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Excel Clone for Linux Now in Beta 393

Posted by michael
from the gnumeric-also-a-possible-choice dept.
Martin Kotulla writes "SoftMaker, a German software developer, has released the first public beta of PlanMaker 2004, a native-Linux spreadsheet that is highly Excel-compatible ... in fact, this app is basically Microsoft Excel ported to Linux, including Excel-compatible charting and even AutoShapes. Here is a chart comparing Excel, OpenOffice.org, and PlanMaker." Update: 05/07 19:07 GMT by M : Softmaker.de is temporarily down; the site can still be reached at softmaker.com.
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Excel Clone for Linux Now in Beta

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  • The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoxCamel (20484) * on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:22AM (#9084660)
    As long as Linux application developers continue to copy Microsoft, in a vain attempt to be "compatible," Microsoft will always have the edge. They will always set the pace for others to follow.

    If you want to make a better product, you can't "embrace and extend." You have to make a better product. By providing file-reading compatibility, you only re-enforce the proliferation of closed file formats. You also cripple your application, to maintain compatibility. (if you want a nifty feature, you have to make sure Excel has it too.)

    When people send me Excel files, I kindly ask them to re-send the file in CSV or some other format. Yes, there are things you can only do in native file format. But the vast majority of users never do those things.

  • Home use only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thebra (707939) * on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:25AM (#9084712) Homepage Journal
    I don't think that an Excel clone will ever work in the business enviorment unless it can run all the addins like the ones for Essbase and Peoplesoft.
  • Will it Deliver? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WordODD (706788) <wordodd@gmail.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:26AM (#9084740)
    MS Excel is an awesome program one of two that makes Office actually worthwhile. If Planmaker 2004 this truly delivers then one of the major stumbling blocks for OO.org has been overcome.
  • Ehhh, gnumeric (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:26AM (#9084748)
    Surely they should be comparing this against gnumeric as well. Gnumeric opens password protected files too, and as for 3-d hyperplane plots, I've never seem them as a way for communicating information, their best use is for showing how incompatible some products can be.
  • by ErisCalmsme (212887) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:26AM (#9084749) Homepage Journal
    Gnumeric is so great, and it opens Excel files too? Plus is has so many functions (including every singel excel function). I'm not sure I'd use a different spreadsheet.
  • Not free (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gspr (602968) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:27AM (#9084755)
    Since this software seems to not be free, it can't really beat OpenOffice, can it? No, it can't.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Paulrothrock (685079) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:28AM (#9084781) Homepage Journal
    But people won't buy things just because they're better, they have to interoperate fully. You can't say to a client "No, I can't see your Excel file because I hate copying Microsoft." Until and unless Microsoft adopts open file formats (based on XML, hopefully), Linux won't be able to out-innovate Microsoft. Only by copying them (initially, at least) will we be able to compete.

    Interestingly, I think XML-based file format standards are a great way to break Microsoft's monopoly without disrupting market forces.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Erratio (570164) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:29AM (#9084794)
    You kindly ask them to send a different format, but you have to look at it from the standpoint of the average user, who doesn't want to have to deal with that stuff. The fact is that MS Office documents have become somewhat of a standard in the business community and you can't hope to attain widespread use with software unless those formats are handled easily. This is just another step in being about to easily transition people to linux, it's not a step forward in development. As far as "better products" go, most people that care about that wouldn't be using MS Office to begin with.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TedTschopp (244839) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:30AM (#9084806) Homepage
    When people send me Excel files, I kindly ask them to re-send the file in CSV or some other format. Yes, there are things you can only do in native file format. But the vast majority of users never do those things.

    Well, I see you never have to deal with people who are normal business users.

    I'm not trying to be mean, but I find that normal business users don't know how to do much of the fancy stuff in Excel or any of their other programs. The most common usage of Excel I've found is glorified forms. Oh, I'm not saying that its not used for what it really can be used for, but in those cases the person doing the Excel work is usually an Analyst who is working for the person who is actually consuming the reports.

    The idea here is to give the normal business user a replacement for the expensive office product.

    And as far as innovating and flanking Microsoft on the Spreadsheet market. Its a spreadsheet, there really isn't much more that can be done to the product to innovate it. Copying Microsoft is a great place to start.

