Wednesday Apr 09, 2008

Congratulations -- New OpenOffice Website...

Office BannerI have been meaning to blog about this for a while, but if you have not been to the new website, you really need to go there and see the complete redesign of the page. It is absolutely amazing!

Gone is all the clutter and tons of words, replaced by a simple page that really draws the audience in.

I wish more web pages were build upon this simple premise that home pages are gateways that need to draw the audience in and provide simple navigation to the pertinent information.

Congratulations again to the community redesigned 

Thursday Dec 13, 2007

Must have upgrades to Microsoft Office...

I was just catching up on Erwin's blog on OpenOffice, and wow.. what a ton of great information there, but it got me wondering what to give those friends of ours that are still using Microsoft Office? I am sure we could all get them OpenOffice, but what if they aren't quite ready for that yet? Well I think the following two extensions are a must!

  1. ODF Plugin: With the Dutch being the latest government to endorse ODF, our friends need this plugin to make sure their proprietary formatted documents can be converted to ODF and used around the world. It seems that if you are going to work in almost any field these days, the ability to read .doc files is something that cannot be taken for granted , and it is being phased out. ODF is the open standard filling this void.
  2. Presentation Minimizer: In one of my prior posts I discussed this new extension that puts OpenOffice presentations on a diet, but it also works with PowerPoint! Yes, give this extension (it is free) to your PowerPoint buddies, and they can make their presentations much smaller. My limited tests show about a 50% reduction in file size, but one comment about the Presentation Minimizer has "I just compressed 60 MB Powerpoint down to 3 MB - that's cool."

Friday Dec 07, 2007

Put OpenOffice on a Diet...

If your StarOffice or OpenOffice presentation files keep getting bigger and you are looking for a way to reduce the size of the files you just have to download the Sun Presentation Minimizer. It is fully compatible with OpenOffice 2.3 and StarOffice 8.

Let me know what you think of it after giving it a try...


My Opensource Beer Dream

What do dreams tell you? 

Either I am stressed at work or this dream really has some deep meaning that I cannot fathom, but honestly here is my dream from last night!

I had two bottles of beer, both looked really similar -- one was labeled and the other had no label. In discussing the beers around the camp fire, the unlabeled beer was "opensource beer" the other was "Mark's Beer" What was the difference? Well both beers had used the same recipe but my beer was better tasting! (Hey this is my dream OK!) In discussing it around this camp fire we all agreed that mine was better, and the reason for it was simple, although both beers used the same recipe it was the craftsman (Me in my dream) that used their expertise to craft a better tasting beer.

When I woke up, I was thinking whether this insight was correct?


  • Selling products based on opensource projects only makes sense if you add some value over and above the base project (in the dream example the ingredients didn't change, just probably how I processed the ingredients)
  • Even though there was one recipe there are many derivatives possible based on how we all interpret the recipe

Then I started wondering whether this dream analogy really had legs?

  • Wouldn't we all band together and add our process pieces into the opensource arena so we could all derive benefit? Maybe, but RedHat, Ubuntu, et. al. don't seem to do that...

OK, I for one, have no idea, so I thought I would share this dream with you all and see if any dream readers out there could enlighten me, on what my dream really means!


Wednesday Dec 05, 2007

eWeek Impressed by OpenOffice

There is a great review by eWeek on OpenOffice that is absolutely worth the read. With eWeek giving the product glowing recommendations, isn't it time that you tried out OpenOffice? Did I mention it is a free download, works on almost every operating system, and supports more languages than I thought existed!



Tuesday Nov 06, 2007

OpenOffice Saves Students...

Keeping with the trend from yesterday and my blog about OpenOffice saving the day, I was reading another great blog on OpenOffice and how it helped save students $100! Mark Szorady recalls how he helped his nephew out of a tight bind on his blog at One Click Linux:

Even with a student discount,the price for MSOffice is rather steep. It costs anywhere from $80.00 to $100.00.
I tell them to relax and simply visit  

So if you are a student, or know of a student, do your good deed for the day and tell them to simply download OpenOffice.


OpenOffice Saves The Day!

Great post from the Self Reliant Post on how OpenOffice saved the day. 

