Subject: Re: If this turns out to be true...
From: Aaron Lehmann (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: Sun Jul 16 2000 - 17:55:42 CDT
I think it is exciting, even though I don't like Star Office. Maybe this
means I'll be able to contribute patches to prevent it from taking over
the screen and putting a start menu at the bottom :). Anyway, it is great
to see Sun finally "get" free software. I agree with you that it doesn't
matter how much StarOffice sucks, there's no such thing as evil free
software. I'm disappointed that they may not be able to open the source
code to all of it, but as long as it will be possible to run StarOffice
without installing any non-free software I enthusiastically support this
license change and wish Sun and StarOffice's users the best.
On Sun, 16 Jul 2000, Eric W. Sink wrote:
> ... the eventual impact could be huge.
> I have speculated for a long time about what might happen if someone
> decided to take an existing, mature office suite and make it truly
> Open Source.
> I haven't exactly been sitting on the edge of my seat. It has seemed
> likely that someone would do it eventually, but the event has just
> never seemed very imminent. It's clear that Microsoft, with 95%
> market share and over 10B annual revenues, has no incentive to
> make their suite Open Source. Corel has far too little clue, and
> IBM/Lotus have far too much.
> The only glimmer of hope has been Sun, which seems to have a practice
> of being smart during the even-numbered years and downright
> silly during the odd-numbered ones.
> An Open Source version of StarOffice would open up a remarkable number
> of opportunities. In the hope that this rumor is revealed to be true,
> I would like to applaud all of those people at Sun who contributed
> to the execution of this bold, visionary decision.
> And frankly, I'm insulted that none of those people called me. :-)
> Granted, I doubt that our little 28-person company is even a blip
> on their radar screen. However, as founder of the AbiWord project,
> SourceGear has a lot of experience in the world StarOffice is about
> to join. In fact, I daresay that there is no one else on earth
> who knows more about losing money on Open Source office apps than
> I do. :-)
> Seriously, this is exciting news. In fact, I consider it exciting
> enough that I want to spend a slice of my Sunday afternoon writing
> my thoughts on the subject. Lest you allow me to exaggerate my
> sainthood, please rest assured that I would *not* be inclined to
> spend this time on a Sunday afternoon if it were during football
> season. :-)
> If the rumor is true, then we only have a few days to think about
> how we will respond to Sun's announcement. I think that the response
> from the community is important, and I would like to offer my
> unsolicited advice regarding the appropriate tenor of our response:
> 1. Let's welcome Sun, not flame them. Trust me folks -- this is
> a bold move. If you have never been in a position of real
> for a business, making the decisions which directly affect the lives
> of your employees and stockholders, then you may not immediately
> recognize this kind of choice for what it really is. These decisions
> require great courage. If Sun makes any little mistakes in their
> launch of StarOffice-GPL, then please try to keep the minor things
> in their proper perspective.
> 2. Let's not gripe about how bad StarOffice is. Yes, I have actually
> used StarOffice under Linux. Yes, I know the GUI has a look and feel
> which is very Windowsy. Yes, I know the suite is enormous and bloated.
> None of that matters.
> The point is that Sun is making the only decision which will allow
> StarOffice to become better. It's never about where you are -- it's
> about where you are going.
> 3. Let's not gripe about how bad StarOffice will be. Yes, it is very
> likely that the GPL-ed version of StarOffice will be even worse than
> the app which is currently available. This is because I seriously
> doubt that they will be able to GPL all of the functionality.
> For example, I'm fairly sure that StarOffice is built upon a Win32
> compatibility library from Bristol. They can't GPL that. The spell
> checker is probably not theirs. In fact, most full-featured office
> suites today are built using a bunch of third-party components. If
> the first source code tarball from Sun is even buildable, I'll be
> But I won't be complaining about it. Doing so is not going to benefit
> 4. Let's not fret about the potential impact to projects like
> AbiWord or Gnumeric. These projects can go on, and I believe they
> both will. Does StarOffice use an XML-based format? Is their
> word importer as good as ours? Is their app integrated with GNOME?
> Does it fit on a floppy disk?
> Even in an Open Source world, there is room for multiple efforts.
> Many of the people who work on AbiWord or Gnumeric are doing so
> for the enjoyment or experience. StarOffice will meet different
> needs, and there is nothing preventing both projects from reaching
> their goals.
> 5. Let's not start predicting the death of Microsoft. Stuff like
> that does little but damage our credibility. Anyone who thinks that
> Microsoft Office sales are going to plunge toward zero next month
> simply doesn't get it.
> There was a recent published interview with someone from the Kylix
> team at Borlaprise. This guy gets it. He said things like, "Our
> success does not require Microsoft's failure", and, "When television
> came along, radio didn't suddenly go away."
> It is possible that this GPL release of StarOffice will eventually
> cause some impact to the proprietary players. However, we need
> to speak not in terms of extinction or annihilation, but in terms
> of reduction of margins.
> And we need to give it time before the effects start to be visible.
> Microsoft's product manager for Office is not scared, and [s]he
> doesn't need to be.
> 6. Let's cross our fingers and hope that the rumor is true. :-)
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