    Look at Microsoft's innovation in Excel over the last couple of editions. YEAH SMART TAGS!. That's about it. Oh I know there is more, but come on the market has been dead years now. The only place left to compete is on Price.

    Ted Tschopp

  • by UrbanFallout (207324) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:30AM (#9084814)
    On the site it seems the only comparisons are for a certain set of graphs. This is not a true test of compatibilty.

    What about how well the pivot table works?, are the goal seeking functions the same (I hope not)?

    Surely these should also be mentioned.

    why only focus on word art?
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JanneM (7445) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:30AM (#9084816) Homepage
    I mean, Gnumeric is excellent - it even emulates excel bugs if you want to (and will not, otherwise). I seriously do not understand why people would use another spreadhseet.

  • Re:The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fearless Freep (94727) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:30AM (#9084822)
    >you get a large number of vendors using the "closed" format, the original vendor now has to consider very carefully additional changes to the format for fear of breaking competitor's products.

    This is Microsoft we're talking about...that's not a risk, that's part of the plan
  • by CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:31AM (#9084825)
    Yeah, they've got their tool kicking OO's butt, but they've also chosen the benchmarks.

    I see that the beta is free, but will it stay that way? That's one of the biggest reasons to choose OO (unless you are just an OSS fanatic).
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Woogiemonger (628172) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:31AM (#9084830)

    As long as Linux application developers continue to copy Microsoft, in a vain attempt to be "compatible," Microsoft will always have the edge. They will always set the pace for others to follow.

    I disagree. First off, being able to read Excel files compatibly in Linux is something Microsoft can't provide. You get an available market share that way, and even add to it. Also, the demo on the web site seems to demonstrate reading in Excel files and displaying them.

    While I'm betting they want to be able to support outward compatibility, they should be in no way restricted to it. Just like going from Excel to OpenOffice, you can implement extra features in PlanMaker, let's say, and then save files that won't be perfect but will be good enough for Excel. Just like MS's business strategy, there'll perhaps be some nifty PlanMaker-specific features to make a company want to in time convert to PlanMaker-only.

    Nothing's wrong with supporting the most popular format out there though. Otherwise, you're expecting users to take too far a leap.

  • by linuxtelephony (141049) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:32AM (#9084840) Homepage
    Not necessarily. Think about it. Years ago it was Lotus 1-2-3. Then Borland created their version, Quattro Pro, and included the Lotus 1-2-3 menu structure (as an option) and macro compatibility.

    It was this compatibility that enabled a lot of people to leave Lotus for other spreadsheets. I was pretty impressed when Quattro Pro 1, out of the box, was able to run my microwave path calculation tool, for 1-2-3, without ANY modification.

    I don't remember early Excel days, by the time I started using Excel, I had been using Quattro Pro for a while. Excel worked in Windows similar to Quattro Pro on DOS, and that was nice at the time.

    The point is, it took the compatibility and similarity with the "top dog" in order for new players to get into the game. Once they were in the game, they were able to provide features unique to their product, above and beyond the compatibility with the original. Eventually, the original began to lose its place as the leader.

    I'm talking pre-Windows 95 timeframe.

    This, and the Xandros Desktop in the previous story, may provide just the similarity necessary to get real people to switch and try it out. Once they find that they CAN make the switch and still do what they need to, they will be more inclined to try more new and different things. When that happens, then Linux on the desktop will be viable, and the Microsoft desktop penetration levels should begin to erode.
  • by nlinecomputers (602059) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:33AM (#9084856)
    I agree with you that Linux must make a better product not an equal product. But like it or not it is a Windows world.

    "When people send me Excel files, I kindly ask them to re-send the file in CSV or some other format."

    By doing that are you "making a stand that Joe User will notice" or just being an irritant that will make people avoid dealing with you(assuming they have that choice).

    Linux is going to have to do both. Show that it can work with Windows, easily, AND do it better. You attitude about file formats just shows them that Linux is neither.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:33AM (#9084863) Journal

    When people send me Excel files, I kindly ask them to re-send the file in CSV or some other format. Yes, there are things you can only do in native file format. But the vast majority of users never do those things.

