Why open up?

I was over filming Mike Arcuri today. He’s a Group Program Manager over on Excel. He was showing me the new business intelligence features in Office 12.

You know, for those of you who say Office is dead it would be good to watch this video over and over when we get it up (it’ll be up in a few weeks). Office has a lot of kick left in it.

Huh? Last night I sat next to a director of finance and treasury for Starbucks while flying back from Oakland. He was using Excel to fiddle with numbers. He told me he loved Office and couldn’t live without it. He also told me that Starbucks opens five new coffee shops every day and chided me for working for a slow-growing company. Whew!

So, what does this have to do with opening Office up?

Well, Escamillo puts it pretty well: “Good. Now Microsoft Office must compete based on merit rather than file format compatibility and OpenOffice.org must compete based on merit rather than “use us because our format is open”.”

Oh, and Steve: have you watched the earlier video of what’s coming in Office 12? The guy from Starbucks hadn’t. Which explains just how big a challenge it is to get people to upgrade. Getting people to pay attention just isn’t easy. If it were the market would flip to new things every few years. Oh, and if it WERE easy we’d all have 60 million readers.

That doesn’t take away from what Steve’s saying. Attention IS important. Why? Because the attention system will either be siloed in the next 12 months or it’ll get built out.

Look at the decisions made in 1997 around instant messaging. IM clients are still siloed (although they are starting to be joined finally).

I sure hope attention doesn’t go the same way, although there are lots of pressures to silo that too.

Oh, just to make this post a little more confusing. Office is still going to sell like hotcakes because of Windows Workflow Foundation. That’s the new way that businesses are going to make themselves more efficient. The end points on such a system are all Office.

For those who are trying to figure out why Microsoft would make it possible to compete with Office, that’s where you gotta look. In all the Web 2.0 hype, you all missed this and there’s a big story here for enterprises and for developers.

Maybe we need to add AJAX to that so you’ll pay attention. :-)

Comments

  1. Ah, what most everyone in the industry doesn’t realize is that normal folk don’t WANT to upgrade anything, be it hardware or software, because then they have to learn new things, risk encountering new bugs and quirks, and generally lose productivity.

    Trust me, the guy from Starbucks doesn’t have the title of Professional Excel User, nor do I, as a writer, have the title of Microsoft Word Expert. He’s focused on finance, and Excel is but one of many tools he uses, just as I’m focused on writing in many different venues, and Word is just one of the dozen or more tools I use on a daily basis.

    That’s why all these years later I see questions from people running Windows 98 just as often as Windows XP (and XP is a far, far better OS), along with even some people who ask questions about MacOS 9, a veritable antique among operating systems.

  2. Ah, what most everyone in the industry doesn’t realize is that normal folk don’t WANT to upgrade anything, be it hardware or software, because then they have to learn new things, risk encountering new bugs and quirks, and generally lose productivity.

    Trust me, the guy from Starbucks doesn’t have the title of Professional Excel User, nor do I, as a writer, have the title of Microsoft Word Expert. He’s focused on finance, and Excel is but one of many tools he uses, just as I’m focused on writing in many different venues, and Word is just one of the dozen or more tools I use on a daily basis.

    That’s why all these years later I see questions from people running Windows 98 just as often as Windows XP (and XP is a far, far better OS), along with even some people who ask questions about MacOS 9, a veritable antique among operating systems.

  3. But I think it’s critical that software companies recognize that “better” isn’t enough to motivate people to switch, Robert. Whether it’s “Web 2.0″ or just a new bugfix, there’s a huge layer of treacle in the real world that slows everything wayyyy down. You know exactly what I mean: what percentage of WinXP installations have applied SP2 at this point?

    That’s why I’m intriguied by the automatic updates that some vendors are now using. Use that mechanism and gradually add layers of new features and all of a sudden you can spread out a new release across a period of time as an update subscription rather than a Big, Intimidating, Take A Day Or Two upgrade package…

  4. But I think it’s critical that software companies recognize that “better” isn’t enough to motivate people to switch, Robert. Whether it’s “Web 2.0″ or just a new bugfix, there’s a huge layer of treacle in the real world that slows everything wayyyy down. You know exactly what I mean: what percentage of WinXP installations have applied SP2 at this point?

    That’s why I’m intriguied by the automatic updates that some vendors are now using. Use that mechanism and gradually add layers of new features and all of a sudden you can spread out a new release across a period of time as an update subscription rather than a Big, Intimidating, Take A Day Or Two upgrade package…

  5. I live in Excel at work. Me and my collegue got Excel 97 installed – but to make you happy, the rest uses Excel 2000. Upgrade? Our makros do not work under 2000 and the UI is not helpful but irritating when it comes to pivot tables. But I will gladly take a look at the new Excel.

    Because the one thing which really might help is the new limit on rows in the new Excel. Which probably means I will want to install the new version, use it for slicing of big files and work the rest in Excel 97 again. ;)

  6. I live in Excel at work. Me and my collegue got Excel 97 installed – but to make you happy, the rest uses Excel 2000. Upgrade? Our makros do not work under 2000 and the UI is not helpful but irritating when it comes to pivot tables. But I will gladly take a look at the new Excel.

