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SoftMaker Rolls Out Office Suite for BSD, Linux, and Others 275

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the momentum dept.
martin-k writes "Commercial office suite software is coming to FreeBSD, Linux, Windows, Sharp Zaurus and Windows Mobile. SoftMaker, a German developer, recently released SoftMaker Office, a multi-platform office suite that excels in Microsoft Office compatibility, claims to be much leaner and faster than OpenOffice.org and works on many operating systems, down to PDAs." While SoftMaker certainly isn't new, it is nice to see them roll out a finished suite as opposed to one-off programs.
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SoftMaker Rolls Out Office Suite for BSD, Linux, and Others

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  • by yagu (721525) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [ugayay]> on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:43PM (#17294206) Journal

    I'm downloading the trial version now.... more on that in a minute. My question would be, "How much better is it than OpenOffice, and how razor thin is the difference between it and Microsoft Office, and how compatible compared with Open Office?"

    I've had expectations raised many times in the past and while always initially excited found myself not using any products that had rough edges. For the longest time that basically meant I used Microsoft when I had to, vi and vim the rest of the time :-). Open Office was the first product with sufficient polish and compatibility, so much so I could pretty much plug and play replace Office for people with little fear they would have trouble adapting.

    Anything that falls short of that is likely to have problems gaining purchase in market share. I've used all of the KDE products, ABISoft, etc.... none of them really measured up. That isn't to they were bad products, many of them would be considered excellent in and of themselves, but that isn't the yardstick the buying public uses (and will use).

    Well, I've downloaded and installed the trial version. I know it's not fair, but here is my five minute review (which is about all I have time to give for new products competing with products with which I already have perfectly good solutions):

    Download and install went flawlessly, a requirement for any product anymore -- if the install doesn't go seamlessly, I won't spend a lot more time trying to figure out why. The program fired up cleanly, and was easy and intuitive enough to use especially if you've used any word processor or spreadsheet before. The graphics, layout, and presentation were good but the icons were not crisp as Microsoft's or Open Office's.

    I don't have a suite of files to test for compatibility with Office and Open Office, but as I indicated, I have a solution for this type of work (Open Office), and I'm not inclined to spend much time beyond apparent return on investment.

    PROS: Easy download and install, very similar to Microsoft Office (though that will change with the new Microsoft Office, not necessarily a bad thing), inexpensive comopared to Microsoft Office, established company, multi-platform and multi-form factor (for PDAs, though other than browsing, I'm not inclined to do much word processing and spreadsheeting (verb?) on PDAs).

    CONS: Expensive compared to Open Office, not enough better (in my opinion) to warrant the switch, expensive to add typefaces, "compatibility" with Microsoft is a moving target -- one for which there is no guarantee of currency.

    Cool that there's another player... Would I switch? Probably not. YMMV.

    • by dch24 (904899)
      Thanks for a good review!
    • by shystershep (643874) * <bdshepherd@g m a il.com> on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:05PM (#17294494) Homepage Journal
      not enough better [than OOo] (in my opinion) to warrant the switch

      For personal used, I used OpenOffice.org almost exclusively up until about eight months ago (for business I use Word running under Crossover, because exact formating is crucial for me). At about that time, with no change to my desktop OS (Mandriva 2006 at the time, and had not applied any updates recently), my version of OOo, nor my file server (Debian), OOo simply stopped working with my NFS shares. I don't recall the specifics (& I'm not going to waste the time searching now so I can link it, but it had something to do with file locking), but whenever I tried to load or save a file to the NFS share I got an error to the effect that it was read-only (Word, Kword, Abiword, etc., had no problem). I Googled it, and wasn't the only one that had the problem; I tried some of the kludgy work-arounds that were suggested, but the only one that worked at all only works about 1/2 the time and the rest of the time crashes the program.

      Since then, I've been searching for a replacement word processor (even though I use Word, I don't like it even aside from the cost/MS issues). Recently I have settled for Kword as the least of all evils, but I will be willing to shell out money to Softmaker if the product is as polished as it seems. Based on the trial download, it doesn't seem to write to .odt format, but it does open it flawlessly. Unfortunately, the trial version is crippled so that you can't save to .doc format . . . for a product that is meant to be a Word replacement, it is unspeakably retarded not to let people kick the tires on its Word compatibility.

      • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:31PM (#17295336)
        for business I use Word running under Crossover, because exact formating is crucial for me


        If exact formatting is crucial, why on earth are you using Word? It's really not very good at precisely reproducing formatting. It only works reliably if both systems have the same *printer drivers* installed (yeah, wtf?) - the rest of the time, it's pot luck whether things go where you want them, or get moved by half a millimetre, knocking all your carefully arranged lines out of position...

