The bitter irony...

Talk about anything at all....

The bitter irony...

Postby Openofficer » Fri May 30, 2008 6:05 pm

Hi all.

I've recently decided to uninstall MS Office of my PC (for technical reasons) and instead install Open Office, and thus far, I like the 'older' look of it which I was very familiar with prior to MS Office 2007, and I think I'll be using Open Office for a bit.

Anyways, as I was tinkering around it with I decided to do this experiment with Open Office Writer to see what it was capable of. You see, many months ago, back in January, I was looking towards some old school PC applications and programs, notably old word processors and spreadsheets (though I only got one spreadsheet to work, I have multiple old word processors) off one website. However, the one old word processor that caught my eye is MS Word 4.0 (dating to the far off year of 1987!), and since I love to play around with these old programs, I decided to experiment with it and just write on the ancient black and white screen of the program (using DosBox) and wrote about a page or so of meaningless monologue just for fun.

So after I was finished with this, I decided to experiment to see if I could open it using MS Word 2007... and while it did open after a bit of coaxing, It found that it was mostly a mess and after scrolling I did find the text I wrote, but it was far from complete it cut off after a while.

So what's the point? Well, after installing Open Office, I wrote a fairly big (about 2882 words) doc and I opened it using Open Office Writer, and guess what? It opened perfectly well and all the text was intact. Though there was some garbled stuff before and after the text, everything I wrote was completely intact, and even after I erased the garbled characters at the beginning and end... and it still opened using MS Word 4.0 perfectly and back again to Open Office.

Do you guys see the irony in this? The fact that MS Word 2007 couldn't open to any real degree the ancient versions of its own program, but Open office did it without breaking a sweat, and the other really cool thing is that I can write my stuff in MS Word 4.0 and still be able to fully use it because of this feature, instead of just saving it and keeping it novelity value (which is stupid if I write anything I'd like to post online and such).
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby squenson » Fri May 30, 2008 7:31 pm

This very interesting. I am sure that the OpenOffice.org marketing project (http://marketing.openoffice.org/) could be interested in your story that could make big headlines like: OpenOffice better reads Microsoft documents than Microsoft Office itself!
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Safway » Fri May 30, 2008 7:40 pm

Yes, now you are seeing the tip of the iceburg as to why so many are upset with the Microsoft upgrade treadmill.

The OpenOffice.org/Star Office team has spent a TREMENDOUS amount of time reverse engineering the Microsoft Office suite file formats so you can read a wide variety of formats, OO.o/SO often reads corrupted Office files when Office itself can not read its files, and it reads more of Office's files than Office on Windows XP SP2. Kudos to the developers of OO.o/SO!

It doesn't take a super smart person to realize the benefits of using OO.o/SO.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Openofficer » Fri May 30, 2008 8:09 pm

Another report... I used another old world processor (not as old as MS Word 4.0) called Aurora, the version I have Aurora Editor version 3.0c (dated to 1996). Again, I don't think it opened with MS word at all... but I'm not sure, I think I'll use my sister's laptop to test this out and come report what happened.

This very interesting. I am sure that the OpenOffice.org marketing project (http://marketing.openoffice.org/) could be interested in your story that could make big headlines like: OpenOffice better reads Microsoft documents than Microsoft Office itself!


Yeah, that would be pretty interesting actually. Of course, I'm going to make a few more experiments with this using other older word processors to see which one opens them better.

Naturally this would be a novelity deal since most people aren't going to be using old word processors for serious work (there are such individuals around, but they use very old computers and printers, and not emulation as I do). It'll be fun and would give Open Office something to boast about, but when doing day-to-day activities, this won't effect it much, or so I believe.

Yes, now you are seeing the tip of the iceburg as to why so many are upset with the Microsoft upgrade treadmill.


If I can give one complaint about the latest MS Office is how incompitable their latest extension (the .docx) is with the older versions of MS Office, hence forcing everyone to either save their files in an older format, the other people to install a converter, or to upgrade themselves. I'm not saying change is a bad thing or not inevitable, but this latest jump is too sudden and bound to create problems.

Oh, and BTW, the latest version of Access is COMPLETELY different! In fact, when I had several assignments to produce in university, even my dad, who's been working with computers his whole life (and was a the IT manager of a very large company for several years) was completely baffled by it.

That was pretty much my only complaint... the sudden, abrupt change in format.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Villeroy » Fri May 30, 2008 8:29 pm

The biggest advantage is OOo's own file format ODF. Unzip any ODF, load content.xml into a text reader (preferably aware of tags). There is a good chance that you will be able to read your data in 2 or 3 decades from now.
Please, edit this topic's initial post and add "[Solved]" to the subject line if your problem has been solved.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby foxcole » Fri May 30, 2008 9:31 pm

Openofficer wrote:
Yes, now you are seeing the tip of the iceburg as to why so many are upset with the Microsoft upgrade treadmill.