    Because the one thing which really might help is the new limit on rows in the new Excel. Which probably means I will want to install the new version, use it for slicing of big files and work the rest in Excel 97 again. ;)

  7. A few remarks : 1) Office 2006 is a pig. 2) Office 2006 breaks file formats and is thus going to cause great harm. 3) The MS Office suite gets more integration than ever with other Windows-only Microsoft-only products (note that Mac Office is apparently out of the game now). To get Excel services, you’ll have to buy Sharepoint as well, perhaps a SQLServer store, perhaps VS.NET to “better” develop your apps, and nobody knows yet how many other server (emphasis : $$SERVER$$) licenses… 4) As time goes on, Office will add ties to WPF/WWF and so on, which will make it even harder for customers to integrate with their current businesses. There is no way that the Office team won’t take advantage of the underlying .NET platform API. Which unfortunately, happens to be 100% closed, Windows only, and even Vista only in the future.

  8. A few remarks : 1) Office 2006 is a pig. 2) Office 2006 breaks file formats and is thus going to cause great harm. 3) The MS Office suite gets more integration than ever with other Windows-only Microsoft-only products (note that Mac Office is apparently out of the game now). To get Excel services, you’ll have to buy Sharepoint as well, perhaps a SQLServer store, perhaps VS.NET to “better” develop your apps, and nobody knows yet how many other server (emphasis : $$SERVER$$) licenses… 4) As time goes on, Office will add ties to WPF/WWF and so on, which will make it even harder for customers to integrate with their current businesses. There is no way that the Office team won’t take advantage of the underlying .NET platform API. Which unfortunately, happens to be 100% closed, Windows only, and even Vista only in the future.

  9. Also Scoble, while you talk about business intelligence features, do you know which technology Microsoft will use to bring business intelligence across their integrated initiative?

    DRM

    The Office DRM part which will allow the corporate world to secure all or part of documents based on people credentials. This is very powerful, and there are numerous implications.

    As you have guessed, this thing is a proprietary thing so far, used at run-time in MS Office (and Internet Explorer) to project the XML or other document type into a form that suits requirements.

    I am taking the bet that, while all of this is greatly part of the MS Office document paradigm going forward (I believe only a fraction of it is being enabled in Office 2006), none of it is going to be standardized anytime soon. I may be wrong, but could you ask the question to the appopriate parties?

  10. Also Scoble, while you talk about business intelligence features, do you know which technology Microsoft will use to bring business intelligence across their integrated initiative?

    DRM

    The Office DRM part which will allow the corporate world to secure all or part of documents based on people credentials. This is very powerful, and there are numerous implications.

    As you have guessed, this thing is a proprietary thing so far, used at run-time in MS Office (and Internet Explorer) to project the XML or other document type into a form that suits requirements.

    I am taking the bet that, while all of this is greatly part of the MS Office document paradigm going forward (I believe only a fraction of it is being enabled in Office 2006), none of it is going to be standardized anytime soon. I may be wrong, but could you ask the question to the appopriate parties?

  11. Stephane: >Office 2006 breaks file formats and is thus going to cause great harm

    Please explain. Old files open fine in new Office. That’s far from “breaking file formats.”

  12. Stephane: >Office 2006 breaks file formats and is thus going to cause great harm

    Please explain. Old files open fine in new Office. That’s far from “breaking file formats.”

  13. “Old files open fine in new Office.”

    I assume it’s true. At this time, it’s wishful thinking. I am pretty sure the Office team is committed to do that, no wonder, but we’ll have to wait everybody try before claiming it is. You know, even with your best commitment, regressions are part of life, and hurt you badly when you face them (just look at the many regressions fixed in each and every Office service pack that comes out).

    No, the problem I am talking about is the other way around. New file format extensions (means a special shell extension has to be deployed only to start well) put a headache onto everyone since, Well you need to install the new Office 2006 or at least a converter (2000 or above the marketing brochure says) in the first place only to open the document.

    And nobody has installed Office 2006. So everybody will bump into this. A good deal of Office95 users know what it means : ask them about Office 97 documents. Have you any idea how $$big$$ a deal this is to IT departments?

    And even with that, take that Excel 2006 one million row grid and try to put that in an older Excel document. Yeah, sharing Excel documents inside or outside the company will never be easier…

  14. “Old files open fine in new Office.”

    I assume it’s true. At this time, it’s wishful thinking. I am pretty sure the Office team is committed to do that, no wonder, but we’ll have to wait everybody try before claiming it is. You know, even with your best commitment, regressions are part of life, and hurt you badly when you face them (just look at the many regressions fixed in each and every Office service pack that comes out).

    No, the problem I am talking about is the other way around. New file format extensions (means a special shell extension has to be deployed only to start well) put a headache onto everyone since, Well you need to install the new Office 2006 or at least a converter (2000 or above the marketing brochure says) in the first place only to open the document.

    And nobody has installed Office 2006. So everybody will bump into this. A good deal of Office95 users know what it means : ask them about Office 97 documents. Have you any idea how $$big$$ a deal this is to IT departments?

    And even with that, take that Excel 2006 one million row grid and try to put that in an older Excel document. Yeah, sharing Excel documents inside or outside the company will never be easier…

  15. I have watched back in August, and watched it again only to make sure that I saw well this thing. The file format thing you recorded is a developer thing : be able to open a zip file, and watch/edit its parts.

    Let’s talk about end users, mind you. How much do you think this zip thing is worth for them? All they are going to experience is a new file format that requires a new application to open/edit it.

    This is surprising how “old worldish” this new Office 2006 thing is. You would expect an abundance of such document viewers, may I say viewers that are included in the zip file so that users don’t have to install anything. Alternatively, web hosting, but no luck outside Excel Services.

    If those users dare share those new files with their peers, slap guaranteed.

    IT departments will face an upgrade. They’d better have a really good reason to deploy a new expensive application such as Office 2006 instead of the free OpenOffice, especially when OpenOffice is good enough.

    After installing the new app, the joy of being unable to use the application. Full retraining budget ahead.

