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Australia Government Software

Aussie Government Proposes OpenDocument As the Standard Format 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the need-a-format-that-works-for-all-those-upside-down-computers dept.
Bismillah writes "The Australian government chief technical officer wants some views on proposals for the official standard operating environment, which features OpenDocument as the proposed document format. Otherwise, the Aussie government is pretty much a Microsoft shop, with Windows 7 x64 and IE10 as the standard platform. 'Interoperability and support for several versions of Microsoft Office is cited by the AGCTO as reasons to go with ODF, along with flexibility and the fact that the format is continously updated and developed. Spreadsheet formulae are now included in the ODF 1.2 specification as well and the AGTO believes that this, along with Microsoft Office 2013 supporting the format, will help to reliably transfer formulae between applications.' According to the CTO's call for opinions, 'Standardizing on a format supported by a wide range of office suites provides for the greatest possible degree of interoperability without mandating the use of a specific product, as well as providing the best basis for reliable interchange of information between agencies deploying differing office productivity suites.'"
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Aussie Government Proposes OpenDocument As the Standard Format

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  • by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @06:53PM (#43845343) Homepage
    What this comes down to is they're negotiating for free copies of office, imo. Once MS throws some their way they'll give up.
    • by multiben (1916126) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @07:12PM (#43845463)
      I doubt it. I worked in R&D for the Aussie government for many years and we were not supposed to accept so much as a free coffee from vendors. There is a very strict set of tendering and purchasing protocols and general sense of paranoia about showing any kind of favouritism or cutting deals. That's not to say it never happens, but for something on this scale I would say it is highly unlikely.

      I should also say that this exact question of moving to OpenDocument has come up several times before in Aus gov and got nowhere. The problem is that in the small sample trials they run, the software just fails miserably to deliver on multiple levels. I know this is probably going to upset those of you who are blinded by fanboism, but the fact is that MS office is super super stable and open office hasn't reached that level yet. Hopefully one day it will.
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @08:12PM (#43845829) Homepage
        Yeah, I don't use office stuff that much at home. But last week I went to use LibreOffice for the first time in a couple months, and it crashed halfway thought the second page. It was version 3.6 or something like that. I've upgraded to 4 and and haven't had any problems, but I haven't really used it that much either. I got annoyed at the crash so I tried out Google Docs, and can't understand why anybody would want to use that over LibreOffice, let alone MS Office. You can't even create your own custom styles. Closest you can get is reconfiguring one of the premade "Header" styles. I understand why so many people don't want to give up MS Office, and it's not just because they refuse to give anything else a chance.
        • by Bearhouse (1034238) on Wednesday May 29, 2013 @06:52AM (#43848649)

          Been using MS office for years, never had much trouble with it, apart from weird formatting issues that we all know about, (try copying & pasting between Word and PPT, for example).

          Same with Open/Libre Office. Never had any stability problems, and in one notable case, was able to open a 'critical' word document for a customer in OO when the various versions of MS could not. Strange.

          As for Google docs, yup, until it matures, and maybe is better linked to stand-alone apps, (not everyone has permanent access to the internet), is not likely to satisfy power users.

          But that's missing the point - O/L Office and/or Google docs are more than enough for most users - and anyway the point here is about the document format, not the applications(s). One of the problems most of the people here report is the inability of O/L Office to satisfactorily read the formatting of MS Office docs, (hardly surprising; it's a nightmare). But again, for most users, is all that weird formatting and animation really needed?

          Forcing a single, truly interoperable document format standard accross Govt. sounds a great idea to me.

          • by mdielmann (514750)

            Same with Open/Libre Office. Never had any stability problems, and in one notable case, was able to open a 'critical' word document for a customer in OO when the various versions of MS could not. Strange.

            This is one of my greatest grievances with MS Office. Not only do they fundamentally change the file format just about every version (even when there is no notable difference between version besides UI and two or three features used by a handful of people worldwide), they also seem to have a terrible track record of opening most old versions of their own documents! This never made sense to me, except possibly as a ploy to force user upgrades. It gave me a strong preference to abandon their Office softwar

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I understand why so many people don't want to give up MS Office, and it's not just because they refuse to give anything else a chance.

