Print 28 comment(s) - last by maugrimtr.. on Nov 20 at 8:05 AM

Open-source software groups are angry atone German city's claims

The German city of Freiburg has been using OpenOffice 3.2.1, which is an open-source productivity suite that is used as an alternative to Microsoft Office, for the past five years. The city has announced that it plans to ditch the open-source office suite and return to Microsoft Office after running into numerous problems.

Some of the issues cited by the city council include documents that were improperly formatted when opened in another office suite and conversion problems between presentation programs PowerPoint and Impress. The Council also felt that Calc and Impress performed significantly more poorly than Microsoft alternatives.

"The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice," the council wrote.

The Free Software Foundation Europe, the Document Foundation, and the Open Source Business Alliance protested the city Council's findings. The groups said that the city Council was comparing apples to oranges.

"Numerous statements concerning LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are incorrect or outdated," the groups said in the letter. They also added that the support of LibreOffice and OpenOffice is at a professional level these days. The group continued saying, "The assessment of the evaluation that compatibility to Microsoft Office cannot be reached in the next few years, is also wrong."

It's worth noting that while Microsoft Office 2013 hit RTM status in October, Freiburg will be using a combination of Office 2000 and Office 2010. 


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Office 2000?!?!?
By DanNeely on 11/19/2012 10:35:01 AM , Rating: 3
That version's old enough to bring it's own set compatibility problems; just throw those old CDs out and get enough 2010 licenses for everyone and be done with it.

RE: Office 2000?!?!?
By chripuck on 11/19/2012 10:43:42 AM , Rating: 2
Office 2000 is fine. If it was 97 then there would be numerous problems, but 2000 is fine. Microsoft has actually been very good with versioning their file extensions so compatibility is maintained e.g. I can create a MDB file in 2000 or 2002-2003 format and compatibility is maintained regardless of versions.

In fact, the majority of data analysis tools that I write I utilize 2000 file formats unless specific, newer functionality is required.

RE: Office 2000?!?!?
By lagomorpha on 11/19/2012 7:37:01 PM , Rating: 4
unless specific, newer functionality is required.

If you do a lot with conditional formatting you're going to want at least 2007. Not to mention the bugs earlier versions had when formulas wouldn't update when you changed cells they were referencing.

RE: Office 2000?!?!?
By name99 on 11/19/2012 8:30:01 PM , Rating: 2
"Microsoft has actually been very good with versioning their file extensions so compatibility is maintained e.g. I can create a MDB file in 2000 or 2002-2003 format and compatibility is maintained regardless of versions."

ONLY if you don't care about opening the file on a Mac. MS have never been able to get the fancier features of Word to operate correctly on Mac. Open a file containing Chinese, or mathematics, or fancy graphics, and you are doing well if poor formatting is your only problem --- more likely you simply won't be able to read what's there.

It feels like kicking them when they are down to point this out, but EVERY FSCKING PROBLEM with MS boils down to the same thing --- an unwillingness to EVER accept a tiny amount of inconvenience today for the sake of a better future. So we get UI issues, bugs, stupid file formats, endlessly propagated forwards because no-one ever has the guts to say NO.

RE: Office 2000?!?!?
By martyrant on 11/19/2012 9:09:29 PM , Rating: 2
Macs generally don't make it into corporate situations...why even bring this up?

RE: Office 2000?!?!?
By MGSsancho on 11/20/2012 4:57:33 AM , Rating: 2
But that one consultant/contractor can not open...~~~
We get paid to provide a product or a service, not to start a pissing war with someone writing our paychecks. ;-)

Rewrite it!
By GatoRat on 11/19/2012 11:23:30 AM , Rating: 1
Remember the big selling point of open software? That if you don't like it, you can rewrite it? Whereupon you have an incompatible version and end up owning the software. Never mind the massive cost.

Another point; the cost of doing the actual upgrade and training vastly exceeds--overwhelms--the cost of whatever software they choose. Free doesn't mean something has no real costs associated with it.

RE: Rewrite it!
By ClownPuncher on 11/19/2012 11:34:56 AM , Rating: 2
Who has time to rewrite software when they are at work not being paid to rewrite software?

RE: Rewrite it!
By maugrimtr on 11/20/2012 8:05:30 AM , Rating: 2
That's a false premise. The promise of open source was to enable modification - not rewrites. OS code is freely reusable. You can grab a common open source app or library and modify it to suit your needs. Modifying something that freely exists instead of rewriting/creating your own from scratch is, in theory, always going to be cheaper and more efficient. It turns software into a cheap commodity.

Assuming it ever remotely suited some of you needs, obviously!

Rewriting software is generally believed to be a waste of time. Rewrites are risky, time consuming, costly and tend to fail big if your team sucks or the problem is too complex for your size.

By DaveLessnau on 11/19/2012 10:46:51 AM , Rating: 3
According to

Extended support is still available [sic] for Office 2000, and will continue through July 14, 2009. Office 2000 updates published on or before July 14, 2009, will remain on the Microsoft Download Center. This date marks the end of the 10-year support period in the Microsoft support life cycle. For more information, see Office 2000 Product support lifecycle information (

After July 14, 2009, Office 2000 updates will no longer be available from Microsoft Web sites. However, you can still receive support from Microsoft through a custom support agreement (CSA). For more information, contact your account team or local Microsoft representative.

So, good luck with that.

Why our government loves Microsoft?
By Zingam on 11/19/12, Rating: 0
How cute
By bug77 on 11/19/12, Rating: -1
RE: How cute
By bobsmith1492 on 11/19/2012 11:07:18 AM , Rating: 5
With Open Office at home and Microsoft Office at work I can attest to the much higher quality of Microsoft's product. You do get what you pay for.

