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[tdf-discuss] Re: [us-marketing] Marketing material suggestion: Why LibreOffice?


Sorry for top posting, but I think that the idea of creating a wiki page
where we can brainstorm about the selling points for Windows (as
Microsoft document is focused on Windows, which is their cash cow) is
very good. All the points that have been raised so far are extremely
good, and I think that we should pick them and paste in a starting document.

I am currently working at the final version of the migration and
training protocol for certification, and I do not have the time for
creating this wiki page for a few days. Anyone could create the page
though, in the Marketing area of TDF wiki:

https://wiki.documentfoundation.org/Marketing

I would call the page "Selling Point vs MS Office", because this is the
summary of the contents.

Marc can definitely help in creating the page, if someone has problems
with the wiki.

I am definitely interested in helping with the contents, once I will
have finished working on the certification protocols.

On 12/29/12 10:07 PM, Jay Lozier wrote:
On 12/29/2012 01:12 PM, Immanuel Giulea wrote:
Well to be fair, I raised three points that seemed to me were the
arguments of MS feature-wise.

Other arguments are listed, and my suggestion was to create a new wiki
page where we could compare (side-by-side) LO and MSO.

Summary of arguments from MS against LO

*Arguments about $$*

  * Total costs: Business impact; like software issues, integration,
    incompatibility, run-time errors, downtime, unreliable support and
    security vulnerability.

Unreliable support? MS normally offers very limited direct user support
- 1 or 2 incidents max if I remember correctly. Most user support will
be from a help desk (internal or external). If it is from MS it is via
separate contract or additional costs to the licensing agreement.
Security is a joke because MS is notorious for shipping insecure
products. Run-time errors? What about BSOD for Windows? Integration and
incompatibility are very nebulous - do they mean file formats or being
able to access the program from another? The first is really MSO not
following standards and the later is a programming issue.

  * Total benefit: Such as reliable supports, updates, accessibility,
    and security.

  * Integration cost: The cost associated when you decide to use a
    different software platform.

Different software platform - do they mean OS? If so, LO does this
better even if the OS/distro is not officially support because the
source code is available and can be compiled by someone for a very
specific platform. With MSO, if a version is not provide you have no
options (Linux version available).

  * Management: Can it be easily managed? Large companies tend to have
    this issue because they don't have a unified system.

This is truly a management problem, is the management competent?

  * Deployment costs: Can it handle corporate size business
    productivity? In addition to the compromise or extra benefits of
    software alternatives.

Software suitability should be determined for each case. There is no
blanket answer for this. MS is implying that MSO is the only answer for
businesses when in fact it is often not. Often the issue is that a
company has an installed base of VB macros, etc for MSO that would need
porting to LO

  * OpenOffice/LibreOffice does not provide the same depth of
    functionality as Microsoft Office as a result do not meet the
    needs of some end users. This will force your organization to
    manage multiple software suites potentially increasing IT costs.

No software meets the needs of all users because all are design/feature
compromises.

  * When running a mixed software environment you are also running the
    risk of interoperability issues which could further increase IT
    and helpdesk costs, inhibit productivity, and generate end users
    frustration.

Most companies standardize on the software tools as much as possible to
reduce these costs. However no single program/suite will cover all user
needs so to some degree there will be a mixed software environment.

  * Additional factors that could create higher costs include
    integration with your existing systems and applications like ERP
    and content management systems and software updates.

This is more of issue with the ERP and CMS software not LO per se. They
can support LO if required by contract or if the vendor desires.

  * *LibreOffice*/OpenOffice *does not allow for incremental software
    updates. *Instead it requires a complete uninstall and reinstall
    every time you need to update the software.

How difficult are Windows/Mac updates? I use Linux. I am not sure this
is a major issue if the updates are handle uninstall/reinstall without
user intervention.

The cost argument is mostly bogus because it ignores the
purchase/licensing costs for MSO while LO/AOO are free for unlimited
installations.


*Arguments more about features*

  * Office drives increasing business value through innovations that
    span basic functionality, like copy and paste, to
    advanced features like business intelligence.

How? Most of the "business intelligence" I am aware of is located in
databases outside of MSO/LO thus the issue is interfacing (Base/Access)
or importing the data (Calc/Excel). Importing data is fairly easy with
Calc and Base can interface with many relational database backends if
desired.

  * LibreOffice/OpenOffice does not deliver a complete productivity
    suite. Critical components like email and calendaring are absent,
    not to mention equivalent software to Publisher, OneNote, Business
    Contact Manager and SharePoint Workspace.

