OpenOffice 3.2 - now with less Microsoft envy
It's 2010. And 2007 is finally here
Review OpenOffice 3.2 - now now available for Windows, Mac and Linux - boasts faster start-up times than before. But the really big news is that now - finally - this open-source suite offers full compatibility with files created using Microsoft's Office 2007.
If you've ever tried opening or converting .docx and other Microsoft Office 2007 file formats outside of Office 2007 itself, you've likely pounded your head against more than a few walls - downloading plug-ins or struggling with online conversion services.
That should be a thing of the past with OpenOffice 3.2, which supports all the Office 2007 formats out of the box. That said, the conversion process still isn't completely perfect, especially if you're trying for pixel-perfect document formatting or, in my testing, spreadsheets with complicated equation cells.
Of course, it's hard to be too excited about the new conversion tools given that they arrive three years after Office 2007 hit the shelves. If your business had a mission-critical need to work with Microsoft's formats let's hope you weren't holding your breath for OpenOffice to come through for you.
Is it fair to give an open-source project a hard time for taking three years to reverse engineer a document format more or less invented to make OpenOffice's life more complicated?
Well, no, but in the real world Microsoft Office is - for better or worse - the moving target OpenOffice.org must aim for - and, in this case, taking quite a while to hit.
Also on the document support front, OpenOffice 3.2 boasts improved compliance with Open Document Format (ODF) 1.2 standards as well as the ability to open password-protected Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files.
Given that Microsoft's preview release of Office 2010 offers support for ODF files there's some small chance that OpenOffice might actually have an easier time integrating with Microsoft's Office in the future.
The latest version of OpenOffice isn't all about format wars, though, and version 3.2 makes a worthwhile update for the considerable speed boost - especially in start up times.
It's so fast, I no longer had time to grab a fresh cup of coffee while the suite came to life. No, I double clicked the icon and - just like - that OpenOffice was ready to go. Also, I found most of the applications were somewhat snappier in general usage. The one exception seemed to be the database application, which felt sluggish in comparison - particularly with large database files.
After the speed and file format improvements, the OpenOffice release notes get very technical, very quickly. The gory details can be found on the OpenOffice site, but suffice to say that the Calc tool spreadsheet application has received quite a few improvements - such as improved copy-and-paste features - while the rest of the applications also see minor updates and bug fixes.
Next page: Time for a fluffing
Silly Spin On The Article
The idea that Open Office (or any other office suite) needs to have 1:1 contemporary support for MS Office documents is short-sighted. Consider ANY support at all for proprietary formats a freebie, as anyone who uses proprietary MS Office formats is a fool to begin with and should just have their docs rejected on this premise alone.
Think about it, what kind of idiot creates a document that might need be accessed by someone else, but could only be opened and supported if they are using the latest version (beta software, since you can't run the newest and have significant bugs patched through service packs and patches) of software XYZ?
The answer is nobody. Nobody in their right mind creates a document that can't be opened, formatted properly, and edited by Office 2000, let alone 2007.
The time we needed to be on the perpetual upgrade train is long past. It's an office document, latest and greatest space shuttle technology absolutely not needed.
I posted about alpha, beta and release candidate for laughs, and judging from the thumbs up, several people understood.
But having just read the comments again, several of your arguments just do not add up. You've used the fact that MS Office sells in large volumes to justify it's goodness, without taking into account the self-perpetuating dominance that Microsoft have on the market. Many copies are sold because of FUD or momentum, not because people make a reasoned comparison.
You've also effectively said that because you understand and were willing to learn the ribbon, that anybody should be able to, and if they do not, they are lazy or in some way intellectually challenged. That is far more insulting than anything I've said, including the alpha, beta, rc jibe.
I have said that change taxes some people, but I've experienced lots of people who just don't understand why this constant churn is necessary. They get bewildered by the huge range of options, menus and inconsistencies between packages and different versions of the same package. This is not because they are stupid, but because they use computers as tools rather than the computers being their profession. They want to learn something once, like riding a bicycle or driving a car, not have to relearn it every five years.
The term freetard is very derisive in the way you use it. Not everybody who uses Open Source software is to be scorned. There is much in Open Source that is good, and just because someone gives their work to the community in general is not a reason to sneer. Save your scorn for those people who steal other peoples work by not paying for licenses. Of course, it may be that you are one of the people who feel threatened by other people giving away their work for free, but you should only be worried if the quality of the package you write is worse that that in the Open. The answer to that is to either get better, or find another career.
I buy good software, and all of the music and other media that I consume. I use Open Source because it often does the job I need, and saves me money. I don't steal software, movies, music or books.
I find the poor grammar, and lack of correct capitalisation in people's comments notable. I equate it to people having an unreasoned rant, and not taking the time to consider their use of English, which I extrapolate to mean that they have probable not considered the content of their comment either. This was the cause of my 'foaming at the mouth' comment.
You come across as dogmatic, condescending, and often arrogant. If you came across like this during a sales pitch, I would probably quietly show you the door, regardless of whether you tried to impress me with the quality of your designers, programmers, or the result. But I respect your point of view, even if I don't agree with it.
The fact that you can't take criticism, or reasoned argument without descending to insults (and you've done this more than anyone here) probably indicates some type of insecurity.
I'm leaving this particular set of comments now, because I don't think I have anything else to say without repeating myself.
You seem to be trying to blame OpenOffice for the anti-competitive and standards-breaking manoeuvres of MS.
When MS Office 2007 landed in a fat, bloated heap on our hard drives there already was an ISO standard for documents. That standard was "OpenDocument" (ODF). Now, it may well have had limitations, but it was well documented and widely used. This was not good enough for MS as they would have had to compete on a level footing.
Instead they rail-roaded and manipulated the ISO committee and forced through their "OpenOfficeXML" (DOCX) 'standard'. But it's not a true standard and it is to the eternal detriment of the whole ISO system that it ever got through. ooXML is poorly documented, internally inconsistent and thoroughly unnecessary as is DUPLICATES what was already in existence.
It is these deficiencies in ooXML (and the documentation) that has made it hard for OpenOffice (and others) to properly implement this so-called standard. This is purely tactical play by MS, so stop chugging their "Kool Aid" and wake-up to the reality of the situation.
OpenOffice is not perfect, but at least they are not trying to restrict competition.