Microsoft: Office '10 years ahead' of OpenOffice

Microsoft: Office '10 years ahead' of OpenOffice

Summary: Open source advocates defend OpenOffice as a Microsoft executive argues it is 10 years out of date


A Microsoft executive has criticised the open source productivity application (OOo), claiming that it is far behind Microsoft Office in terms of functionality.

Alan Yates, the general manager of business strategy for the Information Worker Group at Microsoft, said in an interview with Australian news site iTWire that OOo is only useful for basic tasks. A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to ZDNet UK on Monday that Yates had made these comments.

"It really depends upon what job you're trying to do. Certainly, if you're just trying to write a few notes or something, OpenOffice is just fine. The truth is though that is really designed to solve the problems that Microsoft focused on 10 years ago when the model was an individual user working at their individual PC," said Yates in the interview.

"The world and Microsoft software has grown way beyond that to make it very easy to do what used to be very hard things. Most documents today are not done by one individual. They're done by multiple people working on a project at once. Essentially, OpenOffice is fine if you have very limited needs because it was really designed around what Microsoft Office products were designed around 10 years ago," he added.

OOo developer Michael Meeks said on Tuesday that Microsoft Office is ahead in functionality, but claimed that the open source application has enough features for the average user.

"There is *some* truth in what this chappy says; yes there are feature gaps between OOo and Microsoft Office. Of course — he paints a rather extreme view — we can do way better than 'a few notes'. Indeed, I'd argue that for the average business Office user, OOo 2.0.2 is a suitable replacement right now," said Meeks.

He added that OOo has one pre-eminent feature that Microsoft Office will never have — freedom. "This is free software. In the (fairly) unlikely event that it doesn't do what you want, you are in control. You can fix it or get someone to fix it," said Meeks. "A nice side effect of that is that you completely control your data too."

Louis Suarez-Potts, the community manager at OOo, agreed that freedom is the most important feature of the open source application, pointing out that it uses an open file format, so OOo files can be read by other applications now, and in the future.

" is designed to be a tool for the creation and communication of ideas, whether that communication is collaborative or not. We are designed to work in heterogeneous environments securely and easily. Our file format, the OASIS OpenDocument Format, is an open standard, meaning that it can be widely implemented," said Suarez-Potts.

He said that Microsoft's criticism of OOo was a "rather pathetic" attempt to stop its customer base from migrating to the open source application. "Microsoft's only reaction is to imitate us when it can and generate FUD at all times. It is not interested in furthering the ways in which people and businesses and governments communicate, it is only interested in its own bottom line, in keeping its customer base tied to its applications and file formats," said Suarez-Potts.

Topic: Apps

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  • as someone once said he would say that
    would not he. and charge 300-400 quid for
    the joy of using their fare.
    sorry guys oo is great , it can read and
    write most formats including pdf's.

    if the nhs dumped office it would save
    hundreds on millions of pounds.
    which it could put to patient care.

    microsoft is the dark side of software.
    and insuferable withit.
  • I've been using OO for about 6 months now and it is fantastic.
    It does everything I want it to and tonnes more besides, I can't believe it is free.
    I have bought MS Office in the past and found it so over-complicated and un-supportive - even of it's own file formats (you try opening an Office 97 document in Office XP - good luck)
    Open Office is the future - if your business is not looking at it they are either bribed or stupid.
    Another point has just occurred to me - if you're reading this thinking 'hhmmmm I don't know' then just try it - it's free - now that is progress.
  • As a user of OpenOffice for 12 months (out of preference) I find it is a very capable product, descibing it as only good for note taking is totally misleading. I can understand some of what the Microsoft man is getting at, it depends on whether you buy into Microsoft's whole collaborative philosophy which I'm not sure I do. It's bad enough being interupted by e-mails, now Microsoft want us to tolerate instant messaging popping up at random and people butting in for document collaboration. If that's what you really want then pay up and choose the Microsoft product, but I prefer to work uninterrupted thanks.
  • I find that I neither use nor want 95% of the 'features' in most MS Office products, so if there's somethingout there that gives me just the 5% I need then fantastic!

    And if MS think that Word is 'collaborative' I have just one word... 'wiki'

    Get with it guys, coz I can produce what I need in half the time of Word and share it globally, using free solutions and not being dependent on email and 'track changes'. I can even export to PDF if I need a hard copy, so come on MS... what do you say to that?

    Now that's progress! ;-)
  • I've not downloaded OpenOffice but I am aware that it is available for free both from the net and on PC magazine discs; I believe they are on version 2 now.
    I previously bought the Ability Office Suite for less than
  • I dropped MS Office for OpenOffice three years ago. OOo is better flat out. I had OpenOffice and StarOffice only as an experiment untill OOo version 1.1, since that point it meets my needs better. It's not like I haven't use MS Office, I have used nearly all versions since the mid-1980's.

    The functionality, stability and ease of use beat MS Office.
    Gravy: It's cross platform and now uses open formats. MS will never be crossplatform any time in the forseeable future and by all actions and statements remain strongly committed to closed formats, even if they have to disguise them by dressing them up in XML.
  • Collaboration:

    I know of at least one documentation shop at a Very, Very Large Company where MSOffice is far *behind* for collaboration. It seems that MSOffice has an annoying tendency to corrupt documents that have been passed around more than a few times.

    I've observed this myself doing standards work, but the group in question has demonstrated that the effect is repeatable.

