There's still a lot of life left in desktop office suites

There's still a lot of life left in desktop office suites

Summary: Even though all the Web 2.0 crowd seems to think matters are Web-based office suites/services, there's still a lot of life left in client-based productivity software from Microsoft and others.


Even though all the Web 2.0 crowd seems to think matters are Web-based office suites/services, there's still a lot of life left in client-based productivity software from Microsoft and others.

There’s still a lot of life left in desktop office suitesOn the Microsoft front, the Mac Business Unit released to manufacturing last week Office 2008 for Mac, and plans to launch the product at Macworld in mid-January 2008.

The 2008 release of Office for Mac is optimized to take advantage of Leopard. From the Microsoft Mac Mojo blog:

"We’ve made some tremendous architectural changes to the (Office 2008 for Mac) product to take advantage of newer technologies in Mac OS X that have come out since Office 2004 was released to run on Mac OS X 10.2. Because of those changes, we’ve given seeds of Mac Office 2008 to Apple so that they can run their own tests against it. ... We’ve been able to use this seeding time to make sure that Mac Office 2008 looks great on Leopard (picking up the new Leopard UI theme), works with new Apple technologies like Time Machine, Spaces, WebKit 3, AppleScript (ok, AppleScript isn’t new itself, but Apple made some big changes under the hood), and cooperates with lots of other smaller changes in various parts of the OS."

Meanwhile, on the ABM (Anything But Microsoft) front, Sun is going to start offering paid support for OpenOffice. Sun's support plan, which starts at US$20 per user per year, will be offered to companies that distribute, not directly to end-users, according to a PC World report.

Until now, Sun supported only StarOffice, which is based on the OpenOffice code base, but not identical to it. Under the new support deal, which is slated to be announced on December 17, Sun is not offering to indemnify OpenOffice.

Will Sun's support plan give the same kind of boost to OpenOffice that Microsoft's technology deal with Novell gave to SuSE Linux? I'm doubtful. You?

Topics: Collaboration, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Open Source, Oracle, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Slight Correction

    The author said: "Until now, Sun supported only StarOffice, which is based on the OpenOffice code base"

    OO is based on the Star code base, which Sun donated.
    • StarOffice vs. OpenOffice

      Hi. Yes, I did note that StarOffice is based on OpenOffice in my post. But Sun has not offered to support OpenOffice in any way until now, as far as I and PC Magazine know. Sun, as I understand it, has tried to convince customers until now to go with its derivative of OpenOffice. It sounds like Sun has come to realize there is equal -- if not more -- momentum behind OpenOffice. That is what's new here, as I understand it. Thanks.
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Ooops

        I meant PC World, not PC Magazine. The original story is here:

        Sorry bout that.
        Mary Jo Foley
    • True, but...

      The first release of was a very extensive rewrite of the donated StarOffice code. Current releases of StarOffice resemble much more closely than they resemble the old StarOffice suite.
  • Which will be faster, Google adding offline capabilities, or MS adding

    online capabilities. Also, what will win out, the simplicity and low cost (both in hardware and cost to buy) of Googles approach, or, the feature rich but very expensive and lives on the desktop approach that requires a more expensive and powerful PC.
    • My take: It is easier for MS to add online capabilities

      I would think that it is far harder to bring off-line capabilities for Google (at least if they try to bring it up to current Office levels) than to Microsoft to add to the current Office ways to connect (I think they are doing that already). Another story would be a downloadable free Office or Works option - the equivalent to Google Apps - I would say for business reason Microsoft will delay this option as long as it is possible.
      Roque Mocan
    • Google Docs

      Google docs already has a extension that allows Google documents to be directly imported to or exported from
      • Right, but then you have to learn two different interfaces, and, some of

        the OpenOffice features to not work online. For instance, it just converts equations to images, but then you can not longer edit them.
    • The answer is obvious

      MS adding online capabilities will be faster and better feture wise, adding that which the customers are using office suites for.
  • Sun & OOo vs Microsoft & SUSE

    While numbers can be argued all day as to whether Sun's support of will give the same boost as the Microsoft-Novell pact has given SUSE Linux, one thing appears clear to me; Sun's boost to OOo is an undebatable positive and can only help acceptance of OOo.

