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And so it begins

http://searchenterpriselinux.techtarget.com/qna/0,289202,sid39_gci964811,00.html


"So, when we are rolling over to OpenOffice, some of the links on the Web pages don't work the RIGHT way because again Microsoft has you locked in. Once you use their browser and their OS, you have to use it their way or no way"

Very good that companies are looking into saving money.

Mike
Tuesday, May 18, 2004


" so your standard links and your plug-ins with the Web browser are proprietarily written to look for just Microsoft Office"


I don't understand that statement. When I click on a .doc hyperlink, Windows determines which app is responsible for opening .doc files and then launches it?

Right?

Whatever
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

According to the article, they are dumping Microsoft Office and migrating to OpenOffice.  I don't see this as too big of a deal, as their present version of office is 7 years old.  It's not as if they are running Microsoft Office 2003 or XP and are migrating off.

On a personal note, at my present place of employment, we use OpenOffice strictly and we run Linux strictly.  I must say that OpenOffice feels much like Microsoft Office did in 1997. . . Clunky, Error Prone, and Awkward.  It crashes often enough to notice, and the UI is rough at best.  Whenever I go to right click on a misspelled word, it takes a good 5 seconds to load the dictionary the first time (P4 2.8 GHz w/ 2GB of RAM) and if I use the mouse scroll wheel, artifacts are left behind of past lines during the scroll.

So yes, Open Office I think is a very viable alternative to Microsoft Office 97.  Is it polished and refined, no.  If you don't care about that polished feeling, and it's been forever since you upgraded, make the move as it won't leave you any worse off then where you are now.

Elephant
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Some of the links on whose webpages don't work how, and how is it supposed to work?  Not a very well written article, IMHO.

Greg Hurlman
Tuesday, May 18, 2004


"Not a very well written article, IMHO. "

The article's primary purpose is to highlight that a large company ditched MS in favor of Linux. As such, the Linux camp (who often aren't very critical thinking) will bandy the article around as proof of Microsoft's impending doom.

For others, the article will tend to come across as a bit amateurish since, as you mentioned, it doesn't really go into detail about the perceived problems that they had.

If I were the interviewer, I would have asked him "So...How many nurses need the ability to generate Flash files?"

Go Linux Go!
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I had gathered as much - sometimes I wonder if groups of online journalists bet on who can get linked by /. more in a year's time.

Greg Hurlman
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"So, when we are rolling over to OpenOffice, some of the links on the Web pages don't work the RIGHT way because again Microsoft has you locked in. Once you use their browser and their OS, you have to use it their way or no way"

Of course, this linking was set by the users when the first configured their machines for Office.  It sounds to me like they're blaming the software for what they told it to do 7 years ago, just because they've changed their minds now.

However, I think OpenOffice is promising.  I look forward to them solving their stability issues.

I think they should have stolen the UI from Microsoft Office, though.  They didn't because of the mantra "Microsoft isn't always right".  But heck, if you want to make headway against the industry giant, you should make it easy for users to transition.

Even Microsoft had an option in early Word versions to use the WordPerfect menus/shortcuts.  This was very helpful to those who were familiar with WP, but wanted the WYSIWYG approach of Word.

OpenOffice would do great to do something similar.

Conspiracy Anti-Theorist
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"It's not as if they are running Microsoft Office 2003 or XP and are migrating off."

So microsoft doesn't care then, right?  LMAO

Mike
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"I think they should have stolen the UI from Microsoft Office, though"

How does this work in the long term, tho? It seems that the OpenOffice group should have one of two goals:
1) Compete with MS Office
2) Provide a cheap/free alternative to MS Office

With #1, you can't ever pull ahead if your modus operandi is to copy from MS Office - you've established yourself in second place, and there you'll have to stay until you commit to actually doing some UI exploration on your own.  There's also the issue of trying to differentiate the products when yours is a carbon copy.

With #2, copying UI and innovations wholesale really puts you in a moral quandry - you are intentionally leeching off someone else's work. Doing it once for the leg-up is debatable, but I don't think anyone's hands are clean in that department (grin). But to commit to making it a way of life really starts to reek after a while, IMHO - it kind of makes one the lapdog of the original, feeding off their table scraps.

I think the intellectually honest approach is to commit to "doing your own thing" UI-wise, even if it means slower adoption. [shrug]

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

>>It sounds to me like they're blaming the software for what they told it to do 7 years ago, just because they've changed their minds now.

