Second Times Online Article

My second Times Online article is now available. Entitled “Open formats make history – and maintain it“, it talks about how the decision of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to use OpenDocument is the start of a move towards people reclaiming control of their data.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, this is the second in a two-column trial. I’ll let you know how the discussions go about making the arrangement more permanent.

10 thoughts on “Second Times Online Article

  1. Another note. Abiword’s importing of OpenDocument is about as good as OpenOffice 1.x import of Microsoft Word. It still needs work. Quite often it will ignore a lot of the style information.

  2. Joseph: thanks for the clarification. But if that’s the worst factual error I’ve made, I’ll be pretty happy :-)

  3. Copy-paste from your article:
    “The second problem with closed formats is obsolescence.
    It may seem unlikely now that there will ever be a time when
    it’s hard to find something to read Word files”

    Well, in fact it doesn’t seem unlikely at all…
    I have a lot of word files around written with Word 2.0C
    that I still need access to now and then, and guess what: It’s
    impossible to open those files in Microsoft Word 97(!), and I
    suppose also newer versions, but I haven’t tried that.

    That was quite a surprise to me, the first time I tried to open
    one of my old .doc files with Word 97… I mean, it’s not _that_
    long ago when everyone (more or less) was using Word 2.0, and I
    didn’t expect any problems opening those with a newer Word version.

    OpenOffice is also not able to open those, the old StarOffice 5.2
    does open them, but formatting is lost, so because of this I’m forced
    to still have an Word 2.0 installation on my work computer, to be able
    to access my _own_ files!

    Needless to say, I use OpenOffice for all documents I’m writing nowadays,
    I don’t trust Microsoft to be either forward, nor backwards compatible,
    -even with itself…


  4. Tomas: it may not seem unlikely to you, but I suspect it seems fairly unlikely to the average Times reader who lives in an Office-dominated world.

  5. Gerv:
    What I don’t understand is that AFAIK there hasn’t been anyone complaining
    about this fact: that you cannot open Word documents created with
    Word 2.0 in newer Word versions.
    Doesn’t anyone else in this world have any documents created in Word 2.0
    that they still need to be able to read now and then? :)

    But OTOH I haven’t tried with any newer versions than Word 97, simply
    because I don’t have any to try with :)
    (I run a mixed env. over here with 2 Windows computers at work (because of
    some applications that we need that doesn’t run on Linux) and the rest is
    Debian GNU/Linux, so that’s one of the many reasons that I use OpenOffice,
    -it’s the same program and same file format on both Linux and Windows.)

    If you have access to any of the more recent Word versions, and want to try
    if those can open an word file created with Word 2.0, then just send me an
    mail, (the address is valid), and I send you some .doc files to test with.
    It would be very interesting to know the result, and would be one more “selling
    point” for the OpenDocument format and OpenOffice (and other Open Source


  6. We currently run Word 2000 at work and have hundreds of Word 2.0 files that get edited from time to time. We’ve never had a problem opening these with either Word 97 or Word 2000. When it comes time to save these, Word conveniently asks if the format should be updated to Word 2000. It could be that your file(s) are corrupted and thus unrecognizable by the Word 97 converter. You could also try, as a test, downloading the free Word 97/2000 viewer and see if it can open the Word 2.0 files.

    Word 2.0 does seem to be the de facto standard when it comes to conversion utility among non-Microsoft products. I run the Nota Bene word processing program at home, in addition to Word 2000 and Open Office, and Nota Bene, though it’s supposed to be capable of saving in the Word 2.0, 6.0, 7.0, and Word 97 formats, actually saves ONLY in the Word 2.0 format, which my Word 2000 at home recognizes as such and also asks if I want to update to the latest Word file format.

  7. David:

    Interesting, I’m sure that the files I tried to open wasn’t corrupted… Maybe it had to do with the formatting (I’m using tables with borders in those documents) or then it was the characters used. I’m from Finland, so I’m using the “scandinavian” special characters �, �, �, in those documents.
    But OTOH both the Word 2.0C version used to create those files and the Word 97 version I tried to open them with was localized versions.

    Hmmm, maybe others haven’t seen this problem then?


  8. I think that I have had this trouble and success but I am not sure. After trying to open ms word files with Star office actually changed a document to a usable formate . also not giving up and working with the software you have read all the documentation and then usually you can find a way to update those old files a good programmer budy might even do it for you .

  9. I am interested in trying to open the word 2.0 files you have using a tool that we use for document management in various companies, but I have been unable to find anyone with word 2.0 files to test.

    Do you mind sending one or two for testing?