    I'd love to be able to do that. Unfortunately when somebody sends my company an Excel file it's usually a customer who (more likely then not) is about to spend a lot of money. I can't see telling them "I'm sorry, please send your file in a different format, we don't support the most widely used Spreadsheet format here."

    I'm not trolling either -- only pointing out the fact that not all of us have that luxury. I would agree 100% with your comments about not following Microsoft's lead and coming up with our own ideas -- but then, how much more room for innovation is there in spreadsheet or word processing world? Has Microsoft themselves come up with any new ideas (eye candy doesn't count)?

  • For PocketPC too! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by xaqar (112761) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:33AM (#9084865)
    Don't miss the Pocket PC version [softmaker.de] as well! It supports everything that the desktop version does, unlike MS's own Pocket Excel, which barely does anything!
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SydShamino (547793) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:33AM (#9084868)
    >> As long as Linux application developers continue to copy Microsoft, in a vain attempt to be "compatible," Microsoft will always have the edge.

    ... until Microsoft breaks its own compatibility, and people see that they have a more-compatible alternative.

    Microsoft has a lot of capatibility breaking in its upcoming schedule. No reason other alternatives can't be ready to step up and provide continued support for the existing "standards". Think about Intel and AMD. Intel decided to break compatibility with x86 for their 64-bit instruction set. AMD made a compatible set, and AMD won the "war," forcing Intel to scrap their architecture and copy AMD.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baudilus (665036) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:34AM (#9084878)
    I disagree. Microsoft gained said edge by copying someone else's product (Apple copied Xerox, then Microsoft copied Apple) and "improving" on it (read: bastardizing). Same thing with Japanese automobile companies.

    To claim that compatibility reinforces exclusive file format proliferation is like saying putting a supercharger on an engine only reinforces the proliferation of less powerful engines.

    Look at it practically: how do you expect business to want to migrate users to Linux from Microsoft if *nix developers go out of their way to make it more difficult? IMHO, this is the perfect venue: introduce a product that has everything M$'s product has, and things that it doesn't. Very quickly you'll find that the tables have turned and it's Microsoft trying to "catch up" to the other product. Who has the edge then?
  • by MarkRebuck (590314) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:34AM (#9084880) Homepage
    I believe the classic quote is "90% of the people use only 10% of the functionality of [software]. The problem is that everyone uses a different 10%."
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mopslik (688435) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:37AM (#9084914)

    Uh, by "cloning" a "closed" file format, you actually "open" the format to other uses.

    The "edge" to which the parent refers is that of letting Microsoft define the format all the time. If Microsoft constantly sets the standard, then other developers who are creating "clones" spend most of their time trying to fiddle with the file format, rather than improve/extend the functionality of the software.

    Sure, the format's open now, but what do you do when the company decides to change their file format for the next release of their software?

  • Sales Pitch? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CodeMonkey4Hire (773870) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:40AM (#9084946)
    I noticed that Martin Kotulla's "email" address is http://www.softmaker.de. Doesn't that make this an unabashed sails pitch to /. users?
  • Re:Home use only (Score:2, Insightful)

    by joshuao3 (776721) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:42AM (#9084966) Homepage
    Indeed! I've worked with Excel for a long time and my experience has been that most users (and I mean a VAST majority) don't use any plugins. They are happy to use it to tally up numbers, perform a bit of number crunching, etc. A solid application that looks and feels and interoperates with Excel on a fundamental level should make a huge splash in Linux. It certainly won't drive new users to linux on it's own, but it'll give them a reason to stay if they already are.

    Add in an on par word processor, powerpoint tool, and outlook-esque client and you'll win a lot of new clients.
  • by theManInTheYellowHat (451261) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:46AM (#9085038)
    We need to be able to edit Flash files, edit Movies, make better websites.

    Microsoft Office has been done, done to death, and the resounding tone is that there is precious little inovation left to do. Macromedia, Adobe and Apple are making the software that needs to run on Linux box.

    Honestly with OpenOffice, gnumeric and kspread what else do you need for a spreadsheet?