    And in the other way around, opening old files with Office 2006 may work (I am not holding my breath as I said above) but will provide a different user experience depending on the OS you are running. On Vista, there is no way a Word document with a VBA macro will open the same than on XP. That VBA macro can reformat your hard drive.

  16. I have watched back in August, and watched it again only to make sure that I saw well this thing. The file format thing you recorded is a developer thing : be able to open a zip file, and watch/edit its parts.

    Let’s talk about end users, mind you. How much do you think this zip thing is worth for them? All they are going to experience is a new file format that requires a new application to open/edit it.

    This is surprising how “old worldish” this new Office 2006 thing is. You would expect an abundance of such document viewers, may I say viewers that are included in the zip file so that users don’t have to install anything. Alternatively, web hosting, but no luck outside Excel Services.

    If those users dare share those new files with their peers, slap guaranteed.

    IT departments will face an upgrade. They’d better have a really good reason to deploy a new expensive application such as Office 2006 instead of the free OpenOffice, especially when OpenOffice is good enough.

    After installing the new app, the joy of being unable to use the application. Full retraining budget ahead.

    And in the other way around, opening old files with Office 2006 may work (I am not holding my breath as I said above) but will provide a different user experience depending on the OS you are running. On Vista, there is no way a Word document with a VBA macro will open the same than on XP. That VBA macro can reformat your hard drive.

  17. Last comment on the standardization announcement (I thought you don’t have to open things when they are already open, I’ll let you figure out this PR non-sense yourself), I am willing to say that I am pretty confident that only the textual, vector tags, and application-specific tags will be made public and eventually Ecma/ISO. That is, the quick easy non-damaging effort.

    Let’s mention some more damaging and costly efforts :
    - semantics : “the sum is greater than the parts”. Said otherwise, how tags articulate and compose themselves is a crucial knowledge. Not documented at all in the current O12 schema doc preview.
    - OLE
    - binary parts such as Xml islands (VSTO, Xml 2003, …)
    - all records and file changes that have occurred since Office 97 which have never been documented (such as MSO extensions).
    - DRM
    - Serialization of objects meant to be shared on servers (last publication date, security, host names, …)
    - Fallback scenarios for non-XPS aware OSes
    - Round-tripping scenarios
    - Diagnostic tools

  18. Last comment on the standardization announcement (I thought you don’t have to open things when they are already open, I’ll let you figure out this PR non-sense yourself), I am willing to say that I am pretty confident that only the textual, vector tags, and application-specific tags will be made public and eventually Ecma/ISO. That is, the quick easy non-damaging effort.

    Let’s mention some more damaging and costly efforts :
    - semantics : “the sum is greater than the parts”. Said otherwise, how tags articulate and compose themselves is a crucial knowledge. Not documented at all in the current O12 schema doc preview.
    - OLE
    - binary parts such as Xml islands (VSTO, Xml 2003, …)
    - all records and file changes that have occurred since Office 97 which have never been documented (such as MSO extensions).
    - DRM
    - Serialization of objects meant to be shared on servers (last publication date, security, host names, …)
    - Fallback scenarios for non-XPS aware OSes
    - Round-tripping scenarios
    - Diagnostic tools

  19. For the videos. To get more viewers, Microsoft should open them up to RSS video aggregators and compatibility with the iPod.

  20. Enric: the videos already are available via RSS. All of Channel 9 is. And converting them to a format that can play on the iPod isn’t that big a deal. I even printed a list of how to do it about a week ago.

  21. Enric: the videos already are available via RSS. All of Channel 9 is. And converting them to a format that can play on the iPod isn’t that big a deal. I even printed a list of how to do it about a week ago.

  22. The reason no one used Groove is that it was a closed system that only talked to one OS.

    You’d think Ozzie, of all people, would know that single platform messaging is doomed.

  23. The reason no one used Groove is that it was a closed system that only talked to one OS.

    You’d think Ozzie, of all people, would know that single platform messaging is doomed.

  24. I’ll second Welch’s statement.

    Ozzie may have had a problem getting companies to adopt Groove, but he brought on some of that trouble himself. Considering the fact that MANY collaborative efforts (client software development, service development, web development) take place on multiple platforms, only supporting Windows was a big reason to NOT use Groove.

    In many ways, Sharepoint follows that model.

    Thus driving us away from that, too.

  25. I’ll second Welch’s statement.

    Ozzie may have had a problem getting companies to adopt Groove, but he brought on some of that trouble himself. Considering the fact that MANY collaborative efforts (client software development, service development, web development) take place on multiple platforms, only supporting Windows was a big reason to NOT use Groove.

    In many ways, Sharepoint follows that model.

    Thus driving us away from that, too.

  26. “The guy from Starbucks hadn’t. Which explains just how big a challenge it is to get people to upgrade. Getting people to pay attention just isn’t easy. If it were the market would flip to new things every few years.”

    Why should an executive even care about a product not coming out for a year? Nevermind look at a geek site with lame videos…

    “And converting them to a format that can play on the iPod isn’t that big a deal. I even printed a list of how to do it about a week ago.”

    But your format choice sucks anyway. Why should we do be conversion work you claim is so easy? Why don’t you do it? Even with a delay,t hat would be appreciated… Oh, that’s right, your company won’t let you use anything besides Windows formats.

  27. “The guy from Starbucks hadn’t. Which explains just how big a challenge it is to get people to upgrade. Getting people to pay attention just isn’t easy. If it were the market would flip to new things every few years.”

    Why should an executive even care about a product not coming out for a year? Nevermind look at a geek site with lame videos…

    “And converting them to a format that can play on the iPod isn’t that big a deal. I even printed a list of how to do it about a week ago.”

