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The Fall of Microsoft Office
The Motley Fool ^ | May 27, 2008 | Anders Bylund

Posted on 05/28/2008 5:27:37 AM PDT by Salo

The Fall of Microsoft Office By Anders Bylund (TMF Zahrim) May 27, 2008

On the same day that the state of New York published a report supporting open formats for electronic documents, mighty Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) said that it would support the open-source ODF format in Office 2007. Redmond's own Open Office XML specification may be heading for the great Recycle Bin in the sky, never to come back.

What happened? The twin developments are noteworthy to astute investors for multiple rasons. While several European countries, the EU itself, and the state of Massachusetts have distanced themselves from proprietary document formats like Word's .doc text documents and Excel's .xls spreadsheets, the same scene looks much more dramatic from the lofty heights of the Empire State.

Across the continent, Mr. Softy rarely throws in the towel until he knows that he's been beaten. Just look at the measures the company is willing to take to stay in the online search fight, despite being thoroughly dominated by Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) and even Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO). Redmond's hardly fond of wasting its resources, because the company has a pretty good track record in these extra-innings showdowns. But its winning streak only makes its surrender here that much more glaring, especially when the company's backing down on turf it actually created years ago.

Why is this a big deal? Office apps are big business for Microsoft. The Microsoft business division, where Office sales make up the bulk of the operation, provided $18.3 billion out of the company's $58 billion in sales in the past year. The business division also brought in $11.9 billion out of $20.8 billion in operating profit. If the golden Office goose leaves the building, Mr. Softy will be very sad indeed.

That's why Microsoft has been so keen to keep the inner workings of its file formats secret, so that upstarts like Corel (Nasdaq: CREL) WordPerfect or IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Lotus Office would never get the details quite right. It seems that the open-source ODF format, first spawned by Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: JAVA) and popularized by the free OpenOffice.org office suite, has finally broken the camel's back.

To be sure, various legal challenges to the Microsoft monopoly also helped, and perhaps some other third-party specification would have received this newfound support if ODF wasn't there. The antitrust departments domestically and abroad might have played a large part in forcing Microsoft's hand here. In the end, this can't be good for Microsoft's ego -- or its business.

It's a new world, baby Most of the Office alternatives that support ODF files today have a serious price advantage over Microsoft's products (you can't beat free). And while their support for true-blue Microft-generated files is good, it's not perfect. In that light, you can understand why there must have been a lot of hair-pulling and tooth-gnashing -- maybe even some chair-throwing -- in Redmond before Microsoft made this difficult decision.

When creating business documents in Google Docs, ZoHo, or OpenOffice and sharing them with users of vanilla MS Office becomes both simple and a guaranteed success, there will be much less reason for users to cling to proprietary, locked-in formats. After that, users and IT managers can choose alternative office suites without alienating the regular Office users of the world, and Microsoft will have to protect its cash cow through excellent support, great design, and useful new features, rather than just guarding the well-worn standard upgrade path.

I can't say that Google or Sun or anybody else just won a bigger share of the office software market, and if they did, it won't help their revenue or profits directly anyway. But it's clear as day that Microsoft just took a serious hit, and the impact may take a long time to make itself felt but it will come.

The company's biggest revenue generator may be a shadow of its former self in a few years. I just hope that Microsoft has some alternative business prospects on tap -- and no, tackling Google's search hulk head-on doesn't count.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Computers/Internet
KEYWORDS: business; foss; freeware; microsoft; openoffice; oss
Interesting article about the potential breaking of the MS Office lock-in.
1 posted on 05/28/2008 5:27:37 AM PDT by Salo
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To: ShadowAce; N3WBI3; Ernest_at_the_Beach

Pings.


2 posted on 05/28/2008 5:28:11 AM PDT by Salo
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To: Salo

I have used Google docs once or twice, mostly in a learning environment. No reason not to use them, i think, but I haven’t really exploited them as much as I would need to for work.


3 posted on 05/28/2008 5:34:59 AM PDT by Tanniker Smith (Teachers open the door. It's up to you to enter.)
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To: Tanniker Smith

I really like MS Office products - even office 2k7, but Open Office is an excellent substitute once you turn off java.


4 posted on 05/28/2008 5:37:22 AM PDT by Salo
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To: Salo
However, the OpenOffice substitute is not really that great--I've tried OpenOffice and its interface feels clunky compared to the interface of Office 2003 and 2007.
5 posted on 05/28/2008 5:43:05 AM PDT by RayChuang88
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To: Salo
That's why Microsoft has been so keen to keep the inner workings of its file formats secret, so that upstarts like Corel (Nasdaq: CREL) WordPerfect or IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Lotus Office would never get the details quite right.,/i.

