood then at perhaps 20%.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openoffice#Market_share

By now it would perhaps be about 30%. OpenOffice has been downloaded 28 million times, and yet just one download can potentially be installed on thousands of computers within any given organisation.

There are many, many times more ODF format documents on the web than there are .docx documents on the web.

Several governments and other organisations around the world have already mandated, for reasons of sovreignity over their own data, that the open, multiple-vendor and future-proof ODF format be used over the legacy binary lock-in formats of Microsoft.

Where you claim that organisations aren't likely to install OpenOffice along-side MS Office ... you give absolutely no reason why they wouldn't. After all, doing so gets the organisation more functionality and compatibility for free.

As far as "learning which documents are opened in which application" ... have you never heard of document type association? Any IT department would set the .od* documents to be associated with OpenOffice, and the .do*, .xl* etc documents would be associated with MS Office. In fact, just installing both OpenOffice and MS Office (in either order) would do just that by default. Double-clicking on a file would result in it automatically opening in the correct application.

If you are worried about workgroup collaboration, then simply installing something format-agnostic like Alfresco on the server instead of Sharepoint would remove the MS-format "exclusivity" of Sharepoint and allow workers to collaborate using either OpenOffice or MS Office formats.

Sorry to break it to you, but I don't believe you MS apologists have anywhere near the irreplaceable "standard" in MS Office that you think you have.

Edited 2009-01-18 09:51 UTC

Reply Score: 4

Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

My main point is that it doesn't matter if some organisations switch to OpenOffice. We'd still need to keep on buying Office so that we can deal with documents from those who don't. It wouldn't save us any money, so what advantage is there to us in bothering with OpenOffice at all?

At the moment 95% of the documents we receive are in MS formats, with the odd PDF. So far I've never seen a ODF file in the wild or spoken to anyone who's even heard of OpenOffice. Maybe that'll change eventually, but for the foreseeable future MS Office will be the standard.

As for the issue of dealing with different document formats, you're correct that it isn't a problem if users doubleclick files. But in my experience a lot of users keep Word/Excel open full screen, and use the open dialog to select the documents they want. Obviously that would cause problems if they were dealing with a mix of file formats.

Even if they were trained not to do that, file associations wouldn't help them decide which document formats are to be sent to other organisations. As it is now they just save in the default format in MS Office and know that it'll be acceptable everywhere else.

In my experience most people don't know anything at all about file formats, or even know exactly what software they're using. For example, before we upgraded to Office 2007, we obviously had a lot of trouble with documents sent from earlier upgraders. Trying to get them to send documents in a format supported by our software was like trying to get blood from a stone. The users just didn't know what I was talking about; I had to walk them through every stage of selecting the different format.

Expecting people like that to easily understand and accept a switch to OpenOffice, saving some documents in different formats, seems very naive.

Reply Score: 2

unclefester
Member since:
2007-01-13

Word processing, powerpoint presentations and spreadsheets should be virtually eliminated from most companies. Email should be very actively discouraged too. These are all extremely inefficient and a vast waste of time. Most large and small companies worked perfectly well before computers existed.

Have all group meetings late on Friday afternoon so they are as short as possible,

Get a whiteboard rather than wasting days making elaborate presentations in powerpoint.

Pick up the phone or walk to your colleagues desk. This leaves no trail of evidence either.

Pin notices on the notice board rather than sending group emails.

Allow only the applications that are absolutely essential for each individual staff member on their computer.

Allow access to the email system only between 9.00-9.30am and 4.30-5.00pm

Bring back typing pools. It is crazy for manager on $100k a year who can type at 25wpm to do his own documents. Employ an expert typist on $20k instead and get her to do all the typing for an entire section.

Simply type any documents on wordpad (all lower case and misspelled is fine) and send them to the typist for word processing.

Reply Score: 2

Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

Word processing, powerpoint presentations and spreadsheets should be virtually eliminated from most companies. Email should be very actively discouraged too. These are all extremely inefficient and a vast waste of time. Most large and small companies worked perfectly well before computers existed.


You're joking, right?

There are flaws in computer systems, but in general they are a huge time and money saver, even much maligned email. Every now and then I'll deal with a small company who only have phone/FAX, Faxing documents backwards and forwards, and having to call back to clarify information, hanging on the phone when they're engaged - it can end up taking half the day.