    But your format choice sucks anyway. Why should we do be conversion work you claim is so easy? Why don’t you do it? Even with a delay,t hat would be appreciated… Oh, that’s right, your company won’t let you use anything besides Windows formats.

  28. Well, I was on that single OS that Groove talked to. You know why I never adopted it? It was too freakin’ hard to figure out. Had to sign up, had to figure out where my document fit. Had to wait around until someone else was online so we could “collaborate”. Not to mention the thing was S L O W.

    I was not impressed with Groove at all. So far, I haven’t been impressed with anything Ozzie has done. He has good ideas, but poor implimentation.

    Hmmmmmm, maybe he fits right in at Microsoft? ;)

  29. Well, I was on that single OS that Groove talked to. You know why I never adopted it? It was too freakin’ hard to figure out. Had to sign up, had to figure out where my document fit. Had to wait around until someone else was online so we could “collaborate”. Not to mention the thing was S L O W.

    I was not impressed with Groove at all. So far, I haven’t been impressed with anything Ozzie has done. He has good ideas, but poor implimentation.

    Hmmmmmm, maybe he fits right in at Microsoft? ;)

  30. Have you stopped comments in some posts? LAME!!

    Anyway…

    “As to the MA question, I think this answers that better than I could:”

    “The obvious first take on this submission will be all about Massachussets and whether or not we were “made” to do this by them. The real story is no we were not. The concerns raised in MA are important as is our relationship with them, but it is important to remember that 2 years ago this month we made the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema available under extremely favorable terms for implementers. The discussions around the State of MA unquetionably put a fine point on the discussions about the future of how document formats were handled, but they were not the direct catalyst of this action on our part. ”

    That answers nothing at all. It’s a timeline. Actually, it just points out 2 separate events. There is no argument or logic to that statement.

    Yes, you released a Schema 2 years ago. So what? A schema did not mean that any application on any platform could read and write Office documents without licenses or the use of patents.

    Which is why you were rejected by Massachusetts.

    Which is why you are making this change NOW.

  31. Have you stopped comments in some posts? LAME!!

    Anyway…

    “As to the MA question, I think this answers that better than I could:”

    “The obvious first take on this submission will be all about Massachussets and whether or not we were “made” to do this by them. The real story is no we were not. The concerns raised in MA are important as is our relationship with them, but it is important to remember that 2 years ago this month we made the Office 2003 XML Reference Schema available under extremely favorable terms for implementers. The discussions around the State of MA unquetionably put a fine point on the discussions about the future of how document formats were handled, but they were not the direct catalyst of this action on our part. ”

    That answers nothing at all. It’s a timeline. Actually, it just points out 2 separate events. There is no argument or logic to that statement.

    Yes, you released a Schema 2 years ago. So what? A schema did not mean that any application on any platform could read and write Office documents without licenses or the use of patents.

    Which is why you were rejected by Massachusetts.

    Which is why you are making this change NOW.

  32. “You just need to use the download file and the latest Microsoft Media Player.”

    You mean the one released 2 and a half years ago? (I know there have been subsequent bug fixes, but really there have been no truly new releases… The latest upgrade only supports a codec from 4 years ago… Really…) “Latest” is about the most absurd and offensive adjective you can use in such a statement. “First”, “only”, and (possibly) “last” would have been more accurate.

  33. “You just need to use the download file and the latest Microsoft Media Player.”

    You mean the one released 2 and a half years ago? (I know there have been subsequent bug fixes, but really there have been no truly new releases… The latest upgrade only supports a codec from 4 years ago… Really…) “Latest” is about the most absurd and offensive adjective you can use in such a statement. “First”, “only”, and (possibly) “last” would have been more accurate.

  34. He was using Excel to fiddle with numbers. He told me he loved Office and couldn’t live without it. He also told me that Starbucks opens five new coffee shops every day

    Huh, they open 13 a week. Must be some misplaced Excel function he was looking at.

  35. He was using Excel to fiddle with numbers. He told me he loved Office and couldn’t live without it. He also told me that Starbucks opens five new coffee shops every day

    Huh, they open 13 a week. Must be some misplaced Excel function he was looking at.

  36. So far, I haven’t been impressed with anything Ozzie has done. He has good ideas, but poor implimentation.

    I was a Notes admin around 1997 and it was pretty nifty back then. Could do anything with it, from email to workflow. The only thing holding it back was LotusScript, they should of also allowed some other languages in there and more developers would of made programs for it.

    As such Notes was always a niche player which didn’t offer the developer much in the way of cross training skills. You were a “real” programmer or you were a Notes one.

  37. So far, I haven’t been impressed with anything Ozzie has done. He has good ideas, but poor implimentation.

    I was a Notes admin around 1997 and it was pretty nifty back then. Could do anything with it, from email to workflow. The only thing holding it back was LotusScript, they should of also allowed some other languages in there and more developers would of made programs for it.

    As such Notes was always a niche player which didn’t offer the developer much in the way of cross training skills. You were a “real” programmer or you were a Notes one.

  38. So far, I haven’t been impressed with anything Ozzie has done. He has good ideas, but poor implimentation.

    I was a Notes admin around 1997 and it was pretty nifty back then. Could do anything with it, from email to workflow. The only thing holding it back was LotusScript, they should of also allowed some other languages in there and more developers would of made programs for it.

    As such Notes was always a niche player which didn’t offer the developer much in the way of cross training skills. You were a “real” programmer or you were a Notes one.

  39. Now that I’ve thought about it this whole discussion of “file formats” is old world thinking. Google’s going to eclipse this trouble by just having you store your documents on their servers.