    Wordart in Excel BFD. Garageband, Premeire, Flash MX, Dreamweaver, FinalCut.....
  • by RLiegh (247921) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:47AM (#9085046) Homepage Journal
    but pre patents, dmca and the complete entrenchment of MS.

    Your analogy doesn't fit because you're talking about a time when the marketplace supported the concept of alternatives; but these days, they only want one solution: and that solution is microsoft.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mopslik (688435) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:51AM (#9085104)

    But that edge is lost when changing the format drives away your customers when they can no longer interoperate...

    You mean like the notorious Office95/97 issues that Microsoft implemented themselves? This is intentional -- it forces users to upgrade to the latest release. It's not a compatibility issue, it's a profitability issue.

    MS can't change the format for fear of a user backlash of not being able to interoperate...

    There's nothing to stop Microsoft from using an "open" standard in their next release, in addition to supporting older file formats (like they currently do). Look at your file filters for Office. There are filters to read older versions of Office documents, since the formats have changed. Again, it has nothing to do with compatibility. It has to do with user lock-in and guaranteed financial return.

  • by siphoncolder (533004) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:53AM (#9085126) Homepage
    1) *nix only. That doesn't sell copies, since everyone else is using Windows. This is the #1 way to cut out a gigantic market demographic for software developers these days, especially when we're talking about desktop software.

    2) Multinational support: it's not just about translation. Different cultures really do have different needs, and most non-MS office software is aimed purely at Western markets. Try doing that in Asia. MS found out it didn't work that way, and these countries will discover that too.

    3) Competition: This product is doomed to compete with other *nix spreadsheet programs as mentioned in this thread - there's no dominance to be had. Take point #1 above (market demographic), and then take a sliver out of that sliver. There's your sales. Good luck guys.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim.almond@g m a i l .com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:01PM (#9085223) Homepage
    I'm not trying to be mean, but I find that normal business users don't know how to do much of the fancy stuff in Excel or any of their other programs. The most common usage of Excel I've found is glorified forms. Oh, I'm not saying that its not used for what it really can be used for, but in those cases the person doing the Excel work is usually an Analyst who is working for the person who is actually consuming the reports.

    I've seen nothing used since Excel 5.0. Most Excel work I've seen is databases and tables - like lists of project tasks or snapshots of account lists.

    I think the whole problem with office is that there really is nothing much that can be added for people to say "yeah! must upgrade". I remember seeing the feature list between Access 2000 and Access 2002, and the only useful feature to me was that you had a printer object in the VBA object model.

  • Re:The wrong path (Score:2, Insightful)

    by sir_cello (634395) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:10PM (#9085319)

    Microsoft had plenty of opportunity to innovate: Excel is an extremely poor tool for doing anything other than basic graphs and calculations. For engineering purposes, it's near useless.

  • Unfortunately... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by H4x0r Jim Duggan (757476) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:12PM (#9085340) Homepage Journal
    It looks like they've also cloned Excels license and distribution terms.

    Gnumeric and OpenOffice.org Calc will do me just fine.

  • Re:Why? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:13PM (#9085363)
    Whenever a KDE advocate asks what the point of Gnome is, or vice versa, the reply is always that diversity on the Linux desktop is an advantage. Why shouldn't that be as true of spreadsheets as it is of desktop environments?

    You might as well ask, why are people working on Gnumeric, when they could be improving a product like OOo Calc which has a better chance of catching on.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tanguyr (468371) <tanguyr+slashdot@gmail.com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:19PM (#9085423) Homepage
    MS Office has suffered from compatibility problems in the past between versions - i remember having to ask customers/vendors to please "save as Word 6" because we hadn't upgraded to Office 98 yet. If there's one format that truely deserves the label of "a standard in the business community" then it's PDF: when business users exchange documents they're exchanging digitized paper meant for reading.
    Once you start talking about exchanging the data in the document (like when you import that spreadsheet into your database) then you're not talking business users, you're talking developers (hopefully for you, or else prepare for the frustration of the guy who sends you a report that's "almost" in the right format).
    As for this particular product: about time. They might not post on Slashdot, but there are hordes of people inside every medium to large company that spend their whole working day in front of Excel (and we call them Excel jockeys). Visicalc was a big factor in the early success of the Apple 2. Lotus 1-2-3 did the same for DOS based PCs.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:5, Insightful)

    by harrkev (623093) <kfmsd@harrelsonf ... minus physicist> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:20PM (#9085429) Homepage
    Excel is an extremely poor tool for doing anything other than basic graphs and calculations. For engineering purposes, it's near useless.

