OpenOffice shortcomings forcing German council to go back to Microsoft

OpenOffice shortcomings forcing German council to go back to Microsoft

But open source developers say the council should still consider a quick upgrade to OpenOffice or LibreOffice

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The city council in Freiburg, Germany, is planning to ditch open source office suite OpenOffice and return to Microsoft Office.

But at the end of last week, German open source developers reacted angrily, saying that the city uses outdated software and did not consider upgrading to a current version of LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org.

In a draft resolution discussing IT problems, Freiburg's city council said it was in favour of migrating from the outdated OpenOffice 3.2.1 it is using in combination with Microsoft Office 2000 to Microsoft Office 2010,

"In the specific case of the use of OpenOffice, the hopes and expectations of the year 2007 are not fulfilled," the council wrote, adding that continuing use OpenOffice will lead to performance impairments and aggravation and frustration on the part of employees and external parties.

"Therefore, a new Microsoft Office licence is essential for effective operations," they said.

Freiburg has been using OpenOffice and Microsoft Office 2000 side-by-side since 2007 and has been very restrictive issuing licences of new Microsoft Office suites. Since then, the city noticed that it has been far from ideal to use only OpenOffice for digital correspondence. Microsoft Office for instance is the standard for external communication, the council said.

Employees had trouble with documents that were formatted in a seemingly complete random way when opened in another office suite. There were also conversion problems between the presentation programs Power Point and Impress. And spreadsheet program Calc and Impress were seen as significantly underperforming compared to the Microsoft alternative, the council said.

While expectations were that OpenOffice's development would progress and it would be used by more municipalities, government use of OpenOffice is not widespread, the council wrote. Besides Munich, there is no big community that decided to do the same as Freiburg, it said, adding that there are no signs that the use of open source software will prevail in the market.

The council noted that the currently used version of Oracle OpenOffice is not being developed anymore. That left the option of using LibreOffice, an office suite that has its roots in OpenOffice but is being developed independently, or choosing Apache OpenOffice, the relaunched version of OpenOffice from the Apache Software Foundation.

But using OpenOffice for word processing alone is not possible, the council said, adding that they estimated that only 80% of the word processing could be done using the open source suite. "With spreadsheets and presentations this percentage is significantly lower," they said.

"The divergence of the development community (LibreOffice on one hand Apache Office on the other) is crippling for the development for OpenOffice," the council said, adding that the development of Microsoft Office is far more stable. Looking at the options, a one-product strategy with Microsoft Office 2010 is the only viable one, according to the council.

Several open source groups such as the Free Software Foundation Europe, the Document Foundation and the Open Source Business Alliance protested the plans in an open letter to the council, saying the council compared apples with oranges.

"Numerous statements concerning LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice are incorrect or outdated," they said in the letter, adding that the support of LibreOffice and OpenOffice is at a professional level these days. "The assessment of the evaluation that compatibility to Microsoft Office cannot be reached in the next few years, is also wrong," they said.

According to the organisations, no open source experts were consulted in the process. Therefore they hoped the council would still consider a migration to a current version of LibreOffice or OpenOffice.

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  • Indian_Art Open letter to the City of FreiburgThe Open Source Business Alliance and other signatories recommend the Freiburg City Council is a political and sustainable decision in favor of transforming openness transparency participation and collaboration from 2007 to not be too hasty in a decision about to direct royalty payments to a proprietary manufacturer in the amount of 550000 EUR leads Large cities such as Munich Jena and have been added since the completion of the opinion in the summer of 2012 Leipzig prove that LibreOffice or Apache Office implementations of the latest generation are successful Even small towns like the town of Schwbisch Hall or Treuchtlingen projects running with a clear focus on open office suites to the great satisfaction and have led to significant savings Introducing the complete letter to the council and the mayor of the city of Freiburg as the text and available for download An open letter to the city of Freiburg pdf The signatories to criticize particular the failure to take account of more recent version of the free office suites as well as some misstatements in the report and in the report of the administration Besides the OSB Alliance also have The Document Foundation Free Office Germany eV Federation information and communication services and the Free Software Foundation Europe signed the letter
  • Gonzalo VC Crazy achtung The more logical and best solution is to migrate to the new Libreoffice suite for free and with more compatibility with all pre-existent documents
  • Stoyan Yordanov I use both Linux and Windows with LibreOffice installed everywhere Had no problems so far with word excel or powerpoint compatibility If one decide - there could be a quick education on how basic stuff is done
  • Jorma Valli I use rtf - format always no matter what software I use So everyone can open and read it How hard is thatAnd with calc and impress Youre not seeing forest for the trees
  • Suman Srinivasan As much as I would like to think otherwise this is probably true I use Linux on my personal laptop and using OpenOffice or LibreOffice for anything beyond basic stuff is a pain And Im a developer - convincing my non-techie friends is even more difficult even those who now use Linux on a daily basis Linux as an OS is probably on par with Windows now But OpenOfficeLibreOffice have a way to go
  • Chris Puttick I use only LibreOffice does everything it needs to in a business When I hear otherwise always have to wonder what it is exactly that is not driven by existing supplier lock-in strategies that the alternatives can do Ive not heard any answers
  • Richard Ulrich Once again politics are driven by lobbyists
  • Joeri Sebrechts No I would disagree with that I tried using openoffice for a whole year instead of microsoft word in a situation where document compatibility was not a requirement Openoffice is simply not in the same ballpark as microsoft office as far as getting things done Its not the featureset its not the document compatibility its the raw usability of the product Everything was there but it all was less polished less usable less discoverable than the equivalent functionality in microsoft word This amounted to many hours of loss of productivity which absolutely dwarfs the cost of licensing microsoft word The lack of document compatibility is just one more issue to throw onto the pile
  • Todor Velichkov the problem is with Microsoft Office documents format not with OO or LO
  • bobdvb I have to agree even when I have tried running Open Office as my main suite I have needed to use MS Office regularly because the two are not entirely compatible If using OO stand-alone then there are few problems and it is relatively easy to adjust but it all falls down on interoperability
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