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StarOffice 8 Reviewed

September 30th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

eWeek’s Jason Brooks puts together a thorough review of StarOffice 8, the commercial counterpart to 2.

The article summarizes, “Sun Microsystems’s StarOffice 8 is a full-featured office productivity suite that supports multiple platforms and costs significantly less than Microsoft Office. However, while this StarOffice release stands as the best Office alternative we’ve tested as of yet, minor format inconsistencies can complicate migrations.”

Creating an Invoicing System with

September 29th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Dmitri Popov publishes an instructional piece in Newforge on Creating an Invoicing System with

“If you run a business, finding an efficient system for managing invoices is critical for sustaining a positive cash flow. Here’s how you can create an easy invoicing solution using Writer and Calc.”

Sam Hiser Sums up Massachusetts’ OpenDocument Project

September 28th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Sam Hiser debunks Microsoft’s bizarre response to the Massachuesetts decision to standardize on OpenDocument.

Here’s a juicy paragraph about the letter Microsoft employee Alan Yates sent to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
“Alan Yates’ public letter reveals many chinks in Microsoft’s armor and shows his company’s lack of fitness, and unwillingness, to compete on a level pitch. This is a letter of arrogance and deliberate misdirection. In it, Yates expresses his warm concern for the citizens of The Commonwealth, his grave misgivings about the appropriate use of their tax dollars, and his fond hopes for their future felicity with office software — his Office software. The citizens of The Commonwealth surely never encountered this kind of deep feeling from Microsoft before, not while that company charged its rates for software which it never intended — and today has no means or intent within its business — to support. His statements betray a jaundiced view and fear of free markets, and resonate with circular logic and disinformation about open standards and OpenDocument in particular.”

University of Minnesota “Wastes Millions on Software”

September 27th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

According to an opinion piece in the Minnesota Daily, “The University wasted a whopping $2.7 million recently by purchasing licenses of Microsoft Office and Windows XP Pro for each registered student,” writes Jason Ketola.

Imagine how much custom software development for and Linux that same sum could have purchased! And it would only have to be paid once, instead of cyclicly forever.

Ketola writes:
“I have encountered many different students at the University who use Linux and other free and open source software… A great opportunity exists for these individuals to start a student group designed to help individuals on their way to using FOSS. Just by having a support system through a monitored discussion board on the Internet and maybe a few office hours during the week, many people could be freed from the wallet crunching clutches of Microsoft.

These are services which should be provided by the University in the interest of supporting a democratic model of software development. By spending $2.7 million on Microsoft licenses, the University missed a golden opportunity and in the process unnecessarily wasted its studentsí money.”

“OpenOffice is Great Alternative to Microsoft”

September 23rd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Andy Ihnatko writes in the Chicago Sun-Times, OpenOffice is great alternative to Microsoft.

Ihnatko writes:
“Now it’s OpenOffice’s turn. An official, “stable” release of OpenOffice 2.0 will be available for download in a few days from And with this ambitious new edition of the venerable alternative to Microsoft Office, OpenOffice has officially been FireFoxed. That is, you won’t use it because you hate Microsoft or because you don’t like tying your whole office’s (or your government’s) ability to function to the proprietary whims of one single company. Maybe you won’t even use it just because it’ll cost you $0 to Microsoft Office’s $365. You’ll use it because OpenOffice 2.0 is an attractive and compelling suite of office apps in its own right…

OpenOffice 2.0 really ought to be the first choice for all students, nearly every user and even many small businesses. It’s definitely not a replacement for Microsoft Office 2003, but it’s an utterly credible alternative. And for most people, it’s all the Office they’ll ever need.”

SUNY Albany Distributes OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird to Students

September 22nd, 2005 Benjamin Horst

SUNY Albany has embraced open source software on the desktop. ResNet, the campus IT services group, provides incoming students with the ResNet Software Suite CD, which includes Firefox, Thunderbird,, anti-spyware and anti-virus applications.

With the upcoming release of 2.0, new university migrations are going to make current activities look like a tiny trickle. OpenDocument is poised to dominate.

Imagine a university system like CUNY with its 400,000 students each saving $200 by using OpenOffice or another free suite. That keeps $80 million from being drained out of the local economy! Even a city as huge as New York would notice the resultant economic bounce.

Earlham College Moves to OpenOffice

September 20th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Earlham College, a Quaker college in Richmond, Indiana, has upgraded all of its public computers to OpenOffice. (This upgrade seems to have taken place at the beginning of 2005.)

From the College’s website:
“The point is not that we can’t afford Microsoft Office (it is expensive, but academic discounts make it more affordable for schools and students), the point is that those we serve may not be able to afford it. To the extent we foster the expectation that everyone has access to Microsoft Office we exclude the vast majority of people in the world who don’t have it and probably never will.

The good news is that OpenOffice can do nearly everything Microsoft Office can (and a lot of things it can’t), and once you have learned how to use it you can show others; anyone who can muster the price of a used computer can have access to its power. The great news is that OpenOffice can open Microsoft Office documents just fine and even re-save them in the same format, so there are almost no compatibility issues when collaborating on projects with people who are using Microsoft Office.”

“Opening the Potential of”

September 19th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Jono Bacon writes a piece for O’Reilly titled Opening the potential of

Bacon agrees with me on the essential role of OpenOffice in the software universe, and proposes to strengthen and further improve the software by moving its development to a six-month release cycle. I think a faster release cycle would be excellent, but I have no idea if a six-month cycle is feasible.

I’d also like to see more companies contributing developers to the project, as well as the creation of a foundation for longterm community and code management.

Dan Kegel’s OpenOffice Google Search

September 17th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Dan Kegel maintains an interesting site with a wealth of OpenOffice-related information. He ran a Google experiment testing the incidence of the words “support” and “OpenOffice” at the websites of 50 large US universities. The results are posted here.

Undoubtedly, OpenOffice is catching on in American universities. Over the coming years, we’ll see how this translates into acceptance in businesses as well.

FOSS Word Processors Compared

September 16th, 2005 Benjamin Horst

Bruce Byfield compares the three most-famous FOSS word processors for Newsforge, and OpenOffice Writer bests AbiWord and KWord for the number one spot. AbiWord and KWord do both shine in certain areas, though, so it is by no means a rout. Personally, I’m glad for the existence of each of the three, so long as you’re sharing your files in a standard format like OpenDocument!