I haven’t had this trouble with OpenOffice or any of the other types of programs I use (knock on wood).  Even Notepad is more reliable than this.  So instead of putting up with Works, I found a new office suite and spent all of Friday recovering the manuscript by hand by retyping what I could decipher from the text.

Thanks Ryan for the great post, and for those of you still stuck using Microsoft Works.. how about upgrading to OpenOffice?


OpenOffice Predictions for 2008

I had a good laugh reading Wired's article on "The 15 Dumbest Apple Predictions" It makes you really wonder whether you should believe anything you read at the time or just adopt a wait and see attitude.

Now the thing that the article doesn't go on to say is how brave the people making the (now we know incorrect) predictions were. It is much easier to look back and say.. yeah that was a dumb prediction, or that was a dumb stock pick!

 So going out on a limb here.. here are my top 3 predictions for OpenOffice for 2008:

  1. PC manufactures will bow to consumer pressure and put OpenOffice on their machines
  2. OpenOffice downloads will grow by 50% to 1.5M per week
  3. The ODF format will be supported by Microsoft Office products after continuing government and industry support.

Whew.. any predictions you care to share?



Friday Oct 26, 2007

South Africa Adopts ODF as a Government Standard

Having spent much of my youth and early career in South Africa, I am really proud that the South African Government has decided to adopt the ODF standard. This is a huge step forward for freedom, interoperability and accessibility of information. Now documents can be shared across the country without having to worry about whether someone has purchased the correct license for some piece of software that will unlock the document.

As I posted in a prior post we are seeing most vendors create products that can read and write ODF so there is no shortage of products that support ODF. Naturally I would be remiss if I didn't mention my favorite product -- OpenOffice. With OpenOffice not only can you use ODF, but it also works on almost every operating system and is available in all 11 official South African languages.

Welcome South Africa to the ODF movement.


Tuesday Oct 23, 2007

Apple joining Sun, Google, IBM, ....

I am eagerly awaiting Apple's next version of their OS, codenamed Leopard. I am not sure I will use all the new features, like spaces and time machine, but I will give it a try! The one feature that I wasn't expecting (and didn't even know about until I read Erwin's blog) was that Apple is joining nearly the whole industry in supporting Open Document Format ODF.

This is quite amazing. Your documents now can be stored in one format that can be edited and modified by a variety of vendor products, across a variety of platforms. Goodbye to those old proprietary formats that forced you to pay a tax (they call it a licensing fee) to open and modify YOUR document. It is now possible to create a document in Google Docs, edit if off-line with StarOffice (part of Google Pack) and send it to one set of colleagues to work on on the Mac. Then take it to work and use Lotus Symphony to make some edits before distributing it to your Linux friends using Now for those of you still in Microsoft Office, we have a great ODF plug-in that allows you to work on this same document in Microsoft Office, or how about downloading and taking it for a spin?

Welcome Apple to the fold..


Monday Oct 22, 2007 -- 1 million downloads per week!

I was just peering though the weblogs around and this product is HOT!

With the release of 2.3 and the conference in Barcelona we saw the downloads of the product at 932,000 per week, and this excludes all the downloads happening as part of the Google pack and all the distributions of StarOffice and OpenOffice via CD, flash drive, etc!

This is absolutely amazing, and kudos to the whole community for making the product what it is, and getting the word out there about Contrast this to traditional marketing techniques: To get 1M downloads one would have to send out at least 100M direct/email offers (assuming an impressive 1% click-through rate) The numbers would really have been higher, since 1% click through to the offer page is within industry norms, but the number of users actually clicking on the download link (accepting the call to action) would probably as low as 20-30% (industry norms are more on the 5% realm). This would mean that to really get 1M downloads a marketing group would need to send out 333M offers.. (Talk about spam!) Now if the marketing group didn't resort to spam, and actually purchased the list (not sure who would have such a list) the cost would be $33M (assuming we could buy a unique list of 333M entries at 10c per entry -- really cheap) per week! This wouldn't include costs for localization, delivery etc. Wow, this opensource marketing is great, thanks to the community!

