Microsoft's fear of an OpenOffice
When 94 per cent ain't good enough
Open...and Shut Perhaps Microsoft's failure to meaningfully penetrate new markets like search has it scrambling to defend old turf like Office, but something is awry in the company's latest salvo against OpenOffice.
An acknowledgment of a genuine threat, or an act of foolishness?
Probably both. Even at the most optimistic analyses of OpenOffice's market share, it's still a pebble in Microsoft's shoe. Google Docs is a far more daunting competitor, given that it has a big name (Google) and a big trend (the web and software as a service) going for it.
OpenOffice? Today it's little more than a rerun of the best and worst of Microsoft Office. It's simply not a threat to Microsoft's Office monopoly, but the video makes Microsoft look "petty, paranoid, and bullying," as IBM vice president of Open Systems and Linux Bob Sutor told me.
It's not as if Microsoft doesn't have bigger challenges facing it. Microsoft's chief executive Steve Ballmer continues to believe that "people want everything they can do on their PC and more" on tablets, but Apple has clearly demonstrated the opposite. We actually want to do different things with our iPads and devices like Android phones.
Things other than Office. Really.
As I've noted in this column before, Microsoft needs to look forward, not backward. It may be convenient for the company to fetishize old markets as it seeks to move its market share needle from 94 per cent to 94.3 per cent. But who cares? Microsoft could claim every single dedicated OpenOffice user and it wouldn't even ripple the surface of its revenue.
Of course, it's possible that Microsoft sees something the wider market doesn't yet see: momentum building for Office defections. The Register's Kelly Fiveash suggests: "By declaring such a threat, it would seem that Microsoft just admitted that it's worried about losing market share in an area where it has been unshakeable for years."
If true, it would seem that the last thing Microsoft would want to do would be to dignify its competition with a formal campaign. Remember its "Get the Facts" campaign against Linux? That one worked wonders for Linux, putting the upstart operating system on the radar screen of a huge swath of CIOs who probably hadn't given Linux much thought up until that point.
The same may well be true of its anti-OpenOffice screed. The more Microsoft acknowledges competition from OpenOffice, the more competition it will get. That is hardly sane behavior for a software giant intent upon milking its legacy Office business for as long as people keep buying it.
This isn't the first sign that Microsoft is worried about OpenOffice. It advertised for a "compete lead" against OpenOffice in late 2009, and has called out OpenOffice as a competitive threat here (warning: Word Doc) in its annual reports.
But this feels different. This feels more like Microsoft's Get the Facts campaign, and less like a thinly veiled attempt to pretend to antitrust authorities that it has real competition. But the odd and sad thing is that, if true, it's Microsoft acknowledging competition in a market that five years from now no one will care about. ®
Matt Asay is chief operating officer of Ubuntu commercial operation Canonical. With more than a decade spent in open source, Asay served as Alfreso's general manager for the Americas and vice president of business development, and he helped put Novell on its open-source track. Asay is an emeritus board member of the Open Source Initiative (OSI). His column, Open...and Shut, appears every Friday on The Register.
The whole argument in favour of MS Office appears to be:
It's easier for new users... because they've used it elsewhere.
It's easier if you're sending out documents... because the other guy probably uses it.
It's easier if you're receiving documents... because the other guy probably uses it.
It's easier if you used to use MS Office... because your files were written in MS Office.
Use Microsoft Office: it's not open or compatible with other products, so you've got no choice! Bend over, assume the position and prepare to receive 6 inches of pure monopoly.
>> When OpenOffice get that right (make sure that Excel Macros run flawlessly)
Macros are a feature that include vendor lock-in by design. Microsoft most definitely does not want others to dabble in their costly, proprietary products. They change and add code and specs all the time not only to add features (sometimes known as bloat) but also to complicate compatibility issues. Reverse engineering a moving target is far from easy. Blame Microsoft before blaming OpenOffice.org.
Ahhh the joy - the joy - of watching the knives go in...
After YEARS of suffering incomprehensible insanity, demoralisation, frustration, and an acute vertical learning curve - at the hands of Microsoft and their "really shit is good enough" operating systems and software..... (or let the consumers sort it out - and then charge them again for another upgrade in 2 or 3 years time)
Since MS have been a real barrel of monkeys, I have also been looking for solutions to the MS shitfest of corporate crapware sourced problems, I have been looking to solutions to them and for escape routes from them.....
Linux - in the variant called Ubuntu - and Open Office; along with a HUGE swathe of generally really excellent software has grown and developed - meaning that the folks at Microsoft can stick their products up their arses....
I reckon it's sooooooo good to see all the MS Anti-Fans sticking the knives in......
And I ask myself why are the so well informed, so adversarial towards Microsoft?
Why has Microsoft made so many visciferal enemies?
Let me see...
Killing off backward compatibility with their own products.
Killing off interoperability with other software.
Selling buggy - as in really buggy software.
Making so incredibly hackable operating systems - with NO firewall, no anti-malware, and the most fragmented (in 10 different areas) security settings...
Ripping off customers... by charging people in the USA one price and everyone else double - and then bullshitting their way out of that with excuses like "Oh we charge double to account for currency fluctuations".
Rigging the ISO certification process to make xhml (or docx or whatever) a formal standard.... MS's own formal standard.
The fucking cancer that this company is with it's cash grabbing vertical integration and forced repeat buying cycles.....
Oh damn... I migrated gradually over to Linux.... NEVER going back.
Microsofts shifty secretive shitware is neither worth the cost nor the hassles.