          I want very much to switch from MSOffice to LibreOffice. Every year, I try the latest version, and I sadly conclude that I have to stay with MSOffice.

          Even people who are eager and highly motivated to switch away from MSOffice can't do so.

          • Here's a question: if the alternative (in this case LibreOffice) is WORSE than what you're already using (MS Office), why would you be so eager to move towards something that you clearly find substandard?

            Not trolling here - legitimate question, since I've seen people wish to move away from Office (and Windows for that matter) many times and fail because the alternatives aren't sufficient. You might not like MS Office, sure it has its fair share of problems, but if it's still the best solution after so many

      • by ozmanjusri (601766) <aussie_bob.hotmail@com> on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @08:26PM (#43845915) Journal

        the fact is that MS office is super super stable

        You must have a different version from mine then, because the MS Office I see used in most businesses crashes, locks up, loses formatting, corrupts documents and is generally one of the biggest causes of wasted time in any working office environment.

        Look, I get tat you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.

        • by macshit (157376)

          Look, I get that you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.

          Seriously... Every time I have to use MS office, it's a miserable experience. Not so much crash bugs as maddeningly inconsistent and hard-to-control formatting behavior, etc. Well, that and the insanely opaque user-interface...

          I think the thing is that people get used to whatever software they use a lot (I don't use MS office a lot), and after a while instinctively work around its foibles and problems without really thinking abou tit. If they suddenly have to use some other software which has a differen

          • Allow me to introduce you to Styles. Create or download a template you like. Block styles to avoid any weird format to get into your documents, Then applying styles to parts of your text is a matter of selct and click. I can format an extensive document with no flaws in a matter of minutes.
            • Allow me to introduce you to Styles. Create or download a template you like. Block styles to avoid any weird format to get into your documents, Then applying styles to parts of your text is a matter of selct and click. I can format an extensive document with no flaws in a matter of minutes.

              They also create a lot of problems.

              Honestly, even when I was using WIndows and Office I would go to OpenOffice to write my document and get all the styles, outlines, etc. correct b/c Word just couldn't do it without screwing things up; then I'd save it as a Word document, open it in Word and check the cross-references (usually having to redo them as Word doesn't like them out of OpenOffice), and deliver to colleagues and clients.

              Sad thing is - I wasn't really trying to do something very hard - just ge

              • Actually what you describe works flawlessly for me. I know that getting styles right is complex, but my point is that it is eventually worth it, as you can restrict the document to those styles once ready (avoiding other people messing with formatting) and reuse the template time and again. Let me share and example: http://www.filedropper.com/generictemplate-nocover [filedropper.com] Word could actually improve a lot by separating style definition from content, and making the first one vastly easier and more accessible. Hop
                • Actually what you describe works flawlessly for me. I know that getting styles right is complex, but my point is that it is eventually worth it, as you can restrict the document to those styles once ready (avoiding other people messing with formatting) and reuse the template time and again. Let me share and example: http://www.filedropper.com/generictemplate-nocover [filedropper.com] Word could actually improve a lot by separating style definition from content, and making the first one vastly easier and more accessible. Hope it helps :-)

                  What I describe works out of the box flawlessly with OpenOffice and LibreOffice, but requires modifications to Word Styles to make it work right? Sorry, I that doesn't cut it.

                  That said, I am now running into an issue with O/L Office Impress regarding sub-slideshows. In PowerPoint you just point the URL at your sub-slideshow and it just works - click on the link, and it returns when the sub-slideshow is done. Impress seems to get as far as doing 1 slide that way, but won't do multiple slides. A PITA for a

          • Look, I get that you don't like Libre Office, but don't pretend the MS version is any paragon of stability. It just isn't.

            Seriously... Every time I have to use MS office, it's a miserable experience. Not so much crash bugs as maddeningly inconsistent and hard-to-control formatting behavior, etc. Well, that and the insanely opaque user-interface...

            I think the thing is that people get used to whatever software they use a lot (I don't use MS office a lot), and after a while instinctively work around its foibles and problems without really thinking abou tit. If they suddenly have to use some other software which has a different set of foibles and problems, it will seem like it's much buggier / more confusing, even if it isn't really.