    The "Microvell" pact was, at best, a mixed blessing. Many in the FOSS community saw Novell's action as a sellout and a way for Microsoft to spread patent threat FUD about Linux. For example, when the "Microvell" pact was announced on Groklaw, quite a number of consultants, VARs and end users ommented that on principle alone they were dumping SUSE in favor of Red Hat.

    OTOH, while Sun has often waffled and has been double-minded when it comes to FOSS, they seem to be becoming more and more consistently friendly to FOSS and no "price" of freedom has been extorted for OOo to gain Sun's support. Since this is an unencumbered positive for OOo, I see it (at least on the surface) as a good thing with nothing detracting from it.

    Go, Sun! Go,!
  • I agree: Desktop office software is preferable

    The desktop office suites offer certain advantages that make them preferable for my business use. These include
    1) In-house version/update control
    2) In-house security control
    3) Predictable, fixed costs
    4) Low rate of evolution (!) and thoughtful extensions
    5) Long history of good productivity and reliability

    I haven't seen very much sensible discussion of some of these characteristics with respect to online services. Currently, I remain unconvinced of the virtues of online services and I'm especially skeptical of security factors.
  • RE: There's still a lot of life left in desktop office suites

    Here's why Net 2.0 webapps won't cut it...

    Try editing your email on an airplane or while camping...

    Or try keeping your data on a webservice company that goes out of business or is bought by a competitor...

    Sorry - most people in the business community want control over their data and applications - and webapps don't offer that.
    • Good point, but soon moot

      That's what 'offline' mode will allow: use of Google Apps on a plane.
      Basically, an AJAX app will keep working locally through a specially crafter browser, until it can sync up against its server again.
      Firefox 3 has offline AJAX support included; expect Google to leverage it soon. I wouldn't be surprised to see Opera add support for it either.
      Mitch 74
    • Google is not going out of business anytime soon!

      I don't think you have to worry about Google going out of Business. I am waiting for Google to buy Firefox. I see a couple months back on 60 Minutes that Google bankrolls Mozilla foundation.
  • RE: There's still a lot of life left in desktop office suites

    I need a desktop office suite to work off line and on the laptop to prepare docs for fraud investigation.

    I find for my needs even office 97 is miles ahead of the latest open office, abi or other word processors for making professional presentations. I use works 4.5-8 and word 97-2003

    I am frequently hacked and would far prefer to work offline and then go online and go back off for security reasons.

    I do not care what kind of security procedures online word processors claimed they had I would not trust them and do not believe this would be wise for military, and industry/research which had a security risk.

    Could you see doing nuclear research with an online word processor and having it routed to N.Korea, China, Venezuela, or the Mideast? How about doing confidental patent, legal,military or industrial documents with an online word processor? Yea that would be fun having DHS kick your door down and waterboard you for disclosing state secrets though an online word processor that was hacked by terrorists.

    Even a multi-million or billion dollar sales quote or product presentation might be something your competitor wants to stay a step ahead might be worth the risk of getting caught to hack and intercept.
  • Good to see ...

    that no mention was made of iWork. I havent used Keynote and have only done a bit of copy-over from Word with Pages. However, Numbers is garbage. How do they release a socalled Excel competitor with sooo many short comings? I have a workbook in Excel that has tons of formulas that reference cells and ranges in other workbooks. Now that my boss bought a Mac, I am having to convert everything to the iWork suite of programs. So now I have to restructure everything from a bunch of spreadsheets that resided in seperate folders and summarized in a summary spreadsheet through the use of cross-workbook formulas - to a whole new idea. very bad choice on my boss' part and anyone that make the move to iWork
  • Why not both?

    Online suites makes it possible to make or edit documents from mobile phones, pda's and other equipment.

    Online suites are great for quick jobs, but one should be able to save the files locally instead of online. And all suites should use common formats.