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Can a Small Business Migrate Smoothly To OpenOffice.org v3? 503

Posted by timothy
from the has-anyone-here-been-officially-trained-in-office dept.
Pay The Piper writes "As an IT Support Technician in a small corporation, I've been tasked by one of my managers to determine the feasibility of transitioning our small 40 or 50 person office from Microsoft Office 2000 to Open Office 3.0. What are some of the problems I may run into as far as document cross compatibility? Has the Open Office suite evolved to a point that permits easy transition from Microsoft's suite? Besides the obvious 'free vs. expensive' argument, what are some of the pros and cons of transitioning? Are there any reliable ways to view/edit/save a document saved in the OpenXML format through Open Office, or are my co-workers and I still going to be stuck in Microsoftland?" (Given that company-wide rollouts take some time to implement, this early look at the features of OO.o 3.1 may have some relevance, too.)
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Can a Small Business Migrate Smoothly To OpenOffice.org v3?

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  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:02PM (#26533125) Journal

    Microsoft Office 2000 to Open Office 3.0

    I will say that although I have not had the joy of opening Office 2000 files with OO.o 3.0, I do recall there being some serious issues between powerpoint slides. Some weird rendering going on in OO.o for what reason I do not know. In my line of work, powerpoint is perversely pervasive--to the point of alarm for me. If this is true for you, do some testing before taking the plunge!

    Are there any reliable ways to view/edit/save a document saved in the OpenXML format through Open Office ...

    I regrettably give you the option of getting Novell's OO.o distribution [novell.com] (here [novell.com]) in which you can install an extension for OpenXML.

    The best recommendation I can give you is to do this change only if you can assure that it will not hinder your ability to serve your customer or detract largely from productivity.

    • by gravos (912628) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:11PM (#26533419) Homepage
      This is a good analysis. Don't listen to the guys below who are just saying YES RAH RAH OPEN SOURCE and who have never worked in IT or had to deal with managers howling at them when a 10 year old document won't open correctly in a new software package.

      I love open source too, but let's be realistic here.
      • It's a shame they haven't found a way to make OpenOffice work better with MSoffice files. I can't recommend open source for business applications, but it is great for home users or schools tyo reduce their costs to near-zero.

        Do other alternatives like WordPerfect or WordStar handle MSoffice files better?

        • by Culture20 (968837) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#26533877)
          Nothing handles MSOffice files well, not even other Microsoft applications. Their format is a mystery wrapped in an enigma enveloped by a binary blob.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:23PM (#26535219)

            which is why it is such a popular malware container. :)

          • by coats (1068) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:23PM (#26535223) Homepage
            If you're exchanging MS Office docs -- particularly ones going through multiple editions of MSWord, it is a commonplace for MS to claim the docs are corrupt and refuse to do anything. Frequently, OpenSource tools like OpenOffice.org or AbiWord read the files perfectly well, and then can save them un-corrupted in ".doc" form. My wife is an attorney, and she has to jump through that hoop all the time.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by TekPolitik (147802)

              Frequently, OpenSource tools like OpenOffice.org or AbiWord read the files perfectly well, and then can save them un-corrupted in ".doc" form. My wife is an attorney, and she has to jump through that hoop all the time.

              Lawyers make a lot of use of change tracking. Word does a horrible job in this area and frequently corrupts files, especially when editing with multiple versions (which you do when exchanging draft documents). OpenOffice 3 does a much better job of change tracking in every conceivable way bu

          • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:53PM (#26535907)

            Technically it would be binary lob or blob, since binary blob is redundant:)

            Blob = binary large object

            Just thought I would be annoying and point that out ;)

          • by jimicus (737525) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @05:40PM (#26536913)

            Nothing handles MSOffice files well, not even other Microsoft applications. Their format is a mystery wrapped in an enigma enveloped by a binary blob.

            This notwithstanding, if Office 2007 fails to open an old document it will probably be considered "one of those things, document must be corrupted, never mind, these things happen". This may not be the reaction if something similar happens with OO.o

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Kindaian (577374)

            I can confirm this...

            MSOffice files from diferent versions are just mangled up by each-others.

            Thankfully, apart from very small errors, OpenOffice.org opens them all with easy to correct errors only (apart from a bug that sometimes makes some images to vanish).

            Alas...

        • MS Office doesn't even handle MS Office files. I've had Excel corrupt many spreadsheets itself, things I saved by Excel that the same app couldn't open again on the same computer.

          That said, OO.o is quite compatible with MSOffice if you don't get too insane with the formatting and such. I have yet to have someone have a problem opening a .doc with Word that I created in OO.o.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jgtg32a (1173373)
            I agree with this 110% as long as you don't get crazy with the formatting it will be fine.

