Thursday, October 14, 2010

Microsoft Launches FUD VS

Some good old classic FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) in three, two, one...

Now if I recall not to long ago a Microsoft representative was quoted saying "We love open source". Apparently they realize that many other people love open source as well, so many in fact that it is cutting into their bottom line - thus the offensive attack video you can see above.

It starts off with a quote saying "We originally installed Linux-based PCs running OpenOffice to save money in the short term". That sounds like a viable idea, replace the cost of the operating system and the office suite with free systems on 10+ (or sometimes even 100 or 1000+) and you could be looking at a good chunk of change. So far so good...

Then it goes into "We quickly found that the exorbitant cost $$$$ and limited availability of support left us worse off" Ah, yes. Its not like you can spent three minutes on Google and find many, multiple, different methods, of commercial support for OpenOffice. Maybe they have a point here. /sarcasm

"I need something I can rely on. If an open source, freeware solution breaks, who's gonna fix it?" First off, lets over look the fact that the "director of technology" for an entire school district doesn't know the difference between open source and freeware software... Who fixes issues in OpenOffice? Well there is the community and I also seem to recall some corporate giant having their name stamped on the software as it loads - they might have something to do with it.

"A hugely disproportionate 30% of our IT resources was required for a period of months to service open source... an estimated 25% of additional staff time was routinely required to install and maintain OpenSource-based systems"Now maybe it is just me, but Linux/OpenOffice has always installed fast for me than Windows/Microsoft office. If you are deploying operating systems across hundreds of different systems your install time should really be about the same (regardless of operating system), you setup one master image and then push it out across the network. My main question about their "IT resources" is this:

How many Microsoft certifications did they have compared to OpenOffice or Linux certifications?

"When I was using I was especially having trouble with MACROS not being supported enough. I was asking for help from the IT department, they evaluated my request and suggested I use Microsoft Excel" I think we just answered my above question.

"We were accustomed to fielding calls from users in a bind due to difficulties with on a daily basis" Did you train your people (or IT staff) in using OpenOffice before you made the switch? Doesn't sound like it to me.

"With there was total uncertainty about the formatting of documents and also about their inconsistency when shared outside our production group" Last I checked it was OpenOffice, not Microsoft Office that strictly adhered to the open document format. As far as sharing documents with others goes - as of Office 07 SP2 it can now open and edit open document format by default and is a free download.

"Employees using weren't always capable of correctly making sense of documents arriving from outside the company and doing so with adequate security guarantees" Formatting issues do occur from time to time going between the totally uncertain Microsoft format and open document format. These issues have been decreasing with time though and I can say to this date I have never had a document get mangled enough that I couldn't correctly make sense of it. Now that I think of it, you know what else has issues? Office 03 trying to open anything ending in .XXXx

" 3.1 failed to deliver on its promise of better Microsoft Office interoperability. Severely mangling our Microsoft Office and Microsoft Excel test data files" Obviously other people have had different experiences than I have. That being said, I have never heard of OpenOffice (or any of its developers) promise perfect "interoperability" with Microsoft Office. Did OpenOffice 3.1 have better Microsoft Office support than OpenOffice 3.0? Yes, it did.

"I've had students who turned in files that they've converted from OpenOffice with formatting problems that affect their grade" I'm in my senior year of college right now, I've been using OpenOffice for all four years - I'm an A student. If you are truly worried about formatting issues, click that little "export to pdf" button when you finish typing your paper.

"When I open a spreadsheet it can take ten times times longer in (calc) than in Microsoft Excel" Was it an ods (open document) file? If not, then I apologize that the engineers have yet to fully reverse engineer the closed Microsoft format.

"Our employees where frustrated because and our over all IT environment prevented them from being more productive. New employees lacked applications' use skills. That significantly increased the employees adaptation period and adversely affected their operational efficiency" I think I covered these points already, but in case you missed it: Get your people (and more importantly your IT staff) trained in whatever software they will be using. Would you expect an automobile mechanic to be able to work on a 747?

"Our users' familiarity with the Microsoft Office interface and the uniformity of the different application tools have minimized calls to the help desk" Office 07 looks nothing like Office 03 and I still know people that refuse to change over to the new system. Now I know Office 07 and 03 are fairly uniform within themselves, but then so is

"By using Microsoft Office 2007 we have reduced the internal support costs significantly because our staff is familiar with this system. This increases acceptance and job satisfaction" You know why they are familiar with that system? Because they where trained to use that system. For the third time - regardless of the software you choose to use, your employees needs to be trained in its use! People get upset when you put something in front of them that they don't know how to use.

