Tag Archives: LibreOffice

About the business of Microsoft Office and why TDF’s projects are so important II – Strategy

As so many read the first part (you may find it here)

As the first part described the Office Open XML format, the history, we get a step back. Why is Microsoft Office so important still? It’s simple, because Microsoft knows what is best for their users (personally I like the ribbon-UI, but many don’t) and, this is from major importance, you are used to use it. You have been using it forever.

So yes, a reason why so many people are using it, is the laziness of many. Others might call that “never change a running system…

So let’s get young people used to office, so that they will pay forever. As long as you are a student, you can get MS Office for 20$ a year (You have to pay 80$ for 4 years), or if your university relies on MS Office, you can even get it for free. Good choice for Microsoft.

There is one thing I learned in strategy, it is a formula, but it is not quite Mathematics.

First Steps x Vision x Discontent > Resistance [This is not my idea]. If this is true, you are ready for a change. Okay first steps are easy, download LibreOffice ;). So what’s about the vision? Access your content, although the subscription ended? Seems like a good choice… Discontent: Do you dislike the current situation? Is the discontent high enough in order to learn something new (adapt the new software).There is one thing what have this very formula and mathematics in common. If you have no vision, no first steps or no discontent you won’t change anything. I tried to help you to get the first steps and a vision, but is the discontent high enough before it is too late. Now you can export all your documents to ODF and seamlessly switch to LibreOffice. I guess for many people, which bought a licence for Microsoft Office are soon shocked, as they are forced to pay to continue using them [Yes, I believe not everyone did get that licence model]. The bad thing the average end user, who does not know of this blog or LibreOffice or any other office software will be extremely annoyed, but the formula will look like this: 0 [What can I do to change this] x 100 [I can use this software for a lifetime and it is not my antivirus [I do understand why those need a subscription] x 100 [I am very angry at Microsoft] > 1000  [A magic number, which represents if a change happens. To cut it short: 0 > 1000 -> false --> no change is going to happen.


So the strategy is like that [AFAIK] : In young years free courses should be offered to the children, which should learn how to use office ["Informatics lessons" at school with "How to format a Word document". Later they want a cheap or free office. You can use the formula from above again. You can use the software you have learned and worked with at a relative low price, you are very productive using it and you love all the features it has. Are you discontent? No, so you won't change  your office suite. You might have third-party tools (Addins), which are only compatible with Microsoft Office, so why should you change. At the end of the university, (In Europe getting from 0 -> Master takes at least 10 semesters, 5 years), you paid 160$ (or 0$) to Microsoft, used the latest feature richest version and received as well as created a huge amount of documents. Now you have no discount any more, office costs 69$ per year. The price increased by 250%. Would you stick to MS Office [which they believe you would do] or would you change your office suite? The strategy is very good, will you play along? Looking foerward to hear your comments :)

About the business of Microsoft office and why TDF’s projects are so important I – Marketing

Are we living in world, where everyone has the same chances? Are we free in what we do and in which way we do it? Although all this questions seem very philosophical at first glance and improbable, no impossible, to answer for everyone. Sadly it is much easier to explain why this is, and why Open Source projects are so important for us.

When I was at school ( it is not different at university now) I was living in a world dominated by Microsoft. Do not understand me wrong, I do not have much against Windows, but for me it is impossible to switch to Linux. But what I will tell you about office software is in the exactly same way true for all other kinds of software.

At first there came an office

On university I had courses on marketing, I really try hard to get it down in a way that’s easy to understand. Microsoft’s Office came quite at the beginning (1989). The versions of office are the following:

As there were many 1.x versions, leaving out 2 might be reasonable, but what’s about the gap between 4 and 7? Believe me or not, that was only marketing. They even left out “unlucky” 13. After 11 major releases Office is broadly used nowadays, and whatever Microsoft does you are going to buy a new office with your next PC/Mac. Why will you? Because Microsoft owns your documents. Not close to “Facebook owns your photos”, but they own one right: The right to be the only one who can open and save your documents. So, you still can access your pictures on your hard drive, but not your office documents.

Office Open XML

That brings us to the year 2006, where Microsoft introduced a new file format, called Office Open XML, It is standardized (ISO/IEC 29500), so a new age begins. An age, where you not solely rely on Microsoft as everyone, really everyone can implement the standard and exchange documents. Ärm, to good to be true – right. Okay that was the “should” situation. Office 2007 is now (at the time of writing, used info from here) unable to open Office Open XML* (* I am speaking of Office Open XML, which is described in the standard. Microsoft calls that “Strict Open XML”).

Some facts now:

  • You saved your documents, your impression in a format, which can only be opened in one program (at that time [2006] ONLY Office 2007)
  • Apparently still we need reverse-engineering to free your content
  • (my opinion) Microsoft needed 3 additional years in order to get their standard implemented (beware: only import filter) and all in all 6 years for an output filter, which is capable of writing (Office 2013) and reading (Office 2010)….

Why Office Open XML??

For Microsoft it was from major importance to have a new file-format, which only can be opened by their product. That everyone needs to buy the new version. So do many other companies and also a well-known open-source project (Abiword).

Why no import for MS Office 2003?

Okay, I guess it was answered just one paragraph away from here, but I want to focus on something different here. Why not everyone is equal in today’s world. If you are unable to buy / your operating system is not supported by Microsoft you cannot access documents, which rely on this “standard”

Open Document Format

Some people (like me) think that the description of the Office Open XML standard is intentionally made so complicated, that they can say it is an open standard. In fact the import/export filters within LibreOffice are (as far as I am concerned) are based on reverse engineering. [As you likely won't find loads of standard Office Open XML [docx, xlsx etc.] files in the wild….

So, good news for you: There is a broadly accepted standard, called Open Document Format, which is used in LibreOffice / OpenOffice. But it is not only used by us (I am working @ LibreOffice in my spare time), it is also supported in MS Office (ODF 1.2 with Office 2013, so do not wonder if you get messages like “this file is broken, we will try to repair it”. That means MS Office does not understand the new standard, or it’s a bug from them ;) ) If you want more infos about the adoption of ODF, please follow this link.

Wait…. One project is missing

Let’s start with the introductory video:

So what does the documentliberation project do? It straightens out the way from a world with proprietary formats to the open (document format) world, where the content belongs to you. Belongs means:

  • You have the choice which operating system you use – on MOST you will find a tool, which knows how to open ODF
  • On the 3 big operating systems (and on more like iOS and Android) YOU have the choice which software to use. You can compare them by functionality and price and choose the software, which fits you most

I admit you still need a software to display a document, but I cannot help you with that. If you want a list of all “liberated” formats, please refer to the original homepage.


I hope I could point out the importance of open standards. If you have any question, missing points, false information etc. please leave a comment.

EDIT: Make sure you have a look at the follow-up post


SI-GUI and BiBi-GUI updates


It has been quite a long time since my last blog post. I am afraid this post could be just a little bit too long. That’s why I want to start off with a summary: I created a small tool called LibO Tankstelle [LibreOffice gas station], which has been used at Cebit, updated SI-GUI and BiBi-GUI. And I need YOU: You can help me test and improve Bibi-GUI. @Offtopic: I made a small game FYI

Long version after the break:

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