That's why Microsoft has been so keen to keep the inner workings of its file formats secret, so that upstarts like Corel WordPerfect or IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Lotus Office would never get the details quite right.

Upstarts? WordPerfect? Is this guy just out of high school?

6 posted on 05/28/2008 5:53:47 AM PDT by TLI ( ITINERIS IMPENDEO VALHALLA)
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To: RayChuang88

Maybe so, but the functionality of Calc, the OO speadsheet app, really exceeds Excel. Since a majority of what I do is analysis I use OO Calc exclusively.


7 posted on 05/28/2008 5:57:39 AM PDT by P8riot (I carry a gun because I can't carry a cop.)
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To: RayChuang88
I've tried OpenOffice and its interface feels clunky compared to the interface of Office 2003 and 2007.

Is it $400 worth of clunky?

8 posted on 05/28/2008 5:58:16 AM PDT by Hazwaste (Vote! Vote for the conservative local, state, and national candidates of your choice, but VOTE!)
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To: RayChuang88
I agree with your OpenOffice assessment. It is nice because it's free, but I disagree with the author's comments about Microsoft Office. I'm no shill for Microsoft, but I will defend a good product when I think it deserves it, and Office deserves it. Office has tons of on-line support, and its products are well designed and have many useful new features. It's biggest problem is the price tag.

The other aspect of this is the end user's ability to learn a new software set. Half of my users still have trouble identifying the difference between Windows and Office. There is no way they will want to learn a new software set and it would take most of my time explaining/exploring how to do something in OpenOffice that they used to do in Word.
9 posted on 05/28/2008 6:04:16 AM PDT by cameraman
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To: RayChuang88

The only thing that prevents me from using MSOffice 2000 is a viable alternative for Outlook that synchronizes with my Palm. Evolution in Ubuntu does, but is screws up the synchronization process and I get all kinds of duplicates.

Thunderbird/Lightning is a good application, but doesn’t offer synchronization. If-and-when it does, I’d switch in a heartbeat.


10 posted on 05/28/2008 6:26:52 AM PDT by bcsco (To heck with a third party. We need a second one....)
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The only thing that prevents me from using dumping MSOffice 2000...

There. Fixed it!

11 posted on 05/28/2008 6:29:08 AM PDT by bcsco (To heck with a third party. We need a second one....)
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To: rdb3; Calvinist_Dark_Lord; GodGunsandGuts; CyberCowboy777; Salo; Bobsat; JosephW; ...

12 posted on 05/28/2008 6:31:41 AM PDT by ShadowAce (Linux -- The Ultimate Windows Service Pack)
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To: TLI
Upstarts? WordPerfect? Is this guy just out of high school?

That made me LOL as well.

I was using WordPerfect in 1987 and WordStar before that. I never used Microsoft Word until I was 'gifted' a copy with my first home PC in 1981.

13 posted on 05/28/2008 6:52:04 AM PDT by Ghengis (Of course freedom is free. If it wasn't, it would be called expensivedom. ~Cindy Sheehan 11/11/06)
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To: Salo

Office 2000 marked the highlight of MS Office, IMO. After that, all MS office products became “cartoonish”, slow and bloatware.

The only Office product since that time that is worth it’s salt, and can stand on it’s own merit, is OneNote.

I don’t mind paying for a product that represents a value to me, but I do demand service for it. Going online and spending my time seeking how to do something that was trivial in 2000, is not my idea of service or support.


14 posted on 05/28/2008 6:55:38 AM PDT by papasmurf (Unless I post a link to a resource, what I post is opinion, regardless of how I spin it.)
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To: Ghengis

We used Lotus Symphony at work until Windows came along. Then WordPerfect became the accepted editor. Lotus 123 was the spreadsheet application and Paradox was the database application. I remember a lot of bemoaning the absence of an ‘integrated’ suite at the time. These applicatons lost their supremacy because of Microsoft integration.


15 posted on 05/28/2008 7:01:38 AM PDT by bcsco (To heck with a third party. We need a second one....)
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To: Salo
so that upstarts like Corel (Nasdaq: CREL) WordPerfect or IBM's (NYSE: IBM) Lotus Office

I get what he's saying but that phrasing still strikes me as funny.

16 posted on 05/28/2008 7:12:03 AM PDT by Tribune7 (How is inflicting pain and death on an innocent, helpless human being for profit, moral?)
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To: Salo

Office isn’t going anywhere, it’s still the #1 selling piece of software for Macs and you’d love to have it on Linux.


17 posted on 05/28/2008 7:25:29 AM PDT by Golden Eagle
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To: Golden Eagle

“Office isn’t going anywhere, it’s still the #1 selling piece of software for Macs and you’d love to have it on Linux.”