    This may be true, but it is not very compelling. Spreadsheets were invented for the bean counters. A CPA could spend his/her entire career without EVER using SIN, or COS. Budgets require the basic four functions, and some sort of IF statement. To do compound interest, it helps to have e^x. If you just provide that and graphs, then you have 95% of the user base covered. I suspect that it is the minority of users who ever use the more complicated functions.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:2, Insightful)

    by IntlHarvester (11985) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:23PM (#9085473) Journal
    The problem with these warez is that the core userbase is ultra-conservative and doesn't want anything changed. The graphing in Excel is basically the same as it was 15 years ago, for example. The core userbase is Finance people, and it will never expand to Engineering, Academics, etc.

    When Lotus ruled the spreadsheet heap with 1-2-3, they had the same problem. They came out with Improv and a couple other spreadsheets because they were scared to change how the flagship worked.
  • by JanneM (7445) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:23PM (#9085478) Homepage
    As Jody says in another post, the actual charting is still in its early stages for Gnumeric - but improving rapidly (and user feedback is of course of prime importance).

    For the important background parts - getting the mathematics right - Gnumeric is _very_ mature. It has far more reliable models than excel.

    (self-serving promotion ahead)
    It also has a pretty decent Swedish translation...
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kkelly (69745) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:26PM (#9085510)
    I disagree, excel is the STANDARD for number cunching and for good reason. I can take excel from Office XP and directly connect to an olap data source or just about any other data source for that matter. I can create pivot tables, do trend analysis, data mining, and most enterprise reporting from this single application. In addition I can put that information on the web and interact with my data in the exact same way as I would within the application. While all of this can probably be done with some combination of open source alternatives, you just can't beat the ease of use that comes with MS Excel. I can create my data sources, be they relational, dimensional, or olap regardless of complexity and tell the business users to analyze to their hearts content. They know how to use excel so the learning curve is practically nil. I am a huge fan of open source software in general, but gnumeric just doesn't cut it at the enterprise level. I hope this clone can bridge some of the gaps.

    my .02
  • by Jody Goldberg (61349) <jody.gnome@org> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:31PM (#9085572) Homepage
    We've support XL95 and XL 97/2k/XP for quite a while.
  • by confused one (671304) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:05PM (#9086099)
    I'd have to agree about the importance of VBA. Some might call it the source of all evil; but...

    In one of my jobs we used Excel to do all of our analysis. It would import all of the raw data (text files) and we could use VBA scripts to do the harder calculations (field integrals, density calculations, beam trajectory, etc.) then post the results back into a sheet. From there it was extraordinarily easy to produce graphical plots of the results.

    I think you see my point.

  • Re:The wrong path (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:12PM (#9086217)
    I find that normal business users don't know how to do much of the fancy stuff in Excel or any of their other programs. The most common usage of Excel I've found is glorified forms
    I have to agree 100% here. I have worked for 3 fortune 500 companies and 99.5% of all MS Office docs that go around are very simple and OpenOffice.org can handle those needs with no problems. The only users I have seen using more complex features are financial analyst who had to be trained in Excel, so they can be trained in OOo. OOo is ready now to displace MS Office in the workplace. However, it needs to be a corporate wide choice. A single user cannot start asking everyone to send them docs in OOo, they will be laughed at. Now if the whole company converts, then there is a lot of weigth to go with that choice. Any other company that wants to do business will have to send in an open format such as OOo, CSV, HTML, PDF, etc. The hardest part of the switch is not OOo, but getting upper management to become "un-brain-washed" by the MS Sales guys of how MS Office will "save them money", make them "more productive" and help them to one day achieve the dream of a "paperless office".
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skoda (211470) on Friday May 07, 2004 @02:04PM (#9086933) Homepage
    Why not? If you're spending a lot of money, then minor things like file formats won't make any difference to a sale.