    Then they’ll offer APIs for you to get at your data in different ways. No legacy file formats to worry about. No MSFT file format lock in to worry about. Granted you have to worry about your network connection to Google, but that’s probably why they are setting up hundreds of data centers.

    Google’s online office has MSFT running scared. There’s no need to hire IT staff to maintain a file server and permissions — google does that for you. So there’s no need to hire a dorky MSCE. That means less “education” revenue for Microsoft. Also one less Windows server.

  40. Now that I’ve thought about it this whole discussion of “file formats” is old world thinking. Google’s going to eclipse this trouble by just having you store your documents on their servers.

    Then they’ll offer APIs for you to get at your data in different ways. No legacy file formats to worry about. No MSFT file format lock in to worry about. Granted you have to worry about your network connection to Google, but that’s probably why they are setting up hundreds of data centers.

    Google’s online office has MSFT running scared. There’s no need to hire IT staff to maintain a file server and permissions — google does that for you. So there’s no need to hire a dorky MSCE. That means less “education” revenue for Microsoft. Also one less Windows server.

  41. Now that I’ve thought about it this whole discussion of “file formats” is old world thinking. Google’s going to eclipse this trouble by just having you store your documents on their servers.

    Then they’ll offer APIs for you to get at your data in different ways. No legacy file formats to worry about. No MSFT file format lock in to worry about. Granted you have to worry about your network connection to Google, but that’s probably why they are setting up hundreds of data centers.

    Google’s online office has MSFT running scared. There’s no need to hire IT staff to maintain a file server and permissions — google does that for you. So there’s no need to hire a dorky MSCE. That means less “education” revenue for Microsoft. Also one less Windows server.

  42. Just because you have open file formats, it doesn’t mean that they will add value for folks in finance.

    Once upon a time, paper was the file format for spreadsheets. Paper was an open standard [flat and made from trees] and it was portable [you could fold it or roll it up], and you could write on it with a pen or pencil, but by itself the format didn’t add a lot of value.

    There is such a disconnect between IT folks [especially the open source/no-MS IT folks] and the people in Finance they are charged with supporting. Stephanie Rodriguez says that OpenOffice is good enough for these people. If that were the case, they would be using it.

    IT people don’t live in Excel like Finance and Accounting people do, and it is arrogant for IT people to tell their users what is and what isn’t good enough for them.

    Finance folks, for the most part, are a conservative, schedule driven bunch [month end, quarter end, year end], who need to know that their tools will work for them. Like it or not, OpenOffice is too much of a question mark in their minds.

  43. Just because you have open file formats, it doesn’t mean that they will add value for folks in finance.

    Once upon a time, paper was the file format for spreadsheets. Paper was an open standard [flat and made from trees] and it was portable [you could fold it or roll it up], and you could write on it with a pen or pencil, but by itself the format didn’t add a lot of value.

    There is such a disconnect between IT folks [especially the open source/no-MS IT folks] and the people in Finance they are charged with supporting. Stephanie Rodriguez says that OpenOffice is good enough for these people. If that were the case, they would be using it.

    IT people don’t live in Excel like Finance and Accounting people do, and it is arrogant for IT people to tell their users what is and what isn’t good enough for them.

    Finance folks, for the most part, are a conservative, schedule driven bunch [month end, quarter end, year end], who need to know that their tools will work for them. Like it or not, OpenOffice is too much of a question mark in their minds.

  44. Just because you have open file formats, it doesn’t mean that they will add value for folks in finance.

    Once upon a time, paper was the file format for spreadsheets. Paper was an open standard [flat and made from trees] and it was portable [you could fold it or roll it up], and you could write on it with a pen or pencil, but by itself the format didn’t add a lot of value.

    There is such a disconnect between IT folks [especially the open source/no-MS IT folks] and the people in Finance they are charged with supporting. Stephanie Rodriguez says that OpenOffice is good enough for these people. If that were the case, they would be using it.

    IT people don’t live in Excel like Finance and Accounting people do, and it is arrogant for IT people to tell their users what is and what isn’t good enough for them.

    Finance folks, for the most part, are a conservative, schedule driven bunch [month end, quarter end, year end], who need to know that their tools will work for them. Like it or not, OpenOffice is too much of a question mark in their minds.

  45. “Stephane Rodriguez says that OpenOffice is good enough for these people. If that were the case, they would be using it.”

    OpenOffice 2.0 came out just recently, so what do you expect. 2.0 is massively better than 1.x

  46. “Stephane Rodriguez says that OpenOffice is good enough for these people. If that were the case, they would be using it.”

    OpenOffice 2.0 came out just recently, so what do you expect. 2.0 is massively better than 1.x

  47. “Stephane Rodriguez says that OpenOffice is good enough for these people. If that were the case, they would be using it.”

    OpenOffice 2.0 came out just recently, so what do you expect. 2.0 is massively better than 1.x

  48. Well, Scoble, I guess that confirms that for some reason my posts are getting held up… Don’t know if others are seeing the same thing… (?) Anyway, guess WordPress is acting up again or summin.

  49. Well, Scoble, I guess that confirms that for some reason my posts are getting held up… Don’t know if others are seeing the same thing… (?) Anyway, guess WordPress is acting up again or summin.

  50. Well, Scoble, I guess that confirms that for some reason my posts are getting held up… Don’t know if others are seeing the same thing… (?) Anyway, guess WordPress is acting up again or summin.

  51. A bunch of questions:

    1. Will the Office formats be frozen? For how long? If Microsoft modifies the format will they do so on the same timeframe as standard submission and approval?

