OpenOffice 2.3 and 3.0 (and IBM Symphony) Improve Interop With Office

OpenOffice 2.3 and 3.0 (and IBM Symphony) Improve Interop With Office

Summary: Even as its pushes the OpenDocument Format, OpenOffice.org -- and new member IBM -- are trying to deliver better compatibility with Microsoft Office.

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Even as its pushes the OpenDocument Format, OpenOffice.org -- and new member IBM -- are trying to deliver better compatibility with Microsoft Office. Good idea.

This week, as its annual conference gets underway in Spain, OpenOffice.org released a version 2.3 update of its open source Office suite that offers improved compatibility with Microsoft Excel as well as needed security, performance and database improvements.

And OpenOffice 3.0, which is planned to be released during next year's Openoffice.org annual conference, will deliver on import filters for the recently released Office 2007, said John McCreesh, marketing project lead for openOffice.org.

OpenOffice 3.0, McCreesh said, will also offer a new business-intelligence class Report Designer, a rewrite of the chart module introduced in version 2.3, a fully native Mac OS X version, more work on extensions, many more localisations and an enhanced online update facility.

The news comes as IBM unveiled on Tuesday a new product called IBM Lotus Symphony, a new suite of word processing, spreadhseet and presentation applications based on OpenOffice that will be released as free open source software. According to IBM, the Symphony suite will support OpenDocument and Microsoft Office formats.

It is important for powerful companies such as IBM to inject some energy into Openoffice as a way to drive more adoption and growth of the OpenDocument format, open source desktop, and presumably the Linux desktop.

No doubt, spreading adoption of OpenDocument is paramount to driving growth for the open source desktop. But it is equally -- if not more -- important for these open source Office suites to be compatible with Microsoft Office, which still owns 95 percent share of the market.

Customers won't adopt any open source desktop -- whether it is fbacked by Sun, Novell, Red Hat or IBM -- if it doesn't offer seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office.

Topics: Open Source, IBM, Microsoft

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9 comments
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  • Sure, they'll adopt Open Source. Just not all at once.

    [b][i]Customers won?t adopt any open source desktop ? whether it is backed by Sun, Novell, Red Hat or IBM ? if it doesn?t offer seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office.[/i][/b]

    Sure they will. Otherwise you might as well add Office 2007 to the list of apps that customers won't adopt. Let's be clear that it does not provide seamless compatibility with the 97/2000/XP .doc formats currently used by the vast majority of MS Office users.

    Microsoft doesn't [i]really[/i] believe their customers need 100% compatibility, as they haven't provided it. This set of slides re: [i]Compatibility Mode Confusion[/i] details one administrator's set of problems. http://tinyurl.com/2npxcx

    The Microsofties deride OSS proponents when we use terms like "good enough", but they absolutely depend on it (and consumer ignorance of the compatibility issues that remain) for sales of Microsoft Office 2007. And if you allow that the concept of "good enough" is valid for switching versions of Office, then it has to be valid for adoption of Open Source as well. That is, if you're fond of actually using logic in your thinking.

    Yes, companies have huge libraries of .DOC files. Microsoft would like you to abandon that format for OOXML on the basis of the "good enough" fidelity provided by Office 2007. OSS proponents would like you to abandon those old formats for ODF, also based on "good enough" fidelity. However, ODF is already a widely adopted (by vendors) standard. OOXML is not widely adopted by vendors; nor is it widely adopted in practice by users.

    Microsoft's market dominance isn't anymore permanent than the blockage of the NorthWest Passage. Remember WordPerfect? It was dominant, too. A blind man can see that the entire industry is changing. So if you've got to switch anyway, be smart about it and go the standards route.
    dave.leigh@...
    • Very Good Points

      I'll stand and applaud you. You reasoning is sound, as are the points you make. The only thing that remains to be seen is will the Sheeple us common sense and good judgement or will they follow blindly where Microsoft leads them?

      Again... very good response.
      butlerwm
    • Get your Facts straight please!!!!

      OOXML though it takes up more file space, it does operate much quicker. For these reasons, it is justifiable that Microsoft has a faster standard. If OpenOffice.org was quicker about their own standards, then perhaps, just perhaps the sell of ODF would be better.

