Goodbye, OpenOffice.Org. I'm going back to MS Office

Goodbye, OpenOffice.Org. I'm going back to MS Office

Summary: For the last three years, I've been using a version of on all of my systems. I'm sad to say that I'm going to move back to Office 2007 on Windows XP and Office 2008 on Mac OS X this week. I'm going to continue to use my Linux system for projects, just not for content creation.


For the last three years, I've been using a version of on all of my systems. I'm sad to say that I'm going to move back to Office 2007 on Windows XP and Office 2008 on Mac OS X this week. I'm going to continue to use my Linux system for projects, just not for content creation.

Why OpenOffice.Org?

When I started down this path, I needed to have the same tool on all of my systems so that I could work on projects using whatever system was available. I also needed to make sure that the failure of any one system would not stop my work dead in the water. I chose to deploy and it's cousin, NeoOffice, because the the software was available on Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Furthermore, the developers claimed that they were highly compatible with Microsoft's Office 2003 and Office 2007 file formats.


The open source software had Office 2003 compatibility down pat. The interchange of documents (.doc formatted files) and presentation decks (.ppt formatted files) was easy and I faced only a few complaints. I found that I could address those with little or no effort.

Office 2007 compatibility, however, was spotty at best.  Office 2007 formatted documents (.docx formatted files) demonstrated occasional problems with font and paragraph formatted. Presentation decks were a growing problem - fonts were formatted incorrectly, builds went all over the screen and other formatting issues were constant companions. (See File format blues for more details)

Presentation to the team - a tipping point

What forced me to change tools was the creation and delivery of a presentation deck that would be shared with the wonderful sales people at The 451 Group and Tier1 Research. I created a deck, sent it off for review and learned that OpenOffice had substituted some strange (from an Office user's point of view) font. Twelve point text came out as 39 point text. Graphic images were not sized correctly either. Builds were strange and exciting in ways that I never had time to analyze or fix. So, I said goodbye to builds for the time being.

Saying goodbye

I just don't have to time or inclination to deal with feature or operational challenges. Content creation is an important part of my work, but it is only a part of my work. When the time it takes to create content and deliver it in a usable form gets in the way of other responsibilities, it's time to make a change.

Microsoft's Office seems to work with just about everyone's system (if I stick to Office 2003 formatted documents). So, I'm going to install it on my systems albeit reluctantly.

Please, a moment of silence for and NeoOffice.

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Software


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • Confused

    You state you have to change from OpenOffice because although it handles 2003 formats very well it doesn't handle the 2007 MS formats correctly. But then you say, "Microsoft?s office seems to work with just about everyone?s system (if I stick to Office 2003 formatted documents)" which seems to nullify your argument about 2007 formats not being handled??
    • How dare you bring logic into this?

      The author is either a shill for MS or simply not Tech savvy enough to correctly use, either way his specious and nonsensical arguments probably have no place here on ZDNet. Well he got me to read it and comment so I guess successful troll is successful?
      User 13
      • Simply the ZDNet line

        "Microsoft?s Office seems to work with just about everyone?s system ..."

        Sure if everyone else is using the same version of Office.

        Interoperability between different products is always a challenge, not
        solved by using Office. Wait for the formatting issues you'll have
        migrating between Mac Office and PC.

        My money says these issues won't make an posting on ZDNet;-)
        Richard Flude
      • Simple. He didn't use Open Office!

        I use NeoOffice (MAC OSX Version) with No Problems. Guess he just want's another check from Microsoft! - You can't beat lying, cheating, stealing, predatory monopolies THAT PAY YOU TO USE THEIR WAREZ!! (edit)
        No More Microsoft Software Ever!
        • Maybe...

          He was using more complex documents...

          I've certainly had a lot of nightmares with documents coming in from customers and partners over the years, where OO.o does a piss poor job of trying to convert them.

          Misaligned lines in workflow diagrams! Really helpful when the lines between boxes in a workflow bear no relation to the actual workflow!

          OO.o show a lot of promise, but it still has a ways to go, before it is a drop-in replacement for MS Office, where there is a large library of complex historical documents or the user needs to share documents with MS Office users.
      • Such arguments do not help

        as they continue to show a divide between business people and IT people.

        IT does not generate profit if it forces the business people to become technical just to do their job.

        Viva la crank dodo
        • Yes I do expect people to learn how to user their computer.

          You got a car right, you learned how to drive it right? Computers are everywhere and in everything so take a minute and learn how to use one mmkay.
          User 13
          • Bad analogy

            Yes, these people obviously know how to "drive" their computers to do what they need to do.

            Let's take it a step further. Do most of the people you know install their own stereo systems and brakes, etc.

            Most people bring their cars to a mechanic and when they get it back, they expect it to "Just Work".

            The same with the computers.
          • Thanks, my thoughts exactly.

            When we know our skills well, we tend to think it is common knowledge.

