Earlier this week, I came home from a well-earned vacation in Las Vegas to find an e-mail waiting for me from my editor, which had the following message in the subject box: “Open this after you’ve had a few drinks.”
Upon reading his missive, I discovered that a Viewpoint I had written about Sun Microsystems’ new office software suite StarOffice has created quite a stir on our message board and on at least one other site. It seems that at least 14 people have taken the time to castigate me for my less-than-favorable critique of the software product that Sun has given away.
In my original article about StarOffice, I found fault with the product because it was awkward to use. I also stated that it didn’t have a “word count” option like my present Word program. By the way, I simply click on “Tools,” then “Word Count” to tell me I’ve just typed my 159th word.
Detractors of my column lambasted me for not looking under the “statistics tab” in StarOffice’s word processing program. Unfortunately, I can’t verify if such a setting exists, because I long ago erased StarOffice from my hard drive.
However, I can tell you this: If I couldn’t find it, then many others wouldn’t be able to either.
Nonetheless, some of my tech-head friends feel that the word count feature is only useful to a “crummy journalist” who is getting paid by the word.
Fair enough. I am a journalist, and word count is important tome — we’re already past 250 — but I’m also a consumer. So when Sun said that it had an office suite that would knock out Microsoft, it got my attention. I didn’t download it because I wanted to badmouth StarOffice; I downloaded it in search of a better program.
I simply didn’t find one. In fact, I was being kind in my last article. I found StarOffice to be mediocre at best — not equaling any of Microsoft Office’s applications, including the word processor.
Make It Simple
Now, if you’re a tech-head, you can call me an idiot, a butt-head or a shill for Microsoft — it doesn’t really matter. Because I can assure you of one thing: There are more users with my knowledge and capabilities than there are users with a tech-head’s skills.
For that matter, the average user doesn’t necessarily have access to a 56K modem, let alone a DSL line. If Sun is planning on marketing to industry insiders, I wish them luck.
Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, has been saying for years that computing must be made simple if companies like Sun ever hope to bring it to the masses. I’m here to tell you that StarOffice needs some major tweaks before that can ever happen.
To My Critics
Even though many of you remain anonymous — which is yourright — I first want to thank you for taking the time to read my Viewpoint, even if you ended up hating it. I can assure you that I read every one of your responses and always come away learning something.
Secondly, from your point-of-view, what I’m saying may appear cockeyed. But are you being objective? Is your hatred of Microsoft skewing your opinions? Or do you have a vested interest in the success of StarOffice?
All I know is that I don’t have an interest in either company. The only interest I have is as a user.
578 and counting.
Kill The Messenger
I expect that this second Viewpoint on StarOffice will change no minds. In fact, I suspect that the harangues against this piece could be even worse than those fueled by the first. Maybe some readers will stoop to profanity — like one anonymous message writer did. I’m not surprised. It’s an old tradition to kill the bearer of bad news.
We should not forget, however, that the slaying of an innocent messenger never managed to change the outcome of a battle or undo any other reversal of fortune.