        If you want exact reproduction of formatting, use PDF. Or latex.
        • by misleb (129952) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:54PM (#17295502)
          Indeed. People should not be using a word processor as if it were a desktop publishing or layout application. That is what Quark/InDesign/PageMaker/etc are for. Word processors are for.. processing words. But people shouldn't use email to share large files or use spreadsheets as databases, but they do anyway. Unfortunately, Microsoft crams so many features into Word that using it for desktop publishing is just too tempting for some people. I've even seen people use Word to produce web pages! Ack!

          -matthew
          • by aussersterne (212916) on Monday December 18, 2006 @09:41PM (#17295880) Homepage
            Go to any Windows publishing house (and this includes most of the major ones, a bunch of whom I've worked in or with). How do you make a PDF? Well, you start with a Word file and you run it through Acrobat. So making a PDF for such people involves... Word.

            And yes, the book goes into Quark before going to press, but do the authors or editors work in Quark? Do the page designers even work in Quark? No, they all work in Word. It's the lonely guy at the end of the hall doing final layout that dumps everything into the formatter/publisher application just before it goes to press for a full run.

            Until that point, all the way through most of writing, editing, and design, everything is in Word. Word gets used much more than I think people in IT realize. Word/Excel/Powerpoint are the bedrock of corporate America. Most small and medium size companies (and a few large ones, too) do all of their publications with Word, all of their PR with PowerPoint, and all of their databases as Excel sheets. That's just the way it is, like it or hate it. That's all people (all the way up through management) know.

            Just try to get them to change... Or to let you bring something novel to the table. You'll be shown the door.
            • by Mike Rubits (818811) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:56PM (#17296786)
              I have worked in a Windows publishing house. I have worked in a Mac publishing house. I've visited countless shops throughout Rochester. The majority of the print workflow you describe is frighteningly inaccurate.

              The original source can come from anything from a text file to a Word document. Most often, it's Word. You're right there. However, the writers aren't concerned with that too much, they use what they are comfortable with. They use a Word processor to.. process words.

              The book goes into Quark BEFORE going to press? If by every step afterward you mean it goes into Quark, then yes, you'd be correct. There are several hundred thousand dollar solutions dedicated to managing your Quark & InDesign files, and your assets. Check out Xinet and Dalim and Documentum and etc. The authors are out of the chain by this point. The page designers work in the page layout programs. They upload their changes to Xinet, where it is opened by the editor, marked up, changed, and approved or sent back. It's only THEN converted into a print-ready PDF. That lonely guy at the end of the hall you describe is actually 2/3rds of the workflow.

              The only people that use Word are the original authors. The page designers wouldn't subject themselves to doing page layout in word. That notion is just preposterous.

              I honestly can't say where you got your impressions from, but they seem to be extremely off base. This is coming from someone who went to college for print, has talked to people throughout the print industry, and now works in print.
          • by rubypossum (693765) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @03:20AM (#17297694)
            Don't forget Scribus [scribus.net], it's excellent for DP! My company switched for all our new publications (to avoid the Quark mafia, $900 yearly or publishers can't read your files.) It saves directly to PDF with perfect color, fonts, embedded icc profiles etc. Oh, and it's Open Source!
            • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

              by Filip22012005 (852281)
              "Don't forget Scribus, it's excellent for DP"
              There's a reason Desktop Publising is usually abbreviated DTP.
        • Perhaps I phrased it badly -- I need 100% Word compatible formatting. In other words, when I send a client a document it needs to show up in the exact same format in which I put it, so that -- if they choose - they can simply print it off without making any changes whatsoever.
          • by Constantine Evans (969815) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:40PM (#17296260) Homepage
            100% Microsoft Word compatibility is impossible. While complete compatibility with specific versions might be feasible, Word is notorious for being incompatible among versions.
            • by larkost (79011) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @08:59AM (#17299390)
              It is not even a mater of having the right version, you also have to have the right version of the fonts installed. If you install other applications from Microsoft after you install the version of Word that you want there is a good chance that the new install will overwrite at least some of the default fonts, and the new version will have slightly different metrics (sizes of the characters). For most people's uses this is not a big deal, but for page layout it is a killer.

              Font versions is the reason you always go to PDF before publication and embed the fonts you are using.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheRaven64 (641858)

          If you want exact reproduction of formatting, use PDF.

          Funny thing. I emailled a PDF of a draft of a paper to my supervisor last week. When he printed it, the first half was fine, but the second half had all the text replaced with windings; well not quite all, there was the occasional line in the correct font. It turns out there's a bug in the laser printer's PostScript interpreter that causes it to select the wrong font sometimes after printing an image (some kind of out of memory issue, perhaps).

