September 18, 2007 11:17 AM PDT

Rivals make run at Microsoft Office

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September 18, 2007

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While IBM, Sun Microsystems and Novell are attempting to offer OpenOffice-derived alternatives to Microsoft, Web businesses Google and now Yahoo are using Web 2.0-style features to attack Microsoft's largest businesses.

Yahoo's Zimbra e-mail and collaboration software is notable because it resembles a full-featured desktop application but the client runs in a browser. To do that, Zimbra has made heavy use of the Web programming technique called Ajax to make its application more interactive and support features such as "mashups," Web sites or applications that combine content from multiple sources but appear seamless upon use.

Zimbra has signed on 8 million customers through Internet service providers. The company designed its e-mail server for businesses as well, an area where Microsoft's Exchange is entrenched. But it's not clear whether Yahoo will continue to pursue that market, O'Grady said.

Several other start-ups are developing Web-based Office alternatives using Ajax or Adobe's Flash, which are typically free for consumers.

Google, meanwhile, continues to expand its Google Apps suite through new products, such as Google Presentations, and acquisitions including Web collaboration company JotSpot, which it bought last year.

The Web search king also has its eye on large businesses. It approached consulting firm Capgemini to create support and installation services for Google Apps Premium Edition, which costs $50 per user per year.

Capgemini executives said the product lacks the sophistication of Microsoft Office but can fill a role even inside large corporations, such as collaborating with business partners over the Internet.

Chris Swenson, a software analyst at NPD Group, said the most recent sales data on Office 2007 looks very good for Microsoft. In the retail channel, sales to date this year show Office having a 96 percent dollar share and 98 percent dollar share in the commercial market.

It's exactly that massive market share and the billions spent that explains IBM's introduction of Lotus Symphony and Web-based Office alternatives, said Gartner's Silver. He added that he has seen more "reasonable interest" in Office alternatives in the past year among Gartner's corporate clients.

Microsoft "makes billions of dollars (in desktop software) so it's a hard market to ignore," he said. "But it's a hard market to get into."

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51 comments

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Office Competition extends also to Project
This is great news for the industry. Microsoft Office includes primarily, Word, Excel, Powerpoint an Project. Sun, Novell, IBM, Google and soon Yahoo are offering alternatives that are full featured and open existing native files. I am using Projity's solutions that complements each of these suites with a complete replacement (both SaaS and open source desktop) of Microsoft Project. If you want to migrate from Office you can go cross platform and open existing files with these suites. The addition of Projity in each of these completes a sweet suite... all free and cross platform. Look out Microsoft
Posted by linuxbeatsMS (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Amen brother
God knows Microsoft could use some competition. Office has
become stale. And don't forget Apple's iWork and especially
Numbers, a refreshing change to Excel.
Posted by KonradK (65 comments )
Link Flag
SUCCESS WOULD BE LIMITED UNLESS...
Open Office is already there for quite a while and it is capable of producing comparably complex documents as in MS Office. The main issue is whether our govt. bodies embrace it. The courts, city govt., federal agencies, etc... currently just accepts Microsoft docs format for all purposes. They spent billions on Office licensing instead of $0 on openoffice. Yet they could not accept the widely open document format whereas openoffice accepts microsoft docs format.

A tragedy I guess where our govt. love to spend more of our money than saving and putting them to good use.

Unless our governing bodies embrace the open software we are still doom to paying for office.

Look at the University?... Our so-call learning institution... Are they using Office or Open Office? They are not learning compare to our overseas counterpart.

It is not the software availability.. it who is controlling the minds. The perception that MS Office is the best needs to be corrected. The inability of our teachers to learn and improve needs to be reassessed.
Posted by joshooi (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
free...
Nothing is free. Office 2007 is quite a product - I hate to say it but Microsoft really is getting it right when it comes to user productivity and enhancements to the way users work. Microsoft spends over $6 Billion in R&D - light years ahead of any thing that's happening in the open source community - of course open source copies a lot of the functionality of what's happening in Office. While Microsoft continues to invent and create new technology in its cash cow the open source community copies their work. Getting into Microsoft pocket is going to be a tough battle - they have created a linking point between all their products which no open source solution can really say. Rights Management, managed Collaboration solutions, IP Phone, Presences and Instant Messaging - they are building out a solution that will make any one who doesn't have a all up collaboration strategy extremely hard to follow. Yes, open source can partner together but honestly, with no money in open source (with the exception of services) I don't see IBM/Google/Yahoo really cutting in anytime soon.
Posted by jessiethe3rd (1140 comments )
Link Flag
Honestly...
Have you used Office 2007? Stale? Hardly. They've got their game together when it comes to the enterprise. SharePoint, Office Live Communicator, Office Enterprise, Infopath for forms automation - they are doing things that Apple could never do... besides, probably the number one or number two top selling application on a Mac... *drum-roll* Office.
Posted by jessiethe3rd (1140 comments )
Reply Link Flag
...astroturfing.
[i]"Have you used Office 2007? Stale?"[/i]

Yep. Also slow, buggy, and an all-around PITA to support.

