When I worked at Sun, it was a constant struggle to use StarOffice because not all of the Microsoft Office features were implemented in StarOffice. Given that Sun would not pay for a Microsoft license, it was either use it or figure out another way. Well, five years later and two versions of each product, it is nice to see that nothing has changed.
I downloaded the current version, StarOffice version 9, and it is nice to know that things remain the same. The word and draw products are good and reliable. The calc still falls short in my opinion. I have been using Crystal Ball for some simulations and decision tree analysis. I have found that the tool is very powerful and good at looking at project funding and financial analysis of purchasing goods and services. Unfortunately, it does not work inside of StarCalc.
The same is true for Visio. The StarDraw product can not read nor write vsd formats. Given that most of the stuff that I work on is proposals for IT departments, it is important to do network diagrams, server room diagrams, and connectivity or data flow models, much as I don’t want to admit, Visio is a defacto standard. Not being able to read this format is a show stopper in my opinion.
I have also been playing with the Oracle digital rights software, the IRM server. Unfortunately, the ability to seal a document appears in the Excel interface but not the StarOffice interface. The document must be sealed outside the tool which means that it needs to be stored unsealed and then sealed. If I am going to pay for a suite like this, I want the software to seal and unseal documents inside my commonly used tool.
The final problem has always been storing the files in a different format. It is problematic to ship someone a star office formatted file and they have Microsoft Office. You can open a document from Office in StarOffice but not the other way around. Until StarOffice becomes the default platform and storage format, it will continue to be difficult to use.
Hopefully, Oracle can solve this problem and integrate some of the back office calcualtions and procedures into the tool making it the front end customization piece rather than having to do something like Oracle Forms or Web Center. It would be nice if a tool like Excel/StarCalc could be the navigation tool into EBS or PeopleSoft and have Hyperion and Crystal Ball reporting all nicely integrated while being able to save into secure digital protection offered by an IRM server.
Given that I work for Oracle, these are merely my own opinion and not direction of the company. I am not a high enough pay grade to even have an opinion or influence in matters this important. I can only wish……