            However in my exp I have found the less a user knows about computers the more crazy formats they will use in Word.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by Omega996 (106762)
              unfortunately, excel is not immune to this truism - I had to "educate" a user at my company who was displeased that a spreadsheet she worked with daily took close to 60 seconds to open, even though it was less than 4MB in size. It turns out she had nearly 1000 WordArt objects embedded in the spreadsheet, and any time she wanted to change the contents of one of the objects, rather than editing or deleting the WordArt object she simply removed the text and created a new object instead. What a nightmare that w
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Mister Whirly (964219)
            Yes because everybody know files created with open source software NEVER get corrupted. It just isn't in their nature.
            • by supernova_hq (1014429) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @06:22PM (#26537633)
              His point was that the files are NOT corrupted. The newer version simply had trouble opening it exactly like the previous version, so instead of showing a slightly "altered" version (which makes their software look bad), they claim it is "corrupted", which simply makes you IT department look bad. It's all about pointing the finger at the other guy when the blame should obviously be sitting squarely on THEIR shoulders.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Tubal-Cain (1289912) *

          Do other alternatives like WordPerfect or WordStar handle MSoffice files better?

          About as well as Notepad.

        • by digitig (1056110) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:49PM (#26535809)
          In my experience, OO.o handles damaged MS Office files far better than MS Office does. I've never known it to fail to open an MS Office 2003 or earlier file, but the formatting can be changed, and of course any VBA in the document is going to be a problem.
          • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @05:46PM (#26537027) Homepage Journal

            In my experience, OO.o handles damaged MS Office files far better than MS Office does. I've never known it to fail to open an MS Office 2003 or earlier file, but the formatting can be changed, and of course any VBA in the document is going to be a problem.

            This is worth taking into account. I've been saved numerous times by OOo: Word files sometimes refuse to open in Word. And without constant backups, if this were to happen in a monoculture you'd be helpless. Even with backups you stand the risk of losing a revision.

            Of course none of this justifies making OOo your primary office suite, just a good backup app. But IMHO, making it your main office suite is a question of how well you can tolerate occasional formatting errors, and how many hundreds of dollars it's worth to avoid them most of the time. Also, keep in mind that after a while all your docs will migrate to ODF, so those formatting errors are temporary.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Of course, the obvious cautious approach is to install OOo on a couple of machines, telling users to double check the saved docs open well in whatever MS version the office is using. If no problems, widen the "test" until everyone is using it, at least part time. If still OK, suggest to management that costs can be cut by not purchasing MSO on every machine, just one or two, "just in case" some specific need arises. Management usually likes to have a backup plan. Management always likes to save costs.(w

        • by characterZer0 (138196) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @05:29PM (#26536705)

          The problem is that in the eyes of your users, if MS Office corrupts or cannot read a file, it is the file's fault, but if OpenOffice cannot read a file, it is OpenOffice's fault.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by edmicman (830206)
        If anything, I would think Office 2000 documents would have a much better chance at being compatible than Office 2003/2007. I've had very few problems with OO opening and working with MS documents. I *have* had problems with Excel formatting Calc docs, though.
      • Totally agree. (Score:3, Insightful)

        by crovira (10242)

        Since it costs nothing to try, why not download a copy and try opening several examples and try saving several examples (and testing if you can "round trip" the documents.)

        There are some documents which used some features which wouldn't come across (specialized formatting stuff,) when it was tried at one of my employers/clients.

        For most (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) it was okay.

        The database is way too primitive (so is Microsoft's so no loss there) so we rolled our own and we used specialized drawing tools.

    • by Tiber (613512) <josh.knarr@gmail.com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:29PM (#26533911) Homepage

      They fixed it. I'm the Linux Guy at work, and I have to toss together powerpoint presentations.

      Specifically what doesn't work:
      * Slide transparency isn't supported, so anything you paste into slides will be 100% opaque when opened in MS Office
      * Vector art does wild stuff. Whatever coordinate system OO is using, MS isn't. If you use anything that uses vectors, convert them to bitmaps first.

    • by homesnatch (1089609) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:31PM (#26533983)
      Also, don't compare moving to OpenOffice to Office 2000... Compare it to Office 2007.

      The same whiners that will complain about OO will also complain about MS Office 2007... the GUI change is so drastic. OO's GUI is closer to Office 2000 than Office 2007 is.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      not far off the ball, but what I'd say:

      UI:
      MSO 2000 or MSO 2003 -> OO 2 or OO3 is easier than to MSO 2007.

      I have had a couple issues.

      Supercript: does not transfer well. You end up with the superscripted text way too large (full height, raised by about 1/2 the height of the base text, instead of half height raised by about 1/2 the height of the base text).

      Page borders: Opening a word document in OO will open it with page boarders equal to the default of OO, not whatever you saved them as.

      Excel comments: I

    • by macxcool (1370409) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:54PM (#26534603)
      You should also consider GoOO http://go-oo.org/ [go-oo.org] which is an improved version of OpenOffice.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hairyfeet (841228)

      Are your users simply using Word or are there a lot of Excel users also? Because Excel has always been the hang up when I have tried to convert a SMB or SOHO. If they don't use Excel it usually isn't a problem to switch. But if you have a lot of Excel users, especially if the Excel spreadsheets have a lot of VBA macros, then you will be in a world of hurt.