          It printed fine the second time, but the results of the f

      • by GRH (16141)
        I've used Textmaker/Planmaker on Linux since 2003. The new trial version is the first one I've seen that doesn't have full functionality. ALso, they are suppossedly working on the ability to export to ODT.

        THe suite works quite well on Linux. Give the trial version a spin. I still use OpenOffice from time to time, but the import/export in the new versions of Text/Planmaker appears to be as good as OO.
        • I downloaded it, & like the look of it, but not being able to save as .doc will make it difficult to use it meaningfully before I buy it. That said, I've sent an email to their sales team to see if there is a way to try that feature before I buy. I hope so, & hope I like it after using it as well I do after my first-impression. Word just gives me a pain, & all the free alternatives are too quirky and/or buggy (Abiword, Kword, OOo, etc.).
      • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:16PM (#17296120)

        OOo simply stopped working with my NFS shares. I don't recall the specifics (& I'm not going to waste the time searching now so I can link it, but it had something to do with file locking), but whenever I tried to load or save a file to the NFS share I got an error to the effect that it was read-only (Word, Kword, Abiword, etc., had no problem)
        Sounds like you went from the kernel space NFS server to the user space NFS server. They use different locking systems (flock vs fcntl). Yeah really. Check your NFS server/clients. The kernel space one is preferable.
         
    • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:39PM (#17294828) Homepage
      I tried it on my Linux box.

      pros:

      • It starts up too quickly for me to notice the startup time, as opposed to OOo, which takes 3 seconds on this machine.
      • PDF export seemed to work well.

      cons:

      • The default fonts are ugly (or are rendered in an ugly way on the screen).
      • It didn't always open Word documents successfully. I tried 4 docs that I happened to have around, and there was a loss of formatting in at least one of them -- a Greek letter was lost. (OOo opened the same file without losing the Greek.)
      • The first time you run it, it insists on making a directory for its documents, which by default is ~/SoftMaker. I didn't understand why it would assume I wanted to keep all my word-processing docs in a single directory, or what would happen if I didn't keep them there.
      • It's not free (-as-in-anything).

      So I'm not really clear on what the advantage is vis a vis OOo.

  • by quiberon2 (986274) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:46PM (#17294250)
    What makes Softmaker think there is room in the market for their product ?

    As far as I know, there are only 2 forces in the world; 'love' and 'money'

    OpenOffice.org has a monopoly in the 'distributed for love' channel.

    Microsoft Office has a monopoly in the 'distributed for money' channel.

    Who will buy Softmaker Office, and why ?

    • The same reason they buy redhat or suse instead of something like debian ( proper ). They want to use an alternative to microsoft but dont want to ' go it alone ' and rely on their internal IT support structure ( if they even have one ).
      • by misleb (129952)
        How many people need technical support for an office suite? I mean, beyond just figuring out how to do things (use the Help menu). Servers and mission critical database/network applications I can understand wanting support, but for an office suite? Come on.

        -matthew

    • by rduke15 (721841) <rduke15 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:11PM (#17294544)
      What makes Softmaker think there is room in the market for their product ?

      I don't know how much room there is, but I can tell you why I use TextMaker:

      Because I never liked MS Word which is terribly complicated and unpractical, and it is also very expensive.

      Because OpenOffice Writer is an abomination of an awkward and slow as molasses would-be clone of that MS Word which I don't like.
      (Yes, I guess this will modded flamebait, but I really hated OpenOffice every time I thought I would give it another chance)

      TextMaker brought some fresh air into my (simple) word processing needs: it is extremely fast, it has all the features I need, and the ones I use (styles and occasional frames) are much more practical than in Word. Styles are accessible from the right-click menu, frames seemed much easier to work with than when I had to use them in Word, etc.

      The only thing I don't like in TextMaker is it's proprietary default document format. I wish they would switch to ODF. (But maybe ODF is also an abomination like the OOo programs? I wouldn't know but I certainly hope not. We need an open document format)

      (I bought the Windows version. Haven't tried the Linux version yet.)
      • I don't know about the Windows version, but on FreeBSD you can open and save in ODF.
      • by binkzz (779594)
        "Because OpenOffice Writer is an abomination of an awkward and slow as molasses would-be clone of that MS Word which I don't like.
        (Yes, I guess this will modded flamebait, but I really hated OpenOffice every time I thought I would give it another chance)"

        I agree with that. Writer never seems to do what I tell it to do (or want it to do). Page designs frequently mess up and it's just not intuitive for me, however much I want to like it. I use AbiWord instead. Or notepad.
    • I partially agree with your statement, though I don't think there are two forces in the world, there are seven.