If I can give one complaint about the latest MS Office is how incompitable their latest extension (the .docx) is with the older versions of MS Office, hence forcing everyone to either save their files in an older format, the other people to install a converter, or to upgrade themselves.

Yep, this is the same ol' same-old from Microsoft.

I remember how shocked and angry I felt to discover Office 5.0 not only was incompatible with earlier versions, it completely revamped its macro language, rendering useless all the automated data-entry dialogs and linked spreadsheets and summary reports I had taught myself to develop for the extrusion department of a medical device manufacturer. I had become quite an expert and was proud of the depth of knowledge I had developed and the usability of the system I created (although "usability" wasn't popularly identified yet) and how it automated and made easy some very important data collection tasks, even for a roomful of workers who were afraid to touch a computer ... ail the hours I spent researching and testing and debugging, all the documents and templates I'd written... rendered incompatible, swept away in a matter of moments by one little software upgrade.

A little warning, at least, would have been nice, but apparently MS only warned beta testers and other people who had some kind of "insider" connections. The general users were taken by surprise, and so was MS at the fury of the reaction. It seems MS underestimated the impact this would have on businesses because they had blinded themselves with the stars in their eyes about how wonderful all the new features were... so they retrofitted and patched 5.0 to be able to open older files. Each major release has been similarly limited in compatibility with earlier versions, hence Safway's comment.

I was too incensed to learn the new macro language, VBA. And VBA was a lot more complicated to use and learn. It made life more difficult rather than easier for the macro programmer. Now, roughly a couple of decades later, I'm still too irked to work with it any more than I must. And now that I'm using OOo, I'm glad I didn't spend the energy.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Dave » Fri May 30, 2008 11:17 pm

I must say I'm a bit disappointed. It has been my impression that this forum concentrated on fixing OpenOffice problems, not being Holier Than Thou about MS Office. I guess I'll have to rethink my attitude when I see "MS can do this, why can't you?" in future.

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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Safway » Sat May 31, 2008 12:21 am

Dave, you are correct. This is a forum on OpenOffice.org. I think this thread has kept on topic as we were addressing what OpenOffice/Star Office can do for the user. How I took the original post was that he/she was excited about what OpenOffice did and his old office suite happened to be MS Office.

I know some have posted their feelings and experiences relating to the original post, and you could argue they went a little off track as is normal communication, but not by much. The original post was not on FIXING anything, but on sharing his experiences. The poster have had similar experiences and shared them in a polite, cordial, and professional way. Beyond that, however, I believe the distinction is splitting hairs.

Their are various things that various office suites can do. Some of the office suites (such as OpenOffice/Star Office) do these things well and others not so well. The same can be said for any office suite for their particular strengths. I think you can see that some of those particular strengths for OpenOffice/Star Office were outlined in this thread.

The fact that "OpenOffice better reads Microsoft documents than Microsoft Office itself" is a widely known fact *for corrupted Microsoft Office files* or for *very old Microsoft Office files*. I don't think this statement can be construed to carry a "Holier Than Thou" attitude.

Finally, in your post you said "It has been my impression that this forum concentrated on fixing OpenOffice problems. . ." This site is not only to address FIXING issues but also has a "General Discussion" board. For example, see index.php .
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Dave » Sat May 31, 2008 12:54 am

Safway wrote:This site is not only to address FIXING issues but also has a "General Discussion" board.


...which is then the place where this discussion should be contained.

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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby foxcole » Sat May 31, 2008 1:39 am

Dave wrote:I must say I'm a bit disappointed. It has been my impression that this forum concentrated on fixing OpenOffice problems, not being Holier Than Thou about MS Office.

Dave, if you're referring to my story, the only purpose is to illustrate for the OP that, yes, there are anecdotal, real-life examples of the now-legendary version incompatibility of Office to Office that had been noted during the discussion, and what those incompatibilities entailed... to not be surprised, in other words, at finding that the old versions don't work with each other. I enjoy writing, perhaps too much, but though it was written with passion, my point was not for the purpose of bashing Office; in fact I remain the company guru in that software suite.

As long as threads remain on topic, people can discuss anything here, and discussions can be fluid at times. The topic remains on target about versions of text editing software. That includes Writer, so this is an appropriate place for this thread.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby acknak » Sat May 31, 2008 2:37 am

I think David has a good point about this discussion running counter to the purpose of the support forums--I've moved this thread to "General Discussion".

