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On 02/25/2014 05:54 PM, Virgil Arrington wrote:

Makes perfect sense to me. I do think that software changes are often made as a result of the file formats rather than the programs themselves.

A few years ago, most lawyers in the U.S. used WordPerfect, and they really liked it. It had some features that were very suitable for the law office. However, most of their corporate clients were using Word. (Nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft). Over time, law offices began migrating to Word, not because they liked the program better, but because they needed file compatibility with their clients. Now, WordPerfect is all but an afterthought.

I formerly worked in a local government law department. For years, each department was permitted to select its own programs. So, we used WordPerfect's office suite, while the finance department (which preferred Excel) used MS Office. The IT department got tired of supporting multiple office suites and decided the government offices all needed to standardize on one program. Since the IT department was under the authority of the finance department, you can guess which office suite was chosen. Despite our protestations, we were overruled and converted to Office. Even then, I would use OpenOffice when I didn't need to share files with others, just to assert my freedom.


If ODF formats were used like the UK wants then different groups can use whatever program works best for them. As you noted US lawyers preferred WordPerfect while accountants preferred Excel. This competition is what MS fears because without vendor lock-in one can spend money one wants.

-----Original Message----- From: Jay Lozier
Sent: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 2:46 PM
Subject: Re: [libreoffice-users] Re: Defending ODF against OOXML in the UK

On 02/25/2014 01:21 PM, Virgil Arrington wrote:
I haven't followed the entirety of this thread, but I live in a world which is (sadly perhaps) dominated by M$.

Here in the U.S., Asus is running commercials about how good their netbooks are because they run "Office" (as opposed to Google Apps online with a Chromebook). In other words, they portray *real* computer users as using *real* programs like M$ Office. Now, I don't particularly like the commercials, but they indicate to me how mainstream M$ Office has become, almost to the point of blending brand names with product times (Word is to word processing as "Kleenex" is to facial tissues.) Again, I don't like it, but it's a reality I live with.

I often have to write documents that are sent to colleagues who are using M$. What I write *must* be readable by their chosen program. They are not going to listen to an LO evangelist proclaiming the gospel of ODF. Heck, half of them can't even figure out how to put page numbers on the bottom of their pages, let alone learn an entirely new office suite with totally new concepts (page styles anyone?).

For most of my word processing work, I save my documents as .ODT. When I need to share with an M$ colleague, I convert it to .DOC (rather than insisting that they use LO, which they simply won't do). It *generally* works okay, but numbered lists and bulleted lists get messed up a bit, just because of the different ways the two programs deal with those things.

Having used PCs since my first Commodore 64 thirty years ago, I have long given up on any hope of seeing a true "standard" file format. Different programs perform tasks differently, and those differences are reflected in the information that gets stored in the native file formats. So, I don't see any hope of a true standard until all programs work the same way. I had great hope for RTF, but that bombed. Load an RTF file into four different word processors, and you'll see four different documents.


I think the issue is MS claiming that using ODF formats as defaults will
somehow break MSO. As I understand the issue, the UK government is
specifying the file formats not the applications. Since they are
proposing using ODF formats this levels the playing field and allows any
application to compete on value not just LO or AOO. This includes other
commercial products also. If MS loses the ODF fight in the UK and
Europe, they are afraid that MSO market share will drop with time as
people look for alternatives to paying MS a fee. The only cudgel MS has
now file format lock-in but if many national governments refuse to play
they can change the default formats nationally.

If the UK goes through with ODF formats, first the UK government
switches, then businesses and people who routinely directly interact
with the government will change, then those on the periphery will
change. They will change for the reason you alluded to; they want to
keep up with only one version not two or three versions in different
formats. Eventually the UK will use ODF formats almost everywhere. Note,
I never said that users must change from MSO unless MS refuses to
support ODF formats and refuses to backport parsers for MSO 2007 and
2010. However, Since several suites properly handle ODF already then it
is easier for a user to switch to another suite (hopefully a FOSS

Assuming MS loses the ODF fight, then having MSO becomes less important
to all users. Many are currently staying with Windows because of MSO. So
a major impediment to using LO and Linux is removed for many, some will
migrate to LO (or something else) and Linux and become permanently lost
sales to MS. I am a Linux user and would love to only use ODF format for
office files. I am a lost sale to MS; no Windows, no MSO, no other MS
products because they do not release software for Linux. The longer I
use Linux without any MS applications the more likely in the future I
will ignore Linux releases from MS. I am becoming MS' worst nightmare; a
user who does not use their products or services for anything. Multiply
this in the UK, instead of a few percent of Linux desktop users you
could have 15-20% very easily and very rapidly. especially with ChromeOS
and SteamOS available. This is a noticeable effect in one country.

Another effect of ODF in the UK is that UK companies will be using ODF
formats in the future. Their overseas subsidiaries will be forced to
adopt ODF formats to communicate internally so beachheads will be made
unintentionally in other countries. This effect will be magnified if
Europe follows the UK lead.

The problem with RTF was it was another MS controlled format.

Jay Lozier

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