Let There Be Light: Promoting OpenOffice.org with Sun

The OpenDocument Format (ODF) just keeps on getting stronger. It is now an official ISO standard; there are numerous applications that support it, with varying degrees of fidelity, including Google's online word processor and spreadsheet; there's an official Microsoft-funded plug-in for Microsoft Office that allows it to open and save ODF files, and a program that converts between ODF and the Chinese UOF XML office format; and the ODF community has largely sorted out issues of accessibility that threatened to de-rail its adoption by Massachusetts.

At the same time, Microsoft is clearly beginning to feel the pressure. Its attempts to ram its own XML format through as an ISO standard, and the unseemly haste with which its 6000 pages of documentation were approved as an ECMA standard, are an indication that it is playing catch-up in this sector, even if it remains the dominant player.

ODF's strength comes at a time when Microsoft's focus is elsewhere. The recent launch of Vista has not caught the public's imagination in the way that Windows 95 did. Back in 1995, there was no doubt that this was a defining moment that would radically change the computing landscape; with Vista, on the other hand, even Bill Gates seems to be struggling to articulate why anybody would bother upgrading from Windows XP:

NEWSWEEK: If one of our readers confronted you in a CompUSA and said, “Bill, why upgrade to Vista?



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Mario Wunder's picture

very nice article - I am a big fan of the XML format.

open source should stay that way

Cass's picture

using an outdated and unlicensed ms office used to be a way of life...now we fear not with linux products...sun does right by following suit!

price matters

Anonymous's picture

At the moment there are still many people using copies of ms office, but with the new license modell of ms it is more difficult to use an unlicensed version of ms office. When these older versions running out of date the chance of open office is coming, because price matters.

size matters

linux journal reader's picture

what make firefox polular was it is light, fast to load... I lost so much weight from mozilla suit. OO.o need to be smaller, faster to load

Open Office is fantastic

povertybob's picture

I have been using open office now for about 6 months, It may not be perfect but I find it much more stable and less resource heavy then Bill's stuff.


Greece Travel's picture

Been using it myself now for at least 3 years, and I haven't missed Microsoft office at all in that time. I have even been switching collegues of mine over to it, and they have also been very impressed.

should I change?

Afrika's picture

I am thinking of changing from Microsoft office to OpenOffice for months by now but could not get myself to do the last step;-)
But eventually I will, friends of mine are using it, raving about it and stopped complaining about non-stable operating systems.

But nevertheless - Thanks Glyn for this article, it is helping a me to find arguments for a decision
Best regards

Does that matter much?

Glyn Moody's picture

I agree it's always nice to have slim apps, but I find that OOo uses between a half and third of the RAM that Firefox does, so for me it's not an issue. What was more an issue was general stability, and I agree that OOo 1 was lacking in this respect; OOo 2 seems miles better.

Nice article, but i disagree

Anonymous's picture

Nice article, but i disagree with the get firefox type campaign. The Firefox people had a good product which did a lot of things better than IE and in many cases new things, so people took it.
With OpenOffice it is not the case, it is a great suite, but it does not do anything new or better in camparison with MS Office. Yes it runs on multiple patforms, supports an open file format, but still it doent do anything new. I had given it a spin a couple of times, I worked with ODF files, but it was too clunky (both on XP and Suse).
So in a nutshell, go for a viral campaign when yu have a better product and not with a product which just works and is free.

Interesting point

Glyn Moody's picture

I'd always assumed the power of the Spreadfirefox campaign derived from the advocacy of users who were passionate about the software they use - and that this could therefore be applied elsewhere. In particular, I think that some people are passionate about OpenOffice.org. But you are suggesting that there are other requirements for the campaign to be successful.

Anyone else have any views on this?

I tend to mention StarOffice first

Zaine Ridling's picture

One way to support StarOffice is to buy a license. I've done that for the past two versions, even though I use OpenOffice on my desktop. Sure, it's free, but StarOffice and Sun is worth promoting and supporting for all they've given us.

The sleeping Sun Giant is waking up...!

Anonymous's picture

And it's about time. Right after Java went GPL, I went out and bought an O'Reilly book about Java.

Regarding OpenOffice.org, it has actually been very good for quite some time. I've been using it since the Build 638 betas and StarOffice 5.2 before then. OpenOffice.org 2.1 simply puts an even nicer polish on an already terrific OpenOffice.org 2.0.

ODF is good for business. It's good for government. It's good for end-users who don't want to worry about their documents becoming unreadable in a few years. As a former Microsoft employee who woke up a few years ago, I'm all for ODF.


Anonymous's picture

Yea I did too, after learning Perl with O'Reilly's Learning Perl, however I found their Learning Java book difficult since I was still thinking procedural.

Anyway, check out www.bluej.org, there's a real rip snorter book called Objects first with Java, that'll get you programming in Java faster!

OpenOffice.org Marketing

John McCreesh's picture

All the people who do OpenOffice.org marketing started working for me last week

This came as a surprise to the hundreds of people who work on OpenOffice.org's Marketing Project. Still, I suppose being paid by Sun Microsystems for what was up to now an voluntary labour of love is not a bad start to 2007.

To be fair

Glyn Moody's picture

This was said in the context of what Sun was doing.

But my point is maybe you *will* be seeing some money from that direction in the future, given its new approach.