            I won't pretend to have much experience with the Windows version of MS Office, but I have used the OS X version for 7 years now. I can count the crashes I have experienced on the fingers of one hand and it's hard to believe the Windows version is segfault city for so reason.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          MS Office has this weird ass user interface. For anybody trying to get work done it's a bitch. I don't hear real LibreOffice users complain much compared to MS Office users. What I do hear is a lot of "I used Libre Office once and it didn't work" people bitching.

          • by AvitarX (172628)

            Yeah, I imagine people that make the conscious choice to use a product that is not the norm to be happier with it than those stuck using Office for whatever reason, or that didn't like the non status quo product.

            The same can be said for Linux users for example, people that use it prefer it over MS, but there's plenty that tried it once and it didn't meet their needs.

      • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @08:39PM (#43846007) Homepage

        'Erm', I would hope you understand the difference between a document and an application, if you worked in R&D for the Australian Government. Forcing the use of an accessible document format to ensure all commercial and free applications can access that document free of government enforced fees and charges to a private entity ensures adherence to the countries competitive trading laws. Prior to this, playing the, 'tee hee we're just a bunch of dumb fuck ups', might have sort of worked, but continuing to play that card just makes them look permanently like a bunch of 'dumb fuck ups'.

        • by multiben (1916126)
          You're sarcastic response not withstanding, the point you make is correct. However, in reality a review of something on this scale will necessarily be accompanied by a review of the software. MS has a bad history when it comes to supporting open standards - they like to tweak and extend them - html, css, c++ just for starters. This will make the adoption of ODF by the govt less appealing because they will be relying on MS to behave. So, what are they left with? OpenOffice, AbiWord LibreOffice. If these get
          • You're sarcastic response not withstanding, the point you make is correct. However, in reality a review of something on this scale will necessarily be accompanied by a review of the software. MS has a bad history when it comes to supporting open standards - they like to tweak and extend them - html, css, c++ just for starters. This will make the adoption of ODF by the govt less appealing because they will be relying on MS to behave. So, what are they left with? OpenOffice, AbiWord LibreOffice. If these get rejected as non-business suitable then ODF may follow quickly behind them.

            Yes, and MS Office has had support for ODF for a while - however, in a very incompatible manner. All the cells are defined to the values, and the formulas are put in a MS-Excel only section. So other program can provide the calculations without the user going back and re-entering all the formulas.

            I want to make it clear that I agree with the idea of moving to ODF, but I have seen how these things get killed off in their infancy time and time again because of entrenched systems.

            Yes. And it's cool to see a First-world country adopting it. (Though parts of Australia are certainly Third-World....)

            • by exomondo (1725132)

              Yes, and MS Office has had support for ODF for a while - however, in a very incompatible manner.

              So use one of the available thirdparty plugins.

          • by rtb61 (674572)

            The law is the law. Competitive trading laws require the Australian government to ensure it distributes its documents in a open document format free of fees and charges. When push comes to shove M$ will obey or face interesting charges from the ACCC.

      • by spasm (79260)

        No-one is suggesting you'll have to move to open/libre office. Just that documents need to be in odf format. You can get a plugin for MS office which lets you open and save-as in odf formats if you want to keep using MS Office, whether because you have concerns about the limitations of open/libre offfice, or for some other business-case reason. However your fellow Australian citizens will no longer be obliged to pay a US-based multinational a bunch of cash to be able to read government documents or submi

      • by mjwx (966435)

        I doubt it. I worked in R&D for the Aussie government for many years and we were not supposed to accept so much as a free coffee from vendors. There is a very strict set of tendering and purchasing protocols and general sense of paranoia about showing any kind of favouritism or cutting deals. That's not to say it never happens, but for something on this scale I would say it is highly unlikely.

        This is very, very true.

        Govt IT workers need to get permission just to attend vendor events on the off chance they will receive a free bag and/or pen.