That's the way I read it too.  It sounds as though when users click on a "*.doc", "*.xls", etc. link in a web browser that the OS searches for Word, Excel, etc.

I know that I can manually go into the file types option in Explorer and change the .doc, xls, etc. associations to OpenOffice, so I would think that this change could be done in a script.  I guess it's easier for the 2 IT admins in the article to just blame MS for everything.

yet another anon
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

FYI - Part 2 is here: http://searchenterpriselinux.techtarget.com/qna/0,289202,sid39_gci964821,00.html

Something else that is nagging at me is what IT infrastructure are they moving away from to tout Novell's solution?  There is no mention of any server infrastructure, nor what OS the desktops were running.

It sounds an awful lot like trying to compare the version of FreeBSD I was made to install for my CS classes back in '95 to Server 2003/XP.

Greg Hurlman
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I don't think it's an issue of creative morality.  It's a usability issue.  If people are really concerned about cloning a UI, they can patent it.

But, most people are familiar with how to operate in Word.  Now a new competetitor comes forth, toting a much better price tag.  To a consumer, the first reactions are 1) Is it of the same quality? and 2) How does using it compare with what I know?  If they can answer those two positively, they will be inclined to switch.

Quality is somewhat static, i.e. every software has bugs, and they generally get better with time.

Comparing it to what you're familiar with is completely up to designers.  If you put the File menu on the far right, The edit menu a submenu of the Tools, and so forth, people will have a big learning curve, and will react to question 2 negatively.  However if the software is similar to what they know, and they can start using it quickly, Q2 gets positive fast.

So if you can win in price, stay even in quality, and even in usability, you can bet you'll win customers.  If you can then go beyond, like Word did over WordPerfect, you're sure to dominate.

Conspiracy Anti-Theorist
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"nor what OS the desktops were running."

Dude, they were running office 97 what do you think the desktops were running?

Mike
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Philo-

Maybe I misunderstood your comment.  But...

Many people see Microsoft as a "standard" setting company.  So how does copying their UI make you intellectually dishonest?

People expect certain things as Conspiracy Anti-Theorist points out.

Russell Thackston
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

You're right, due to the ubiquity of MS Office, it may be a catch-22. I was just thinking of how unhappy I would be with in a mode of "wait for MS to do something, then we'll copy it" (I realize OpenOffice isn't in this mode - I was commenting on why they may not have chosen this path)

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 18, 2004


Even if you are an ardent MS supporter, this news story is good news.

I love MS Office, but I hate the price. It's insanely high.

Stories such as these (however poorly written) help to apply a little bit of pressure on MS from raising MS Office prices even further. Perhaps even lower them.

As MS Office user, I hope we see more stories of people dumping Office so that MS will lower it's prices.

Uncle Bill
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"So microsoft doesn't care then, right?  LMAO"

Maybe a bit, but it's not as if they recently lost a paying customer. . . that paying customer was lost a long time ago, seeing as they haven't purchased an upgrade in 7 years.

Elephant
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I'm sorry, but if this was a pro-MS article then /. would be ripping it to shreds, and rightly so. It's 90% propaganda, 10% content.

I'll also be interested to read the reports of this initiative:
"Many vendors don't code for themselves; they rely on Microsoft to code products for them. So, those applications are highly dependent upon proprietary applications like, say, Excel. So, our CIO and folks from Novell have been contacting these vendors, telling them that if they want to continue business with us, they need to stop coding to a proprietary system. In particularly, they need to stop coding to just Microsoft Office."

There is one very, very key phrase in there -
"they rely on Microsoft to code products for them"

While it's stated as a perjorative, it's true. Microsoft provides a robust, healthy object model and code tools to make it painless to create additional value on the platform. That's why all those Access databases he whines about later on exist. Instead this team seems to plan on taking all of that development into the IT shop and forcing their contractors to provide additional coding (instead of producing an Excel add-in to depreciate their assets, they'll have to write an entire app)

That's the trade-off - a few hundred dollars per desktop for the framework to create applications faster and give your users more capability to automate.

Net result - I'll wager the IT dept is going to get swamped with work and their contracting costs are going to go up.

They quoted a cost of $2M to buy Office 2003 for 3,500 desktops, 5,000 users. Instead they're going to roll out OpenOffice, put in some Novell infrastructure, and migrate 500 applications (not counting all the Access mdb's alluded to)

$2M/500 = $4k/app, or two weeks of development time at $50/hour. For analysis, development, and testing (including regression testing against existing data)

That's amortizing the $2M cost of Office across JUST THE APPLICATION MIGRATION. It's not considering the cost of rolling out OpenOffice, or the cost of these Novell tools they gloss over, or the increased costs of contractor dev.