RE: How cute
By StevoLincolnite on 11/19/2012 11:21:26 AM , Rating: 2
You do get what you pay for.

So with Open Office you get nothing? :P

RE: How cute
By Sivar on 11/19/2012 11:36:31 AM , Rating: 5
Higher quality indeed. I've used OpenOffice since the project began from StarOffice and while I've always felt it was okay, even as a long-time Open Source / Linux user, no honest, reasonable person can conclude that Microsoft Office isn't faster, easier to use, and far less buggy.

RE: How cute
By kmmatney on 11/19/2012 1:07:45 PM , Rating: 2
I tried using OpenOffice at Home, but finally just bought a 3-copy Home/Student edition of Office 2007 a while back. While there are a few things that bug me about office 2007, it is still far superior to OpenOffice. It took them far to long to support the OOXML formats as well.

RE: How cute
By Samus on 11/19/2012 2:00:57 PM , Rating: 2
The problem is the retail price of MSO (and Office Live subscriptions) is ridiculous.

The student license is really good, though.

But your average consumer that doesn't purchase it prebundled with a PC (Dell discounts Office Home & Business to $150, opposed to $250 retail) is going to simply pirate it. And with no OGA program, they'll get away with it.

RE: How cute
By Labotomizer on 11/19/2012 3:41:27 PM , Rating: 2
It's not as expensive as you think. It's around $150, so about $50/computer. I'm not sure how that's expensive. Business pays more but they also tend ot overpurchase. "We need Pro" is a common statement yet the user will never launch Access or Publisher. Understanding the right product for the right situation is the key to being a smart consumer, and that goes for everything, not just office.

RE: How cute
By augiem on 11/19/2012 6:04:25 PM , Rating: 2
Couple that with the fact that most people will be using it for at least 5 years and most businesses and schools probably 20 years. Cost over the lifetime is insignificant. People have got to stop having this attitude that software and electronic goods should be next to free. It takes a tremendous amount of work to create these things and the guys who make them deserve to be paid.

RE: How cute
By augiem on 11/19/2012 2:01:28 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Open source advocates always seem to wear rose-colored glasses. Free software is great, but 9.9 times out of 10 I'm sorely disappointed by the results year after year. And don't even get me started on the nightmare of open-source web content management systems...

RE: How cute
By swampjelly on 11/19/2012 11:11:21 AM , Rating: 2
You are assuming the document no longer needed to be edited.

I started using OpenOffice to type and edit documents in German; I still have periodic problems locking up when I print.

RE: How cute
By bug77 on 11/19/2012 11:23:20 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not assuming anything, hence my second phrase (importing into other products is beyond OpenOffice's control).

Quite frankly, we ditched both at work and are happily using Google Docs. Surprisingly (for some), it does everything we need. And instead of mailing docs around and wondering about versioning and compatibility issues, we can just share them instead. Go figure.

RE: How cute
By sviola on 11/19/2012 11:52:17 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not assuming anything, hence my second phrase (importing into other products is beyond OpenOffice's control).

Well, Open Office has serious issues with document formatting compatibility, both with MS file formats and ODF formats. Not sure what the dev team did there, but many times I've come across OO having problems with files I had created in it (messing the formatting).

Quite frankly, we ditched both at work and are happily using Google Docs. Surprisingly (for some), it does everything we need.

Migth work for you, but from the article, it seems to me the Germans in case have advanced features need that OO is not providing (much less Google Docs will), specially with Spreadsheets macros (and while OO support it, it is not as good as in MS offering).

RE: How cute
By Jeffk464 on 11/19/2012 1:02:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I did the same. I used open office for years and then made the switch to google docs and couldn't be happier. Unless you are a heavy office user for work or school, it just doesn't make any sense to pay the cost of MS office. Since I switched to google docs, I have never lost a document which is a very nice feature.

RE: How cute
By Jeffk464 on 11/19/2012 1:08:32 PM , Rating: 2
By the way google docs allows you to save documents as PDF's so the formatting will be exactly the same when opened on any computer.

RE: How cute
By bug77 on 11/19/2012 1:59:41 PM , Rating: 2
Or, you can share the document as read-only.

RE: How cute
By avxo on 11/19/2012 11:16:58 AM , Rating: 3
Ever heard of PDF exporting?

An absolutely great idea. If I need to send a document to someone else for editing, I'll save it as PDF, then they can print it, scan it, OCR it, edit it, save it as PDF and send it back to me.

ODF is standard, if "another office suite" can't handle that properly, I doubt it's OpenOffice's fault.

Somehow I'm not convinced. It may have something yo do with the fact that I have witnessed OpenOffice repeatedly misparse and/or misrender ODF files that it created. Despite fixing the issue by relaying the document out and then saving it. If only that worked...

I'm sure that OpenOffice/LibreOffice have matured since then. But the simple fact is that I don't have time to play around with it to find out.

RE: How cute
By Solandri on 11/19/2012 3:07:44 PM , Rating: 3
That's kinda beside the point. If you want a program which lets you edit words, you use a word processor. If you want a program which lets you edit the way your words will appear on the screen/printout, you use a layout program like PageMaker, QuarkXPress, or if it's for final consumption you make a PDF.

So if you're sharing documents with someone for review and editing, use a word processor to come up with the text you're going to use. Then put that text into a layout program to make it appear exactly how you want it to appear, and send that around for review and editing. The problem is, people want their cake and to eat it too. They want a layout program which also doubles as a word processor (or vice versa).

Microsoft Word comes close in most people's minds, but even it will show different layouts depending on what fonts are installed (varies with version of Windows) on the particular computer you're using. So this isn't a case of one solution works while the other doesn't. It's one strikes a better compromise to most people's minds. If you really wanted what people say they want, you'd use a separate word processor and layout program like I described.

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