      I want ODF to succeed, but there are many enhancements that are required in order for that to happen.
      nucrash
      • Turn your monitor on before you type.

        If you're truly responding to my post, then you'll need to point out some facts I didn't get straight. For the most part I gave an opinion. And if you wouldn't mind, kindly include some kind of segue that relates what I posted to what you responded.

        Seeing as how you're spouting off about performance (which I didn't address at all) I have to conclude you're either intending to respond to a different post or you don't bother to read mine at all.

        That said.... "faster standard"?? The format and the code that implements it are two different animals, as you should already know. FWIW, I'm using both Microsoft Office 2007 and OpenOffice.org 2.3 here. With the Quickstarter loaded, OpenOffice opens just a tiny bit faster than MS Office 2007. It was the other way 'round two days ago, but he just-released OO.o 2.3 does seem to load a lot faster than previous versions. The thing is that once you get to fractional seconds in difference during casual use you might as well say there's no difference at all.

        (Symphony, OTOH, is pig-slow, and it's not all attributable to getting the app loaded).

        The point here is: a slow parser can be improved, and doesn't affect interoperability at all. If you don't like it you either wait for an upgrade or you get a competing product with a better parser. (For instance, OpenOffice.org 2.3 is pretty zippy, so I won't be using Symphony.)

        A bad standard, though, is bad for everybody. OOXML needs a lot of work.
        dave.leigh@...
  • RE: OpenOffice 2.3 and 3.0 and IBM Symphony Improve Interop With Office

    My hope is that over time users will become more accustomed to common tasks across multiple applications. Unlike most in the IT field, PC users tend to become stuck on doing things the same way everytime. Take that from them and they panic--never mind the new way is simpler and more efficient--if it's not the same key-strokes or mouse-clicks they used yesterday, they get lost and confused. It was the same way when WordPerfect controlled the word processing market. Never mind it was clunky and unintuitive; it was marketed beyond its competition and once intrenched it was difficult to dislodge. So now we have everybody else against Microsoft. Don't try to predict the outcome because only time will tell. Best to just sit back, watch, and wait for it.
    butlerwm
  • "seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office"

    Everything I hear from people who actually use Microsoft Office is that Microsoft themselves don't offer seamless compatibility with Microsoft Office. Each version of MS Office comes with their own undocumented quirks, which means that clean document compatibility is only possible if everyone is using the same version of the suite. I've even heard of people trying to exchange documents between Office 97 and Office XP, and have found that having OpenOffice.org in between improves the likelihood that formatting will be retained.

    Its ironic that Microsoft tried to pass OOXML off as a standard given many of the tags require the same reverse engineering to determine the logic as the existing binary office files do. This means that with more of this logic being reverse-engineered and embedded within OpenOffice.org that this software will become the best public documentation of both the binary and the XML office formats.
    russellmcormond
  • Interoperability via application is wrong

    Deeply wrong. It is indicative of the immaturity of the IT sector that has been necessary and remains accepted. However, there is now a standard, ISO 26300, which is capable of representing everything an office suite needs in a file format (regardless of and PR spin to the contrary).

    It is not interoperability with Office that you should be demanding or stating a need for. It is Microsoft providing full, unequivocal and certified support for ISO 26300 in its products.
    putt1ck
  • Spreading ODF is the key to acceptance

    Save a document in ODF (a joke, something inspirational, whatever suits you)

    email the document to any of your contacts who happen to work in banks, educational institutions, public service or tech.

    Explain in your email that the software required to open your document may be obtained free of charge from IBM.Provide a link.

    Wait.

    Some of these people will ask their IT person if they can get this new free thing from IBM.

    And perhaps if enough people do this and the software is provided, then ODF might begin to percolate into the general office culture. Not by association with some unfathomable Open Source movement, but by association with IBM.

    It's not spam, it's guerrilla marketing.
    Ian G
    • I like the way you think.

      [i][b]It's not spam, it's guerrilla marketing.[/b][/i]

      Sounds like [i]gorilla[/i] marketing to me. As in 800 POUND GORILLA.
      dave.leigh@...