You have nailed it. Business is about money.

The major cost is employee training, not software purchases. As soon as Office will run on Linux, there will be an exodus from Windows based machines.

In my semi-informed opinion, the recent increase in Mac sales is based on the availability of Office on Macs. It’s not the operating system. Most employees know nothing of the operating system. They just turn on the computer and hit the Word or Outlook icon.

Of course, Gates knows this and may not be in a hurry to release a Linux version.


18 posted on 05/28/2008 7:38:59 AM PDT by Poser (Willing to fight for oil)
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To: Salo
That's why Microsoft has been so keen to keep the inner workings of its file formats secret, so that upstarts like Corel (Nasdaq: CREL) WordPerfect

IIRC, Microsoft learned the closed file format game from WordPerfect when Word was the upstart.

19 posted on 05/28/2008 7:39:27 AM PDT by antiRepublicrat
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To: Salo

This is outstanding news. I have spent the last two hours cleaning up HTML produced by someone using Word. MS Office is the biggest piece of $hit software ever produced. Ever. If Bill Gates was standing in front of me this morning, I would have put him in the hospital. I f#%&ing hate Microsoft. Nuke Redmond.


20 posted on 05/28/2008 7:45:44 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: Poser

Thanks, Apple’s resurgence really got rolling when they switched to Intel processors. Parallels and VMware software that allows virtualizing the Windows O/S on Macs are both in the top 20 selling apps for Macs as well.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/software/ref=sv_sw_0/002-9669292-9433664


21 posted on 05/28/2008 7:52:16 AM PDT by Golden Eagle
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To: Golden Eagle

Being that you’re the biggest MS shill on Earth, can you take a moment to explain to me why a retarded 5 year old could produce cleaner HTML than Word’s “Save as HTML”?


22 posted on 05/28/2008 7:52:16 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: jmc813

Not to someone with such a foul mouth and bad attitude. FYI your lot in life isn’t based on the rich man putting you down.


23 posted on 05/28/2008 7:56:37 AM PDT by Golden Eagle
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To: Golden Eagle
Not to someone with such a foul mouth and bad attitude.

I apologize for calling you a "shill". Please understand that I've spent an extremely stressful morning thanks to Word, and this is my way of taking out my aggravation in a non-violent way. That said, I'd be genuinely interested in ANY sort of explanation for the utter horrendousness of the HTML I'm forced to scrub on a regular basis.

FYI your lot in life isn’t based on the rich man putting you down.

If you're implying that I'm jealous of Bill Gates, I ain't. My girlfriend is a lot hotter than Melinda, and I have a lot more free time than him. I wouldn't want to switch places.

24 posted on 05/28/2008 8:01:28 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: Salo
Interesting article about the potential breaking of the MS Office lock-in.

Maybe as a long term trend. But the Open Office word processor has a LONG way to go before it comes close to matching Word for preparation of complex business documents. If I need more power than Word (and it tends to choke with long documents with lots of graphics), I use Framemaker.

My biggest beef with Open Office is that it has twice destroyed the very careful formatting of Word Documents that I tried to import into and edit in Open Office. I mean destroyed as in start the document over because it cannot be fixed.

So Open Office is still a toy I use on my portable for the bits of word processing I encounter on the road. I guess that is even a little victory of Open Office as that is one license MS did not sell.

25 posted on 05/28/2008 8:01:32 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: Ghengis
I was using WordPerfect in 1987 and WordStar before that. I never used Microsoft Word until I was 'gifted' a copy with my first home PC in 1981.

Heh...I remember using a Wang word processor before I started using WordStar. At some point I'm sure I used MS Word at work, but at home, I used a copy of Word 97 that I bought on Ebay for a couple of years, before tossing it in favor of OpenOffice a few years ago.

26 posted on 05/28/2008 8:16:48 AM PDT by shorty_harris
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To: jmc813

In the past I’ve used the “clean MS HTML” feature in Dreamweaver with fairly good results.


27 posted on 05/28/2008 8:17:47 AM PDT by stainlessbanner
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To: TLI

WordPerfect was king of the hill a long time ago, but that was a long time ago. These days WP is in the “is that still around” pile along with most of the surviving hair metal bands.


28 posted on 05/28/2008 8:24:45 AM PDT by boogerbear
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To: TLI
"Upstarts? WordPerfect? Is this guy just out of high school? "

LOL Microsoft did it's share of 'free loading' software to it's computer sale. Also a trailer on spreadsheets and browsers.