      Microsoft office isn't distributed for money, it's distributed because of greed.

      OpenOffice isn't distribuited for love, it's distributed because of pride.

      As for this new contender? I'd go with envy.

      (No, I'm not a crazy religious zealot freak or anything. I honestly beleive this explains a lot about software development. For instance, Facebook and Myspace exist because of lust. As JWZ on
      • Oh, you mean like the Seven Step to Enlightenment.
        And you're not religious?
        Please, inform us.
        • I thought he was referring to the seven deadly sins.

          Or as I like to call them, "Ingredients to a successful office party"

          • by Valacosa (863657)
            Oh, I was referring to the seven sins.

            Your office parties sound interesting, but how do you work Wrath into them?
    • by kimvette (919543)
      I wouldn't want to use anything else on the PocketPC (their PocketPC/Windows Mobile suite is phenomenal), but on Linux? I have their applications installed but very rarely load them because the only use I would have for them is editing documents from my PocketPC, and syncing my ancient iPaq with Linux via USB is a royal pain in the ass.
    • by moochfish (822730)
      Softmaker is distributed for the children.

      Think of the children!
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:31PM (#17296208)
      What makes Softmaker think there is room in the market for their product ?

      Word processing software is a multibillion dollar market. Most multibillion dollar markets have dozens or hundreds of competitors. Why would you think that the limit on the number of vendors for this market is just two?

  • more competition (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gravesb (967413) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:48PM (#17294294) Homepage
    I'm glad to see more competition in the office space. Open Office has its issues, and Microsoft Office is still the gold standard for the general public. There are plenty of players in the space, but more can't really hurt. What I really would like is to see a suite that doesn't ape MS Office, but comes up with unique ways to do things that are more effective. Of course this is almost impossible as the cost of retraining from MS Office is prohibitive in most environments, but if MS Office is making major changes that necessitate retraining anyway, then maybe there is an opportunity for the myriad "me too" office suites to move in an unique direction as well. Probably not, as most sheep will upgrade to MS Office, but the more players in the market, the more chance that people will switch come upgrade time.
    • by westlake (615356)
      What I really would like is to see a suite that doesn't ape MS Office, but comes up with unique ways to do things that are more effective.

      a successful "office suite" is shaped by how you define "office work."

      and by what is convenient and practical to deploy.

      the geek who complains about bloat doesn't have to find a single solution that works for the road warrior, the loading dock and the executive suite.

      in this context, "unique and more effective" are not particularly easy goals to achieve.

      the second pr

    • I believe the more appropriate comparison would be between StarOffice and this new one, rather than OpenOffice.
  • European Price (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Njovich (553857) on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:56PM (#17294388)
    I think the prices for Europeans seem a bit steep. For Americans it's $69, for Europeans it's EUR 69. That is 30% more. I know that they might have to pay more taxes, but this is quite a lot. They don't even differentiate between EU and non-EU, but just 'Europe'.

    I suppose the product may be fine, but from a German company I wouldn't expect these kind of things.
    • by Animaether (411575) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:59PM (#17296796) Journal
      ...and you'll find much the same, if not worse.

      "Find what?", you may ask. The answer: That for the European price, the company simply takes the U.S. price and replaces the $ with a , and call it a day.

      For example, I recently purchased Paint Shop Pro for an aunt.
      U.S. price: $99.99
      Euro price: 99.99
      That price in Euros is valued at $129.579 (xe.net, December 18th, 2006). 30% more expensive indeed.
      This is for The Netherlands. The Netherlands carries a Sales VAT of 19% on such goods. In other words, 11% is pure profit*

      Add to that that in the U.S. there's a discount on the product to $79.99, and it's a 62% markup, so 43% pure profit*.

      * One may argue that shipping costs (as in, from Country X exported to The Netherlands, as opposed to the U.S.) drive up the price. Not true, this is for the electronic download version (not that the boxed version is more expensive, by the way). One may argue that translation costs drive up the price - also not true, as both the U.S. and Dutch-bought versions ship with all languages.

      So naturally, I purchased through the U.S. store.

      You'll find that it is much the same for any software product, and Europeans are, sadly, used to it. If you happen to know any Dutch, go check the news posts over at www.tweakers.net on newly announced products. Whenever somebody wonders what the price in Euros will be, the standard reply - which tends to work out as being correct - is that if the product costs $100 in the U.S., it will cost 100 in Europe.
      That's probably a bit of a self-perpetuating issue there. Why would a publisher be so silly as to charge less when they can obviously charge more with the consumer half-cursing the practice while at the same time making the purchase anyway?