    2. Will Microsoft allow others to modify the “standard” or will they continue to maintain sole control?

    3. If the standard is “open” and you “will not sue”, does that mean portions of the spec (accessibility, etc…) can be used by others in other formats?

    4. Why is your company so afraid of supporting ODF when other companies have already demonstrated the ability to convert Office to ODf and vice versa?

    5. Are we still at the Press Release phase or can we look at the new license(s) / “will not sue” covenant? How can / why should we be reassured if we don’t have a license or some legalese to compare with the PR?

  52. A bunch of questions:

    1. Will the Office formats be frozen? For how long? If Microsoft modifies the format will they do so on the same timeframe as standard submission and approval?

    2. Will Microsoft allow others to modify the “standard” or will they continue to maintain sole control?

    3. If the standard is “open” and you “will not sue”, does that mean portions of the spec (accessibility, etc…) can be used by others in other formats?

    4. Why is your company so afraid of supporting ODF when other companies have already demonstrated the ability to convert Office to ODf and vice versa?

    5. Are we still at the Press Release phase or can we look at the new license(s) / “will not sue” covenant? How can / why should we be reassured if we don’t have a license or some legalese to compare with the PR?

  53. A bunch of questions:

    1. Will the Office formats be frozen? For how long? If Microsoft modifies the format will they do so on the same timeframe as standard submission and approval?

    2. Will Microsoft allow others to modify the “standard” or will they continue to maintain sole control?

    3. If the standard is “open” and you “will not sue”, does that mean portions of the spec (accessibility, etc…) can be used by others in other formats?

    4. Why is your company so afraid of supporting ODF when other companies have already demonstrated the ability to convert Office to ODf and vice versa?

    5. Are we still at the Press Release phase or can we look at the new license(s) / “will not sue” covenant? How can / why should we be reassured if we don’t have a license or some legalese to compare with the PR?

  54. “IT people don’t live in Excel like Finance and Accounting people do, and it is arrogant for IT people to tell their users what is and what isn’t good enough for them.

    Finance folks, for the most part, are a conservative, schedule driven bunch [month end, quarter end, year end], who need to know that their tools will work for them. Like it or not, OpenOffice is too much of a question mark in their minds.”

    Right, Finance people don’t care, they just work within their existing systems. If IT can test and provide the tools, spreadsheets, reports, etc… that Finance needs, Finance doesn’t care. Finance also is usually involved in purchasing decisions (OO wins there) and data storage for auditing purposes (if governments or anyone starts migrating to truly “open” formats, OO would win there too.)

  55. “IT people don’t live in Excel like Finance and Accounting people do, and it is arrogant for IT people to tell their users what is and what isn’t good enough for them.

    Finance folks, for the most part, are a conservative, schedule driven bunch [month end, quarter end, year end], who need to know that their tools will work for them. Like it or not, OpenOffice is too much of a question mark in their minds.”

    Right, Finance people don’t care, they just work within their existing systems. If IT can test and provide the tools, spreadsheets, reports, etc… that Finance needs, Finance doesn’t care. Finance also is usually involved in purchasing decisions (OO wins there) and data storage for auditing purposes (if governments or anyone starts migrating to truly “open” formats, OO would win there too.)

  56. “IT people don’t live in Excel like Finance and Accounting people do, and it is arrogant for IT people to tell their users what is and what isn’t good enough for them.

    Finance folks, for the most part, are a conservative, schedule driven bunch [month end, quarter end, year end], who need to know that their tools will work for them. Like it or not, OpenOffice is too much of a question mark in their minds.”

    Right, Finance people don’t care, they just work within their existing systems. If IT can test and provide the tools, spreadsheets, reports, etc… that Finance needs, Finance doesn’t care. Finance also is usually involved in purchasing decisions (OO wins there) and data storage for auditing purposes (if governments or anyone starts migrating to truly “open” formats, OO would win there too.)

  57. “Good. Now Microsoft Office must compete based on merit rather than file format compatibility and OpenOffice.org must compete based on merit rather than “use us because our format is open”.”

    I find this statement hilarious. You think this is a good statement of the case? Why doesn’t Microsoft Office have to compete based on file format compatibility? They haven’t moved one inch to support other formats even though two companies and Sun have demonstrated a file format convertor between the 2 formats in question. Why does Microsoft get to avoid the file format issue? Because they are big? Because they want everyone to use their format so they get ECMA to call it a standard? How does that eliminate the issue for them?

  58. “Good. Now Microsoft Office must compete based on merit rather than file format compatibility and OpenOffice.org must compete based on merit rather than “use us because our format is open”.”

    I find this statement hilarious. You think this is a good statement of the case? Why doesn’t Microsoft Office have to compete based on file format compatibility? They haven’t moved one inch to support other formats even though two companies and Sun have demonstrated a file format convertor between the 2 formats in question. Why does Microsoft get to avoid the file format issue? Because they are big? Because they want everyone to use their format so they get ECMA to call it a standard? How does that eliminate the issue for them?

  59. “Good. Now Microsoft Office must compete based on merit rather than file format compatibility and OpenOffice.org must compete based on merit rather than “use us because our format is open”.”

    I find this statement hilarious. You think this is a good statement of the case? Why doesn’t Microsoft Office have to compete based on file format compatibility? They haven’t moved one inch to support other formats even though two companies and Sun have demonstrated a file format convertor between the 2 formats in question. Why does Microsoft get to avoid the file format issue? Because they are big? Because they want everyone to use their format so they get ECMA to call it a standard? How does that eliminate the issue for them?

