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Re: [tdf-discuss] Re: Is Microsoft getting worried about free Office suites?

On 28 November 2011 20:16, Robert Derman <>wrote:

Olav Dahlum wrote:

On 28/11/11 13:13, Pedro wrote:

Ian Lynch wrote

Google should do a version of Office based on the
OOo/LibO code base and embed ads and search links, make it available
and brand it Google Office.  Given their brand strength and marketing,
would probably do more to frighten MS than anything we can do. Slightly
surprised they haven't already done it.

Interesting concept. But I think they are investing a lot on the "Cloud"
with the Chrome Book laptops that investing time on an offline suite
make much sense...

In the same line of thought: Google Docs is fine in the "Developed"
countries where working in the "Cloud" is a reality. This is not so for
than 2/3 of the world's population

I do believe that currently LibreOffice is the leading alternative to MS
Office (but would love to see some numbers :) )

Just a couple of observations here.  First, most businesses do not and
probably will not in the near future,  go to cloud computing.

I sort of hope not, gives us competitive advantage but realistically, most
businesses are SMEs employing less than 10 people so I should think "most"
will migrate at least to partial use of cloud services. Like us, it doesn't
have to be all one thing or another.

 there are several reasons for this, foremost, security.

If cloud security was an insurmountable problem, I doubt we would have
on-line banking.

 Companies do not want important documents with proprietary information
flying back and forth on the internet where they could be intercepted.

That misunderstands Cloud. We have content types that are secure to the
people that need to see them. Some pages on the web site can only be viewed
by people with certain permissions - eg the qualifications regulators and
us. If there is something that is really, really top secret we can make a
special arrangement for it but sending as an e-mail attachment is probably
worse security. In fact, Cloud enables us to authenticate certificates
directly on-line without a charge so it increases security in our most
important business activity. If we change our policies and procedures, the
regulators get them immediately, we don't have to remember to send them an
updated file and they don't have to have a management system for different
file versions.

Second, reliability.  Remote servers and the infrastructure between local
computers and them have been known to go down.  Most companies don't want
to have to rely on vulnerable remote connections.

We all have 3G mobile phones here. In the rare occasion of an outage, we
can still access all our files via wireless. Ok, its a bit slower but its
certainly good enough. It also means I can access everything when abroad.
Its a bit like saying relying on electricity is relying on vulnerable
remote connections. If its critical you have back up batteries or a
generator, if it isn't you live with the odd power cut because overall the
benefits outweigh that.

Another thing, most companies would like to own the resources that they
depend on for day to day operation.

We own all our resources. Cloud does not mean you have to give up ownership
of your resources, it means you are buying a hosting service.

I hear a lot of people talking about how tablets are taking over, but
somehow I just don't see a corporate steno pool using tablets or
smartphones to produce their important documents.

I don't see corporate steno pools at all. We all do our own admin because
its quicker and more efficient than hiring typists. Personally I don't use
a tablet but then maybe I'm just a bit set in my keyboard ways. I/o devices
is a whole different issue, but cloud enables you to choose any that suits
you irrespective of the OS, hardware or local apps.

 Desktop (tower case) computers will continue to dominate all serious
corporate computing applications.  That means MS Office or suitable
substitutes will continue to be the most important applications in the
business world.

Actually laptops are already taking over. Once Android starts saturating
mobile devices that massively out number conventional computers now, I can
see it moving up and displacing most of the existing Windows desktops. So
for Linux domination, its most likely to come via Android. But that will
take time - after all some people still use typewriters. I'd be surprised
though that if in 5 years we don't see some radical changes in dominant
apps. Look at web browsers who would have guessed IE would be down around
50% of the market 5 years ago?

The biggest reason, as far as I can see it that MS Office will continue to
dominate is not because of file format tie up, at least not from 2014 on,
but because of quality shortcomings in all competing products.

More simply habit and brand strength. Coca Cola dominates mainly on the
brand strength. How hard is it to make something tasting like CC? Not that
hard. Marketing it and branding it is the difficult bit. That is why the
best thing that could happen to OOo/LibO would be adoption of the Code Base
by Google. Look what Apple did for getting users for the BSD code base.

 Face it, LibreOffice Writer doesn't have anywhere  near as good a spell
check function as Word does.

Which probably makes a difference to less than 1% of the users. It's not
about technical details, its about marketing. If it was all about
technology, DOS would never have got off the ground in the first place. It
was simply the adoption by IBM.

Writer's spell check dictionary is woefully short of compound words.
 Writer doesn't have a good grammar checker function built in.  Also Writer
is very much lacking in templates and clip art compared to Word.  Now home
users and students might well overlook these shortcomings because of the
rather large difference in the cost to obtain the software, but businesses,
never.  Now these things can be fixed, and many of them won't even require
a lot of effort from our developers.  Many of us users who may have added
thousands of words to our spell check dictionaries could contribute them to
the project if some developers showed us how.  Also, the auto correct
function as it currently exists can be turned into a fairly good grammar
correcter  by simply adding a lot of functions to it using its current
customization capabilities.  I have made mine able to automatically
capitalize all the days of the week, all months except March and May, since
these two also exist as other words.  The program can be trained to
capitalize most proper nouns, to correct most common typos, etc.  With a
little more effort in such areas we can bring Writer much closer to the
basic quality of Word.

Even if you achieve that why change for something that is simply as good in
a feature that will bother few people?

I never use spreadsheets, so I really can't comment on any shortcomings of

Main shortcoming for me is that I need to share sheets with colleagues all
over the world and for that Google Docs knocks the spots off Excel and
Calc. I don't care if some obscure functions I'll never use are not there.
I need to share straightforward data efficiently and that applies to
probably 90% of the population.

 But I do know that a word processor is the core of any office suite.

I find we put more an more direct to web pages. Most of that information
will never be printed. What is really needed is better web page editors.
Since I can produce pdfs directly from my web pages why would I worry about
print layout, especially for most documents that are better kept simple.
There is massive misuse of Word Processor documents (eg for data
collection) mainly because of the workflows people are used to. That will
take time to change but it is a human thing not a technological one so
cramming more features and refinements into "old" technologies is going to
have a limited life time.

 If some of the developers will help me and a few other users who might
volunteer to help with some of these things, that don't actually require
the specific skills of a programmer/developer, I think that we could do a
lot to make LibreOffice a much better office suite, in particular much
better than OOo was at the point of the fork.

A competition between LibO and OOo for features is entirely missing the
point. It will be a waste of resources and achieve very little. A
competition for making the code faster, more efficient and suitable for
mobile technologies would be a much better strategy given industry trends.
It might already be too late but every day delayed is a day nearer to
missing the boat entirely.

I know that the developers have done much to improve the code base, but I
am sure that some of us non developers could also help to improve the
useability of the suite.
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