      So I wouldn't say that I wouldn't expect it from a German company; in fact, I would expect it from -any- company.

      =====

      You might think that $30 more for PSP isn't so bad - but obviously, it gets worse when the cost of the goods increases, such as the gem that is Autodesk's AutoCAD 2007:
      U.S. price: $3,995
      NL price: 4,750
      NL price in dollars: $6,217.48
      Mark-up: 55.63%
      'Profit': 36.63% or $2,277.53
      • by Teun (17872)
        I noticed the same weird pricing.
        Another that's trying to take us (Europeans) for a ride is Adobe, Distiller is about twice the US price...

        Guess were we shop.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 18, 2006 @06:57PM (#17294394)
    Nothing sickens me more then a commercial office suite software going commercial. And for offices no less. Offices are the worst kinds of room. Where will all this filthy commerce end?
  • by Teckla (630646) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:06PM (#17294500)

    I was just about to post a comment that asked, "Is there room for another commercial office suite, especially for Linux and BSD?"

    After looking at the screenshots (very impressive!) and price (very competitive!), I think the answer just might be yes.

    Of course, my meager needs are entirely met by Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets, which runs just fine in Firefox.

  • by dbarclay10 (70443) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:08PM (#17294520)
    I just checked some of our Microsoft Office documents from work with their "textmaker" app, which is supposed to be "100% compatible" with Microsoft Word.

    Of course, it's not. It exhibits the same sorts of glitches that OpenOffice does. Which doesn't surprise me given the hoary nasty Microsoft Word file format, but hey, if they're going to claim it, they better back it up.
  • by tytso (63275) * on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:10PM (#17294534) Homepage
    Unfortunately, SoftMaker is only a Word and Excel replacement, and for many users, the level of Word and Excel support in OpenOffice, Abiword, or Gnumeric is probably more than they need. Sure, SoftMaker may have better support for the really complicated Word and Excel formats (see their comparison page [softmaker.com] for some examples), but how many people really come across 3-d graphics in everyday life?

    The bigger problem for most people is PowerPoint slide decks, especially the ones generated by marketing departments that have sound and animation. This is where the shortcomings of OpenOffice hit me the hardest --- and unfortunately, SoftMaker doesn't have a solution. So is it worth it to pay USD $70 for a Word and Excel replacement which is more complete than what is currently available in the OSS world? Not for me. I'd much rather spend $40 for a copy of Crossover Office from Codeweavers [codeweavers.com] and then get an old copy of Office 97 or Office 2000 that I have lying around (or which you can no doubt buy on Ebay for a relatively small change).
    • I mentioned this is my other post. A developer said a Power Point compatible product was their next step.
      If it's anything like SoftMaker, it's going to be pretty decent software.
    • Fortunately, SoftMaker is only a Word and Excel replacement, and for many users, the level of Word and Excel support is probably more than they need. Sure, SoftMaker may have better support for the really complicated Word and Excel formats (see their comparison page for some examples), but how many people really come across 3-d graphics in everyday life?

      The bigger problem for most people is PowerPoint slide decks, especially the ones generated by marketing departments that have sound and animation. This is
    • An annoying thing I found with openoffice's version of powerpoint was I couldn't get it to display a presentation on the 2nd monitor (actually the projector). It insists on being on the 1st.

      So it was save as .ppt, and powerpoint viewer time...

      I had lots of probs with Open Office during the early days - formatting just wouldn't stick - reminded me of Lotus Word Pro in the late 90s - slow crappy half baked software. The more recent versions seem to be a lot better. Still slow, but less crappy.
  • Decent charting! (Score:3, Informative)

    by EvilRyry (1025309) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:15PM (#17294588) Journal
    At first I was kinda let down by the demo. The load time really wasn't that impressive compared to OpenOffice on my Pentium-M Edgy system. Then I came across something amazing....

    Planner (spreadsheet program) can actually do excel style charting (read: crappy but easy for routine tasks) with half-decent trendlines and the ability to show the forula on the chart.

    This basic functionality has been on my openoffice wishlist for years, I've filed requests for it with OO.o but got nothing. I've even tried to implement it myself but OO's code is kinda scary. Since then I started using gnuplot for plotting, but for basic stuff its kind of overkill.
  • According to the manuals, a machine running Windows 2000 or XP needs only 64 MB of memory to run these applications. On Windows 98, ME, or NT, only 16 MB will be enough. On Windows 95, only 8 MB.

    OpenOffice.org is great for modern computers, but those of us who like to extend the useful life spans of our older machines could be attracted by these very modest system requirements, and willing to spend a reasonable amount to buy the software.