  60. Scoble, I said you weren’t. You told me you weren’t and I believed you and thanked you. Those previous posts were tests and questions because I could see that others were posting and I wasn’t. Why several comments got lost in the ether, I don’t know.

    Oh, another question on the standards front: SMTPE still hasn’t finalized VC-1 approval yet, huh? Will that ever happen?

    If the Office formats take longer to standardize as expected as VC-1 has, will you delay the release of Office until it is standardized since you have already pledged the two will occur at the same time?

  61. Scoble, I said you weren’t. You told me you weren’t and I believed you and thanked you. Those previous posts were tests and questions because I could see that others were posting and I wasn’t. Why several comments got lost in the ether, I don’t know.

    Oh, another question on the standards front: SMTPE still hasn’t finalized VC-1 approval yet, huh? Will that ever happen?

    If the Office formats take longer to standardize as expected as VC-1 has, will you delay the release of Office until it is standardized since you have already pledged the two will occur at the same time?

  62. Scoble, I said you weren’t. You told me you weren’t and I believed you and thanked you. Those previous posts were tests and questions because I could see that others were posting and I wasn’t. Why several comments got lost in the ether, I don’t know.

    Oh, another question on the standards front: SMTPE still hasn’t finalized VC-1 approval yet, huh? Will that ever happen?

    If the Office formats take longer to standardize as expected as VC-1 has, will you delay the release of Office until it is standardized since you have already pledged the two will occur at the same time?

  63. Another good question: The most salient reasons I’ve seen posted for this choice (whether or not I buy them–I don’t!) are: 1. it’s good for the users and developers, 2. although we own the code behind the applications and formats we want the users to “own” their data and documents throughout history no matter what changes occur to platforms or applications, and 3. we want to enable ISVs to profit from and improve the ecosystem of Window applications (ha, ha!.)

    (Of course, 1 is simple just 2 and 3 together, but so far you are doing a bad job of thumping the “It has nothing to do with Massachusetts” drum.)

    Okay, anyway, to the question: Having said that, is this not true of all of your formats and proprietary systems? If this is true, should you not also do the same with Exchange’s datastore, with DirectX, with XAML, and any number of other technolgoies?

    If you want me (and hopefully anyone else) to believe you (that it has nothing to do with Massachusetts), you have to explain to me why Office formats are uniquely different from your other tech.

  64. Another good question: The most salient reasons I’ve seen posted for this choice (whether or not I buy them–I don’t!) are: 1. it’s good for the users and developers, 2. although we own the code behind the applications and formats we want the users to “own” their data and documents throughout history no matter what changes occur to platforms or applications, and 3. we want to enable ISVs to profit from and improve the ecosystem of Window applications (ha, ha!.)

    (Of course, 1 is simple just 2 and 3 together, but so far you are doing a bad job of thumping the “It has nothing to do with Massachusetts” drum.)

    Okay, anyway, to the question: Having said that, is this not true of all of your formats and proprietary systems? If this is true, should you not also do the same with Exchange’s datastore, with DirectX, with XAML, and any number of other technolgoies?

    If you want me (and hopefully anyone else) to believe you (that it has nothing to do with Massachusetts), you have to explain to me why Office formats are uniquely different from your other tech.

  65. Another good question: The most salient reasons I’ve seen posted for this choice (whether or not I buy them–I don’t!) are: 1. it’s good for the users and developers, 2. although we own the code behind the applications and formats we want the users to “own” their data and documents throughout history no matter what changes occur to platforms or applications, and 3. we want to enable ISVs to profit from and improve the ecosystem of Window applications (ha, ha!.)

    (Of course, 1 is simple just 2 and 3 together, but so far you are doing a bad job of thumping the “It has nothing to do with Massachusetts” drum.)

    Okay, anyway, to the question: Having said that, is this not true of all of your formats and proprietary systems? If this is true, should you not also do the same with Exchange’s datastore, with DirectX, with XAML, and any number of other technolgoies?

    If you want me (and hopefully anyone else) to believe you (that it has nothing to do with Massachusetts), you have to explain to me why Office formats are uniquely different from your other tech.

  66. Keep fighting, Scoble — we’ll all be better off when people upgrade away from clunkers like Office 2000. I personally don’t understand why people resist upgrading Microsoft software (on Windows, anyway). I’d do almost anything that might help if/when I was forced to work with that stuff more often. :)

  67. Keep fighting, Scoble — we’ll all be better off when people upgrade away from clunkers like Office 2000. I personally don’t understand why people resist upgrading Microsoft software (on Windows, anyway). I’d do almost anything that might help if/when I was forced to work with that stuff more often. :)

  68. Keep fighting, Scoble — we’ll all be better off when people upgrade away from clunkers like Office 2000. I personally don’t understand why people resist upgrading Microsoft software (on Windows, anyway). I’d do almost anything that might help if/when I was forced to work with that stuff more often. :)

  69. There are two simple questions about
    MS openness:
    Why did not MS open its Office formats before ?
    Why MS haven’t done it yet ?
    I mean old good Word and Excel files.
    Obviously they are de-facto standards. So openning them would be much more real step toward openness.

  70. There are two simple questions about
    MS openness:
    Why did not MS open its Office formats before ?
    Why MS haven’t done it yet ?
    I mean old good Word and Excel files.
    Obviously they are de-facto standards. So openning them would be much more real step toward openness.

  71. There are two simple questions about
    MS openness:
    Why did not MS open its Office formats before ?
    Why MS haven’t done it yet ?
    I mean old good Word and Excel files.
    Obviously they are de-facto standards. So openning them would be much more real step toward openness.