Behind that pretty little ribbon is basically the same rehashed Office from 2003, with no compelling new stuff and a new GUI splashed on top of it.

As for Macs, NeoOffice is far easier to use and nowhere near as ugly on the resources. Oh, and it doesn't cost $400 US. ;)

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
NUMBER OF USER THAT NEED COLLABORATION
Majority of us are not power users. Every law office, government offices especially, all offices that I supported in small business and in large corporation, does not use all the collaboration features. In fact only about 10% of users uses all the collaboration and that is giving some doubt. I believe the figures is much less. Even simple excel work links are not use. Frankly alot of function in Word are also not known to alot of users (80% conservatively).

You are talking about power users. Most of use pay $200 at least for a simple type writer. I am not saying that the program is not useful.. It is but only to the only few. WHY DOES THE REST WHO DO NOT NEED ALL THOSE COLLABORATION NEED TO SUFFER?

My point is the Govt. is determining what we have to use. Unless the Govt. change and open itself to all document format there is no free choice. Open document format is already an international standard but Microsoft refuse to have it in their software instead they tried to sell their proprietary format as an international standard.

Point is I am not saying that their software is not good ... I am saying that all these other software have no chance of wide usage unless the GOVT, FEDS, ALL GOVERNING BODY are open to it.

These open source software are now widely used overseas. In fact some government already make them a standard. Billions of dollars safe in licensing fees could be better use.

I my consultation business I have save businesses with 30 or more users in licensing fees by limiting Office installation. I identify the power users and basically using a survey find out whether MS Office or OpenOffice need to be installed in each computer. Majority of the company could just work with OpenOffice.

I have seen enough waste in the Government from the city to the FEDS especially in the field of IT.
Posted by joshooi (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: collaboration
After supporting hundreds of users for over a decade, I can tell you that the closest most of them come to using collaboration software is when they link to someone else's spreadsheet that resides on a network share.

And we have had MS Office users linking to OpenOffice.org documents, and vice versa, for years.

The only limitation we've faced is the lack of support for ODF from Microsoft.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Hint from a power Excel user
I've seen this topic discussed on many BB's over many, many years. How to break the MS desktop hegemony? Well, without writing a tome... Um, until/unless someone can make a spreadsheet that integrates with backend databases better than Excel you can forget even denting MS's position. This alternate spreadsheet has to be cooler and easier to work with external data than Excel. Excel is the #1 business intellegence client in the world hands down. The BI vendors dream about having a >0% market share but they're wrong. And most BI vendors have given up trying to deeply integrate with Excel. Why? Because MS is a lousy partner that sabotages these efforts in order to make you use SQL/Server and Analysis Services. Trust me, if Oracle, IBM, SAS, Cognos, MySQL, etc. got together and created a better, faster, more flexible, programatically addressable, open, and intuitive interface to allow pivoting/manipulation of backend data from within the spreadsheet program... Well, all of a sudden the Excel power users would insist on using it. And the dominoes would fall from there. I've got the budget to do it right now but where's the product?
Posted by scdecade (329 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well...
[i]"Trust me, if Oracle, IBM, SAS, Cognos, MySQL, etc. got
together and created a better, faster, more flexible,
programatically addressable, open, and intuitive interface to
allow pivoting/manipulation of backend data from within the
spreadsheet program... Well, all of a sudden the Excel power
users would insist on using it."[/i]

I suspect that this is part of what IBM may be up to... ;)

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
HOW TO BEAT MICROSOFT
Microsoft have become very powerful with their Office aplications. But this is what Google, IBM, Yahoo, and other have to do to beat Office: Use the "ipod wheel theory." This means, revolution the market. remember when apple created the ipod? They made it easy to use. You dont need any user manual to use an ipod.

That is what Google or IBM should do. Create an excel an access like aplication where you dont have to use commands but clicks. That is the hardest thing about access and excel, they ask you to introduce commands. We, users, just need the cliks. That is like the calculators, you dont put formula, you just press bottons.