    Their solution is to block the exchange of anything other than HTML files because native stuff gets corrupted. The users are resisting switching to OO.o for other reasons but it appears to work reliably.
  • If MSOffice is so far ahead, why are its menus still so disorganized? For example, "Format Page" under the "File" menu instead of the "Format" menu ...
  • If this is true (which I dispute) maybe OOo should be issued to the vast number of people still using Office 9X versions. Maybe this was a hint from the M$ marketeers that we should go after these users as conversion targets.
  • One would expect Microsoft to say that. They have been lying to the world for years and now, somehow, they are being asked to explain their lies. If Open Offcie is 10 years out of date, by my reckoning that makes MSO at least 20 years out of date. It is messy, incomprehensible, appears to have no real rules and is totally inconsistent from version to version. Wake up Microsoft, you no longer rule the world. You could have done if you had stayed in the real world but you chose fairy land. You have been behind in the race now for more than 15 years and will never catch up because you have left it to late
  • It's all true.

    MSOffice is focusing in collaboration while OOo is about you and your document.

    But if you don't use the collaborative features of MSO, OOo Wirter is way ahead on features. Perfect PDF export, bullet and list styles, page styles, better graphical tools...

    I can go on.

    BTW both calc and impress are still behind excel or powerpoint.

    But if you don't need the colative features of Word, Writer is just best.
  • 10 years of additional bombast and silly entertainment features have brought us an office mess, incompatibilities, vendor lock-in and most of all - lower productivity. AHEAD is just wishful thinking, AWAY is more to the point.
    OpenOffice brings back simplicity, reliability, efficiency. OpenOffice progresses steadily on the path to productivity by being simple, open and robust.
    OpenOffice does the job - and nothing else.
  • Oh yeah, if M$ Office is so good, why it has security issues, crashes your system, hasn
  • Absolutely true!
    Look, if all you care about is creating:
    - Notes
    - Articles
    - Best selling Books
    - Jaw Dropping Presentations
    - Crunchy Spreadsheets
    - Comprehensive Databases
    - Reports for the above
    - Diagrams and Drawings
    - Your next major thesis
    - Documents that can be shared with people on all major platforms
    - Immediate PDFs
    - Some work that is fully and unconditionally yours

    Then sure, OpenOffice may have everything you need. But the rest of us power users will be sticking with Microsoft Office, thank you very much, because it gives us ....

    ... dang, seem to have lost my train of thought!
  • I am using OOo for the past 3 years and I am well satisfied with the product and its productivity. I am really impressed to see the features in the version 2.0 and most of the "REALLY" wanted features are in place in the case of OOo.

    One of the main features are the Language Support. We have OOo versions for almost all the Indian Languages including my mother tongue which is Tamil. It is JUST great.

    One thing is sure. The same Microsoft people would say after 10 years from now that, they were doing some wrong things 10 years back like they are saying now. :)
  • answering to: Steve Thompson

    Frankly, I really wanted to crash my thesis, to spend hours applying patches, verifying styles, headings, bullets, numbering and to spend eons finding a format allowing me to print my thesis the way I had it looking on screen, or just enjoy having it printed completely out of whack - if I could open the file without finding it corrupted.
    Frankly, nothing had me more delighted than seeing the 450 pages making up my thesis + appendices going down in a cloud of binary nonsense.
    And I'm just oh so in love with Clippy, his out-of-context questions, his cute resources-consuming animations and his long shutdown sequence!

    So I had to commit to the unthinkable, and work on an office suite that didn't crash, that dealt with styles correctly, that could save in files that could be opened later, that didn't mess with the positioning of my graphics, screen captures and that could export in a format I could print unchanged with a far away printer without having to reformat the whole document before clicking on the 'print' icon.
  • I use OOo daily, but there are some areas where it is seriously deficit, namely numbering and styles. Try introducing even simple numbering and heading styles to legal contract, for example. It works but barely.
    However, other benefits make certain I won't go by to Orifice.
  • A few notes: The UK thesaurus thing seems to have been sorted as of 2.0.2 (and if it hasn't there is a UK thesaurus plugin via

    Speaking as someone who has neither the time, money or inclination to deal with MSO it is a big advantage.

    It helps that I am in the process of weaning my parents off MSWorks WP, on the grounds that nothing else anywhere (INCLUDING Word) will read the default file formats. If anyone thinks that I'm going to pay actual money for a copy of MSworks just to swap files with my parents, they need their heads examining.
  • A lot of large corporates still use Office 2000

    So technically, should do the trick for those ! At least for word processing.

    Excel just can't go away. Too many small apps are running on it everywhere and the alternative ultra quick hack-type development environment alternative is nowhere around.
  • I've been using OOo for about the last three years now, both at home, and have implimented it for my employees at the office.

    After years of MS Office failure to support previous versions of it's own .DOC format, after countless hours of migraine-inspiring overtime trying to troubleshoot why MS Word refused to stop padding the documentation with useless background data (open a fresh Word doc, write "Hello World.", and save it as a a .DOC, and then as a .TXT... you'll see what I mean.), and why it would refuse to allow me to disable scripting (macro's) entirely... (ME! I *OWN* the company, I *AM* the IT Admin, don't tell me that *I* don't have the authority to set policy for what my *word processiing* program is and is not allowed to do on MY network!), I finally flushed MS Office in favour of OOo.

    Other than getting everyone used to the new layout, we've had almost NO headaches since the switch. (The one major issue was my own fault, and I publicly chewd myself a new arse for the mistake, hehehe)

    No, Microsoft, OOo is NOT ten years behind you. It's the future, it's what you should have been all along. It's what you could yet become if you had the intelligence to realize that when entire *governments* are switching over to Open Source Software (like OOo, Linux, et cetera), trying to play the whiney "It's my ball, we either play by my rules or I go home!" schoolyard chump is no longer an option - there are other people with more balls than you, and we're not afraid to use them.

    So, MS, go play with your balls elsewhere - the rest of the World is too busy trying to get their work done to play your game any more. ((Grin))