How to gain market share

Yesterday at a customer site:

Customer: So can you also help us with infrastructure and hardware problems?
Me: Yes, of course!
Customer: We need help upgrading to Vista and Office 2007.
Me: Ooops…
Customer: Is there a problem?
Me: Well, you have now Windows XP and Office 2003 – and to be honest thats everything you need. In fact I would recommend taking a look at Open Office 2.2. So why do you want to upgrade?
Customer: Very simple: We want to read and edit Office 2007 DOCX files.
Me: But why? Nobody in the world uses that format except Microsoft itself?
Customer: We receive every day documents in that format from the European Commission in Brussels, we are part of many groups in Brussels, and they send out their stuff as DOCX.
Me: So tell them to convert it to DOC or even Open Document Format. There are probably hundreds of other interest group outside in Europe that receive these files and cant open it – and don’t want to spent thousands of Euros to upgrade the systems.
Customer: No way. Everybody in Brussels uses now Office 2007, and they will not stop sending the documents out in DOCX. We tried and failed.
Me: But what is the reason for this bullshit?
Customer: Microsoft gave away Office 2007 licenses to the Commission’s administrative staff – for free.

So this is how it works.

6 Responses to “How to gain market share”

  • Christopher Semturs

    So just use the compatibility pack (, which does exactly what they need: Read office 2007 in office 2003.
    Still, openoffice will have a hard time to enable it to read and write office2007-documents.

  • And the commission will be proud of having saved a lot of money because of these free licenses.

  • I know there are converters, but people don´t usualy think first about it. The first reaction will be: Noew Microsoft format? Buy new Microsoft software. Compared to the fact that 18 year old Notes database formats still run on Domino 8 this is bad business bevaiour.

  • Christopher Semturs

    I understand the comparison, but it is not fair this time: When you use Notes-8 to create applications, they most likely don’t run on Notes-5 (ODS-format), for instance. Same as if you store documents in word-2007.
    Word-2007 can open older documents (e.g. word-2000). So can Notes-8 open databases of Notes-5.
    I’m also against the practice of changing file formats, but it’s noway different in Notes. 🙂

  • Dear Alexander:

    If we can gain evidence of this above and beyond that forwarded, then
    we need to make a lot of noise about the use of an inappropriate,
    non-standardised format rather than the ISO standard. Oh, and pointing out
    the anti-competitive practice of giving away MS Office 2k7 licences
    should be officially reported to the competition commissioner – preferably
    well before the final European court ruling on Microsoft…

    So, please, contact us (or any of the organizations that are fighting for free standards and for freedom of technology in europe) in case you have any evidence that can be reported.
    Best Regards

    Free Software advocates.
    Friends of:

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