      Because IMHO while Writer has come a long way to catching up with Word, and as some users point out with corrupted docs it even beats it, and Impress ca

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:02PM (#26533141) Homepage

    Short : YES.

    Long : Yes, but you will have to tell the office whiners to STFU.

    Honestly it's not that hard, it requires some retraining of habits. and requires users to not be raging Luddites.

    If you get management buy in for it, the transition will take weeks before all the whining dies down. the only problem is when you get users that are not smart enough to understand what they were instructed to do because they did it the other way for the past 5 years.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      Is there a piece of software that will tell the whiners to STFU?

      • by homesnatch (1089609) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:27PM (#26533859)
        Yes.. Outlook has the ability to send emails for any such messages. Outlook is part of MS Office, so just make sure you have that installed.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by blhack (921171)

          just make sure that the message is a powerpoint presentation of a scanned copy of a photograph of a screenshot of a PDF of a .tiff file created using the "Microsoft OFfice Document Image Writeer" being embedded in an iframe of a webpage that is being displayed inside of a the preview window of microsoft frontpage and you should be okay.

          IN fact, you better split the screenshot into a multipart rar file, zip that into a .zip file, then tar that, then zip it again, then tar it again (so that it is twice as com

      • by Chabo (880571) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:28PM (#26533901) Homepage Journal
        Put the message inside an Excel spreadsheet that uses weird macros. If they can see it, then they're still using MS Office, and they should switch.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          You're joking, but this can be a serious deterrent to switching for some businesses.

          Of course, vital business logic being locked away in an Excel macro is a WTF in and of itself, but sometimes there's no getting around it...

      • Is there a piece of software that will tell the whiners to STFU?

        Maybe the whine activated pink slip generator?

    • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:26PM (#26533797) Journal

      Your response to this disqualifies you as any kind of authority on this type of question. You are combative, hard headed and have absolutely no empathy for the folks you are supposed to be serving. As a manager, I would NEVER have this type of attitude towards people or allow that type of attitude to germinate in my department. You think your point of view is the only valid ones and anyone who disagrees is an idiot. frankly, you are the type of person that gives IT workers a bad name.

      • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... g ['s.o' in gap]> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:39PM (#26534193) Homepage
        I wouldn't say so. There are a number of people who will complain just because it's different, not because it doesn't do what they want it to do. And if your employees can't deal with a little bit of retraining and thinking for themselves, you're better off without them. They'll blindly take you down a rabbit hole you don't want to go down by following directions to the letter and not paying attention to the bad shit that's going on because of it.
        There's no reason to not be sensitive to people's complaints and try to solve them, but saying that someone's complaint is valid simply because they have one is also a mistake. I mean, I could complain that your nick is too long... does that make my complaint valid, and should you then change it to accommodate me?
        • by Paladin128 (203968) <aaron@tra a s .org> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:21PM (#26535181) Homepage

          You're absolutely wrong. This isn't "just a little bit of re-training". This is a big deal. The thing is, everyone uses MS Office. If someone can't do some little task, chances are they can ask one of their co-workers. You can't ever really under-estimate this kind of knowledge, and what it's worth. The cost of an entire corporation which is switching over all at once to a new piece of productivity software is quite high, in terms of productivity.

          I say this as a low-level project manager who successfully convinced my company to move to OpenOffice 3. We're doing phased deployments, one team at a time, over the course of the next year, that way the whole thing doesn't grind us to a halt. We're sticking with Outlook, at least for now, but the rest of MS Office is going away, starting with Word. Why are we doing this?

          1) cost
          2) extensibility (plugin development)
          3) stability of the ODF format

          We've built some automation tools that leverage ODF to save us hundreds of man-hours per year. ODF is more elegant and stable than any of Microsoft's solutions, and so we built a whole stack of XSLT's and tools around it. We support MS Word formats, but only by running them through OO.o's conversion filters to ODF first.

          If we didn't build this, the cost of switching to OO.o would far outweigh the licensing costs.

      • Your response to this disqualifies you as any kind of authority on this type of question. You are combative, hard headed and have absolutely no empathy for the folks you are supposed to be serving.

        I disagree although I wouldn't have worded it the way he did. No matter what office suite they switch to, whether OOo or MS Office, the end users will have to learn something new. Some people will complain that it's not what they're used to, and that's a legitimate concern even if there's nothing really to be done about it other than offer training. Others will complain that "it's not the real Office", and you can dismiss those out of hand.

        • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:47PM (#26534403) Journal

          One thing I learned as a software developer, is you can create an application that conforms to specifications but is hated by the end users, even those who designed the spec. What I learned is that you need to take a lot of time up front, and talk with all of the users and other stakeholders. You need to listen to what they say and don't say and then you need to figure out what they really want. It is usually different than what they are expressly asking for. Part of that is respecting everyone in the process, regardless of their attitude. If you can demonstrate that you really want to give them what they need and will help them with that process, you will get very little of the backbiting that original poster expressed.

