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Woke up this morning, did the rounds and was presented with the following message to update my Java installation. The message tells me that when I update Java, I will also get OpenOffice free. Hmm, I have no need for OpenOffice so I won’t update the Java application because it appears to me from this bubble that when I update the Java, I automatically get the FREE OpenOffice software.
Just because something is free does not mean it isn’t bound by the same ethical standards as something for a price. Since a large majority of users have the Java app installed, I am looking forward to the OpenOffice release that announces the new millions of installs over the past month and I will bet there will be no note about this semi-forced installation.
Who thought of this idea to create a very confusing update bubble? When you click on the bubble, here is the message that appears:
So if I click "install", am I also installing OpenOffice or only Java? In my opinion, this feels very deceptive. Didn’t RealMedia use this "marketing" technique years ago? And isn’t it one of the reasons they are so hated today?
One of the first OpenOffice.org Conference sessions on Friday morning dealt with the use of ODF in governments and industries around the world. Massachusetts started the current flood with its 2005 decision to adopt ODF by January 1, 2007. Despite noisy opposition (all coming from only one company), that process continues to advance, with the ODF file format being implemented via plugins for the Commonwealth’s existing Microsoft Office licenses. (This helps to show that ODF and OpenOffice.org are separate ideas, even though they work very well together.)
Inspired or encouraged by Massachusetts, other US states including Minnesota, Texas, Oregon and California, have also tried to adopt ODF. Some have had setbacks while others, including New York State, are just beginning to explore this opportunity. Canada’s federal government, too, has been investigating ODF as its standard file format, but right now the biggest action is happening in Europe.
Erwin Tenhumberg stated that, from his perspective, Europe is at an ODF tipping point: so many governments are adopting ODF that it may soon become the default on this continent. Belgium and the Netherlands have set ODF as their national formats, while French government ministries have already deployed several hundred thousand copies of OpenOffice.org (mostly on Windows) in their agencies. The German Foreign Ministry, too, has moved all its computers at all its offices around the world to both Linux and OpenOffice.org.
Nor is its pricetag the primary reason to adopt OOo: multi-platform support, vendor neutrality, and security (since OOo lets you replace Windows with Linux, Solaris or Mac OS X) are possibly even more important factors for government and industry users.
Many sessions dealt with native language support, both building it into OpenOffice.org and how linguistic communities around the world have benefited from it. The Catalonian-speaking community uses OOo to help build its national identity, while South Africa, home to 11 official languages, has found Microsoft Office is only available in "one and a half" of these. Open source, through self-service translation by local communities, is the only viable option for many people to use software in their native languages!
Today’s final session contained representatives from the recently-enlarged family of companies that support the OpenOffice.org project: Sun, IBM, Novell, Red Hat, and RedFlag 2000. With this powerful squad of corporate backers, not to mention the dynamic and ever-growing community of individuals and small organizations using, promoting, and helping to develop OOo every day, the next year looks like a very promising one for this global open source project.
Wednesday’s start of the OpenOffice.org Conference (OOo) kicked off with two keynotes. OOo Community Manager Louis Suarez-Potts presented "OpenOffice.org 3.0 and Beyond," in which he discussed the next year of development, and Hu Caiyong, CEO of RedFlag 2000, described his company’s customization of OpenOffice.org to create RedOffice for the Chinese market.
Louis introduced some of the features scheduled for the next major release of OpenOffice.org, after version 2.3 which just arrived on Monday. OOo 3.0 is scheduled for mid-2008, and will include a PIM (Thunderbird plus the Sunbird calendar extension, which have received significant attention from Sun’s professional developers), a strong focus on OOo Extensions to provide niche functionality and great flexibility without adding bloat, complete Mac OS X support, and "Web 2.0" features like saving documents to blogs and wikis, among other features.
Other sessions through the day introduced new tools and methods to integrate OpenOffice.org with web content management system workflows, discuss technical details of the standard OpenDocument Format, and present the results of the project’s annual user survey, which has found continued adoption by new users in home, educational, and work environments.
Furthermore, I gave my own presentation in the afternoon. Titled "Case Study: OpenOffice.org Guerrilla Advertising in the New York Metro Newspaper," I described my effort of July 2006 to collect donations online and purchase a full-page, back cover advertisement to promote OpenOffice.org in the Metro. Reception was good, and I spoke with some other community members interested in carrying out similar promotional campaigns around the world.
The general mood of the conference is extremely positive, and we have seen many examples of countries, companies and individuals adopting the OpenOffice.org software, or the ODF file format for interoperability. The community is planning for a phase of rapid growth, bolstered by its previous technical achievements and the recent addition of powerhouses IBM and RedFlag 2000 to the formal community of developers.