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Closed Office ?

Make Sure Your Business doesn't get stuck addicted to the problems of closed Microsofty standards!

If you go on "upgrading" to later versions of Microsoft's ideas of how to run your business, you could end up stuffed. Here, let's explain the problem from the beginning...

In the early days of offices, people wrote with quill pens and ink, but everyone could read everyone else's documents. Then when computers were invented and put into use in offices, ASCII text files were used, and everyone's computer could understand everyone's files. Then, along came cunning Microsoft and decided that files should be stored in various "proprietary formats". This sounded OK at first, as if everyone would be using the same version of Esperanto as everyone else. The trouble is, Microsoft isn't The International Esperanto Institute, there for the good of humanity. Microsoft is a company hellbent on gaining control by monopolistic methods (possibly as a proxy for evil conformist governments?). Well, we don't have to put up with that, do we?

A brave early attempt to defeat the Microsoftist control of everyone was a rival system known as Open Office. This has the advantage that it's in many ways better, and also it's cheaper. In fact it's given away free. Also, you're allowed to make copies and give them away, and no-one accuses you of being a software pirate even if you say Ah-har me hearties, and pieces of eight. If you still want to buy Microsoft Office you are welcome to go to the Microsoft Store and buy it, but you don't need to now that Open Office is available, free. Plus, Open Office isn't restricted to Microsoft Operating Systems. It will run on Linux, the Apple Mac, Sun, and a variety of other computer platforms.

To take a look at the type of nonsense you will be letting yourself in for if you get stuck with Microsoft Office, take a look at the page of DOT DOC and see the bloaty, cumbersome, spy-friendly guff which Microsoft Office generates. It's a waste of space, and dangerous.

Well, you might think, the battle is over, there's no competition, because no-one will want Microsoft Office now that Open Office is available free and is better! However, here's where there's a snag:

According to a well-meaning an knowledgeable computer expert, Marken (linked via 2Nunn), Microsoft Office is still being bought, usually by companies, because they are stuck with it, unable to shake the habit, as many Microsoft Office files they receive over e-mail are unreadable in Open Office! (2010/08/16). That's a shocker! You can see the type of thing with the Dot Doc problem.

In case you're wondering how such a thing has been foisted on people and how they are so fooled into getting sucked into such a thing, consider this: Most customers are clueless about computers. They don't know what they are doing and have no defences against the problems. Sometimes they don't even know how to avoid computer viruses

Now it is a fact that many clued-up companies have vowed to give up Microsoft as surely as sometime addicted to a drug have pledged to give it up. This goes beyond the early famous example of Ernie Ball, and now some major corporations, state councils, and militaries, have given up Microsoft. Doesn't it make you wonder how they survive and avoid the dreaded Microsoft and the influx of Microsoft-infested documents which are encrypted and obfuscated so they can't read them?

Well, there's a simple answer. This is something which YOU can do too. You draw an Open Standards line in the sand, and if anyone sends you a document which is non-understandable as it is more obfuscated than that, then you politely ask them to send it again in a reasonable format. To draw an analogy, supposing you were in business and there was an important deal being arranged with some important business people in Japan, and the dignitaries in Japan happened to neglect for a moment that you did not speak Japanese, and they sent you a business proposal in Japanese, then (assuming you didn't happen to speak fluently that elegant oriental language) you might respectfully ask them to send the document in your own language so you might understand it better. Your Japanese business opposite numbers would most likely bow briefly at their monitors and swiftly send you a translation. There would be no offence to dignity at either end.

The same sort of thing applies if someone has made the mistake of having got themselves one of the later versions of Microsoft Office and they have sent you an obscurely encrypted and obfuscated document. You just politely ask them to send the document in an open format, and they apologise briefly and send the document in an early format, or even better, an OPEN format!

If there be any blame, it be upon Microsoft Office for assuming that everyone can read silly-version-n of their format, which, unlike ancient languages, is changing on each variant of the software. The more cynical people claim that the format is being deliberately further obfuscated on each issue of the software, with the malicious intent of "forced upgrade", ie that you are expected to comply with a Microsoft edict that you much update the software to conform to the latest stupid format or else be banished from modern conversation. Well, we don't have to take that type of bullying. We can tell them that we will not comply, and that we are using open formats. It's a bit like being a vegetarian or a coeliac. People just have to accept it. There's no arguing with it. If people are intolerant of your eccentric life-choices, then it's their problem, and it is they who are not diversity-friendly!

Admittedly it is a fact that many people in business are so stupid that they are duped into buying Microsoft Office because they can't cope with this sort of thing, and they end up trapped, having to buy the latest Microsoft operating system and the latest variant of Microsoft Office. But, they are destined to DOOM, for a simple and rational reason, and that is as follows:

As time goes on, the latest version of some arbitrary operating system / document format, will become incompatible with their own old historical archive versions, and as it is important to have historical records that are readable (cautionary tale: Domesday), a company addicted to being in the rut of being the poodle of Microsoft will sooner or later find their own tax accounts are unreadable! That's against the law as well as against common-sense! This will make them a Closed Office, which is, poetically, the opposite of being an Open Office

Another incidental point is that a "closed office" which has Microsoft Office on the many computers here, can have an additional problem if just one of the machines is upgraded. Because the versions of Microsoft Office aren't format compatible with each-other, stuff produced on the upgraded machine will tend to be unreadable on the other computers in the same office. Some would say it's a cynical attempt to try to get all the computers to have to have the latest version, and in so doing also sell more copies of Microsoft Office and possibly even more versions of the Microsoft Operating System as that can also have incompatibility. However, the moral of the story is that it's better to dump the closed-office methodology and upgrade to something which is actually open!

Also see open document foundation

and LibreOffice

and Free Software

Also see...




http://pbage.org - Network for a Post-Bureaucratic Age : Dr Mark Wright - cabinet minister for transformation, value-for-money and IT at Bristol City Council: "There were problems with UK governments requiring .doc formats and supplying forms and templates in that format. .docx has worsened the problem".

It is scandalous that the UK government are wasting public tax money on protectionist software! A special example of this wastefulness is in the NHS! The National Health Service should be about care for patients, not about propping up dead software marketing models.

You are safe to LINK to this page www.zyra.net/closed-office.htm with the phrase "Closed Office" as this page has a sensible Deep Linking policy!

Also notice how Microsoft Office (pirate copies of) is advertised in spam, whereas Open Office is free of the scourge of spam.