          Where does this begin? Nothing technical. Nothing taught in school. You have to sincerely respect people from all areas, not just the IT minded. Not just the higher ups. Everyone. Once you start with that frame of mind, doors open. Granted, sometimes it takes a conscious effort to get to that frame of mind. Sometimes, people rub you the wrong way.... they have agendas, and you have to take a deep breath and step back. But calling your users Luddites and worse sure ain't the way to go. Frankly, the attitude disgusts me.

          • by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:16PM (#26535051) Homepage Journal

            But calling your users Luddites and worse sure ain't the way to go.

            But he wasn't saying that all protesters were Luddites. I totally agree with everything you said, but also understand his frustration about people who protest all change, regardless of how carefully planned or coordinated with the end users, seemingly for the sake of having something to complain about. Those were the people he is railing against.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tyrione (134248)
            He was speaking off-the-cuff with no real basis in reality. If you can't ascertain the difference between out-of-office rhetoric to your own in-office politically correct rhetoric life must be a struggle for work to be enjoyable.
      • by 644bd346996 (1012333) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:46PM (#26534375)

        If you're doing IT for people who's job descriptions require basic computer skills, it's perfectly okay to tell them to suck it up when they have to transition away from software that is one week shy of a decade old, particularly if you offer some training classes.

        Besides, when has it ever made sense to pamper employees who's skills are ten years out of date?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Lumpy (12016)

        I always deal with managers like you. In fact one, just like you, was encouraged to leave that did put up a big fuss. When we did the transition here to OO.o away from MS office. His complaints were all for HIS scripts he wrote in Excel and Access. we told him he could stick with Office 2003 and he complained that he NEEDED the office 2007 upgrades. His scripts saved HIM time and were not useful for anyone else in the company. they could have stayed at Office 2003 for the next 56 years just fine...

        Yes

    • I transitioned my home office to OO3 on XP from Office95 on XP which had been installed for the last 10 years. No real complaints yet. We don't have a massive legacy of old documents to open, and very little powerpoint to deal with, but in general powerpoint has worked for us on OO3.

      I bet if management would give employees a $100 or $200 bonus to learn OO3, there'd be very few complaints.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SerpentMage (13390)

      Wow, not a good answer...

      The real question is what do your users do? If you have plain vanilla users then shifting them to OO will be not that bad.

      However, if there is any use of style sheets, macros or any other automation technique then you are going to have problems galore and not worth the effort.

      The problem that you are going to be fighting is why upgrade?

      Open Office is not Office 2007 comparable. Office 2007 is quite the package. Though that does not mean Open Office is not usable. It really depends.

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:43PM (#26534287)
      Don't tell them anything about change.
      Users fear change.
      Tell them they are getting an upgraded version of office.

      True enough, less fear, less whining, and less pain for you.
  • Probably Not (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheRealMindChild (743925) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:04PM (#26533189) Homepage Journal
    I am inclined to say "No", but a better answer is "probably not". We all know those little offices, work processes stitched together by a global excel spreadsheet with countless obscure VB Macros... touch one little thing and everything grinds to a halt. Hell, this happens when just upgrading to a new version of Microsoft Office. Imagine the pain of trying to get these things to work with OpenOffice's shoddy VBA support.
  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:05PM (#26533225) Homepage
    That entirely depends on how heavily you rely on odd-ball features in office.

    For example do you have Word setup to access a database or something ridiculous like that?

    If you are just doing basic word processing it is unlikely that you will run into any problems beyond the (marginally) different UI.
    • by Magic5Ball (188725) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:17PM (#26533561)

      For example do you have Word setup to access a database or something ridiculous like that?

      Mail merge is not usually an odd-ball feature for anyone who has more than a handful of friends or clients. As an aside and from experience, attempting to mail merge anything with over 3,000 rows in OOo generally results in pain.

      • I agree. This is a lot more common than people think.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by idontgno (624372)

          I think you're missing a point.

          For many slashbots, "common" == those folks who agree with what I think is important, appropriate, or valuable. So, if you need VBscripts or mailmerge, you're out there on the fringe.

          A corollary group of slashbots, zealots, extend this to mean that "If my chosen software package doesn't do it, it doesn't ever need to be done. If you think you need it, think again, because you're wrong and stupid."

          We need to be honest with the shortfalls of Free or Open software, because love i

  • Macros (Score:5, Informative)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:05PM (#26533233) Homepage Journal

    Do your documents utilize VB macros? If so, you may want to look at Novell's fork of OOo at go-oo.org which improve macro support. Otherwise mainline OOo should open all your MS Office 2000 documents with ease.

    The interface of OOo is closer to MS Office 2000, than MS Office 2007's interface is. Training users should actually be easier than training users on MS Office 2007.