    Assuming the software doesn't slow to a crawl on a system with those m
    • by Anonymous Coward
      These applications appear to be built upon Qt [trolltech.com]. For those who are not familiar with it, Qt is the premiere C++ GUI toolkit on the market. Not only is it portable, but it's damn fast and resource thrifty. KDE uses it as its underlying toolkit, and it's one of the main reasons that people often find KDE to be more responsive, while also using less memory, than GNOME.

      While it is completely unlikely at this point, were OpenOffice.org to be rebuilt around Qt, it would be far faster and less bloated than it is tod
      • by Almahtar (991773)
        I can speak in support of this comment. I've been absolutely stunned at Qt's ability to scale to an OS's capabilities, and much more importantly its resource management capabilities. It's made optimizations I was "about to make" more time than I can count. Absolutely amazing.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      "willing to spend a reasonable amount to buy the software."
      Given what the software costs I can upgrade or replace my older machine.
      The holidays are here, and afterwards there will be even more free and cheap computers available that will run fine with a fresh 'nix install.
    • by Rick17JJ (744063)

      Several years ago, I used the Textmaker wordprocessor and the Planmaker spreadsheet on my old 266 MHz Pentium II. They are both now part of SoftMaker Office. The computer could dual-boot between Windows and Linux, so I used a version of Textmaker and Planmaker in each OS. Textmaker and Planmaker would start up in about a second or two, while OpenOffice would take about 40 seconds. Other Linux wordprocessors such as Abiword, Gnumeric and KOffice also opened up quickly on that computer. I also used the

  • by aussersterne (212916) on Monday December 18, 2006 @07:55PM (#17294988) Homepage
    I'm one of those Linux users that buys software for Linux.

    I bought ApplixWare. I bought WordPerfect Office 2000 for Linux. Both became orphanware. OpenOffice, meanwhile, continues to hum along and is not only compatible with new versions of Linux every time I install one, but actually comes as a part of each Linux OS I've installed for years now.

    OpenOffice imports word formats with a reasonable degree of accuracy and I can still open and use files all the way back to when it was StarOffice 3.0. My Applix and WordPerfectOffice 2000 files, on the other hand, are not so easy to get back into.

    Plus, I now have Office XP anytime I need it running through Crossover, though I prefer OpenOffice in most cases. There's just no reason for me to buy this stuff. I wish them luck in a pretty much taken care of market. It's like trying to sell a web browser for $69 at this point, I think.
  • If you need to edit and compose - especially collaboratively - Word-compatible documents professionally, you should be using Word. It is not possible to produce a product with 100% Office document compatibility for less than what it costs Microsoft to produce Office in the first place. The cost of reverse engineering every aspect of obscure, undocumented, and misdocumented functionality is prohibitive.

    As a teenager I remember looking at the price of Microsoft Office and thinking that I could code an office
    • In a professional environment you can not afford 99% compatible.

      It's really like that for any business. You ever wonder why the "business" or "commercial" version of anything is almost always better than the "consumer" version (if there is a counterpart)? It's not about money. I know that most non-business people think that every business is Wal-Mart or Microsoft and can afford to waste money. But even so, that's not it.

      I own my own business. It's the source of income for myself, and for 6 other peop
    • Use PDF (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flyingfsck (986395)
      Send out PDFs, not virus prone .docs. Anyhoo, the way a .doc renders, depends on the installed printer. Yes, that is correct, the printer. You don't control the client's printer, so if the exact rendering is important, you should not send out .doc files.
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:05PM (#17295082)
    i don't see why people are so obessed about being compatable with office documents. the whole point is to force office out, adding compatablity only give it greater leverage to change their formats and screw you over. far better to create a suite that uses open format documents in xml. while you continue to pander to the make everything compatable with MS products crowd, you will not win.
    • Mod this guy up, somebody.
    • by KillerBob (217953) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:26PM (#17295288)
      If you don't have Office compatibility, nobody's going to install your program. The sad fact is that MS Office and its variants are on a huge number of PCs out there, and as long as you have any kind of need to interoperate with other people, you absolutely need to have that ability.

      Being compatible with MS Office does *not* mean that you're defaulting to its file format. It means that you have the option of reading documents that people send you in .DOC format, and that if you absolutely need to, you can export it to .DOC for those same people (or any of the other formats Office uses). Until applications like AbiWord and suites like OpenOffice and the one discussed here find greater market penetration, the de facto standard will remain MS Office, and dropping compatibility is not an option.

      What you're proposing will marginalize yourself, and that's exactly what the FOSS movement does *not* need.
      • by Ash-Fox (726320)

        If you don't have Office compatibility, nobody's going to install your program.

        I would.

