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MS-OOXML Upgrade Treadmill

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pink fitness centre

Summary: Paying several times for the same competition-intolerant software

THE REASON the title states “MS-OOXML” and not “OOXML” is that Microsoft has never implemented OOXML (nor will it ever). Microsoft has several variants of OOXML and Microsoft’s Mac version of OOXML is different from the Windows version (they are not mutually compatible [1, 2]).

It is always valuable to remind people that software like Oracle OpenOffice.org (OOOo) does not just spare the cost of one copy of Microsoft Office. With Free software, upgrades are free, whereas with Microsoft Office, multiple purchases of the same software are required over time. This is famously known as the “upgrade treadmill,” which very much depends on different versions of the same software being incompatible; then, using the network effect, forced upgrades can be spurred and imposed all around. This is one of the key reasons to avoid OOXML and steer towards formats that do not change to promote the business agenda of one company.

There is a timely new report in The Inquirer:

Microsoft kills off support for MacOffice 2004


Users will have to upgrade to Office 2008 for Mac.

How much will that cost and what will be the gain? The ribbon? The bloat?

According to this report from Mary Jo Foley, the new economic depression has people wake up.

Report: Customers scrutinizing Microsoft license agreements more than ever


“There’s a perfect storm brewing,” said Directions analyst Paul DeGroot. “Customers are looking at licensing harder than ever before. And volume licenses are critical to Microsoft’s well-being. When people don’t renew, Microsoft loses immediate revenue. But these customers might not be back for two to three years,” leading to more substantial losses for the Redmond software maker.

Thanks to the reader who sent us this pointer. Now is a great time for businesses to prepare a migration plan to GNU/Linux, which contains wonderful office suites that comply with international standards. No version of Microsoft Office has that invaluable feature.

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  1. whatever said,

    April 22, 2009 at 6:12 am


    Let’s see if you post this, since it won’t agree with your agenda:

    Office 2004 for Mac was released 6 years ago. Six. It was released for PowerPCs and never ran well on Intel systems (which is what Apple started selling 3 and a half years ago). Office 2008 came out last year, actually runs on new machines well, and is more compatible with cross-platform formats.

    Criticize MS for a myriad of things, but ending support on a six year old piece of software that runs poorly on every Mac sold in the last three and a half years and that has a viable sucessor out and in the market for more than 12 months is just stupid.

    Most Mac-based businesses upgraded to Office 2008 already and only have 2004 for ancient G3-era machines.

  2. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 22, 2009 at 6:19 am


    Your argument is a straw man.

    The point made is that upgrades are often forced and are not free.

    Balrog Reply:

    Office 2008 for Mac is probably one of the better upgrades. Even though it is bloated, MS did not put the ribbon in the Mac version (probably because Mac users would not like it), and therefore is quite different from Office 2007. A main concern for users of Office is that 2008 for Mac drops VBA support, in favor of AppleScript.

    Even so, 2008 is just an incremental upgrade to 2004, and forcing and upgrade isn’t very good, IMHO. This will just get more people to switch to OOXML, as well as iWork.

  3. Balrog said,

    April 22, 2009 at 2:21 pm


    Switch to OpenOffice, I meant. Sorry ….

  4. Roy Schestowitz said,

    April 22, 2009 at 2:27 pm


    Open Office != Office Open.

    Microsoft did this intentionally.

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