This is off the top of my head, so I might be missing something - thoughts?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Oops - forgot to mention the obligatory disclaimer - I'm an employe of MS and an Office development evangelist, but I tried to be objective. :)

BTW, I question that "500 applications" number - that's an application per every ten users. I suspect many of them are just macros or something similar. Can anyone with enterprise IT background comment on that number?

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

You forgot to put your "I work at Microsoft" disclaimer.

Anon-y-mous Cow-ard
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Whoops. You beat me.

Anon-y-mous Cow-ard
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"I love MS Office, but I hate the price. It's insanely high."

I'm curious.  If you separately purchased commerical-quality alternatives for each application category, how much would it cost, total?

* Word processor
* Spreadsheet
* Database
* E-Mail Client
* Presentation
* Publishing
* Contact Manager

(I do NOT work for Microsoft)

Russell Thackston
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

If these guys were salesmen giving a pitch I could understand it but they are the inhouse IT guys for the client. I sure hope for the good of people in Florida, that their heatlh care professionals are miore clued-up than their IT staff.

They saved money because they didn't have to boy Acrobat to convert to .pdf?  I just did a Google search 3 days ago, and got two perfect, free .pdf converters that install the converter as a pirinter. I've got another on my home machine that has worked perfectly for the last two years.

And what's this crap about custom links between the browser and office?  Hallucinations.

Now, I've just spent a dozen hours or so struggling with formatting varying Word documents. Of that time I would say that about ninety minutes was productive and the rest was wasted dealing with Words many broken features, and it's only because of my long experience of Word that I'm able to get round them anyway. Word is not so much a leaky abstraction as on massive cheesecloth filled with elepnant diarrhoea.

Just one little dropping from the gigantic diaper full of liquid crud. I have a file that I have changed all the formatting to Times New Roman. When I start deleting blank spaces it suddenly changes the color back from burgundy to automatic  (even though the whole three pages have burgundy type) and better still changes the font size to 13.5, and the font to Ariel Monotype MS or something similar, even though there was nothing, even in the document Word had been converted from that ever was that font size or ever used that font.

And if you hear about the MS server going down, it's not because of a DOS attack, it' because it's been overwhelmed by the automated bug reports when Word crashed every time I tried to save a certain template.

And Normal.dot is looking like it just got out of Al-Gharaib.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Not directly relevant I know but today we received our first e-mail attachment in .sxw format. Admittedly it was from a semi-retired professional with a reputation from saving money. 

I do think the article over-egged things even though I use OO.o myself and I do think the case for a home user is pretty strong.  On the other hand  I migrated my work from Wordperfect to MS Office last year.  The principle advantage of
Office being the WordPerfect file filters which at the time OO.o didn't have.

a cynic writes...
Tuesday, May 18, 2004


The business reasoning given in this article seems pretty shoddy. (The links don't work!? LOL!) Most of their thought process seems to stem from their dislike of MS, and not from any bona-fide long term savings.

What I see...is two young guys who dislike MS starting a crusade to conquer the evil empire. Joining them is a somewhat dimwitted CIO who buys into their arguments without actually putting pencil to paper.

It'll never happen, but I love to hear a followup story in about 3 years on this deal. I suspect Philo is right. They're going to be swamped with custom development work and that 2 million savings will quickly be eaten up by that cost. Then factor in the cost of productivity as users wait around to have their custom widgets built by the same cluemasters that started the whole shennanigans.

Huh?
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"And Normal.dot is looking like it just got out of Al-Gharaib. "

Was that pre-Saddam, or post-Saddam?

Not me
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Was that pre-Saddam, or post-Saddam?"

Clearly it was post-Saddam. For had it been pre-Saddam, that wretch would have never walked out of the prison!

I don't think so
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Microsoft provides a robust, healthy object model and code tools to make it painless to create additional value on the platform"

yeah, that's why we need to replace normal.dot every other day on a workstation that runs a word macro to format text docutments.

Microsoft knows if you give someone something easy to use, no matter how faulty or fragile, people will flock to it locking themselves into Microsoft.  Smart of MS.

Maybe you are right Philo, but let's try things without MS Office for awhile and make our own decisions, not read more market speak Fud from the Criminal in Redmond.