    When I converted my mother to Linux I told her she'd have to give up MS Office. When I installed openSUSE 11 and OOo 3, she thanked me for giving her MS Office. It looked so similar, she couldn't tell the difference.

    The only little bit of advice I'd give you, is to go into the program options and set the default file formats. While I praise ODF, and want the world to adopt it, if you're going to send documents out to the rest of the world, you'll have to save them either in PDF format (which OOo does natively) or save them in MS formats for everyone else.

    When you're done, tell your boss how you just saved the company $400 a pop times 50 people, and ask for a raise.

    • Go-OO is considered a development build/branch and should not be used in a production environment. It doesn't go through the level of testing and QA of OpenOffice.org for each release.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Enderandrew (866215)

        Funny. SLES ships with a Go-OO build. Many distros use the Go-OO branch in their stable releases that they advertise for production use.

        There is an unstable branch of Go-OO, and there are stable releases of Go-OO. Obviously, I'd suggest you use the stable branch in a production environment.

  • by tubegeek (958995) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:06PM (#26533251) Homepage
    Pick a sample of users - some tech-savvy, some not - who interoperate with others still using microsoftware. A pilot should bring out the most pressing points of contact and show whether or not the compatibility level is adequate.
    • by teambpsi (307527)

      Make sure the group has management in it as well -- need a Lead By Example person.

      Also, you'll need to understand the interoperability comfort level, as your clients and business partners will continue to use M$oft.

  • Not a lot (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:08PM (#26533291) Homepage Journal

    Our office of 50+ transitioned back in the early 2.0 days with nary a hitch. A couple of people still have MS Office for specific compatibility reasons (certain spreadsheet macros, that sort of thing) but everyone else from IT to the receptionist has OOo. We spent approximately $0.00 on training, instead going with "here's your new word processor". People who need office suites picked up on it quickly and people who primarily do other things didn't really care.

  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:08PM (#26533321) Journal

    short answer: yes.

    long answer: yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees (sorry Yahtzee!).

    a friend of mine migrated to OOo a year ago and most of his employees didn't even noticed. he owns a small architecture office.

    only the oddball document that doesn't open right in OOo, he opens and converts on his own notebook, the only one in the company that have MS stuff.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      For the majority of vanilla Excel users ... the road is clear. But not for those of us who work a bit deeper in Finance there are some valid problems. My biggest concerns are availability of add-ins for and interoperability with PeopleSoft, Oracle applications, QuickBooks, Peachtree accounting, SAP, Essbase, Hyperion Planning, Hyperion Financial Management ... Second would be availability of statistical toolkits and other extended function sets.
  • What other answer do you expect here on slashdot? Hell, most of the time we're ready to tell you to drop Windows altogether and go with the blessed Linux. I'd rather do real world tests on complex documents. Particularly hear if someone is using any "smart" Excel sheets or other wierd things.

  • Yes, but no. (Score:5, Informative)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:11PM (#26533409)

    Yes, for most things.

    No for powerpoint. From what I've used, OO.org's Impress is simply not as good, has rendering issues, flickers, is a resource hog, is not smooth, etc. Powerpoint is way better.

    Can you do office docs and spreadsheets? Yeah. If not using the aforementioned VB macros and whatnot, it's easy to use openoffice.org for stuff like "word" documents and spreadsheets.

    But presentations ... blech.

  • docx seems to work (Score:4, Informative)

    by fermion (181285) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:12PM (#26533427) Homepage Journal
    I use OO.org 3.0 and MS Office, not 2007. I am becoming increasingly happy with OO.org and see little need for MS Office.

    As far as migration, in many ways OO.org does a better job with file formats than MS Office. In particular, I recently had to open a MS Office 2007 document(docx), and rather than getting the filter into MS Word, I just loaded in into OO.org. To put it plainly, I have no problem opening any files in OO.org.

  • Why not both? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sir Homer (549339) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:13PM (#26533467)
    The fact is not EVERYONE needs Office, but some people do. Which baffles me why a corporation wouldn't consider deploying OOo to everyone, and give MS Office to the people who depend on weird MS Office features. This way you save the most money while not slowing your business process!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Spittoon (64395)

      So those people who depend on weird MS Office features never give the documents they create to anyone else to view?

      Seems like that's the real issue-- whether or not you create documents using edge features, you will occasionally be called upon to view one.

      At the point where OO.o lets the user down to the extent that she can't get the information she needs (as opposed to a little big of rendering oddity), she'll abandon ship real fast out of sheer self-preservation.

      You can't dictate which features in Office

  • Yes, yes, and yes. (Score:3, Informative)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:15PM (#26533523)

    If you are going from Office 2000 to OpenOffice.Org you will go almost effortlessly.

    There may be a few small things here and there that users may gripe about, like obscure formatting issues, but nothing earth shattering.

    If, as you say, you are going from MSO-2000 to OO.o3.x, then Microsoft Office XML should not be an issue as 2000 can't open that anyway.

    Tell everyone to check their spreadsheets for numeric accuracy and functionality as some funtions and macros work differently.

