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Re: [board-discuss] Proposed rebranding in global perspective


Hi Michael,

Michael Meeks kirjoitti 13.7.2020 23:09:
Hi Tuomas,

        Thanks for engaging.

My pleasure.

        Ah - so, I'm always interested by this EU case study:

https://ec.europa.eu/idabc/servlets/Doc4ec2.pdf?id=27850

From the Finnish Ministry of Justice. Section 3.4 "Support services" on
page 9/10 - has this gem:

[snip]
The conclusions of support service evaluation can be summarized as follows:

There is no need for an external Help Desk agreement with an external
service provider for OpenOffice.org user support. The need for support
appears seldom and expert services should be acquired on a case-by-case
basis.

The installations of OpenOffice.org software versions can be done as
internal work. External technical support services should be acquired on
a case-by-case basis.
[/snip]

        ie. it's as good/bad as the competition, why bother getting support
(except perhaps for configuration). I rather suspect that our code
quality is now significantly higher than in the days of OpenOffice.org
2.0.x =)


Admittedly that sounds rather brutal for anyone wishing to sell support. Wrt. being good enough, the situation at the time was a bit different, though, as they were migrating from some fairly antiquated Lotus software to OOo. OOo might have actually been a significant leap forward in productivity for them. I'm not sure that necessarily holds true today wrt. LO and its proprietary competition.

I don't remember what was the state of Finnish localisation back then, but there might have also been better translation coverage of Help. Certainly the coverage for Help has been receding in recent versions of LO. Things like that might matter more than code quality.

        From what I recall (and I may certainly be wrong), the Ministry
eventually switched to MS Office because they piled up lots of minor
problems, and had no effective support / product management / code-fix
partner to help them: but of course no doubt there are political angles
to every such decision.

        I've not read that for a long time, but it reads like a multi-million
Euro saving vs. the competition - with no investment back into
OpenOffice (at the time). I may be mis-reading but at least it fits my
personal narrative of life: the situation does suck for enterprises
without support in the longer term.


I don't know the reasons behind the switch to MSO. From what I've heard, after the person leading the OOo migration effort retired, the Ministry never upgraded to anything newer. Not AOO, not LO. Not sure if they even upgraded to the final version of OOo. So there might haven been something else there too, but it's probably not useful to speculate.

They did release document templates they made IIRC as well as deployment / Q&A manuals in Finnish for everyone to use, so it's not fair to say that their contribution was exactly zero. But that's all outdated now, of course.

No doubt it was a cost-cutting measure. But then again, cost-cutting was part of the open source zeitgeist of the time. They believed the hype. They honoured the licence, even contributed back a bit. Who do we blame? Or should we blame anyone?

The assumption that you could just "nudge" these institutions into buying support for LO in addition to, or instead of, paying for MSO licences is
quite a bold one.

        It would require some sort of grass-roots awareness, that large scale
deployments that don't contribute are really unhelpful, for sure =) How
do we build that awareness?


That's the crucial question. The Finnish authorities do invest in FOSS (by hiring developers, releasing code etc.), although mostly in cases where off-the-shelf solutions are inadequate. So we'd have to shift the perception of an office suite from being a commodity into being an investment.

The problem with office suites these days is that the proprietary competition is not inadequate. Not in terms of features, usability, or localisation anyway. Privacy and data sovereignty could be another matter. They're not really big themes in Finnish political discourse, though. If someone only could nudge that...

BR,
Tuomas

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