        The sad fact is that MS Office and its variants are on a huge number of PCs out there, and as long as you have any kind of need to interoperate with other people, you absolutely need to have that ability.

        I used to send documents to people, that were really rtf files, just renamed to .doc. I wrote once a engine on a website that created invoices in text format, but used the extension .doc, which opened up just fine in Word

    • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday December 18, 2006 @10:29PM (#17296200) Homepage
      i don't see why people are so obessed about being compatable with office documents. [...] adding compatablity only give it greater leverage to change their formats and screw you over.
      That's a great strategy to make sure that Linux and OSS are a miserable failure with the 99% of the population that doesn't care about the Stallman stuff. People have huge quantities of documents already in Word format. If there's never any reliable way of translating them into an open format, then those people will never switch to an open format.

      the whole point is to force office out
      So you want to annihilate office, and then built an open-source utopia out of the ashes? Doesn't seem too practical to me. Maybe a better option would be to outcompete office, and let people switch of their own free choice. That's what worked for Firefox, which is basically the only OSS app that many ordinary people use.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by NorbrookC (674063)

        People have huge quantities of documents already in Word format. If there's never any reliable way of translating them into an open format, then those people will never switch to an open format.

        Exactly! Like it or not, Office is the 800 pound gorilla, at the moment. It might help people here to remember that at one time, WordPerfect was the 800 pound gorilla. One of the standard features in Word 6 was to not only read and save into the WP format, but you could also enable it to use the WP command se

    • by westlake (615356)
      i don't see why people are so obessed about being compatable with office documents. the whole point is to force office out

      We are a business, not cannon fodder for the war on Microsoft.

    • by melikamp (631205)

      I agree. What is the average time-to-live for an MS Office document, anyway? How many 6 month old MSO documents do you have on your computer--or in your office--which you still use AND for which it is important to be formatted exactly as they were originally? I am really guessing, but there cannot be many of them.

      As other posters indicated, the only real problem is with Excel. There must be a truckload of very old, yet crucially important spreadsheets in every office. If the competitor does not open them

  • I have no idea why this small operation out of Nuremberg, Germany keeps on trying
    (and how they're able to purchase press coverage). With a choice between full
    compatibility to Orifice 200x by buying the original or getting a free kick-ass
    Office Package that is maybe 80% Microsoft compatible - what niche does that leave
    the guy asking money for something that is 80%-90% compatible?

  • by massysett (910130) on Monday December 18, 2006 @08:27PM (#17295300) Homepage
    I've got a huge (17.5MB) spreadsheet that Excel handles, no problem. Excel takes about five seconds to open it and recalculates it in about a second.

    No Linux program I tried could handle this spreadsheet. Gnumeric and OOo both choke on it. If they even load it, they then take several minutes to recalculate it. KSpread doesn't even have all the functions that are in the sheet.

    So I was eager to try this new spreadsheet--PlanMaker, they call it. I downloaded it. Installation was really easy (to me, refuting the people who claim that it's too hard for ISVs to release proprietary binaries for Linux.)

    Planmaker has now been cranking one of my cores at 100% for about five minutes, just trying to get this worksheet open. Still hasn't opened it. Remember that Excel does this in about five seconds.

    If Gnumeric is any indicator, converting from the proprietary Excel file format isn't the problem. Gnumeric performed worse in its native XML format than it did with the Excel format.

    Yes, I can already see holier-than-thou geek saying that I shouldn't have a 17.5MB spreadsheet and, to tell the truth, this sheet is not as efficiently written as it could be. But part of the value of spreadsheets is that they allow non-geeks to put some simple data models together. Spreadsheets need to be able to cope with inefficiently written sheets.

    Excel can cope; nothing else can. Maybe Crossover is the next option to try.

    Planmaker *still* hasn't opened the sheet.
    • I have a 1.4MB Word document--a novel I'm in the midst of finishing, about 380 pages--that OpenOffice handles fine, and Word routinely freaks out and either a) renders wrong or b) fails to open, either crashing or just sitting there for a good long time.
  • No OS X version? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Yvan256 (722131) on Monday December 18, 2006 @11:31PM (#17296612) Homepage Journal
    ...FreeBSD, Linux, Windows, Sharp Zaurus and Windows Mobile.
    Great. They take the time to make a version for a pratically non-existant marketshare such as the Sharp Zaurus, but they skip over OS X? What are they smoking? And don't tell me that Microsoft Office is available for Macs, because it's also available for Windows and that didn't stop SoftMaker from making a version of their office suite for Windows. It's also not about a dev. suite cost, because it's bundled with all Macs, even the Mac mini.

    Bah, if they're aiming for "Microsoft Office compatibility", that means more Microsoft-formatted documents, not less. Vote with your usage, stick with OpenOffice and their open formats.