        However govt departments who already have the software in will use these tactics to lower licensing costs. It's not unusual for them to present the costs of switching to a competitors product to a vendor in order to get them to lower their prices (I.E. they'll tell Microsoft that a SQL Enterprise license is $10,000 more than the cost of switching to Pos

      • It's not about individuals receiving free copies (which, you are right, would not be allowed). It's about the government office negotiating free copies or a bigger discount so that they can make their budget go further.

      • by Shavano (2541114)

        Sure, it doesn't CRASH, but it can really fuck your documents to pieces. If you're not careful you can end up spending countless hours trying to get your document to auto-number paragraphs in a reasonable fashion and use consistent style that doesn't look like dog shit and get figures to appear where you want them in a document.

        That said, the thing I expect they are trying to fight is not the usability of the software, but the usability of the DATA.

        There are major problems with using any proprietary format

        • by exomondo (1725132)
          The simple answer to avoid that is if you want to use any vendor's proprietary office suite you write your own file exporter or use one of the pre-existing ones that go to ODF or something.
      • by Jesus_666 (702802)

        I should also say that this exact question of moving to OpenDocument has come up several times before in Aus gov and got nowhere. The problem is that in the small sample trials they run, the software just fails miserably to deliver on multiple levels. I know this is probably going to upset those of you who are blinded by fanboism, but the fact is that MS office is super super stable and open office hasn't reached that level yet. Hopefully one day it will.

        In other words you don't expect the Australian government to use Microsoft Office because it's stable? Remember that the reasoning behind using ODF ist because they want to use it with MS Office and apparently it's better supported by Office than OOXML is. (Well, and as an added bonus everyone but Microsoft seems to have an easier time implementing Office 97's file formats or ODF than OOXML, which seems to favor ODF over OOXML, all other things bein equal.)

      • by Stonefish (210962)

        The Australian Government knows that its being screwed by the likes of Microsoft and upper middle management are allowing this to happen.
        Unfortunately the people assigned to fix this don't know shit from sugar and will allow themselves to be bent over a barrel.

        You are also confusing two issues, this is about creating a competitive market and nothing to do with "Super stable" Any idiot can tell you that where there is competition in the market the price of desktop products has dropped orders of magnitude, i

      • "I should also say that this exact question of moving to OpenDocument has come up several times before in Aus gov and got nowhere. The problem is that in the small sample trials they run, the software just fails miserably to deliver on multiple levels."

        Do you have a link to these trials?
    • by rahvin112 (446269) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @07:22PM (#43845529)

      Not free copies, a big discount on their network license. When ODF was being "looked at" in several European governments said governments got HUGE discounts on their license renewal. It's a great strategy to save money even if you have no intention of switching.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        I'm not sure why people don't switch. I always hear about things it can't do, or thongs it can't do well, but in my experience, for almost all genera cases, OpenOffice or LibreOffice works fine. My current dev team has been using it (although mainly to read documents) for the last year with no problems. Perhaps the few people that need the 'special' capabilities that Word or Excel has should get a licence for it and the vast majority of others use open software?

        • by exomondo (1725132)

          I'm not sure why people don't switch.

          Well the primary driver in virtually all cases is price, you save on the upfront license costs. Now obviously anybody responsible for such a switch in any size organization is going to wonder how such a model is funded - I mean programmers, like any other industry, can't be expected to work for free outside of hobbyist contributions - so then you find out that the monetization side is based around support contracts, training and contracting (or maintaining in-house) development of new features. Money has to

      • They are not announcing that they're moving away from MS Office, they are only talking about standardizing on ODF. Office supports ODF these days, you know. It's right there in the summary.

    • by atom1c (2868995)
      By "Free copies" you must mean a broader discount rate for their Office 365 suite, right? Because if the documents are web-based, and imported/exported as OpenDocument, then the AUS gov't wouldn't have to bother with desktop installs to anything except MS Project.
      • by deniable (76198)
        Australian governments can't use Office 365. The data centre in Singapore and the Patriot act make it impossible. There are moves to remove some restrictions but I'm not holding my breath.
        • The data centre in Singapore and the Patriot act make it impossible.

          While we might be willing to accept the USA as our seventh state, you'd need to adopt our laws, not the other way around.