  72. Um, Nick, maybe it’s because if you have to upgrade a couple thousand licenses, that cost goes WAY up? If your needs are being handled correctly by Office 2000, then the old “it’s not broken, LEAVE IT ALONE” comes into play.

  73. Um, Nick, maybe it’s because if you have to upgrade a couple thousand licenses, that cost goes WAY up? If your needs are being handled correctly by Office 2000, then the old “it’s not broken, LEAVE IT ALONE” comes into play.

  74. Um, Nick, maybe it’s because if you have to upgrade a couple thousand licenses, that cost goes WAY up? If your needs are being handled correctly by Office 2000, then the old “it’s not broken, LEAVE IT ALONE” comes into play.

  75. Wow, the comments on this post were a disaster. Honestly, this is simple. Microsoft “upgrades” the file formats to ostensibly incorporate new features, but more importantly to drive adoption rates of copies of the new version of Office. That’s ok. Office can’t stand still, and the new features are often ok.

    Microsoft has made the first significant changes to Excel and to the file formats used in Office in roughly 10 years. And they are substantive changes that incorporate substantial new features like the increased cell limit in Excel and the zip/xml file formats. No, the file formats aren’t a big deal to consumers – but businesses are the primary customer for Office, for PAINFULLY OBVIOUS REASONS!!! The changes to Excel are really impressive (and it’s obvious that competition has helped motivate MS a great deal). And the file format changes are a much bigger deal. There are a million uses for this, and customers that are abandoning VBA in droves can now work in Perl, Java and even C on competitors’ systems, and still deliver the ‘business standard’ MS docs. And anyone who dabbles in HTML for their blog/website/school projects will understand xml enough to open their document in code form and fix problems that they can’t seem to solve in Word (which, 20 some odd years later, still seems to happen).

    The previous posters made a good point about predictability. What guarantee will businesses have that these file formats will remain relatively stable in the future? That we won’t see a proprietary xml standard that better hooks into SQL server 2011? MS should chair a standards body, invite key international customers, and use that format to propose/accept changes and create schedule for changes in the future. If you want to remain a lingua franca, practice inclusion internationally so that the Chinese (among other key markets) don’t feel powerless to a foreign power. And so key international businesses feel secure that custom built database and programs tailored to MS’s current zip&xml format won’t need expensive re-writes for myriad ‘security updates’ over the course of a year.

    Just a thought.

  76. Wow, the comments on this post were a disaster. Honestly, this is simple. Microsoft “upgrades” the file formats to ostensibly incorporate new features, but more importantly to drive adoption rates of copies of the new version of Office. That’s ok. Office can’t stand still, and the new features are often ok.

    Microsoft has made the first significant changes to Excel and to the file formats used in Office in roughly 10 years. And they are substantive changes that incorporate substantial new features like the increased cell limit in Excel and the zip/xml file formats. No, the file formats aren’t a big deal to consumers – but businesses are the primary customer for Office, for PAINFULLY OBVIOUS REASONS!!! The changes to Excel are really impressive (and it’s obvious that competition has helped motivate MS a great deal). And the file format changes are a much bigger deal. There are a million uses for this, and customers that are abandoning VBA in droves can now work in Perl, Java and even C on competitors’ systems, and still deliver the ‘business standard’ MS docs. And anyone who dabbles in HTML for their blog/website/school projects will understand xml enough to open their document in code form and fix problems that they can’t seem to solve in Word (which, 20 some odd years later, still seems to happen).

    The previous posters made a good point about predictability. What guarantee will businesses have that these file formats will remain relatively stable in the future? That we won’t see a proprietary xml standard that better hooks into SQL server 2011? MS should chair a standards body, invite key international customers, and use that format to propose/accept changes and create schedule for changes in the future. If you want to remain a lingua franca, practice inclusion internationally so that the Chinese (among other key markets) don’t feel powerless to a foreign power. And so key international businesses feel secure that custom built database and programs tailored to MS’s current zip&xml format won’t need expensive re-writes for myriad ‘security updates’ over the course of a year.

    Just a thought.

  77. Wow, the comments on this post were a disaster. Honestly, this is simple. Microsoft “upgrades” the file formats to ostensibly incorporate new features, but more importantly to drive adoption rates of copies of the new version of Office. That’s ok. Office can’t stand still, and the new features are often ok.

    Microsoft has made the first significant changes to Excel and to the file formats used in Office in roughly 10 years. And they are substantive changes that incorporate substantial new features like the increased cell limit in Excel and the zip/xml file formats. No, the file formats aren’t a big deal to consumers – but businesses are the primary customer for Office, for PAINFULLY OBVIOUS REASONS!!! The changes to Excel are really impressive (and it’s obvious that competition has helped motivate MS a great deal). And the file format changes are a much bigger deal. There are a million uses for this, and customers that are abandoning VBA in droves can now work in Perl, Java and even C on competitors’ systems, and still deliver the ‘business standard’ MS docs. And anyone who dabbles in HTML for their blog/website/school projects will understand xml enough to open their document in code form and fix problems that they can’t seem to solve in Word (which, 20 some odd years later, still seems to happen).

    The previous posters made a good point about predictability. What guarantee will businesses have that these file formats will remain relatively stable in the future? That we won’t see a proprietary xml standard that better hooks into SQL server 2011? MS should chair a standards body, invite key international customers, and use that format to propose/accept changes and create schedule for changes in the future. If you want to remain a lingua franca, practice inclusion internationally so that the Chinese (among other key markets) don’t feel powerless to a foreign power. And so key international businesses feel secure that custom built database and programs tailored to MS’s current zip&xml format won’t need expensive re-writes for myriad ‘security updates’ over the course of a year.

    Just a thought.