            And I don't think Daniel does not know HOW to make adjustments to make his Presentation work, I think that his time is better spent delivering it to the client in the most expedient way possible.

            I do not say this as one that does not know the internals of the computer (though not an expert) but as someone that knows that it does not (and should not) take being a mechanic to drive the car.
            Viva la crank dodo
          • Most people had to be taught how to use

            MS Office suite of apps. before they could use it. They either had been taught it in school, their employers had paid for their training, took classes in how to use it, or bought software or books that teaches them how to use it.<br><br>
            Wonder if anyone thought to actually <b>learn</b> OpenOffice properly?<br><br>
            Do you think anyone went from WordPerfect, Lotus, Quatro Pro, etc... to MS Word, Exel, Access with out having to actually <i>learn</i> how to use it?
          • Not a matter of learn...

            It is a matter of Do...

            It is a matter of creating with Open Office and being unable to properly display the output in MS Office.

            It usually conforms well, except when you positively have to have it come out right...

          • Not users...

            It is the feature sets of the two apps and the respective way they work that is the problem.

            Because OO.o looks at documents slightly differently to MS Office, it cannot make a 1:1 import of all features. This is where the problems lie. Not whether the user can type a document in one package or the other. If they haven't learnt parrot fashion, they won't have real problems switching.

            The problem is getting that documentation written in one package to look the same when the user has the other.

            If you and your customer/partners are 100% OO.o, there isn't a problem. Throw in a mix of OO.o and MS Office documents floating around and the formatting will quickly disintegrate.
        • And this is why I'll always have a job

          IT is not meant to generate money. IT keeps the other depts. running so that [b][i]they[/i][/b] can generate money.

          If you do not know how to use your tools properly, then you are only limiting yourself.
          • Yes

            I worded that improperly.

            Still, how in depth should the users know their tools "properly"? I've worked in large organizations that have 3+ levels of internal escalation for end users applications including development and testing. It is viewed by such organizations that they are likely to generate more revenue having users NOT know the tools they use to a deep level so that they can focus on their own jobs. Since many organizations use multiple applications, it is not a matter of knowing one tool properly or thoroughly, it is a matter of knowing several properly.

            At what point are the users we worked with limiting themselves? One may say when they are not able to use all the features in the menu bars, the next may say that it is when they can't use all the wizards without support, another may say when you can't do basic vba scripting, another may say when you can't locate plug-ins and filters that add features to the application or for porting data after going through verification of the risks associated with the plugin.

            I know the companies I've worked for have limited users from getting to know their applications too well because while they are training themselves to use their tool (perhaps so they can port an Openoffice presentation to power point flawessly), the competitor is out there selling to the client. So instead these companies put in cost center support staff to "know" the tools for them.

            Viva la crank dodo
      • His point exactly

        User 123,

        thanks for strengthening the writer's views.

        He is "simply not Tech savvy enough to correctly use"

        Indeed, an office suite that needs tech savvyness isn't an office suite, it's a tech toy.
    • Not as confused as me...

      You see, OpenOffice specifically and deliberately does not save pptx format (or any of the MS Office 2007 "x" formats).

      And then I hear that odp format is supported pretty well in MS Office 2007 SP2[1], and more or less perfectly in earlier versions of MS Office using the Sun plugin.

      So what format did you send them? And why are this company that researches "the latest developments in technology" not using one of the most important ones in the history of the PC, a standardised office file format?

      • Because...

        "And why are this company that researches "the latest developments in technology" not using one of the most important ones in the history of the PC, a standardised office file format?"

        Because he's TRYING to SELL us on, BACK, or out to MS-OFFICE... and the upgrades to Office 2010 when it comes with all it's "PROVE to me you didn't steal this" enhackments.

        I agree, makes no sense... condemn Open Office for problems he doesn't wish to check up on, then later say his best compatibility with MS Office is the same format (Office 2003) that Open Office has no problems with.
      • You must be new. You can use 'SAVE AS' to remove the Microsoft push.

        Oh, sorry, forgot, unless you WANT Microsoft to control all your documents.

        You must. I wait for the day when I can say...'send it in a non-Microsoft format'.

        No More Microsoft Software Ever!
        • I think . . .

          he said he adjusted to the needs of his clients. I understand why companies would use the .docx or .pptx format files because they are smaller in size. Considering the amount of their efiles it would make a lot of sense because of storage. Plus, I heard it helps relieve network traffic. The latter is something I have not verified, though.

      • If I want to distribute something, I

        want to find the best possible way to avoid making my recipients' lives difficult. Your suggestions involve the recipients all knowing about and installing the appropriate downloads for their MS Office system. That's a sure way to get a lot of people annoyed with me and a sure way to force me to reformat it and send it in Office format anyway. Why, in Gods name, would I choose to use odp, a "non-standard" format that only happens to have the word "standard" in it's definition. Standard means "that's how most people do it." ODP is not standard.