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Why Schools Must Embrace ODF and FOSS; Healthy Boost for KOffice and OpenDocument Format

Posted in Deception, Europe, Formats, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, GPL, KDE, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Patents, Standard, SUN at 2:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

KOffice Logo

ODF on Tap

The growth of Free software cannot truly be measured. This is a marketing problem that we highlighted in the past, the focus being GNU/Linux. To shed some light on the growth of OpenOffice.org in Europe, consider the following new post. [via Glyn Moody]

If we look at OpenOffice.org, the three markets where the open source office suite is competing most successfully with Microsoft Office are probably Germany, France and Italy, followed by other European markets like Spain and the Netherlands. In Italy, where I have the updated numbers, we are hitting today – maybe while I’m writing this post – one million downloads since January 1st, 2008 (over 350.000 since the announcement of OOo 2.4 in late March). Although we don’t have Microsoft figures for Office 2007, we estimate a maximum of 1.8 million licenses sold in 2008.

I already know the reply: “You can’t compare licenses with downloads…”. Of course, gentlemen, but do you really think that one million downloads in slightly over one hundred days (at an average of over 9,200 downloads per day) still equals to a few thousands users? Do you really think that a small bunch of people, just the same small bunch of people, can get all these downloads? Come on, we’ve other stuff to do. Please, be realistic. We’re eating your pie, quickly. We’re hungry.

Microsoft’s Plan B: Subscription, Ads, Child Lock-in

At the moment, Microsoft tries to bring an experimental project from developing countries over to the west. It will be offering a subscription-based Microsoft Office (on top of an ad-funded Microsoft Works) under the codename “Albany”. It’s a case of catching up with Google’s business model and a case of offering what you already get with OpenOffice.org or KOffice, but with more security headaches and a monthly/annual bill you cannot avoid.

“Microsoft is permitted to shape the minds of our kids, essentially pre-recruiting (training) them as a workforce, all at the expense of foreign taxpayers.”A few hours ago we shared the story about the United Kingdom’s public sector made a hostage of Microsoft. Some other countries will tell a similar story, but it’s particularly painful for someone who lives here to see the UK choosing to lock itself in for Microsoft to control completely, at least in a digital sense.

Ian Lynch from the OSA (UK) identifies a similar set of problems and an entire article has just been published to highlight the severity of this matter which affects children, i.e. tomorrow’s adult generation.

Microsoft is permitted to shape the minds of our kids, essentially pre-recruiting (training) them as a workforce, all at the expense of foreign taxpayers. In additional to the mental lock-in (as in skills, familiarity with particular users interfaces), there are also technical lock-ins such as OOXML. [via Glyn Moody, who says a lot more]

When Will They Ever Learn?


Schools are being prevented from enjoying a revolution in software provision, and self-sufficiency is being halted by the promotion of dependency, said Ian Lynch, spokesman for the Open Schools Alliance.

“Innovation starts with teachers and pupils, but under BSF the school’s IT strategy is taken out of its hands,” he said.

But hey! Maybe some schools will even ignore BECTA's recommendations, install Office 2007, and then find out that kids cannot open OOXML-encoded homework at home, so they need not only to buy Office 2007 (OpenOffice.org and other office suites won’t do OOXML) but also a brand-new high-end PC to run the buggy resource pig (Windows XP no longer available after June).

That’s just why (and how) schools can be used as a tool that forces families to shell out $1500 for Intel and Microsoft to enjoy. 1 gigabyte of RAM won’t cut it and only Office 2007 is compatible with Office 2007, which uses its own secret variant of OOXML (Office 2009 ‘extends’ this further — all undocumented — in order to facilitate forced upgrades, a network effect-driven upgrade trademill [sic]).

Another ODF Victory

There is some good news too. There is a better way. There is ODF and there is a wealth of applications that support it.

GNOME CalcYou might still recall NLnet for requesting that Microsoft relinquished control of its legacy binary formats, which are still seen largely as a trap to be replaced for marketing purposes. Their work was later cited to express WTO-tied concerns over the legitimacy of OOXML. NLnet is based on Holland, which is among the countries fastest to adopt OpenDocument format, despite Microsoft's sheer aggression there.

We ask you to recall the interoperability collaboration between OpenOffice.org developers and KOffice developers, as well as the myth that ODF is OpenOffice.org and the myth that ODF cannot work (there is plenty of new disinformation at the moment). Some of these myths get busted by the latest news from KDE, which ODF advocates are urged to read. KOffice presses on with ODF and it also receives important backing.

The Dutch NLnet foundation aims to financially support organisations and people that contribute to an open information society. Some time ago they decided to help KOffice in two exciting ways: to sponsor the design of a new logo for KOffice, with matching logo designs for all KOffice applications, and to sponsor Girish Ramakrishnan to improve the ODF support in KWord 2.0. The KOffice team is deeply grateful to NLnet for this support!

KDE developers should be kindly reminded again to stay away from the (L)GPL-allergic OOXML. The only FOSS projects that touch this poison are developed by current or former Novell employees and Novell was paid by Microsoft to support OOXML and receive exclusive ‘protection’ for a limited number of years.

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