    • It's not about what they're smoking or not smoking. Clearly, they failed to drink their Cupertino Nectars Apple Juice....

      Seriously?

      One of two things happened: either one of the core developers has a Sharp Zaurus, or they see it as a more economically viable platform to develop for than OS X.
  • The only interest I have in this is to make myself more compatible with MS Office. For 90% of the stuff I want to do OpenOffice.org is fine, but sometimes at work it just doesn't do the job. For example, does SoftMaker have VB support like VLOOKUP() in excel?

  • It's not "For BSD", but unfortunately only for FreeBSD.
    Ok, back to OpenOffice.org, so...

  • While their page shows some MS Office Docs that OpenOffice 2.1 can not read(I tried) I've never run into this problem myself. Personally I think OpenOffice is fine for most people since most never use the advanced features of MS that screw up in OpenOffice. Anyway the two big things that are missing are Access and PowerPoint. Most people want PowerPoint(especially parents with kids in school, teachers love power point) but hate the idea of paying for MS Office. Access is the other thing, there is no program
  • by water-and-sewer (612923) on Tuesday December 19, 2006 @05:34AM (#17298236) Homepage

    Looking over the course of this Slashdot thread I'm not surprised by the now-familiar Microsoft-bashing/LaTeX/Lyx recommendation/OO.o zealotry/refusal to pay Softmaker's price. But I have been reading Slashdot now long enough to know the words to this particular song.

    I bought Textmaker back in 2003 and liked it so much I also bought Planmaker, their spreadsheet (now sold together). But because I'm a (professional [gotonicaragua.com] and prolific [therandymon.com] writer, I care a lot about my tools, and I've tried just about all of the products out there; plus, because I use Windows at work and both Linux and Macs at home, I've been exposed to a lot of word processors.

    On Linux, I use Textmaker. Here's why.

    Stable. I've never crashed it, even with ridiculously complicated documents

    Fast. I like OO.o but on my old 555Mhz PIII it's unbearably slow to start up, and on my Mac, NeoOffice is just not fast enough, and even repainting the screen after a window stretch/shrink is ghastly. I appreciate the effort and even use the software, but it's not the first thing I reach for. On Textmaker menus are snappy, the graphics are fast, and things work as though it had been designed and built by professionals that want to make a product good enough to convince people to spend money on it.

    Easy to use. That means keyboard shortcuts for everything, sensibly laid out, familiar interface, professional.

    Lightweight. It's been designed to be resource friendly and is, even on my outdated hardware.

    Fast enough to be a useful document previewer for your mail client so you can get a glimpse of what's in the Word docs I receive.

    Basically, it's fast, reliable, and works well. Its Word doc import is much better quality than OO.o's. I gave Abiword a try but rejected it because of frequent crashes and a somewhat amateurish feel to it; Kword has never been usable for more than simple letters in my opinion and the font kerning issues make Kword printed documents ugly. OO.o is simply too slow in spite of all its other endearing qualities.

    Textmaker's downside? The TML format is a mystery to me, so I don't use it. You can save to Doc format as a default, but I hate Docs. I would be thrilled if they would adopt the ODT format. It's also not as feature rich as OO.o, which is in turn not as feature rich as Word. On the Mac there are far better alternatives (I happen to love Mellel, and Apple's Pages is top-notch). And I use LaTeX for what it does best, and RTF or even plain text all other times.

    But face it, GNU/Linux (and BSD more so) lacks a small, fast, good word processor. Abiword and Kword are fast but not good, and OO.o is good but not fast. For professional writers that care about their work and their tools, this is a great piece of software and I'm not alone in representing a market of GNU/Linux OSF fans that believes in freedom but is not against paying for software (SUSE, Rekall, Textmaker, Planmaker, Xandros, NoMachines) if with that software comes additional quality, reliability, or convenience. Textmaker provides all three.

    Finally, the above doesn't even take into consideration the fact that its primary market isn't Linux/BSD in the first place, it's Windows users that synch docs to a PocketPC. And in that niche, it is unsurpassed and very critically acclaimed. Be glad they even make a Linux version at all, whiney slashdotters.

    • "Looking over the course of this Slashdot thread I'm not surprised by the now-familiar Microsoft-bashing/LaTeX/Lyx recommendation/OO.o zealotry/refusal to pay Softmaker's price. But I have been reading Slashdot now long enough to know the words to this particular song"

      I hadn't realized recomending OO was a) a sign of zealotry, b) anti-microsoft and c) a sign of being stingy. Also this is the first example I've seen on slashdot of a blanket comdemnation of the whole thread. What I have seen in the rest o

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