    Just the opposite. If I'm spending lots of money, I expect good service. If a vendor can't do trivial things, like reading my Excel file, then I being to wonder if they're also incapable of doing the hard work that I'm considering paying them for.

    Not reading an Excel file is like refusing to communicate by email. It promotes a poor view of the company/consultant and suggests gross incompetence.
  • by egarland (120202) on Friday May 07, 2004 @02:25PM (#9087207)
    Actually, I did mean unless you are MS. MS's software is concidered the default. They can claim that their software can't do everything other peoples does but is still better because it's ubiquitous which is an advantage by itself. MS's software can be worse but still perceived as the better option simply because it's MS's.

    Linux fanboys can be annoying but I find MS fanboys much more annoying and there are a lot more of them, especially in IT management.

    MS's software is often good (I use it constantly) but Linux's software is also good and has much more promise than the MS lock-in enabled stuff.
  • by pyr0 (120990) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:02PM (#9087669)
    Not only is it a good thing, it's an absolutely *wonderful* thing. When you work with other people who use only MS Excel, and you exchange data and plots through spreadsheet files, a linux spreadsheet with _full_ compatibility is the holy grail. I've been struggling with this for at least three years now. Basically it came down to booting to windows so I could use Excel....not an optimal solution.
  • by aksansai (56788) <aksansai@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:21PM (#9087907)
    Think about it. Microsoft now provides the benchmark by which all office suites are influenced by. Creating more ".xls" spreadsheets means that more people will need Microsoft Excel (or compatible office suites) to view, modify, etc. If a group makes a product that is marginally or significantly superior to Excel, Microsoft can than use their ideas to make Excel a better product.

    This is why many companies like the idea of funding an open source project. There are millions of creative minds out there churning ideas that the relatively small development group of a commercial package has not even conjured. The practice of suing is not one widely performed by Microsoft, because they can afford to have competition that makes up less than a tenth of the market. Other companies like Apple, on the other hand, has such a small market (and stake) that they aggressively attempt to hoard their interests and ideas to prevent them from being used by others.
  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sir_cello (634395) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:10PM (#9088477)
    > The graphing in Excel is basically the same as it was 15 years ago, for example. The core userbase is Finance people, and it will never expand to Engineering, Academics, etc.

    You made my point better than I could. Anyone who says that "Excel is useful for Engineers" either (a) doesn't know anything about Engineering; (b) doesn't actually do any useful Engineering; (b) is quite a power-user of Excel beyond the average competance that a normal Engineer can dedicate to a single application.

  • Re:The wrong path (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Shakrai (717556) on Friday May 07, 2004 @04:25PM (#9088637) Journal

    If you judge a programming company by what office suite they use, you'll get people working for you who can't program for shit, but know how to use MS-Office. University dropouts anyone? They all use Excel perfectly.

    It's this type of fanatical belief that will keep OSS confined to the niche that it currently occupies. You aren't judging that programming company by the Office Suite they are using. You are judging them by their customer service. If they are going to force me to jump though hoops to send them a document then WTF are they going to do for me at 3am when that project crashes and we need it back up ASAP?

    And who the heck said anything about programming companies anyway? This applies to every industry. I work in the Insurance business. We need commercial prospects to send us all types of data in order to allow us to prepare a quote for them. Are we really going to tell them (after spending weeks or months networking to meet the right people to even get permission to quote the business in the first place) that we can't open the most commonly used spreadsheet format in the World to prove some point about Microsoft being evil (and I think they are -- and my PHB would actually agree with me -- though his concern is how they rape us on licensing fees -- mine is security/support) or OSS being the next great thing?

    Newsflash: If we want OSS to be successful in the business world then we are going to have to play by their rules. They aren't going to change for us.

    No it's not. It's not even similar. It's like taking offence because you can't read a file-format I just made up.

    Just "made up"? When you "just make up" a file format that is used by billions of people around the World then we'll talk about taking offense. Like it or not it is the de-facto standard. Go ahead and make your point with your next potential customer. It probably won't cost you the sale -- but some of us aren't willing to take that chance to make such a petty point.

Our informal mission is to improve the love life of operators worldwide. -- Peter Behrendt, president of Exabyte

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