"The company paid to much for using open-code of software" And yet none of these quotes talk about the actual monetary amounts they spent! Just that it was "too much".

"efficiency of operations was decreasing" Get - your - people - TRAINED.

"I don't necessarily agree that open source is a free product" You are entitled to whatever backwards opinions you would like. "There are always costs related to: support, standardization, and compatibility" This is true, but wouldn't it be better to have a free product that you then have to pay for support for? As opposed to a product you pay for and then have to still pay for support for?

"When we returned to Microsoft Office after our experience with OpenOffice you could practically hear a collective sigh of relief across the entire district" I bet their people where trained in using Microsoft Office, but never had one class for OpenOffice.

Were did all these quotes come from? None other than twelve Microsoft cases studies (You can find a full list/links to these on ArsTechnica). When watching the video you will also notice clever advertising tricks such as a brown colored background whenever they are speaking about OpenOffice and a pleasant blue colored background whenever Microsoft Office is mentioned. This video is nothing other than pure FUD, plain and simple. If Microsoft really does love open source they have a strange way of showing it.

~Jeff Hoogland


  1. I wish there were corporate libel laws.

  2. While it was a bit over dramatic, as someone who uses OOo in a corporate setting filled with requirements to be MS Office compatible I couldn't disagree with a single statement made. I don't think it's completely accurate to call it FUD.

  3. FEWT: "You are entitled to whatever backwards opinions you would like"

  4. Articles like this, Jeff, are why I subscribe to your RSS feed. Most people are more comfortable with MS Office because no one has ever trained them on any software (and if they do, it's a 1 hour course), so they are only more comfortable because they've had to use it for so long.
    Trained employees are empowered employees.

  5. If you think about MS's position in the context of a political race, the first one to go negative is usually running scared ... I wonder how many of the "quotes" are legitimate?

  6. It is very possible for a Director of IT at a school district to not know the difference between open source and freeware. I work for one of the top 10 districts in the country, a previous IT director was (IMO) a political appointment without qualifications, though admittedly now fired.

    BUT ALSO, school districts are usually on the take with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation where they get large donations so long as they use it on MS software. It is like money laundering, but "charity laundering" where money officially sent out has to be spent on zero marginal cost goods and returned to the charity's founding company.

  7. I consider it FUD because trying to decipher the really obscure oomxl is the problem. Microsoft's unstandard. How about MS Office's unsupport for ODF?

  8. The same happens around here in Kenya. People are actually labelled computer-literate...while they are actually Micro$oft-literate. Am still waiting for when we'll have computer-literate and development-oriented talk instead of such hogwash by those crybabies in that skit.

  9. One of the great features I like in Open Office is being able to export to a PDF file. I do not see MSO giving its users the ability to do that.
    As many developers that Sun allowed to work on OO, they did a heck of a job and since OO forked to LibreOffice as it will have more developers than with OO and faster improvements.

  10. Why is it that the Anonymous folks are always the first to spread bad information and are the loudest in their anti Microsoft rhetoric?

    Office 2007 allows export to PDF, or XPS built in. See the clip from one of my virtual machines.

  11. Classic FUD! Not only is it FUD, the presentation style has been ripped off from a recent FORD pickup truck TV commercial (ie, all the big block letters popping into view and rotating the presentation area). That is SO Microsoft! They can't even be creative when producing FUD.

    Personally, I consider the FORD commercial to be absolutely tasteless (not that customers of big pickup trucks have any to begin with). But for MS to copy that style is an even greater comment on MS's complete lack of good sense.

    This message is based entirely on fear and innuendo. As an independent contractor, I personally used OO to edit documents, presentations, and spreadsheets for a large international plastics/chemicals company without ever receiving any complaint.

    And, btw, I also have extensively used MS Office. But I got tired of always paying a premium price for an incredibly average (at best) yet bloated software package. So I switched to OO.

  12. @FEWT What do you mean the loudest, I was stating that exporting to a PDF has been in Open Office and the ability to export to a pdf is new in Office 2007.