SNT the evolution of RMS
Tuesday, May 18, 2004


"not read more market speak Fud from the Criminal in Redmond. "

I'm all for less FUD....Particularly from the moronic dolts who refer to MS as "The Criminal In Redmond".

Stalin
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

"Maybe you are right Philo, but let's try things without MS Office for awhile and make our own decisions, not read more market speak Fud from the Criminal in Redmond. "

SNT, wasn't that exactly what I said? Here's an organization migrating to OpenOffice and promising massive savings - let's check back in on them in two years and see how it's going.

Get the facts, then make your decision.

But when I read an article that's 90% opinion and 10% loosely-supported fact, don't mind if I try to bring some objectivity to the discussion - you are absolutely welcome (and encouraged) to critically address my post and point out any logical errors.

Philo

Philo
Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Philo, critically addressing your post and point out any logical errors won't win any market shares. :D If that worked some company which shall go unnamed will not be as big as they are today.

Li-fan Chen
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Gee, I think these guys are digging a bit of a hole. That talk about replacing ms-access databases with MySql was very telling here. Ms-access more then anything is just a client tool. You build forms, UI, and REALLY nice reports with ms-access. The fact that data is in ms-access is MOOT. These guys are talking about moving the data out of ms-access into MySql. ….so what?

Who EVER could not get data out the ms-access file format anyway? I don’t hear people complaining about the format that MySql, or Oracle uses? Who cares? NO ONE I EVER knew has tried to read MySql, or Oracle files directly. As long as industry standards like odbc, or com can grab the data..who cares? All these products from ms-access to Oracle have some data format but also have standard interfaces to get the data out.

The problem is not some data sitting in comma delimited format, or text (xml), or even in MySql. The problem is that 99% of the time those ms-access databases have functionality built into them that goes along with them. Heck..if you are talking about just a stupid data file…throw it into Excel..(or whatever spreadsheet you plan to use!).

How does moving the data to MySql IN ANY way give those users the ability to work with that data? They are missing the point here completely.

Why is the data in ms-access in the first place? I suspect it has little to do with the fact that ms-access is a database..but much more with the fact that ms-access lets you build forms..and reports.  Those little ms-access databases tend to crop up everywhere since people needed something done that the IT department could not cope with, did not want to deal with..or simply it did not make sense to bother them.

How can a end user do anything with Oracle, or MySql, or ms-sql server? I mean, ms-access can easily connect to any of those data engines anyway? These folks are complete missing the point…and if they think that ms-access is JUST a datastore..then they really are in trouble. Sure..go ahead and move the data to some data engine..but what the heck is the user going to use?

And, don’t get me wrong, like the HUGE popularity of dbaseIII files from years ago, the mdb (access) file format IS OFTEN used as a general data store. A recent audit for a company showed that 45,000 access databases existed..(and, I have to admit..that not all were applications. So, like years ago, MANY products needed a data format, and used the dbaseII/III format. (you still see large numbers of these files around..and they are often just a data store).

So, in some cases you can certainly move those data stores to a server based system…...but that still does NOT tell me HOW those databases where generated? Where the heck are they coming from????? You mean a WinFax phone dir that creates a dbaseII file now has to be moved to MySql? How is that going to work?

And, this issue about ms-access being $200 per seat? ..hum..when it is part of office..it is cheaper then that..and further you can use the royalty free runtime to deploy ms-access on each machine at zero cost per additional pc…and lots of companies do just that.

And, really..what is the value of an employees who can get their work one? $200 over 5 years is only $40 PER year.  $40 per year represents ONLY a few hours of labor at most for that employee. What kind of tools are being taking away from these people?

At the end of the day…this is all about making workers happy and productive. And, the more happy and productive people are..the better the place is to work at. Any company can cut out stuff that people use..but then you are cutting out tools that users have…

If you have to train, or change more then a few hours of procedures per worker per year over the next 5 years..you have MORE then eaten up any cost savings here.

When one looks at the kinds of functionality these folks seem to be breaking, then I am much worried that  procedures, and productivity of workers that took YEARS to attain is going to be seriously damaged here.! 

This is not about moving data from one pc to some server…but HOW that data gets created is the REAL issue here!

I hope the workers have some say here..as the heart and soul of the people at the company really are the most important asset they have.

Yea…I am sure the IT department might say they are saving money…but I sure see the workers getting the short end of the stick here.