29 posted on 05/28/2008 8:25:45 AM PDT by ex-snook ("Above all things, truth beareth away the victory.")
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To: TLI

Apparently so. I was sorely disappointed when Word Perfect fell to the MS miasma of Word dominance. WP was/is so technically superior (especially for writing technical documents) that it isn’t funny. I get so pi$$ed when using different portions of the MS suite when coming to find that their cross compatibility sucks in more than I’d care to mention instances. Word is really an inferior product made for the average masses.......


30 posted on 05/28/2008 8:28:58 AM PDT by Gaffer (President John McCain: A Bridge Too Far (for conservative principles, that is))
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To: jmc813

Word is not an HTML editor, and HTML is a constantly evolving markup language. “Save as HTML” is limited, at best.

Assuming that the HTML is intended for a web page, I would suggest embedding an editable area in the web page so that the employee can edit it directly online, bypassing Word altogether. There are many good “editable area” scripts around, for free or very little money, which have interfaces which mimic Word and are therefore familiar to the user (no training necessary).

Personally, I don’t have a problem with clients asking me to convert Word documents into HTML, because they pay me to do so.


31 posted on 05/28/2008 8:35:23 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (This tagline has been banned or suspended.)
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To: jmc813

Oh, one more thing: if it is absolutely necessary to preserve the formatting of a word document with charts, graphs, etc., I recommend printing it out as a PDF file and linking to it.


32 posted on 05/28/2008 8:40:33 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (This tagline has been banned or suspended.)
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To: Jeff Chandler
Word is not an HTML editor, and HTML is a constantly evolving markup language. “Save as HTML” is limited, at best.

Understandable point. I certainly don't expect perfection. However, it should be functional enough to realize that if I'd like an unformatted paragraph, it should output "<p>My Text</p>" rather than "<p class=MsoBodyText align=left style='text-align:left'><span style='mso-bookmark: _Toc137009781'>My Text</span></p>" for EVERY SINGLE PARAGRAPH!!!!

Assuming that the HTML is intended for a web page, I would suggest embedding an editable area in the web page so that the employee can edit it directly online, bypassing Word altogether.

That would be great, but unfortunately my client base is the corporate travel industry, which is highly comprised of below-average-intelligence, middle-aged women. There is no possibility they will abandon Word. I've been trying to talk them into Google docs for a while now, to no avail.

33 posted on 05/28/2008 8:47:03 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: stainlessbanner
In the past I’ve used the “clean MS HTML” feature in Dreamweaver with fairly good results.

That's a regular tool in my arsenal as well, but in my experience, it's like treating a gunshot wound with gauze.

34 posted on 05/28/2008 8:49:13 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: Jeff Chandler
This wasn;t written by me, buut it could have been. This pretty much sums up the levels of intelligence I deal with.
35 posted on 05/28/2008 8:50:25 AM PDT by jmc813
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To: shorty_harris
I was using WordPerfect in 1987 and WordStar before that. I never used Microsoft Word until I was 'gifted' a copy with my first home PC in 1981.

Heh...I remember using a Wang word processor before I started using WordStar. At some point I'm sure I used MS Word at work, but at home, I used a copy of Word 97 that I bought on Ebay for a couple of years, before tossing it in favor of OpenOffice a few years ago.

We had one of those Wang word processors before WordStar (on a non-networked shared PC) as well. But it was only at the office secratary's desk. In the beginning, she'd type work for me. Then she turned nazi on all but the Director and made me type my own work on the Wang when she wasn't at her desk.

Then I got my Novell networked 8088 XT PC with a monochrome monitor! WordPerfect 4.something and Pegasus department email.

All was well with the world!! That is until I talked the boss into budgeting for PROFS emulator boards and we all got on the company email!!!!!!!!!

On the sly I talked the IT guy into dropping an extra data line in my office so I could log onto early 1990s vintage AOL with a 2400 baud modem.

Did I mention that cool Ricoh dot matrix printer that we had? ;-)

36 posted on 05/28/2008 8:50:54 AM PDT by Ghengis (Of course freedom is free. If it wasn't, it would be called expensivedom. ~Cindy Sheehan 11/11/06)
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To: jmc813

When I convert Word documents to HTML, I “clean” them of their formatting by copying/pasting them into a plain text program (Notepad) first. Then I usually paste the cleaned text into Dreamweaver.


37 posted on 05/28/2008 8:52:36 AM PDT by Jeff Chandler (This tagline has been banned or suspended.)
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To: jmc813

“a retarded 5 year old could produce cleaner HTML than Word’s “Save as HTML”?”

You’ve got that right. It has an advantage for me. I teach a beginning XHTML class. Students find it very hard to cheat. I can spot the Word code really easily.


38 posted on 05/28/2008 9:50:38 AM PDT by Poser (Willing to fight for oil)
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