When we go to college, we know how hard Access and Excel may be. Google, please create a clik by clik version of something like Access or Excel.
Posted by DHeraSa (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Excel Pretty Solid
This is the hard one.

Anything is better than Word.

PowerPoint is almost a parody of itself.

Excel has some very useful features that are powerful if you want to bother buying and reading a manual.

At one point, MSFT announced Excel would be enterprise-class with a potential of 3 million records. A quant, sold-out SPSS user, told me MSFT pulled back on that.

An outfit that can make pivot-tables an intuitive push-button affair and give users massive database size capacity would have a shot at the power users but for the workaday PC users, Excel is actually useful. Amazing that MSFT developed it.
Posted by Sumatra-Bosch (526 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Outlook has run in a browser for nearly 7 years...
so what's the big deal about Zimbra or what does it offer MS Outlook Web Access and Exchange doesn't??
Posted by WJeansonne (480 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Webmail and Webapps have existed much longer.
[i]"so what's the big deal about Zimbra or what does it offer MS
Outlook Web Access and Exchange doesn't??"[/i]

* Unlike Outlook, they're not great big raging security risks.

* They don't require a monstrosity of a computer just to operate
as a desktop (e.g. Vista's requirements) or on the server (see
also the bloatastic mess that is Exchange).

* They don't require CALs and other unnecessary costs.

* Unlike OWA, their web pages actually work well with a typical
user's workflow, and are designed to be useful and productive.

* Unlike OWA, they don't require a monstrous and bloated
security hole (see also "IIS") as a webserver.

Shall I continue?

/P
Posted by Penguinisto (5042 comments )
Link Flag
Oracle OBIEE
We recently signed a contract with Oracle and will be using their OBIEE -oracle business intelligence yadda yadda software.

I think the sharks are circling.
Posted by dcsonka (14 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is a risky business move
they are giving it away for free, Lotus Symphony, but they are forcing people to register at IBM an account to download it. Because of that it will backfire on them and people will download OpenOffice.Org instead because it is free, it is what Symphony is based on, and it does not require anyone to register an account with a megacorporation in order to download it.

Plus MS-Works and MS-Office is bundled with just about every PC sold, so it is practically free anyway.

I am downloading Lotus Symphony for Windows and Linux, but even though I have high speed broadband it is very slow. The download manager IBM uses crashed my web browser and I tried Firefox 2.0.0.7 and IE 7.0 but I was forced to do the HTTP download. No option for BitTorrent downloads either. IBM has such poor quality control these days that even their web technology is messed up. Since it is based on Lotus Notes and Lotus Domino, you know that IBM messed them up after buying out Lotus. IBM tech support is horrible as well.

Lotus Symphony may be a dog for IBM, I think they should just make some of the Lotus source code and file formats available to improve OpenOffice.Org and not even bother with Lotus Symphony.
Posted by Fake Donald Trump (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why so?
"Lotus Symphony may be a dog for IBM, I think they should just make some of the Lotus source code and file formats available to improve OpenOffice.Org and not even bother with Lotus Symphony." When according to this observation which states: "Re: Concerning the issues with 1-2-3 that are talked about in the documentation you gave me, most of the issues are related to converting files between older and newer versions of product and converting documents between Lotus and Microsoft. Anytime a file is saved backwards or saved with an older file format than the format the file was created under, such as saving a 1-2-3 , 97 file for Windows 95 into a WK1 format for DOS, then naturally we are expected to loose certain features due to technology and features that are present now that were not present 8 - 10 years ago. Similarly, if we try to convert a file from Lotus into Excel or Excel into Lotus, due to differences in the products not every feature will be converted perfectly with the file filters that are available. Both Lotus and Microsoft create similar spreadsheet programs; however, there are several differences in both programs and these differences will remain to distinguish the products apart. We do try to design conversion filters that will allow as much of the file formats as possible to be exchanged and converted without disrupting the actual file design and format.

In one of your letters you made mention of the @IRR and @ERR functions in the 1-2-3 product. By design the @IRR (notably "absent" in Open Office) will calculate the Internal Rate of Return; where the @ERR is used in conjunction with other formulas, posted was an "ERR" showing an error was received in the calculations. As far as I can see in the program I cannot find an @ERR function that will allow us to calculate an Economic Rate of Return" Waiting around for years can be a very heavy load to carry especially when yet another holoday season is around the corner and the housing market is in such turmoil. This move by IBM should have made 10 years ago (with Lotus Symphony running on OS/2 also). Where was "OpenOffice.Org" at that time!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
How The "Punches" Are Landing!
From Ringside:

First: One ISO Right Cross To The Head.