          Good luck with your application to join though.

    • This announcement, yesterday, did coincide with the visit of Bill Gates to Australia.

      Coincidence?

  • by number17 (952777) on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @06:58PM (#43845367)
    The price of software in Australia is ridiculous and they can't justify it.

    "Microsoft Office Professional 2013 costs $599 in Australia and $US399.99 ($A383.54) in the US"
    http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/evasive-microsoft-adobe-fail-to-justify-prices-20130322-2gjkr.html [smh.com.au]
    • by _4rp4n3t (1617415)
      Software isn't the only thing Australians pay through the nose for - digital or physical books, music and movies, electronics and clothing all spring immediately to mind. Unfortunately seems to be a matter of charging what the market will bear.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Its because they have to ship it so far. Moving those electrons is a costly business don't you know

      • Unfortunately seems to be a matter of charging what the market will bear.

        How much can a koala bear?

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Australiana

          By Austen Tayshus

          Sittin' at home last Sunday mornin' me mate Boomerrang Said he was havin' a few people around for a barbie, Said he might Kookaburra or two.
          I said, "Sounds great, will Wallaby there?"
          He said "Yeah and Vegemite come too".
          So I said to the wife "Do you wanna Goanna?". She said "I'll go if Dingos".
          So I said "Wattle we do about Nulla?"
          He said "Nullabors me to tears, leave him at home."
          We got to the party about two and walked straight out the kitchen to put some booze in the fridge. A

          • by DeathElk (883654)

            Sweeet! Haven't heard that for years! Bit of a **whoosh** moment for our overseas friends it seems... Come on! Any Aussies with mod points?

    • by tlambert (566799)

      Are you maybe comparing 2010 to 2013?

      The retail box version of 2010 is US$499; add the 10% Australian GST and the 5% Duty on the license, and that gets you to US$575, not including the shipping cost + 10% GST on the shipping cost, which could, combines get you up that high.

      http://web.ita.doc.gov/ITI/itiHome.nsf/9b2cb14bda00318585256cc40068ca69/c321b1b57a1a598985256d010070bf9e?OpenDocument [doc.gov]

      I was unable to find a boxed retail version of 2013 list price online; I guess I could look next time I was at an office

      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        add the 10% Australian GST and the 5% Duty on the license

        That's the thing people forget most often - it appears in most countries, sales tax is hidden inside the price - North America being a notable exception where sales tax is explicit and added TO the price.

        The former is nice (the price on the shelf is what you pay), while the latter does allow some flexibility in taxation (the few states that have no sales tax, for example).

        And naturally, everyone who compares prices forgets this fact - when getting No

    • Bitch bitch bitch....us Kiwis pay even more for software....$NZ859.99 = $AU722.87 = $US696.85....

      Crazy bastards have been over charging because it is priced at what the market will accept

      http://www.noelleeming.co.nz/shop/computers/computer-software/business-home-software/microsoft-office13pro-office-pro-2013/prod109934.html [noelleeming.co.nz]
  • Seen it first hand (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @06:58PM (#43845369)

    I worked in government for a few years. They heavily rely on documents. The amount of time spent on re-formatting broken documents (particularly between versions of Office) is -staggering-. Microsoft office incompatibility is a major issue and costs the Australian tax payer an absolute fortune.

    I do not promise that using ODF will fix the problems, but I constantly heard people (not a person, but people) fighting Microsoft Office, broken templates, formatting, etc. Constantly means "pretty much 8 hours a day, 5 days a week". I cringed every time I would open up a document, because in all likelihood, the formatting was kludged together.

    I have been using Office suites for about 20 years, and I can tell you that "paste as text" is not enough to avoid the dreadded Microsoft Word "spiral of death". I use styles, I don't mess with indents and outdents, nor do I change the formatting of individual paragraphs - but I have been caught out more times than I can count - even when following these rules. The most hardcore users I've come across all say that it comes down to experience, and knowing what to avoid ...

    I think the Aus government are making a good call - hopefully they've considered their migration plans - and chosen their tools well.