With word processing standard documents can be saved, to be edited and reprinted when necessary. Once all the common documents are saved on the system, it's not that often you need to type new documents from scratch. In fact, with the database system we use, most correspondence can be created with a couple of clicks, including mailmerge documents to thousands of customers. So much for the typing pool...

Spreadsheets and databases greatly increase efficiency and accuracy when dealing with information. It's staggering how quick, easy and error free previously complicated and time consuming tasks can become, thanks to a well designed spreadsheet. You'd have to be crazy to want to go back to a manual system of paper spreadsheets, card indexes and rooms full of filing cabinets.

The biggest problem with reducing the use of computers is that all the other organisations and companies wouldn't follow suite.

Do you think our external auditors would take a few crates of paper rather than emailed spreadsheets? In fact, for this year they've specified that they'll only accept Excel 2007 .XLSX files.

Almost every day we receive Word documents of important forms that need to be completed, then emailed or faxed back. Charities, at least over here, are required to deal with a huge amount of paperwork. Ignoring them would mean the loss of at least £250,000 in government grants, along with a failure to meet our record keeping obligations.

Even if we stopped using Powerpoint, despite all the past presentations that are saved and used for training, we'd still regularly receive Powerpoint presentations from other people. Some organisations use it to distribute information rather than putting it into a PDF or Word document.

We quite regularly get MS Publisher documents too, for some reason one local agency seems to use it instead of Word.

Why would we cause problems for ourselves by using software that isn't compatible with the documents we receive?

Overall, my workplace has fewer than half the members of staff it had before computerisation, yet gets a lot more done. Cutting back on the use of computers isn't an option. I'm sure the same is true for most other organisations and companies.

Reply Score: 2

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

General George C Marshall managed the entire US military effort in WW2 working no more than four to six hours a day. He delegated and made decisions rather than poring over spreadsheets and powerpoints or exchanging hundreds of emails with suppliers or junior officers the USA Army. I am quite certain the war effort was much bigger than your charity.

Napoleon Bonaparte once said 'I always wait three weeks before reading my mail - every problem will have resolved itself within that time.'

You are obviously not old enough to remember the days before computerised offices (I am). In fact they ran far more efficiently than most modern offices. People were far more relaxed, less stressed and much more efficient than today.

One of my friends is a specialist doctor. His practice is (along with two other doctors) entirely paper based except for accounts and appointments. All his records and prescriptions are handwritten. It takes less than 30 seconds to hand write a prescription or jot a few clinical notes. Another doctor I know has a fully computerised system, it takes him at 4x as long to perform the same tasks. Paper records are permanent and don't require backup.

The reality is that the vast majority of office work performed in organisations is totally pointless. Many major problems can be sorted out with a two minute conversation.

Reply Score: 3

RE: no i am deadly serious...
by Dave_K on Sun 18th Jan 2009 20:25 UTC in reply to "no i am deadly serious..."
Dave_K Member since:
2005-11-16

You are obviously not old enough to remember the days before computerised offices (I am). In fact they ran far more efficiently than most modern offices. People were far more relaxed, less stressed and much more efficient than today.


Not only am I old enough to remember non computerised offices, I've been involved in the transition of two large organisations to a computerised system.

I've directly seen how much time, effort and money can be saved with a well designed computer system. As well as the new services it's possible to offer customers, such as providing up to the minute information over the telephone thanks to a database system. Organisations didn't switch to computers on a whim, but out of a need to compete with those who already had the benefit of them.

In my experience the relaxed and efficient manual offices you describe never existed. They had just as much stress, while requiring twice as many staff to get the same job done. You're clearly looking back with rose tinted glasses.

Reply Score: 3

Habit?
by TBPrince on Sat 17th Jan 2009 18:44 UTC
TBPrince
Member since:
2005-07-06

That habit is usually called (de facto) standard. ;-)

Then, we might agree that 60% users don't need more than Word out of Office and that maybe 80% don't need more than Outlook+Word. We could also agree that most (maybe 70%) don't need most of Office functionalities. Yes, could be true.

But that doesn't mean that, because of that, users will accept to use a limited product, albeit cheaper or free, even when they don't use most Office functionalities.

But don't confuse simple customers with enterprise ones. Office provide a terrific value for Enterprises which no other product could match (yet).

Reply Score: 2