At last I can say this.

Story: Shall we waste twelve more years promoting Free office suites instead of open office formats?Total Replies: 9
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Nov 10, 2013
2:34 AM EDT
I looked at this article when I was preparing it for LXer and promised myself I would try to say this in a thread.

Now this is my opinion only, but of all the foul Microsoft jemmied formats, I personally think .docx takes the prize. A supposedly approved international open format has been so bent and twisted by Redmond, that as far as I know, ONLY Microsoft software can accurately handle documents saved in a format that was intended to be totally open. I belong to an organisation which tries to put out all its newsletters, minutes and treasurer reports onto the internet so that it reaches the member as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible. At the local level, at least some secretaries have been taken in by the Microsoft cant of "upgrade and get the latest and bestest" and of course, have gone onto versions of Office that use .docx. The average computer literacy of this group is best typified by the secretary who, when I suggested that he save the documents in .doc format, said he had no idea how to do that despite his using the software on a daily basis. It was only after long explanations that he realised Microsoft was twisting his arm to make sure .docx was the default format in which he saved his documents.

I have been waging a campaign to get secretaries to discard .docx in favour of .doc and .pdf dissemination for several reasons that I am sure everybody on this site recognises:

1. .doc files can be opened readily by either OO or LO and the format is usually intact. .docx files cannot.

2. .pdf files are even better since they are normally untouchable and virtually any platform has a suitable reader. I no longer use Adobe and now restrict myself completely to Okular.

Naturally, I hear what this writer is saying and I would very much like to see these secretaries and treasurers move to FOSS software and open formats, but when you are dealing mostly with more elderly gentlemen who have never known anything other than Windows, it's difficult to break through mental concrete and steel shielding. The other problem is that "head office" disseminates its transmissions using Office and that in turn forces compliance at the local level. Naturally, the local officers take the line of least resistance.

Getting a change would mean that it would have to be done from the top of the heirarchy and that is still the problem that I think this writer has not yet addressed. I personally do not know how it is to be done, but I am surely open to suggestions. One line of attack might be cost savings......However, there is always going to be the intermediate time when secretarial staff meet LO or OO instead of Word and have to come to grips with the problem. And of course, there is also the problem of Win- based accounting software or spreadsheets. No doubt it can be done, but it needs a "champion" to pilot the program, and those are few and far between.

Nov 10, 2013
9:15 AM EDT
i expected more from the headline of that article.

all it points out is that libre/openoffice is not suitable as a replacement for word when you have to deal with word documents. and while i agree that promoting open document format is a really good idea, i don't see how it helps the person in the email who has to deal with the documents of his clients.

at best it will not expect him to be able to use libre/openoffice for word documents, so he would be less surprised by the problems. but unless he manages to convince all his clients to switch, he'll be stuck having to deal with word documents one way or another.

microsoft can't even handle its own document formats across platforms. just this week i have been to a worksho where the speaker had to use a windows machine for a presentation with a powerpoint document prepared on a mac.

half of the slides were messed up! the irony: people blame this on apple vs microsoft, but the blame should go to microsoft only. i don't know if that is incompetence or some way to tell people that apple and microsoft don't mix.

greetings, eMBee.

Nov 10, 2013
2:02 PM EDT
Quoting:I proposed, instead, to advocate OpenOffice correctly, that is to:

1. reject all email with MS Office attachments, asking the poster to stop… and send OO original formats instead?

2. complain with all sites that make available files for download only in MS formats

3. send files around only in OO native format, instead of “saving them as…”

So you're just going to cram it down someone's throat, whether they like it or not?

Wait a minute... Isn't that Microsoft's and Apple's marketing strategy? ;)

Nov 10, 2013
3:00 PM EDT
the_doctor, not exactly. Someone else is trying to cram this half-baked "format" down your throat. You're just refusing to go along with this particular "strategy," and you're making sure the (inadvertent) tool knows it. The point of the responses is to stigmatize Microsoft and their enablers.

Nov 10, 2013
5:24 PM EDT
I can only speak for my shop, which has moved to a combination of OO and Google Apps. They get the job done, and in the case of Google Apps provide a sharing capability that is extremely useful.

Once you're in the post-MS world (and we were never really "in" in), you're dealing with your own documents, not others so much, and strict MS compatibility isn't so much a factor.

Nov 10, 2013
7:25 PM EDT
Only the 'authorities' can 'force' a standard , but the 'long arm' of M$ goes very far :

Nov 10, 2013
7:45 PM EDT
An extremely important detail left out in this complaint, is the not insignificant contrivance of how Microsoft implemented the official standard open document formats (ODF) in MS Office in a deliberately malicious manner that's supposedly "standards compliant" but somehow not actually compatible with any other implementation (even though somehow everybody else's implementations manage to be readily interoperable with and play very well with each other.

Nov 10, 2013
9:51 PM EDT may be right, but personally, I think that Microsoft is going to be undone, slowly but surely "from underneath". Kids today aren't running Windows (and it's driving Redmond to distraction). The youth are mostly running Android and iOS on their phones and pads, and Office simply has no part to play. The next thing that I factor into the equation is the "dark horse": Chromebooks. I've now seen articles which clearly show what is happening in the remaining world of computers (laptops and desktops) and while most brands are heading down hill, Chromebooks are not. So, if a young user with a Chromebook doesn't deliberately use the free cloud version of Office, they are quite likely to use FOSS software instead, simply because they have access to it, when previously, they did not. It's a hope.

BernardSwiss......indeed. I have seen articles that point to this as well. In Rudyard Kipling's wonderful book "Kim", there is a passage where Kim says bitterly to the man whom he thinks (at that time) has betrayed him: "Trust a Brahmin before a snake, and a snake before an harlot, and a harlot before a Pathan, Mahbub Ali". If you substitute a suitable company for "Pathan", you'll have a pretty good idea of how I personally view the ethics of that Redmond organisation.

Nov 11, 2013
2:19 AM EDT

This has just hit The Register......NSW is heading towards "open data".......the idea is right, but if I read this correctly, it could also readily include .docx because the government paper defines the concept thus:

Quoting:Data or information is open to the extent that its management, release and characteristics meet principles of openness outlined in this Policy. Open data should be both technically and legally open – in the sense that it is technically available and usable, and appropriate licensing frameworks are in place to facilitate its release and use.

My initial reading means the paper would consider .docx as a suitable format, and if true, that in turn would make the whole thing a joke. Many governments still have no idea as to what is meant by a completely open format.....largely, I believe, because these papers are drafted by people who are not literate in the area about which they are writing.


Nov 11, 2013
4:19 AM EDT
The main problem in most businesses (especially corporations) is that the IT manager has been brought up on Microsoft, the directors know nothing other than Microsoft and so the chances of them choosing a format other than Microsoft's own format for saving documents is fairly low.

Then you also have the one guy in every department who thinks he is a programmer and has spent a good deal of time and the company's money in developing complicated spreadsheets with VBA code that nobody else could possibly ever maintain (and the IT department won't touch with a bargepole).

Asking that guy to go to LibreOffice Calc and have to rewrite some or all of his code is not going to happen and even if you did he would probably struggle to do so because he probably doesn't really understand his own code anymore.

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