OGA is retired – Time to once again “get them sort of addicted”?

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As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.

Source: Bill Gates

There have been numerous articles around the net that Microsoft has killed off OGA (or in Microsoft’s words “retired”).

Microsoft “retiring” OGA should, for once, be a good news story from Redmond.

Or should it?

There is no doubt to me in the obvious surge of popularity for FOSS or even proprietary alternatives to Microsoft products.  Its been said that the two main cash-cows Microsoft has remaining (in lieu of its patent portfolio and a predicted more aggressive patent attack) are Office and Windows.  We see products like OpenOffice taking users away from that cash cow, LibreOffice, AbiWord, Google Docs are but a few that are taking a bite out of Microsoft’s cash pie.

Could the OGA retirement be an attempt to achieve that which Bill Gates envisioned those years ago, where it appears Microsoft was quite happy for people to pirate their products in order for this “addiction” to take place?  Afterall, why should the majority of users spend money on Microsoft Office, when there are free alternatives?

A possible result of OGA retiring for Microsoft in light of all this “inconvenient” competition to their cash-cow, would be to allow the distribution of moody copies of their software and get their return later.  I wonder?

Microsoft provided no further details about reasons for dropping OGA.

Source: Here.

I am sure they are not providing any further details, but looking back at other comments Bill Gates made in respect of piracy:

It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.

Source: Wikipedia

and we can now maybe see that “retiring” OGA may well be a good idea if they want to keep their Office product in the fore.  Of course competition to MS Office is not about Linux, Windows has its own native version of the competitors to its product, but it highlights to me that maybe Microsoft is now looking to piracy to save the products which people are moving away from.

Microsoft is reported to be rather non-committal in regards to the reason behind the removal of OGA with it being reported to have said:

The Office Genuine Advantage program was designed to notify many customers around the world whether their copy of Microsoft Office was genuine. The program has served its purpose and thus we have decided to retire the program

Which is rather strange since we have seen a massive increase in piracy of any digital products, we see reports of governments and anti-piracy agencies tackling BitTorrent trackers, nzb indexers to such an extent the “pirates” have fought back with a ddos campaign under the name “Operation Payback”.  In the face of all this Microsoft thinks it’s served its purpose?  Has the piracy issue suddenly gone away or more worryingly do people not even want Microsoft products for free via a pirated route? – I’ll let you decide.

Food for thought.

Goblin – /

You can also contact me on Skype: tim.openbytes

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OFFICE 2007 SP2 – ODF Support

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Are proprietary formats a thing of the past?  Is the ODF support in Office SP2 a sign of more changes to come?  We can but hope!
Are proprietary formats a thing of the past? Is the ODF support in Office SP2 a sign of more changes to come? We can but hope!

A short snippet of news here.

Microsoft have released SP2 for their Office package today, much Im sure to the delight of many. ;)

SP2 offers (amongst other things) support for the ODF format (Open Document Format) natively, which before could only be achieved via a plugin.

As PC World comments:

“Microsoft’s lack of native support for ODF may have also been behind fines from the European Commission, which pushed Microsoft to support interoperability with other companies’ products.”

Talking of the EU, as its been reported on manyy sites, Microsoft has been granted a “stay of execution”(IMO)  in regards to the deadline set by it.  In January of this year the EU said in regards to  IE being bundled with Windows:

“…harms competition between web browsers, undermines product innovation and ultimately reduces consumer choice.”

So encouraging times ahead?  Well hopefully so since it appears the proprietary “hooks” which (IMO) force people down the path of certain software solutions are being removed.  That can only be good for the end user.

So Microsoft has until 28th April 2009 in regards to the IE issue, its included support for ODF in its SP2 for Office 2007.  Whats next?

On a related note, Ive noticed with the podcasts I listen to that OGG is becoming the download of choice when offered with MP3.  Another good sign that its now users who are demanding open standard file formats?  We have already seen a similar “battle” between XVID and DIVX.

Regardless of what packages you use, its seems to me its getting harder for companies to force you down the route of their own proprietary formats.

If you have any doubts about the worth of Open Standards, freedom of choice or lockin, consider these words that Steve Ballmer has been reported as saying

“Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,”

If that statement doesnt give you the encouragement to stay away from proprietary file formats, nothing will!

Goblin –

MAC ATTACK – Microsoft champions of value?

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Microsoft and Brandon LeBlanc want to save YOU money.  Presumably then they would encourage you to try out FOSS alternatives aswell?  We all have to try to save money, think about poor Microsoft, things are so bad they've had to cancel their plans for a bar at the Redmond Campus....poor souls.
Microsoft and Brandon LeBlanc want to save YOU money. Presumably then they would encourage you to try out FOSS alternatives aswell? We all have to try to save money, think about poor Microsoft, things are so bad they've had to cancel their plans for a bar at the Redmond Campus....poor souls.

Maybe its just me but Ive noticed over the last few weeks, that weve had numerous “digs” at Apple MAC in various shapes and forms.   Most notably by new posters on forums.   Before I start this article, let me just say that I dont personally own a MAC.  The wife has had one for a few months, and whilst I “tinker” with it occasionally I cannot say I have indepth personal experience with it.  What I can say is this:  My wife is not a computer expert, she has niether the skills nor interest to mess around with a computer and expects (sometimes unreasonably) things to work and work quickly.  Previously she has used a Windows based laptop, which she had numerous issues with, since using the MAC she has yet to come to me with a complaint or a problem.  Apple MACs more expensive?  That may be so, but the fact that Im not getting complaints from the wife in regards to it means that to me its money well spent.

