Okay ... i didn't wanted to write about the "90$ for the ODF plugin for MS Office" thing. I don't use it, even under the consideration that i'm getting it for free when i want to obtain it. I don't have this problem, my preferred Office package is capable to write ODF directly as it's Openoffice (i just prefer Apple Keynote as a presentation program in favour of Openoffice application), which i'm installing on every PC or Notebook i'm refreshing with a new instance of an operating system when the owner doesn't say "Stop" fast enough I'm converting my documents by loading them in the Office package that delivers the best results at importing an file format and save them back to an interims file format.

However the non-freeness and the new pricetag is the newest preferred fuss in regard of Oracle, Sun and the future of the Opensource products. The english version of Heise reported about it and Matt Asay found it necessary to open with a catchy headline like "$9,000 is the new 'free' for Oracle" to exploit something that is easily recognizable as an editorial problem which has been corrected already. As mentioned before I think all this discussion started with the german version of this article at heise.de.

I have a personal opinion regarding this:
  • The first point has nothing to do with with the plugin, it has nothing to do with this discussion alltogether, but with the behavior of fellow users ... i hate this behavior that people send me .docx or .odt or something similar for documents that aren't intended to be edited by me ever. PDF may be proprietary, but it's just more comfortable. Loads faster, better preview integration .... when i want to suggest changes, i can add some notes and send it back to the owner for consideration. Most of the time my first action with a new document is the export to PDF.
  • It isn't the way, that Openoffice and MS Office aren't capable to exchange data without this plugin. Office 2007 SP2 is capable to write ODF 1.0 documents without further additions. Openoffice is capable to create files that can be read by Microsoft Office and vice versa. Openoffice 3.0 is capable to read .docx directly.
  • Is the normal household user really the targeted userbase for this module? Don't think so. When one of both office packages is available for free, it's reasonable to assume that people will have both office packages on their sytems. I think it's more tailored for large installations of older Office versions that doesn't want to install a second Office packages on their installation system to generate ODF files. So it ends up at: "You can migrate to Office 2007 SP2 or you can use the plugin." I will get to the costs later.
  • Given the point that this module is most likely for business customers i want to make a comment regarding the last paragraph of the article in the H, which is the english version of heise.de:
    Oracle would not comment on the fact that the plug-in is almost as expensive as the cheapest edition of Microsoft's MS Office suite.
    Sound like a nice pun in the direction of Oracle. However, you should keep one thing in mind ... the most likely intended group of users can't use this cheapest edition as it's just licensed for non-commercial private use as stated by the FAQ of Microsoft. In Germany you have to pay 549 list for the Office 2007 Standard and 299 for the upgrade at least. Additionally you have to do the update, you have to set up a training program for your user and you have to validate all you applications and macros again. Now you can opt to purchase the 65 ODF plugin. For me this sounds like a reasonable value proposition for both parties.
  • Is this indicative for Oracles future behavior in regard of Opensource? Is it indicative for Oracles behaviour in regard Openoffice? Don't think so, however i don't want to convince you. I just want to present you two pieces of information you should think about . At first: The ODF for MS Office plugin is closed-source development of Sun. At second: Openoffice is an thriving opensource community using the LGPL to license their work.
  • And finally: Is it really the job of Sun/Oracle to help Microsoft for free to get their ODF act together? Where is the incentive for Microsoft to deliver a up-to-date implementation of ODF, when Oracle does the job for them?

I would have liked, that the media outlets would have reported in a little bit more complete manner in this situation.



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