If they are so valuable why do some versions of MSO not include them?
Also, can the feature be done within LO
(Publisher/OneNote/BusinessContactManager) using the existing components?

  * LibreOffice / OpenOffice also lack some commonly used components,
    for instance; they do not ship with commonly used functionality
    like user friendly ribbons, clipart, SmartArt or Pivot Charts.

Ribbons user friendly? Many find them poorly designed. Clipart/SmartArt
IMHO nice but not very necessary. Pivot Charts I am not sure about.

  * Organizations may have to fill these application gaps with product
    extensions, additional software or customizations adding to cost
    and complexity.


And they do not with MSO? The main issue for LO is that is a large
number of third part extensions available for MSO to extend
functionality that would need to be created if the functionality does
not already exist in LO.

*Arguments about collaboration*

  * Collaboration technology should facilitate ease of sharing, and
    trust in the fidelity of information shared. To facilitate
    collaboration, Office 2010 has many new features including
    co-authoring, integration with the Microsoft Unified
    Communications technologies in addition to the new online
    companion applications, the Office Web Applications.

IMHO, MS is trying to slowly convert everyone to renting MSO by using
Office Web Applications. This renting is more lucrative in the long run;
lots of "small" monthly fees forever versus a one time purchase. When
the true costs are analyzed many may reject this model. For many the
major reason to upgrade from MSO XP to MSO 2013 is because XP does not
support the MSOX file format. There are no new features they need beyond
what XP already has they need. MS dropping support may not be a real
issue for some, they are occasional users and security issues may not be
that critical.

Pushing a limited use feature for many - collaboration - as the reason
for renting MSO online as the reason for this. The are very few truly
new features most users want in LO or MSO that would get them excited
about a new release. For MS this means most people would then buy the
new version for the new feature. This means for any office suite many
users will delay upgrading to a newer version for sometime just to avoid
the cost/aggravation of updating. I suspect MS is seeing this trend with
business users and is trying find some other way to separate them from
their money. Thus the push for online collaboration. I can remember when
spell checkers were added and people really wanted the new version for
the spell checking.

  * People using OpenOffice/LibreOffice are limited to using
    disparate email and document repositories to share and
    edit documents one person at a time. To take advantage of advanced
    collaboration technologies will require additional software and
    possibly more customization. In addition to sharing documents,
    information formatting integrity is critical.

There are no external users? As soon as the an external user is added
this argument falls apart, they must access the document outside the
original organizations IT domain. Also, if the all the users are
internal why can they not access the documents on the internal server?
This would seem to much simpler than the convoluted methods MS is
talking about.

  * LibreOfice/OpenOffice can read and output many file types, however
    vital information like formatting structures, calculations,
    layout, and macros may not be preserved when sharing with non
    OpenOffice/LibreOffice users.

What about MSO file type/version incompatibilities. Macros are a problem
but they are also a serious security risk. Document layout is often
determined by system default settings and the printer settings. I have
seen different printers re-paginate a document because of mechanical
issues when printing from the same computer.

  * Whether you have a mixed group of users or plan to share documents
    with people outside of your organization you may not be able to
    trust that people receive the document with the intended content
    and formatting.

See above, also what do the external users need to have; are they
involved in editing the document? LO offers better PDF exporting than
MSO and often this is a better format for sharing with external users.

*Security/Sensitive information*

  * OpenOffice/LibreOffice are limited to only password protecting
    files. Although password protected documents can be effective,
    they do not ensure security and may cause additional complexity.

Older versions of MSO used a weak password protection scheme. Password
protection is useful in some situations but it is limited to the
strength of the password. The "complexity" of password protection must
be judged in context of the security needs for the specific document and
the overall system security. Also, user level protection schemes beyond
passwords are dubious, IMHO, because most users do not really understand
the security methods/models to properly use them.

  * Advantage and also weakness of OpenOffice/LibreOffice for being an
    open source software means that many users have the ability
    to alter the state of the software by integrating their
    own design, which could lead to security vulnerability issue.

Truly, how many people actually do this? I think in practical terms this
more a theoretical issue than a practical one. Most users and
organizations (vast majority?) are not going to modify the code. Also,
this could be a benefit for a large corporation to customize there
office suite to better suit their needs. I think IBM did this OO with
Symphony.

  * Microsoft Office provides a robust set of features for securing
    documents that reduces the risk and cumbersomeness of password
    only protection.

MS security implementations have historically been poor so what robust
features? Also, are these features protecting against MS stupidities
which LO does not support anyway.