Maybe we should have a separate place for "advocacy" discussions, but I think there's value in keeping the help forums as free as possible of "non-help" threads.

Agreed? No? Other suggestions?
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby foxcole » Sat May 31, 2008 4:23 am

That's fine, but I think you really can't draw a hard line on what discussions belong where. This particular thread has good information on what Writer can do with old file formats. Delete my posts if it makes Dave feel better, but I think it was perfectly fine where it was. I have seen many posts supporting the value of user-to-user discussions in the Writer forum, that part of the purpose of the forum was to be able to have discussions about Writer that might include opinions, wish-list topics, complaints, alternatives... What, for example, should you do with posts that ask about how to create a character and morph into the best hardware input devices?

And I would like to relax the idea of "support forums" for another reason... the constant and unrelenting perception that users are in fact contacting developers or some kind of company-sponsored customer support. Allowing any topic related to the category will broaden the perspective and perception of the forums, and possibly generate some very good conversations about Writer (or whatever) that are not strictly support-related. The Writer forum should allow any topic about Writer that users want to discuss, should it not? It would be more important to try to keep topics distinct than it would to censor what topics users could discuss, IMHO, as long as the topic has something to do with the forum core.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby Openofficer » Sat May 31, 2008 6:37 am

I must say I'm a bit disappointed. It has been my impression that this forum concentrated on fixing OpenOffice problems, not being Holier Than Thou about MS Office.


I had no intention of bashing MS Office. In fact, I'm actually a devote 'Microsoftphile' if there ever was such a thing and at one point several years ago, when I was using Open Office just because MS Office wasn't available for me, I starting using it as soon as it was. Not to say I'll abandon Open Office any time soon, I'm just saying.

Anyways, the purpose of the thread is simply to point out the humorous (or bitter) Irony that Open Office managed to successfully open doc files created by a 21 year old program better than the descendant of their said program. This is just for fun and not a serious attempt at discrediting MS Office (and to be completely fair, their older versions were fine pieces of software, microsoft does know how to make office suits despite their reputation for buggy operating systems).
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby acknak » Sat May 31, 2008 6:52 am

I agree [with you, Fox], it's not a clear call. We've never really nailed down what the exact purpose of each forum is, and some (such as "Writer") are much broader than others.

In my opinion--and that's all this is--the forum's purpose is 1) support for people who want to use OOo, and 2) more broadly, to promote the use of OOo. The main way we promote OOo is by helping people use the software (i.e. #1), but it can also involve providing information: community news, recommendations for complementary software, and migration or deployment anecdotes and advocacy, like this thread. Of course, the distinction between the two categories is not black and white: there's a spectrum of possibilities and many threads cross over from one to the other, as you point out.

However, my understanding--and I could certainly be wrong--is that all the forums are for helping people use the software, except for "General Discussion", which is for other kinds of support. I think this thread is an "other kind of support".

This thread has been heavy on commentary right from the get-go (look at the title), and it fits more of an advocacy role (note the first response, aligning this with marketing) than a user-support role.

I'm not saying there's anything wrong with it, or that it should be censored, at all. I don't understand why David seems to feel so negative about it, but I do agree that this thread is primarily advocating the use of OOo, which is a valid thing to do here, but not what we normally do in the Writer forum.
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby crusader » Sun Jun 01, 2008 3:16 am

I whole heartedly agree with Foxcole and Acknak.

In my opinion, this thread is perfectly at home in the General Discussion forum. Threads should be allowed to be as broad as they can be... this may sometimes give the impression that the thread is getting off course -- that is not necessarily the case: life is too complex and people don't walk around with blinders.

Yes, this is a OOo user to user support forum: that in of itself, is advocacy. Active advocacy cannot -- and should not be -- limited to the General Discussion forum. All areas of this forum should be able to be able to actively advocate: not just be limited to answering questions.

As for bashing M$, stating facts not in favor of M$ does not, IMHO, constitute M$ bashing. In the unlikely event that M$ bashing does actually occur, I will not be shedding any tears (crocodile or otherwise). I do not believe that greed, especially well beyond the depth of the Pacific ocean, is a virtue.

Let us enjoy FOSS that can open antique proprietary formats that its successors can't! I hope the marketing folks use this example to educate everyone about the power of ODF. I know I will.

Openofficer, thank you for sharing your experience!
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Re: The bitter irony...

Postby foxcole » Sun Jun 01, 2008 5:05 am

Thanks for your kind words, crusader! But this thread actually started in the Writer forum, which is where I thought it could rightfully belong. It was later moved to General Discussion on Dave's recommendation and acknak's accord.

What a great signature you have. 8-)
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