  13. I am one of those older people that started using home computers during the "great computer wars" of the early 1980s.

    It seems to me that *any* user should be able to sit down in front of *any* word processor, spreadsheet, or presentation software and just use the damn thing.
    It's not like they're using "Wordstar", LaTeX, or "Blender" it's just basic office productivity software.
    The only users that need to be trained on a particular piece of office productivity software should just turn in their computers and get a job peeling potatoes or something.

  14. Nice article, though I cringed at a few errors. There is an Open Office grammar plugin for that though.

    Oh, and a PDF import plugin as well.

    Sorry M$. We are coming to kill your cash cow.

  15. On a personal level, I am all (now converting over to LibreOffice) all the time, however at work I have to be a little more flexible.

    We use HP's QTP and Quality Center for automated software testing, and rely on Excel spreadsheets to feed our tests. Of course, this product suite is built on all MS products and requires Internet Explorer as well. Oh, how I hate ActiveX!

    Open Source is making progress. Slow and surely. Grass roots adoption will only get us so far before we really need to find a way to get people involved so that we can get the different software products marketed properly.

  16. I actually find OO.o easier to use than MS Office (which I've just finished training in) with one exception.... mail merge.

    Once mail merge becomes a "no brainer" then MS Office is toast

  17. While it is true OpenOffice has had problems, and I don't think anyone is expecting Oracle to turn all loving on it, there may be a change in the wind with LibreOffice. Large Linux supporters (such as RedHat and Canonical) have already stated LibreOffice will replace OpenOffice in their next release. This change in direction from the LibreOffice folks could be what has MS worried. Under Sun OpenOffice stalled and wallowed about. Now it may get the direction and drive it has been waiting for. This could be the start of some major improvements, and just what the open source office suite needs.

  18. I think it's unfortunate that people still think that familiar = intuitive/better product. I wish that today's corporations would stop spending their time and money trying to put their costumers in a prison of proprietary formats (ether software or hardware) and spend that time and money making a better product.

  19. FEWT,

    You may have the ability to export to PDF in MS Office 2007, but it is NOT native. It's an add-in plugin. Yes, a free plugin and where I work has slipstreamed it into our MS Office 2007 installation package, but it's not native as you lead us to believe.


  20. Sorry BillH, that is untrue as of Office service pack 2. Really, it didn't even take 60 seconds to google this.

    "The 2007 Microsoft Office system already provides support for 20 different document formats within Microsoft Office Word, Office Excel and Office PowerPoint. With the release of Microsoft Office 2007 Service Pack 2 (SP2) scheduled for the first half of 2009, the list will grow to include support for XML Paper Specification (XPS), Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5, PDF/A and Open Document Format (ODF) v1.1.

    When using SP2, customers will be able to open, edit and save documents using ODF and save documents into the XPS and PDF fixed formats from directly within the application without having to install any other code. It will also allow customers to set ODF as the default file format for Office 2007. To also provide ODF support for users of earlier versions of Microsoft Office (Office XP and Office 2003), Microsoft will continue to collaborate with the open source community in the ongoing development of the Open XML-ODF translator project on"


    You guys are just slinging the same FUD that you are crying about Microsoft doing. It's silly. Learn the products before you talk smack, it might open your eyes to reality a little.

  21. Everything the video said could be summed up like this:

    "Everybody already knows MS Office. Change is bad, scary and costs money."

    I'm not saying it isn't true; I'm only saying that it is all I heard THEM say.

    I'm of the PERSONAL opinion that at the very least public universities, schools, etc. should be required to standardize around open formats, not proprietary ones. NOTE: I didn't say open software! I said open FORMATS.

  22. LibreOffice IS going to make a difference. It incorporates Go-OO which has significantly better MS Office compatibility. I've recently made the switch and am quite pleased. As far as the video goes, the quotes seemed to be from just a couple of organizations if not people. 3 incompetent IT staffs don't make a very convincing argument to me. Further, I would say it's just as valid an argument that those people that breathed a collective sigh of relief were probably incompetent in their use of Excel and Outlook as they were with OOo.

  23. Total FUD. I used to be in advertising and can tell you that it's total FUD. If you listen closely to what is being said, there's no corrolation between cause and effect. It's just a random stringing together of made up stats which was meant to be taken out of context to create fear.