OpenOffice – Stinky?

I like Paul Thurrott’s comment on the InfoWorld story on the stinkiness of OpenOffice:

Anyone who’s seen Office 12 can tell you that Microsoft has suddenly and unexpectedly raised the bar a mile high. Office 12 is awesome. And thus, OpenOffice.org may or may not “stink,” but it certainly has a long, long way to go.

Paul is right. While OpenOffice compares nicely with the current version of Microsoft Office for features, Office 12 really does make it look bad – kind of like how a DOS version of WordPerfect looked when compared to the first GUI-based word processors. I’m on the Office beta (I think I can say that!) and both Word and Outlook (the two applications I use most) are much, much improved.

  • http://cheerleader.yoz.com/ Yoz

    OO.o (ugh) doesn’t even compare nicely with current office – more like Office ’97 in feature terms. (Where, for example, is outline mode?) It’s tragic that it’s being held up as an open source poster child while still bearing such a close resemblance to its closed-source origins.

    ThinkFree Office online is a far better competitor: more features, fewer bugs, and while it’s closed source, the immediacy of it (it’s a Java applet) goes a long way towards making up for that.

  • http://www.dgen.net gavin

    Agreed overall, but remember that 99% of users still only use about 1% of the functionality so OO is fine for a lot of applications – ie. writing boring documents and sending them to each other. Making this completely free is a good thing and has the potential to open up business communications in a different way.

  • http://technovia.typepad.com Ian Betteridge

    “99% of users still only use about 1% of the functionality”

    The interesting thing about this statement is that I’m not sure it’s actually true – but it’s bandied about as if it was gospel. Microsoft did some interesting research a while ago where they sat a group of users down and asked them about what they used in Office. It turned out that very few of them used more than abot 40% or so of its features – but *which* features they used actually varied widely. And, when you asked them what features they thought were unused and could be removed, there was no consensus.

  • nick s

    It turned out that very few of them used more than abot 40% or so of its features – but *which* features they used actually varied widely. And, when you asked them what features they thought were unused and could be removed, there was no consensus.

    Yeppy. And looking at Office 12 (or at least the screenshots of the beta) it seems to be better at optimising the user experience around the user’s particular permutation of features. I think most users could probably survive for 90% of the time with a feature set closer to WordPad (or AbiWord): it’s the times when they want a few extra features — mail merge or commenting or charting or whatever — that bulks up the requirements of a fully-fledged office word processor.

  • BooRadley

    I was a big fan of Word 5. I ran it on a Mac Classic (8Mhz processor, 4MB RAM, 40MB HD). I used it to make a book. I must have used most of the features, as I recall a number of people being amazed that you could do so much with it. “I just use it to write letters,” they’d say. I may be suffering from delusional nostalgia, but I can’t help feeling that Word 5 was ‘better’ than the Word of today. (I’d dig my Classic out of the attic, but it’s in a different country.)

    It’s now about 15 years later. My Mac is 250 times faster. The OS is about 250 times better. And my Mac has changed from a word processor, into a tool for making broadcast TV. (If I’d wanted to work with broadcast video when I had my Classic, it would have cost about a million dollars.) And Word? It still does basically the same thing. Maybe a little slower. For about the same price, I expect.

    The only thing that really impresses me about Word nowadays is that you *can* actually crash the entire computer if you install Office.

    I don’t think ‘features’ are necessarily a very good thing at all. I half expect that in 15 years the software world will be focussed on selling software that is trim, nimble, and ‘featureless.’

    “No thanks. I don’t need the snow shovel with a heated handle. I don’t want to charge and change batteries. I don’t want to read the manual and I don’t want to call tech support. I just want to get the walk cleared and go do something fun.”