    After that, you have to sell it!! Tell them how wonderful it is. Talk about PDF export. Tell them they can have a copy for home!! Tell them they don't have to enter an endless stream of letters and numbers just to install it.

  • There is always going to be a cost if you're transitioning from Office 2K. The difference is instead of retraining to Office 2007 which has a completely new UI, your users will be retraining to OO which has a similar UI. As for OpenXML, I wouldn't trust the format yet. Use older Office formats or ODF for full compatibility with other applications.
  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:18PM (#26533597) Homepage
    I renamed the "OO.org Document" icon to "word". Set the defaults to save as ms .doc files. Works great.
  • by Trojan35 (910785) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:21PM (#26533671)

    Your biggest griper will be a finance guy (like me). For him, just buy excel. Forcing him to use something other than excel is cruel and unusual punishment.

  • by jeevesbond (1066726) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:21PM (#26533677) Homepage

    Instead of asking Slashdot, although I'm happy you did as OpenOffice always generates a good flameware, you should be asking your users.

    In particular you should gather the people who're likely to have the biggest problems with migrating: accountants for example, often have massive and complex spreadsheets, not to mention VB macros. Create a focus group, or go around each of these people to see how they're using the software, then create a requirements document and test OpenOffice against it.

    The advantage of a requirements document is that if OpenOffice doesn't 'fit the bill' at the moment, you'll be able to check newer versions (and even different office suites, such as KOffice) against it in future.

    If OpenOffice meets the requirements of your users in theory, test them in practice. Gather anyone who's adventurous enough to try out OpenOffice alongside Microsoft Office and get them to give you feedback. Even if OpenOffice doesn't meet requirements now, check back in a year. Also, check on how other office suites, such as KOffice, are coming along. You may not be able to replace Office immediately, but that doesn't mean you should give up on trying!

  • Training (Score:3, Informative)

    by AviLazar (741826) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:24PM (#26533735) Journal
    Your biggest hurdle is training. Getting people to learn the new software.

    If your office trades documentation that has specific formatting that will be another problem unless you convert it to a standard like PDF. Then you run into the problem of people who need to edit those documents who are not using your software.
  • Gnumeric vs Calc (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:26PM (#26533805)
    I suggest that you also install Gnumeric, since it works a lot better with Excel spread-sheets than OOo Calc does.
  • Outlook? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunx (23729) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:27PM (#26533835) Homepage

    It depends on what you're doing with email and calendar. MS Office includes Outlook, after all, and if your office is using Outlook/Exchange as its email solution then you could hit a big problem in the transition.

    OOo is a good replacement for the document preparation parts of Office, with a much less irritating UI than Office 2007, but email is a problem.

  • Being as you are moving from a version of Microsoft Office that is coming on 9 years old, you should be using mostly files whose formats are (mostly) well understood. Taking documents, macros, and the like from that old version should be fairly straightforward. If you were instead looking to move from a brand new version of MS Office to the latest Open Office your chances would likely be much slimmer.
  • We tried that (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PhantomHarlock (189617) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:31PM (#26533997)

    We tried migrating a company with 40 users maybe three years ago, to Sun's boxed version. It was a complete and utter failure. Maybe it's gotten better now, but I'd be pretty weary. There were a thousand and one little incompatibilities. Plus some of our people use Excel for things god never intended it to do.

    One thing is we deal with the government a lot, which always has the latest version of Office. Keeping up with that using non-MS software is pretty hard.

    I think if your office only does very general word processing and spreadsheet use, it might work. But a lot of people have noted the powerpoint issues.

    Basically, if it doesn't just work perfectly, it's a support nightmare. When we tried the experiment, I remember we'd author something, send it off, it'd come back with revisions from a customer with real MS office, we'd open it and it'd be all messed up, and that would happen going the other direction as well.

    I don't think I'm ready to try that experiment any time soon. It's not worth the money saved, yet.

  • Has the Open Office suite evolved to a point that permits easy transition from Microsoft's suite?

    Maybe. It depends what you need from Microsoft's office suite.

    what are some of the pros and cons of transitioning?

    Pros: Choice of OS, and a format which is truly an open standard. For example, if some people find KOffice works better, or some people prefer Gnumeric to OO Calc, there's no problem -- ODF is supported by everyone except Microsoft.

    Cons: Support with Microsoft Office will probably never be "bug for bug" complete. In fact, you may want to keep a copy around for comparison. And depending how competent everyone else is, it may require some training,

  • Why on earth would you consider making a large transition with staffers who will be annoyed at having to do things a little different for a product that is about the same in quality and features? OO is much closer to MS Office 2000 than 2003 or 2007 (which, regretably are much better than OO still).

    Before you serious consider upsetting the cart, make sure the features and benefits you gain are worth the headaches. Get to the end of the process, if most people don't feel the pain of change was worth the
  • by markk (35828) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:40PM (#26534211)

    There will be two key things that determine how much work the transition will be, (in my experience).