Second: One EU Court of First Instance Left Upper-Cut To The Jaw.

and

Third: One IBM Jab To The Mid-Section

One awaits to see how much of Redmond's blood has really been spilled before Redmond goes to the next "Round" with the ISO! Are there any bets!
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The Question is:
... (now that there appears to be some external refereeing from this side of the Atlantic - see the below attached link) Is the Redmond Giant so stunned that it has forgotten how to "block" the punches, "duck", "rest on the ropes" or "lock-up" (tie-up) its opponents.

Now, the talk of United States "Referees" from:

"EC's Kroes slams DOJ reaction to Microsoft ruling"

"The DOJ statement added: "In the United States, antitrust laws are enforced to protect consumers by protecting competition, not competitors". Barring "demonstrable consumer harm, all companies, including dominant firms, are encouraged to compete vigorously."

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/091907-ec-microsoft-antitrust-ruling.html?netht=091907dailynews2&#38;&#38;nladname=091907dailynews" target="_newWindow">http://www.networkworld.com/news/2007/091907-ec-microsoft-antitrust-ruling.html?netht=091907dailynews2&#38;&#38;nladname=091907dailynews</a>

Stay tuned folks as these rounds of battles for its life of the Redmond Giant is not going to be over until the fat lady sings. Commander_Spock and Crew just can't wait to see the counter-punches from the Redmond Giant.
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Just a couple of things
Downloads for IBM have been not problem for me including Notes Beta that includes Symphony and hence almost 2x the file size of Symphony alone. You may be hitting the bandwidth wall as so may are downloading it. I've run into this before with many companies that release programs or even operating systems. I've had problems with MS update downloads as well.

As for IBM and OpenOffice, read the news release and see what IBM is doing and contributing. They are donating, money, programmers and some of the code they developed for Symphony that was not in OpenOffice. The consensus seems to be that OpenOffice will get better even faster. If there is a downside, it may be to OxygenFree Office that is the offshoot of OpenOffice modded to be more business focused than the generic OpenOffice.

I do not thing it is OpenOffice vs Symphony vs Google vs StarOffice (Sun's version) but all of them are more common than different and collaborating to reach somewhat different markets. If all of the 128,000,000 Notes users upgrade to Notes 8 and phased out or required odf formats it will hurt MS.

I now do not accept MS format from my clients in the office. I started this some time ago and back then required and accepted only rtf and 1-2-3 file formats. When I switched to odf, I found little resistance with my clients. Some updated by simply downloading OpenOffice and use it for a file converter but more and more are electing to use it. I client has converted all of its office to it, in excess of 80 persons. It turned out more than 2/3rds had it at home either on their person computers or their kids so they were used to it.
Posted by BrianLevy (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Any news on the IBM free office suite?
Saw a post about this yesterday but could not find it at IBM.com????
Posted by Dango517 (199 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"IBM Lotus Symphony Installation Guide"
With Compliments.

1. "Installing IBM Lotus Symphony on Windows XP and Windows Vista"

2. "Installing IBM Lotus Symphony on Linux SLED 10 and RHEL5"

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/installGuide.jspa" target="_newWindow">http://symphony.lotus.com/software/lotus/symphony/installGuide.jspa</a>

Good Luck.
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Link Flag
Parent Up
Exactly like parent said. An market the god damn software already. You can't expect people to automatically find this software. I try explaining OpenOffice.org to some people and they think its a website they have to be on. I mean how stupid can these people get, change the name to something that doesn't apply to being on the internet to use it. With that note, Google needs to make an offline version of there productivity apps. Make a small imprint and very simple, features can come after in my book, just the essentials.
Posted by chrisfrary (115 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Watch Out Cisco, HP, Dell etc. Geekware is here
Yeah... and companies are going to stop buying Cisco network equipment because Netgear is so much cheaper. Watch out Cisco. HP better plan an exit for it's printer business because large corporations everywhere are going digital! The end is near for HP's cash cow. Dell better rethink its strategy too because corporations are going to realize what consumers have known for a long time - generic clones like eMachines are cheaper. In fact, now everybody is listening to the nerdy IT guy who runs Linux on his homebuilt -- because all along he's had all the strategies to save tons of money.
Posted by b.k.m (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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