  * Information Rights Management (IRM) allows individuals and
    administrators to specify permissions to documents, workbooks, and
    presentations. This helps prevent sensitive information from being
    printed, forwarded, or copied by unauthorized people. After
    permission for a file has been restricted using IRM, the access
    and usage restrictions are enforced no matter where the
    information is.

I doubt most users would correctly use this feature, they are not system
administrators. This sounds good but can the system be bypassed by
anyone logging in with valid user credentials or by some with valid
credentials modifying the permissions?

*Arguments about "Cloud"*

  * OpenOffice/LibreOffice does not provide any other deployment
    option besides the desktop.

IMHO, cloud deployment will be secondary for most users, most of the
time. The primary issue for users is having the tools available and
access to the files. If the user has access to both the tools (local)
and the files (external) this issue is moot. See above comment about
renting software.

  * Microsoft provides a seamless experience across the PC, phone,
    and browser.

Really, Linux users can not use MSO and LO can be compiled/ported to
other devices because the code is available Compiling/porting is not
trivial. MSO is limited to what MS supports (or not supports)

*Future-looking arguments*

  * OpenOffice/LibreOffice may be limited in providing the next
    generation of productivity, cloud computing, lacking the ecosystem
    of enabling server and consumer collaboration technologies
    likeSharePoint and SkyDrive.

Dropbox? UbuntuOne? AmazonWeb? There are several services for sharing
files between remote users. The only issue is which to chose. Also, IMHO
MS is pushing cloud centric models to drive users to a rental model for
MSO. If the data is in the cloud why not have the have MSO in the cloud
and charge a monthly rental fee to access both? MS probably hopes to
make more money this way.

I have one rule: If sales/marketing is pushing a "solution" I ask, "Does
the solution really benefit me or does it benefit the vendor?" For most
cloud models, I do not see any benefit for renting software for me but
considerable benefit for the vendor. I see some benefit for sharing
documents between devices and others and this can be done independently
of any software.

  * Choosing Microsoft Office will help ensure that you can take
    advantage of the next generation of productivity software.

Pure marketing hype. Also, how many new features do users need? IMHO,
most users would like improved implementations of existing features not
many truly new features. Make the software better at what it does and
make useful but obscure features more accessible/visible. For example I
like any improvements for importing and exporting MSOX formats since I
receive them periodically. But this is not a new feature but improvement
to an existing feature.


Is it possible to add this to a wiki or something please. We can work
on it collaboratively :)
+1 - see inline comments

Cheers,

Immanuel

Summary:

Most of MS' talking points are about collaboration with others. LO
offers tools for collaboration with others so this is not the real
issue. The issue to MS is that LO does not offer a cloud version but
this ignores what really is needed for collaboration. What is really
needed is the ability to share files with other users and numerous
methods services are available to do this. Where the LO is installed is
not critical along as users have access to LO. IMHO, MS is trying to
push a software rental model using the cloud versus a software purchase
model. The rental model is likely to make more money for MS over the
life of the product. Assuming an annual rental of about $300 ($25/month)
one can easily spend more over time than if they purchased. LO and AOO
use the purchase model, the user installs locally but since LO and AOO
are both free the user has unlimited downloads/installs to any device.

Another point is that MS is saying they support a wide variety of
devices which is not strictly true, they do not support many OS'. LO and
AOO have many official versions available for many devices but because
the source code is available users are able to compile/port either to
any device. One can argue LO and AOO can potentially support all devices
on the market while MS only supports selected devices/OS'  with
unsupported users having no options.

IMHO the MS security features are probably more dangerous because they
allow untrained users to make important security decisions. While there
are potential benefits the problem is that most users are well versed in
security issues. Thus they are liable to make serious mistakes when
implementing anything beyond password protection of a document. Also, MS
has a long, dismal history with security issues so why should one assume
they implemented best practices.

Most direct feature comparisons are disingenuous because LO/AOO often
implement the same feature/functionality differently. Some cases LO/AOO
has a better implementation and in some cases MSO has the better one.
Also, when one downloads LO/AOO one gets the entire suite while MSO is
offered with different retail selections so direct comparison should
specify which MSO retail selection is being discussed. LO is clearly
more feature rich than the less expensive MSO variants by virtue of
including everything.

Integration with Outlook, IMHO, sounds good but is really not that
useful and the principal functionality can be replaced by other FOSS
options.

-- 
Italo Vignoli - italo.vignoli@gmail.com
mob +39.348.5653829 - VoIP 5316436@messagenet.it
skype italovignoli - gtalk italo.vignoli@gmail.com

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