Consumers and Students, Here’s an Office Suite For You.

Whether you’re a student, a blogger, an employee or an owner of a small business or just need something for the occasional letter, LibreOffice is a great tool for you and it costs $0, the price of a download. Not only is it free, it’s Free Software. When you get it, there’s no end-user licence agreement. The authours give you the legal right to run, examine, modify and copy/distribute as much as you like. That’s priceless.

Or, you can opt for an alternative at much greater cost and less freedom: Microsoft Declares Office 2013 And Office 365 Pricing.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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35 Responses to Consumers and Students, Here’s an Office Suite For You.

  1. oiaohm says:

    That is the other thing about zentyal it has captive portal configuration. So any staff that should not be going on the Internet in work hours will not be. Even restricting what sites they can visit. Also you can allocate staff quota and have exact logs of who is using how much and when.

    Internet is a resource knowing who is using it is powerful.

  2. ch wrote, “a caching proxy server is very useful [for] reducing bandwidth for frequently changed content.

    I assume you mistyped, since that is the one thing a proxy simply can’t do.”

    Sigh… 27 times a day students/teachers/users will be thinking about something else like the hot date they plan after school. They check the weather/schedules/e-mail multiple times each, thousands of times a day for the school. Rather than fetching that rapidly changing stuff a thousand times, set a process on the router/cache/filter to download the hot pages once every hour/15 minutes or whatever. Where I am the main weather page changes once per hour on the hour. I could download it at 1 minute after the hour, for example. Then those thousand requests become half a dozen. I can examine logs to decide what needs this treatment but it’s usually stuff like weather, hockey scores, popular social sites, news etc.

    One argument not to do this is that with hundreds of users, there will be a large number of sites but it still works because by sorting/counting I can determine the few most popular, and these folks are part of a small community with a lot of common interests. It is often surprising what one finds on a server’s logs. One time I spent a lot of effort keeping boys off all kinds of undesirable sites with violence, drugs, really bad stuff but the girls almost without fail were drawn to a single site with a very pink background all about clothes and fashion. I can see a few friends picking a single site to fuss over but this was virtually every girl from Grade 7 to 10. The older girls just wanted to do e-mail… Of course there were lots of educational things they were supposed to be doing but these others were constantly on their minds.

    For grown-ups obviously things like FaceBook are extremely popular. I have met ladies who keep FB open in some window all day long. Pictures of the new baby in town or the party last night will be downloaded on nearly every PC in the building. Whatever could be cached from those sites should as it will save many MB per day. Some schools dealt with these problems by having a “white list” but that was really a nuisance because a lot of FLOSS sites were not considered “white”.

    Caching is an ancient technique known to reduce bandwidth requirements while speeding access. It works in a CPU, a PC and a server. It really helps reduce the effects of bottlenecks like the ISP. When I arrived at my last school ISP bandwidth for the school was ~100KB/s, absolutely pitiful. When I left it was as high as 3MB/s. We also went from ~20 PCs working to ~80 so the average bandwidth per PC changed from 5 KB/s to 350 KB/s. The LAN was way faster being 1gbit/s at the switch to 100 mbits/s to most PCs. Whatever was cached at the router was bandwidth saved and snappier service. Some of my critics harp on my singular focus on GNU/Linux but I do pay attention to everything I can control to improve price/performance. In most cases adding GNU/Linux and optimizing the layout of the LAN and servers does wonders. I was once in a school that had moved its server from a computer lab to a closet. In the meantime they left the old switch with just 100 mbits/s to the servers… I swapped switches for an instantly snappier system using gigabit/s between servers and switch. That cost nothing but an hour of my time but was totally worthwhile. The school had been run that way for several years all the while people bitching about the network. The network was fine but the guy who made that move was not thinking of the big picture. He did not even bother to make a diagram and so could not see it. He also could only manage to have 17 PCs (14 usually) working in the old lab. By GNU/Linux magic I got 24 working. Neither of these moves needed any equipment to be purchased just putting what they already had to best use.

  3. oiaohm says:

    ch the 1G to thin clients sounds over kill. Until you think about what you are doing. Voip off the thin clients. Audio without lag eats up a nice section of bandwidth combined with you wanting the graphics of the thin responsive. You have to two things that are not going to take kindly to lag. Yes you can attempt to make 100Mbs work but its not wise from my point of view. It is what gives thins a bad name being slow to respond. Also if you wish to hook a full laptop you will be wanting the 1G full from servers. Yes there is a reason why its servers. Yes the thing might be using less than 10Mbs per second but if that 10Mbs can get to the thin quickly it feels better to the end user.

    Reality I want the staff to be able to take Lan cable out back of thin and plug-in business issued laptop if the thin is the only desk on hand. They then can use the screen keyboard and mouse from the thin with the laptop. When the laptop is not there that work space is still usable. I have done thins with KVM switchs before just so the screen keyboard and mouse did not have to be disconnected and reconnected as much.

