News: A $90 Fee (Fine?) for Non-ODF Compliant Office Users, and Now the Sky is Falling?

  1. The news came out last week that Oracle was going to start charging up to a hundred bucks for a plugin that allows Microsoft Office users to save Word, Excel and PowerPoint files in the standard Open Document Format (ODF).

    Sun Microsystems gave this plug-in away for free. Sun Microsystems also swam in a sea of red ink and got swallowed up by Oracle, a company that prefers bathing in the black. Oracle has decided that this little plug-in could be a nice little revenue maker, and has decided to put a price tag on it.

    As soon as the press release came across the wire about this new little fee, you could hear all of the "Chicken Littles" out there clearing their throats so they could start screaming that the sky was falling, and that in no time, OpenSolaris or some other Oracle product was going to be pay-for-use as well. (Where have we heard that cry before?)

    Anyways, the sky is not falling. Should Microsoft users be punished by a $90 fine that must be paid due to the fact that their proprietary product doesn't support ODF? Of course they should. And if Oracle makes some money punishing the Microsoft Office crowd, and making them aware of the closed practices of the software maker, then it shouldn't be seen as a bad thing.

    Oracle starts to monetize Free Software, is it wrong?

    Oracle sells ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office

    Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office

    Oracle start charging for Sun's Office ODF plug-in

  2. But I would question the timing.  It seems a little premature.  The free plugin strengthens the ODF format.  If you save your documents to ODF, a free plugin makes it a non-issue (at least arguably.)  Now that you have to pay $90 (per seat I assume) it becomes a big problem.  For a company of 1000s of people, that's real money.  It also makes everyone who argued to save the documents as ODF look pretty bad.  One could argue it's bit like a bait-and-switch.

    I would expect that one likely outcome is that this will take some steam out of ODF.
  3. So why bother paying $90 fee ? Ms Office is still the largest supported format.

  4. Should Microsoft users be punished by a $90 fine that must be paid due to the fact that their proprietary product doesn't support ODF? Of course they should.

    Congratulations, that's the dumbest thing I've read about this yet. You are well and truly what some people call a "freetard".

    For everybody else: a sensible, business-oriented writeup of this issue can be found here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-13505_3-20002921-16.html. The sky indeed is not falling, this was just a really stupid business decision on Oracle's part.

  5. Those Disparaging Comments[ Go to top ]

    So, on a personal note, I spend a great deal of time working with the developed mentally handicapped, and it really does sadden me to see terms like 'retard' and 'freetard' used as insults, so, the insult and desire to offend was very effective, although the comment does reflect poorly on the OP, which is too bad, because the OP does post a very excellent article, which contains a very salient point - that Oracle has more to gain from the adoption of ODF format than does anyone else in the industry. So, why the move? Perhaps to really force Microsoft's hand in the matter? Or perhaps have users switch away? Why pay $90 for the converter, when you can just use the better product for free.

  6. Why bother?[ Go to top ]

    Why pay $90 for the converter, when you can just use the better product for free.

    Let us look at it from a different perspective. Say, you are an ordinary user, who has previously bought an MS Office package, which is working well without causing any grief. All your neighbours, friends, your employer and your employer's clients also have MS Office installed. What on Earth can sway you in favour of ODF? Given that it does not offer you any visible/measurable benefits to you, why would you ever bother?

    I think Oracle missed the plot here. The case for open standards and compliance to open standards was traditionally pushed forward using open source products. And you've got to produce a strong, reliable, functional and competitive open source alternative to the commercial product in the first place. Think FireFox vs. MSIE. OpenOffice has never been a serious alternative to MS Office. Just like Gimp has never been a serious alternative to PhotoShop. Charging for adoption of open-source software is a completely perverse way of popularising it.

    • + Oracle has blocked free access to Solaris security patches.
    • + Oracle has stopped shipping free OpenSolaris CD’s.
    • + Oracle has made javapassion course access paying.
  7. javapassion[ Go to top ]

    >Oracle has made javapassion course access paying.


    well no actually - Sang Shin was sadly removed from the Oracle payroll (another stupid decision from Oracle) ..... and the man has to make a living.

  8. Trademark Police[ Go to top ]

    How long until Oracle's trademark police go after JavaPassion?