    For the record, iTunes and Microsoft Office are two of my most hated applications, with good reason.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @07:34PM (#43845597)

      Office is a damn fucking nightmare when it comes to things like consistency and accuracy. Using cut and paste directly between documents isn't just a crapshoot, it's an inevitable disaster.

      You'd think the clipboard would be a nice, program agnostic buffer for transposing information between programs. Not with office. Office actually has it's own internal clipboard that runs in parallel with the system one so the rules don't apply. (Thats a very common theme with office. It breaks all sorts of UI conventions, uses numerous undocumented system hooks, etc) When you copy-paste in office you don't know what kind of bizarre binary constructs can be dumped in to your document. What you can know is that they'll cause inconsistent behavior and broken documents that cannot be fixed inside office.. Because copying the data out silently brings the corruption with it.

      The only way to achieve any kind of consistency is to work in an outside program, and put off bringing the data in to office at the very last possible moment. It's pretty sad when you have to treat word docs like they're PDFs.

      Baring that, using some autohotkey scripts to wash data through a more sane text editor (I like notepad++), works reasonably well. It's an ugly hack, but so is MS Office.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        And Microsoft basically makes little attempt to be compatible across versions. They honestly expect that everyone will upgrade and be using the latest version, so they see no need to accurately support exporting to older versions or to allow full interoperability with other versions. They don't even understand basic concepts like forwards compatibility.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          I'm not even talking about old documents made in older versions of office. You'll run in to zombie document hell using the latest version. And you'll have the same problem in the next version too. Why? Because Microsoft sells you the same office over and over again, just with a newer shell on top of it. At it's core, it's the same legacy engine. Decades of old code still there. Just look at excel. Even running version 2010 on windows 7 is a jarring experience because it's window management behavior has not

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        The funny part is that OpenOffice/LibreOffice styles work very well and quite consistently.

        • by Bert64 (520050)

          The problem is that users are used to ms, they have spent years working around the bugs and inconsistencies and have colleagues who do the same...
          So if you introduce them to LibreOffice, they will use it as if it was msoffice and thus avoid functionality which they expect to be buggy, rather than spending time getting used to LO on its own merit.

    • by atom1c (2868995)
      Truth be told, not every desk monkey is sufficiently qualified to NOT break any computer file they touch -- including those who rename files hoping the target application would simply open it (not realizing the file NAME is not the same as the file's actual FORMAT).

      Alas, the snippet makes point about spreadsheet formulae which is the bane of any bean counter's computer existence.
    • Restrict formatting to existing styles. That way, styles are enforced by Word and copy/paste never introduces a new style. It is a somewhat hard to find feature, but priceless IMHO. To the point that I don't get why software is not separated into a formatting mode and a content mode.
      • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @10:53PM (#43846821) Homepage

        The idea of separating format and content is beyond most users of word processing software. That is why the fight is MS Office vs. OpenOffice instead of talking about what Latex interface everyone uses.

        Styles have the same sort of issue. I know how to use them, and the style toolbar introduced in Word 2003 was a major improvement to how I interact with a word processor. Sadly, I almost never come across another document where styles have been applied thoughtfully. I wrote my last book with careful style-oriented formatting, and every editor and reviewer it passed through destroyed some portion of that while collecting up feedback. Made me feel like the only person on earth who actually pays attention to rogue style additions.

        • That's what "restrict" is for. It simply does not ALLOW other to mess it up.

          I have given my templates to others who had never seen styles and after a 10 second surprise at not being able to hit the "bold" button and 30 seconds of explanation they usually love it. And I'm not talking technical people at all. So it is not about styles being beyond what users can understand, on the contrary, it is a fairly easy concept to grasp IMHO. It is just that interfaces could do a much better job on facilitating more
        • Styles have the same sort of issue. I know how to use them, and the style toolbar introduced in Word 2003 was a major improvement to how I interact with a word processor. Sadly, I almost never come across another document where styles have been applied thoughtfully.

          Yes, 1000 times yes!

          This is the stupid thing about "oh we already know word", in 99.9% of the cases NO YOU DON'T!

          What people generally know is a marginally glorified typewriter.