Let have a look at a more recent comment on a Vista site

“I am tired of all the mac fanboys who say that those videos where the user runs vista on 512 memory are “Fake””

Im sure you are, Vista running on 512mb sure, why not?  In my opinion it may run, but I shudder to think what the performance would be like.

Or how about we look at Brandon LeBlancs recession beating tips with Microsoft products:

So heres some quotes from that page with Openbytes commentary.  Before I go on though, I was “honored” to have the mighty Leblanc make a comment on my Twitter.  He seemed pleased I took amusment at his “money saving” Microsoft tips.  So maybe when he reads this, he will be good enough to answer the questions posed in the commentary to his site.

“With the ailing global economy, I am looking at ways I get better value for my money” – So why are you not mentioning FOSS? Have you considered OpenOffice instead of MSoffice?  What about Linux instead of Windows?  Im sure everyones pleased you are doing your bit to help people save money in a recession, but why are you only mentioning MAC.  Mr LaBlanc, would you like to comment on the various other journalists who claim your comments are wrong?

“It is human nature to focus on the up-front price. The coverage around our Laptop Hunters ads jumps right to that (“PCs are cheaper”). The harder thing to capture is the overall cost and the VALUE.” – Completely agree, so why mention cost at all?  Surely if Microsoft products are as good as you claim them to be the “value” would speak for itself?  Maybe you can explain why it appears some consumers are not seeing the same “value” you do when it comes to Macs?  If im not mistaken Apple returned quite good results in its last quarter.  Its a good job youre here to show them the error of their ways.

Let us now look at the latest Laptop Hunter ad:

So Mr LeBlanc says value?  I thought that the advert highlights Macs were “popular at this age” and that they were more expensive.  Since packages are not mentioned, the only other thing IMO the advert promotes is the amount of cash the mum gets at the end.  Eh?  If Mr Lablanc is so concerned about change, than a FOSS alternative would give the hyperactive mother on the ad even more.

“Blueraaaaaaaay” – Yes Microsoft Blueray, you remember? You backed HDdvd instead and only gave up the ghost on it when you realized nobody else was.  Wheres your HDdvd player for the 360?

Much as I respect the opinion of money saving Microsoft product advice from a Microsoft employee, I think people would be better advised to get advice from an impartial source.

Why doesnt Mr Leblanc come and justify why (in particular for the case of these two in the ad) that OpenOffice would not be better suited? and since Mr Lablanc is so keen to save people money he should be really pleased that OpenOffice is free.

Users reading this can try OpenOffice for themselves (its completely free) and is available for Windows/Linux/Mac and thats just one example of money saving.  Why not download a LiveCD of a Linux distro and see if that is not better suited.

I have another question for Mr Leblanc and the Microsoft adverts.  How many parents do you think go out to purchase a computer for around $1500 for a childs education and consider games?  forgetting for a minute there is a recession on.   Games (IMO) are the last consideration for a childs educational/creative machine or am I wrong?  Am I a bad parent for thinking that our children have enough computer game distractions?  Am I a bad parent for wanting a PC that my child wont be distracted with games?  They’ve got consoles/mobile phone game etc that already do a very good job of that.

I suggest the reason why Microsoft mention games (in the ad), is that (IMO) it is one of the last bastions of salvation for the Windows platform.  Linux users cant argue that for games Windows is going to offer out of the box compat (in most cases) and Linux really only has Wine/Crossover to rely on to play the latest Windows games.  That being said, there are already some great examples of Windows games reportedly running better through Linux (reports on the WineHQ site) World of Warcraft and the Call of Duty games to name a few.  Speaking as someone who is a WOW player, in my experience the game is smoother, faster and more stable through Linux than it was when I played through Windows (I have covered that here before)

Whilst (IMO) one of Windows last bastions of hope lies in the claim about gaming, when a game is supported in Linux (albeit via Wine or similar) the experiences can be much better (as in my experience with WOW)
Whilst (IMO) one of Windows last bastions of hope lies in the claim about gaming, when a game is supported in Linux (albeit via Wine or similar) the experiences can be much better (as in my experience with WOW)

Lets for a minute look further at the games issue, take 2007 figures for games sales released in 2008.  It is reported from NPD Group that of $18.85 billion in video games sales, only approximately 14% of that was attributed to PC games sales.  Now as the console becomes even more popular as a home entertainment solution, coupled with the fact that upgrades, workarounds, patches or just simply complete hardware incompatibility are things of the past when playing on consoles, I believe this figure is set to get lower in the future.  Certainly from personal experience, our local gaming shops have far more shelf space dedicated to console gaming rather than PC.  I could be wrong, maybe its different for you?

Moving on, it seems the theme of saving money is one Microsoft have taken to heart.  Its been reported that there will be no bar at the Redmond campus and Boycott Novell published a very interesting article in regards to other Microsoft cost cutting, which can be found here:

So Mr Leblanc, since you were kind enough to grace me with your presence on Twitter, maybe you could do me the courtesy of responding some of the points I made?

In the meantime to the readers here, since Mr Leblanc seems genuinely interested in pointing out “value” and money saving in these difficult times, Im sure he would support my recommendation for users to try out OpenOffice for themselves and see if its suitable for them, after all, if its suitable for them, then free is the best value of all?

I dont expect we will get a response from Mr Leblanc, hes probably very busy trying to find other ways of saving you money.

Goblin –