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Oh So That’s Why OpenOffice Isn’t As Good As MS Office

Those of you who have ever tried OpenOffice (and Linux folks probably make up the majority) have to admit that it’s nice, but not nearly as feature rich as it’s market leading cousin Microsoft Office. Not only that, it’s damn ugly in comparison (it reminds me of the old Office 6.x, the one you used to install from 30 floppies back in 1994).  Well after reading an article in Computer World, I now “know why:”

“I think Sun developers have worked hard to open up the process at, and to my mind it has shown positive results,” said Bruce D’Arcus, a lead developer at who has blogged about his dissatisfaction. “But there’s a fundamental contradiction between having a vibrant open community and having the process controlled by a single party.”

That tight control, combined with a bureaucratic culture, has hurt’s ability to roll out new features quickly and otherwise keep pace technically with Microsoft Office, say insiders. For instance, OpenOffice’s current (non-Aqua) Mac version lacks rich graphics, there is no e-mail module, and the software cannot yet open or read files in the Office Open XML document format used by Office 2007.

Sure that makes sense. Tight control and bureaucratic culture is a prime reason why can’t compete with that open, streamlined upstart in Redmond. Now I get it. If only they could be as flexible as Microsoft, then they could “keep pace” technically with MS Office. That tight control is a real innovation killer isn’t it?

Oh wait, you don’t get much more bureaucratic and tightly controlled than Microsoft. Never mind.

I have an idea. Maybe it’s not so much the bureaucratic hell that is and more a function of MS Office being a  multi-billion dollar product that they can afford to invest heavily in. Maybe that profit-motive gives them a little extra incentive. Say what you want about Microsoft (and I’m sure you will) the fact is the Office suite continues to add features and innovate that are useful and cool. Anyone who has ever seamlessly used Outlook, Word and SharePoint together knows what I’m talking about.

Here’s a thought. If wants me to quit spending thousands of dollars on a commercial product, they have to compete on more than just price. Price isn’t the deciding factor in which suite I buy.  Quality and enhanced productivity are. Even if the cost of Office Pro works out to a few hundred dollars a year per user over it’s lifetime, that’s less than a dollar a day. In real world terms that means my employees pay for Office in about 2 minutes each day thanks to the extra features.

I would love to save money. I would love to have an alternative to Office. Maybe OpenOffice will get it’s act together and actually compete with MS on features and not just price now that IBM has joined, but I doubt it. Companies like Office. Non-geeks like Office. CEO’s like Office. Until you give me ammo to combat that nothing else, even price, matters.

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Pingback by Oh So That’s Why OpenOffice Isn’t As Good As MS Office « Linux and Unix Top News
2007-10-02 06:02:35

[…] read more | digg story […]

Comment by Peter Rock
2007-09-24 21:56:21

“Price isn’t the deciding factor in which suite I buy. Quality and enhanced productivity are.”

OpenOffice is free software. Therefore, it gives me freedom to participate in a truly global community. That’s why I choose it over proprietary alternatives. If more people choose to do so, the “quality” and “enhanced productivity” will come in time.

Pingback by Open Office worse then Microsoft Office? | Rick Tech
2007-09-23 13:33:48

[…] Office worse then Microsoft Office? Bring It On! had an article a couple of days that says “not nearly as feature rich as it’s market […]

Comment by Chloe
2007-09-23 11:55:22

What are the advanced features available in Microsoft Word that are so vital for business and home users? How often are these features used?

Your article is extremely vague in this regard. It represents yet another in a series of articles written about the need for sophisticated software by the unsophisticated user.

“”…my employees pay for Office in about 2 minutes each day thanks to the extra features”"

Again… what are these extra features and how much time does it take them to learn them on forced upgrades every couple of years? Maybe a little more than 2 minutes a day when many of these users still WIRTE THIS WAY?

Comment by Lance S
2007-09-22 11:29:32

100% Ubuntu Gutsy here with OO 2.3. Never have any need for MS products as a teacher and businessman anymore. OO can convert to PDF so never a problem sending documents. OO is plenty powerful enough for 90% of users. I truly can trust my data to be protected (virus free) on Ubuntu. OO loads very quickly using quickstarter on Linux. I truly own my system and software. With Microsoft you are just renting anyway.

Comment by Arijit
2007-09-22 00:07:20

I just want to say,
can you write down 25 or 30 most used features in Office 2007 which are regularly used? Are those features not available in open office?

Some features are not present in Open office, I admit, but those are used rarely and not for everybody.

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