    1. How much VB is used mainly in Excel.
    2. How are your workflows set up? Do they depend on other MS things that don't work with anything else?

    All the other stuff is no harder than moving from an older version of MS Office to a newer. I have found it is worth looking at the little apps that people built in Excel, and spending the time on the transition seeing whether they can't be refactored to use Base, since everyone will have it, or moved over to the Starbasic stuff. (Or will it work with small changes in Novell's version?)

    In transition you will need to give an overabundance of help right away to the heavy duty users, and engage them even before hand. In a small situation even have them help in looking at the little hand built apps. Plus you will find out usually about a month later when people actually really use the little odd things when they get to documents and and reports that they only look at quarterly, or monthly. Be prepared for that. Try really hard to separate the grumbling that will come simply because of change, and real issues that hurt someone's job.

  • by bhima (46039) <Bhima.PandavaNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:43PM (#26534289) Journal

    I am currently looking for a job (as I suppose a lot of folks are). At home we all use Macs. My Girlfriend has Apple Pages, so I decided to use it. I was astounded how easy it was to make a resumé that looked pretty good from one of the templates. So I applied for a job and sent them the Word export (as I figured word was a default filetype). Not only does the resumé look really bad, many windows users can not open it. So I exported to PDF, same. So I took it to where I work now opened with the current version of word (disaster!)... spent a while fixing it, saved it... and people have trouble opening docx files in the more common older MS Word application.

    I am a scientist, not a typesetter! And I wound up doing several iterations of this to get something that older versions of MS Word (running on older versions of windows?).

    So bottom line, I used Rich Text and a MS font. I blame this on MS making their applications so picky when opening various competing filetypes.

  • Just some thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Petaris (771874) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @03:58PM (#26534703)

    It should roll out just fine. But here is a few points:

    *There may be some issues with macros or VB Script on spreadsheets that use them.
    *Impress doesn't always play nice with PowerPoint presentations that use embedded windows media player stuff.
    *Draw is still not able to open Publisher docs. So this could be a problem if you rely heavily on Publisher. Also its not as nice to work with yet.
    *Don't forget about the extensions! Here is a list of the ones I use here when I deploy: http://blogs.frederic.k12.wi.us/paulsenj/?p=50 [k12.wi.us]
    *You will have to deal with the "But its not Microsoft" people. This is actually the number one issue that I run into.
    *If you use Outlook you will need to find something to replace it with. I would suggest a webmail system, it will make your life much easier. :)

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:03PM (#26534775) Journal
    No way you can transition out of MSOffice.

    A few users who resist all change will put up a fight first. Then the local MS sales office will contact your bosses and overrule you. If that fails they will back a truck load of money and essentially give you MSOffice07 for free and some more freebies. If that too fails, MSFT will buy your small business and fire you.

  • by just fiddling around (636818) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:03PM (#26534791) Journal

    We did a pilot project at my workplace (800-1000 users, pilot of ~30) and everything went smoothly because we gave a course to all. Message: factor some training for all users in the transition costs.

    To answer the specific question: OO.o can save in .doc/.xls format, only macros are of concern (I did not test that). As for communicating with others without OO.o, making PDFs is the way to guarantee page layout, and it's free! People loved that feature, spared the hassle of procuring Acrobat licences.

  • by Brit_in_the_USA (936704) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:08PM (#26534883)
    I struggle with OO calc not responding to keyboard shortcuts or simple operations in the same way that Excel does. I wish I could find a shortcut / config file for OO that made it "behave" like excel.
    I *like* having CTRL+SHIFT++ inserting a row or column. I like the delete key deleting the value of a cell without giving me a pop-up window. Is there any project or resource out there that makes calc (and other OO apps) "behave" as close to MS office as possible without having to configure it yourself for an entire evening?
  • by kwandar (733439) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @04:36PM (#26535507)

    I tried converting an office of about 25-30 people to Open Office and I can assure you that it will not be smooth. Now this was about 3? years ago, so I'm sure Open Office has improved greatly, and will make the job easier, but the problems I encountered were:

    1) A general reluctance to move off of what they knew;
    2) Concern that customers would not be able to communicate (whether the concern was valid or not);
    3) Lack of training on Open Office. Everything is not the same and unfortunately users are not willing or able to work it out for themselves;
    4) Some modules just were not as good as the Office modules particularly where there were heavy users or Powerpoint or Excel.

    My recommendation isn't that you don't do it though. Its that you find a few people (5 or so) who will test and try and gently roll it out through the organisation, who are open to new things and who can act as "go to" people for others as you roll it our further.

    I'd also be at pains to get the expert Powerpoint and Excel users to use it with some of their current presentations or spreadsheets to be certain that it works for them, and if not just say no problem and let them go on using what works.

    I've found that people don't like change, and change unfortunately needs to be gradual, if its to succeed.