Some other interesting stats on visitors to -- 83% are running Windows (Vista and XP), about 5% running Mac, about 4% Linux. For those die-hard skeptics out there still waiting for the majority to start using -- the time is right! With over 8 million daily unique visitors and 1M downloads occurring per week, the early majority is using the product -- come join us, the water is great!

Geographically the majority of our users come from domains in the US (21%), followed by France and Germany at 12%, and Italy, UK, Japan and Canada in the 4-5%. Brazil isn't included since they have their own download site at  Come on Jim... get some marketing going in Japan!

Finally for those of you already using and looking to expand your functionality -- here are the top 3 most popular extensions:

  1. Sun Report Builder
  2. Professional Template Pack
  3. eFax Extenstion 


Wednesday Oct 10, 2007

Saving $10K for college

I am amazed with all the savings plans for college that more parents aren't getting OpenOffice for their kids, it way beats any other savings program I have found!

If you do some pretty simple math, using the spreadsheet functionality inside of OpenOffice the results are amazing. For the purpose of the analysis, lets assume that instead of buying Microsoft Office (about $400 on not including shipping and handling) you took that money and invested it at a rate of 10% per annum. In addition instead of upgrading every 3 years to the next release you took that money and put it into the same savings account. After 20 years what would that money have grown to? You are not going to believe this... Yes just shy of $10K!! Check out the math...

Upgrade Cost
Savings Account
0 400
3 400 $932.40
6 400 $1,641.02
9 400 $2,584.20
12 400 $3,839.57
15 400 $5,510.47
18 400 $7,734.44


Now this doesn't take into account inflation where the cost for upgrades will continue to go up! So do the math... FREE beats proprietary and closed any day! If you are already a student download OpenOffice and save your parents some serious money!


Tuesday Oct 09, 2007

Re: Thank you Michael, but no, thank you...

A great posting by Charles H. Shulz on Groklaw digs deeper on the issue of forking code. I especially love these comments, but recommend you read the entire article:

  • \*is\* released under the LGPL
  • Sun should be credited with having been extremely reasonable in regard of the license
  • ... really strange is that Kohei Yoshida , a respected contributor of signed the JCA when he was an independent developer, got then hired by Novell, and then refused to contribute code under the JCA
  • The future looks uncommonly bright for these days.

Finally I think the summary really does hit the nail on the head "[OpenOffice]...without Sun, it would be nothing. Yet without the community, it would still be just one out of many other corporate internal projects."

We at Sun are proud of initially bringing OpenOffice to market, proud that we opensourced the project and continue to invest and promote it. Having said that we are very mindful of the responsibility bestowed on us to ensure the community continues to thrive and grow, hopefully beyond our wildest imagination. We have no desire to turn this into a "corporate internal project." Come join the community at and be part of the future.


Thursday Oct 04, 2007

Why would you market anything but OpenOffice?

I have been sitting on the sidelines too long now and wondering how and when to start blogging. OK, so I procrastinated for ever! So here we go...

I am a marketing guy so perhaps my views differ from the deep technologists out there, but there are basically two options when it comes to office productivity --  Pay for it, and have little or no control, or get it free and have the ability to influence the community on where the product goes. The choice seems simple to me -- OpenOffice it is!

I personally think that this product is the gold standard for a consumer friendly product that has grown up under the FOSS mantra. Now don't get me wrong, there are things I don't like about the product, but overall this product is just wonderful. It makes perfect sense to me why IBM joined, they can now be associated with the movement away from proprietary technology to open standards (ODF) based offerings. Similarly when Google started bundling StarOffice (Basically OpenOffice) into the Google Pack it just seemed -- DUH naturally they would do it! What else would come close? I am sure it didn't take the marketing groups at Google or IBM long to decide:
   "Hmmm should we go with OpenOffice,  errr um... urrr.."

So please tell me why Novell is going about trying to discredit OpenOffice.. I just don't get it. Simon has an excellent blog on this, and Jim too goes to great lengths to tell the world what Sun is doing. But, to me the fundamental question is really a marketing one. Does a company want to go it alone (bad idea!) or be part of a bigger movement? You marketing guys at Novell.. can you at least explain to Mr Meeks that this doesn't help Novell?




Musings from Mark Herring at Sun...


« June 2016