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
Kallal@msn.com

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

> And, this issue about ms-access being $200 per seat? ..hum..when it is part of office..it is cheaper then that..and further you can use the royalty free runtime to deploy ms-access on each machine at zero cost per additional pc…

And when you factor in the cost of Windows, it's more expensive than that. I think that the people in the article are moving to OpenOffice because they're moving to Linux.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"And when you factor in the cost of Windows, it's more expensive than that. I think that the people in the article are moving to OpenOffice because they're moving to Linux."

While the general OSS fanboyishness of the IT staff would support that guess, nothing in the article indicates that.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"There are two big IT projects going on at Health First Inc., and Linux is at the heart of both of them."

Perhaps they only mean Linux servers; or, perhaps they don't.

Christopher Wells
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

"When one looks at the kinds of functionality these folks seem to be breaking, then I am much worried that  procedures, and productivity of workers that took YEARS to attain is going to be seriously damaged here.!"

From the article:

"For example, a lot of our nurses and secretaries use Office mainly for viewing attachments and writing a letter now and then. They would be our first target."

How many of those nurses and secretaries will need to design custom Access interfaces and reports?

Jim Rankin
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

>> How many of those nurses and secretaries will need to design custom Access interfaces and reports?

Actually, probably NONE! I have zero problem with that statement.

However, they do seem to talk about data and software as if it was furniture?

And, what about organizing a staff mailing for the annual Christmas card list? You might indeed want to use ms-access.

My only point here is that you can’t just move some data from an access database to Oracle, or MySql and go home and pat yourself on the back that you just did a great job. I mean, really,  you bring some people in to move some chairs and furniture around! Now,  have you really saved the company money, or done anything of use? No..you have not!

The problem they state is that some data is in ms-access and they want to move it out to MySql. To me, the fact that the data is in access, MySql, or Oracle is complete moot. The real issue is HOW are users going to use that data? Even MORE important  is HOW did the data get generated? You move the data to MySql, that does ZERO to help the employees.

As mentioned, the cost windows, or word over five years is likely LESS then two hours of labor pay that that a nurse gets per year. They likely are already spending more on cleaning the nurse clothes in one week that what word will cost. Further, as mentioned, a few hours of training (and that is at nurses pay)..and you lost any savings…

A pizza company can save money by eliminating cars and forcing the employees to ride bicycles. This is not exactly a formula to increase standards of living for people..now is it?  Sure..the pizza company now does not have any gas bills…but how well does the pizza get delivered?

In fact, right now, China is only SECOND to the USA in terms of Oil imports!

And, further..just what about that Nurse who writes a occasional letter? Gee, if it is ONLY an occasional letter..then this seems to win the argument that word should be used? How can you justify training a bunch of staff on EXPENSIVE nurses payroll that OCCASINALY only write a letter? I mean, golly..they got to learn a new word processor JUST to write an occasional letter? Yea….right ..nurses are never busy..and sit around all day reading Joel on software right? You spend a few hours on this with 10 staff…you lost more then your will ever get back in terms of cost savings.

And, further…what is the letter for? Is it a letter being sent to a worried family about the fact that the hospital WILL increase the pain medications to reduce suffering? Well, now that simple little letter MOST certainly needs to be filed somewhere!. And, further..that letter needs to be accessible later on. I have personally written document managing systems in medical environments. Word was the tool of choice (behind the scenes in word is that FULL VB development system..ready and waiting for you! .. If you got word on your pc..try whacking alt-f11 while in a document….you will quickly see what I mean).

In fact, right now…you can use xml with word anyway..and in a medial environment for indexing and retrieval xml is IDEAL in this case!

So, now….what real tools and things are being given to that nurse? Sure..today they write a simple letter….tomorrow..they may have to for legal purposes ALWAYS write letters for certain procedures. and now what?

Just exactly what is the policy for writing letters…and how are those letters going to be filed in such an environment? Further…while those expensive nurses might just write an occasional letter now .....the future holds many possible tools that those nurses can, and will need to use as a part of their daily duty (many enviroments are using tablets for example).

I hope they have a plan and path for those document systems…..occasional use or not…

I wish all involved well here…but these systems are never that simple and easy…

Albert D. Kallal
Edmonton, Alberta Canada
kallal@msn.com
http://www.attcanada.net/~kallal.msn

Albert D. Kallal
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

I like reading Albert's posts because it's like slaloming through a verbal avalanche.

Philo

Philo
Wednesday, May 19, 2004

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