          But then you get the odd lunatic who makes complex parameterised for

    • I don't disagree with you, but I think there is something wrong in the govt culture that puts so much emphasis on pretty formatting of documents. (Documents which often, in reality, are never read!)

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Seriously? All the government departments I've done work at (and it's quite a few) are on Windows XP, IE6 and Firefox (some old version).
    It'd be a dream to be working with Windows 7 x64 and IE10

  • The Australian Government has just appointed a new Chief Technical Officer, while Microsoft announced a new discount program for Australian government computers.
  • All this tells me is that Australian politicians are fund raising, nothing more.

  • Bill Gates to call on the Prime Minister to get this nipped in the bud in 4 3 2...........doh he was there yesterday!

      http://www.news.com.au/national-news/prime-minister-julia-gillard-meets-microsoft-founder-bill-gates-in-canberra/story-fncynjr2-1226652083384 [news.com.au]

  • I work for the Australian Government (researcher). If this proposal is accepted (big IF), it'll mean I can choose to use either LibreOffice or Office 2013. For the first time, I'll be able to work on Linux and Windows machines and exchange documents without worry about format incompatibilities or screwing up existing documents. Heck, I might willingly decide to use LibreOffice instead of Office 2013 because I despise the cursor animations, general animations and hence lag Office 2013 introduces which LO doe

    • by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Tuesday May 28, 2013 @11:00PM (#43846853) Homepage

      Switching to OpenDocument won't make format incompatibilities go away; it will probably make them worse. The page rendering in OpenOffice is not the same as Microsoft Office, and both suites can change formatting between versions. Formatting on Linux and Windows isn't quite the same either, because of subtle font changes as a start. If you want formatting that is relatively stable, you can't use an Office-style tool at all. They are just not well suited for the job.

      Even if you did have a tool that never screwed things up, I am confident you'll still find users who break documents by having no idea how formatting works. I've lost track of how many documents I've had to fix because the user did indenting with a hard carriage return and hitting space a few times. And then there's people who format tables by putting spaces between each column .

      • If you want formatting that is relatively stable, you can't use an Office-style tool at all. They are just not well suited for the job.

        So what do people use then? LaTeX? Good luck. Even with editors like LyX it's still a pain in the ass and only geeks would be inclined to give it a go when it's counter-intuitive to what most people are used to (what? I can't create multiple blank lines by hitting enter several times? Word can!)

        Funny that for something that's supposedly not stable with formatting, my wife's

      • by cifey (583942)
        Would it be possible to standardize on unicode as a base have an open source vcs for tracking,searching, browsing? It would be no frills but it would work everywhere and no macro viruses.
    • by temcat (873475)

      LibreOffice may not have animations, but its context-sensitive toolbars (like for images or tables) that make your text jump when they appear and disappear are annoying as hell. More than any animations.

      • Yeah. I've found the only real solution for those context-sensitive toolbars is to affix them on a permanently visible toolbar, such as one of the top two. You can also enable showing of the drawing toolbar at the bottom and put them there. Less distrations and no moving around of the page.

  • by asamad (658115)

    The people who make the desiscions about this don't are what the people who use it actually think.
    Don't think they are talking of swapping out of MS office, just dictating the format. step in the right direction

    make the first step to freedom... break the MS chains....

  • We have several governments around the world that more or less decided to standardize on ODF. Is there somewhere on the web an overview of decisions and advancements of this kind of projects?
  • ... It's not Austria, as i was expecting.
  • I think the Microsoft Office DOC format and DOCX format needs to be phased out entirely. I can't tell you how many times someone sends me a DOC or a DOCX and when I open it in any other program such as Abiword, LibreOffice or OpenOffice, the document is entirely screwed.
  • LibreOffice Calc is definitely faster in calculations(900 Columns, 5000 Rows) and uses less ram than office excel 2010/2013 as I tested. But, I prefer the ribbon over the old menu systems and hopefully sometime in the future FOSS will incorporate the ribbon into openoffice or libreoffice. Not really sure who needs to use Excels maximum 16, 384 Columns and 1,048, 576 Rows especially when excel eats ram like it's nothing. It's better to use a relational database instead of excel or access(database corrupti

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