  • by davide marney (231845) * <davide.marney@ne ... g minus math_god> on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @05:02PM (#26536135) Journal

    To get the full value out of OpenOffice, think about going beyond merely swapping out Word. If you take advantage of some of OpenOffice's unique features, it might get you a quicker ROI.

    For example, I once had to pull together the technical response to a large RFP. We had over a dozen authors. Rather than shlepping copies of the whole response doc back and forth to everyone (my nightmare scenario), I used Open Office's Master Document feature to create a live, compound document: a Master Document for the entire response, and a separate Chapter Document for each section. Since the Chapters were separate documents, the various authors could work on them independently. Once a week I would refresh the Master Document, which would automatically pull in all the work thus far.

    This worked really well, and the way Open Office cleanly separated the master from the sub-documents was very impressive. The point is, we got a lot of bang for the buck out of that experience, and that one project pretty much sold everyone on the value of making the switch to Open Office.

  • you don't say (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bugs2squash (1132591) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @05:58PM (#26537251)
    What your company does, But it seems likely to me that there might be many workers who are simple to transition and a few that would be insanely hard.

    Why not give everyone OO.o and mandate exclusive use of OO.o for most people that really don't need office but leave some room for the guys that are having problems to use office 2000.

    Eventually, office2000 will obsolete itself, and if OO.o truly is a suitable replacement, people will adopt it willingly. For the hard core two or three that justifiably can't move, update them to office 2007, but leave them with OO.o as well.

    If OO.o is not suitable for everyone then why hold the company back by mandating it across the board.

    Finally, you could split up the packages, ie. use OO.o word processor, GNUmeric and powerpoint.
  • by FatherOfONe (515801) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @06:16PM (#26537517)

    I know if it was me I wouldn't necessarily trust what I read on Slashdot.

    At a minimum I would do the following:
    1. Open and check many documents in my organization. If possible I would ask people in the business to help with this.
    2. I would see if any documents had any macros or God forbid DDE, OLE or VB macros in them. If so I would see how hard it would be to convert them or look at what Novell offers to help with that.
    3. I would do a small pilot group with both Microsoft and OO installed to test.
    4. If all went well with the pilot group I would remove Microsoft Office from their workstations and test some more.
    5. If all that went well I would expand the rollout to more of the company. I would probably save sales for last.

    At some point I would have cheat sheets developed and possibly offer some training for the people. I would probably try and do this as early as possibly but expect to change the training depending on feedback from the pilot group.

    Having said all this, you will probably find some things that don't work as well and others that will work better. This is the nature of the beast. My personal experience running OO is that it is very good, and we migrated years ago. My experience "may" be totally different than someone who uses Microsoft Office a ton. I will say that when I first tried it in our organization (old org), the employees HATED it. I was a bit surprised on the amount of hate for a Office product... The weird part was that we found out it was because we told them that they were loosing Microsoft Office. When we changed our wording from "removing Microsoft Office" to "upgrading to the latest version of Office" the general attitude changed considerably. Suddenly most of the people said they loved it. Weird, but my experience.

  • by ThePhilips (752041) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @08:10PM (#26539111) Homepage Journal

    I didn't participate in such transitions, but one of my past employers did such migration already in OO.o 1.x times.

    They have employed rather pragmatical approach and made (partial) migration in several phases. At first they mandated that all employees have OOo installed. Then whole R&D (and all of internal documentation) migrated to OO.o. That was rather painful yet rewarding. Then those who didn't need M$O ditched it. At the end of migration we had most of personnel using OO.o (rather successfully; it's when I joined the company) - only of sales (minority in engineering company) and test department were using simultaneously OO.o and M$O.

    I'd rate OO.o for technical purposes higher than M$O since many features in former are implemented much simpler than their counterparts in M$O. Comparing old documentation M$O template with newer OO.o template I found that OO.o template was missing all the black magic people had to employ to make derived M$O documents easy to edit. OO.o's outlines alone were saving lots of time. Export to PDF was beautifully solving problem of communication with business partners.

    All in all, I'd say, that using OO.o internally is pretty easy. Yet company has to be ready to have also number of M$O installations to be able to read/edit documents from partners. Hinting your partners that you are using internally OO.o and PDF/SWX/ODF are preferred formats might lead to some nice surprises: many companies at least pilot OO.o internally and pretty happy to send you documents in your preferred format.

    And piece of advise: do NOT mix OO.o and M$O documents: binary .DOC format compatibility is all but myth. Implement OO.o where you can clearly draw a line between internal confidential documents and external/public documents.

  • LoL @ "smoothly" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vexorian (959249) on Tuesday January 20, 2009 @09:50PM (#26540339)

    Don't ever expect migrating from MS is going to be smooth, MS' is software that is designed to screw you up for migrating to something else, expect some pains and costs, that's right, there are gonna be costs, that's the problem with MS software, the bill is usually bigger in the long term.

    Also Lol @ the guy that seemed to advertize Novell's fork of open office because it had OOXML filters. News flash: so does Sun's OOo 3.0 ...

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