    Of course even that my design had thins. I could also swap those for desktop machines or laptops are required. The design describe is designed to change with need.

    ch
    –Where I live, DSL speeds of 50 Mbit/s down- and 1 Mbit/s upstream are quite common.–

    Please note the word common. Can you be sure that the building you are placing the start up will have that. The answer is no you cannot. You cannot be 100 percent sure that the dsl will be stable not at first.

    –I have set up Asterisk once, and while it is definitively powerful it is surely not for the novice.–
    http://www.zentyal.org/ Have you tried it in this. Its designed for the novice.

    Asterisk how much pain it is. Is direct linked to the interface you use to install and configure it. You will find the knowledge required to operate a zentyal quite min as well. Same with the other Linux Distributions designed for small business the 56 dollar manual is very straight forwards for it.

    ch Computer prices are basically the same in the USA, Australia and EU when converted to same currency. So the prices due to Euro being worth more drop. So in ground money 5000 Euro is more than 5000 AUD or USD. By quite a bit. Its closer to the 5000 Euro is closer 6000 figure.

    Can you be sure that the start-up income will be stable no you cannot. So can you be sure they will have the money at the end of the year to pay for the cloud subscription. No you cannot.

    zentyal can manage full blown windows machines. If you are using full machines. 500 dollar boxes is more than enough.

    ch 5 in office thins have and advantage as well. They don’t walk out the office never to be seen again. Startup laptop sound good. Laptops are only safe to bring in once you know you can trust the staff. Or you might never see them again.

    A start-up having its laptops stolen or lost could break the start-up due to lack of funds to replace them.

    ch remember the servers I picked are designed to go through solo to 30 to 50 users without any issue.

    500 dollar servers can safely go 25 users. Not quite the level of responsiveness I like on thins. Same I could drop 16 port 1G network out and used a 48 port 100 Mbs. But again this is because I like my thin clients to truly respond almost instantly.

    So some of my size is personal prefence.

    Remember you desktop do cost more than my thins. Because my 200(thin, headset)+200(screen, keyboard mouse) includes doing the wiring. 75 dollars worth of cable per thin. That gives a bit of room for some wall sockets.

    ch
    –Outsourcing the server side to the cloud means you don’t have to worry about the servers. I’m sure that even allowing for marketing-speak, “professional-grade cloud storage” will include things like backups, UPS and redundancy.–

    You miss something you still have to UPS the modem. The laptops contain a battery so basically have there own UPS.

    In my case my thins can run on the UPS used for the servers. Because really thins don’t take that much. Most power hungry thing in my setup is the hard-drives in the servers.

    Having everything in the cloud is find if you can connect to it. A good quality UPS will reduce modem/router failure rate. ch if you don’t go a UPS you go a spare modem/router. In your setup do you think the business will be able to wait while someone goes and gets a Modem/router.

    In my setup either server fails and it keeps on going. As long as I don’t lose the switch right?

    Even if I do lose the switch I can still connect up 2 clients by the modem. The switch in modem is backup plan. The screens from 2 thinclients could be connected to the server in pinch as well. I also could have used the extra 500 to use the two servers as seats.

    ch mine is a high grade solution. Your is in a lot of way second rate. You have missed what is required. UPS and doubling up modem/router is kinda required to give the same dependency.

    Redundancy requirement does not magically disappear because you go cloud ch. Different things need Redundancy. Modem/router with cloud requires Redundancy and UPS. Same with backups. What if one month you cannot pay your all your on-line bills.

    My solution what you have paid at the start is it. Libreoffice might not be the best solution ch but it keeps on working.

    ch really I would not be sleeping well with everything depending on a fritz box that could be harmed by power surge or phone power spike(lightning) with no backup plan.

    Once I go across 5 users with servers I should consider having a backup switch on shelf.

    ch
    –The five employees of a company are more likely to use quite different sites since they probably do different things. IMHO, setting up a dedicated server just for internet caching in such a modest setting would be a waste.–

    Really central management 5 employees are normally your core staff. For answering calls from customers planning jobs and so on.

    I did not say dedicated. NAS and Caching normally one. The fact that the employees will be going different directions all the time is why having a decent NAS is important. Uploading large files to the Internet take for ever. Being able to drop into the office and dump the file into a folder on a local NAS box saves a lot of resources.

    This is also where cloud fails. Sending large files up and down is painful.

    –Where I live, DSL speeds of 50 Mbit/s down- and 1 Mbit/s–

    Really that does not compare to 100Mbit/s cabling to a local NAS for getting a file off a laptop. 1G networking its going to take bugger all time to get the files around compare to that. Waiting for files to be copied between staff because you are using cloud is a real common waste of resources.

    Really I am not a fan of wifi. I have had too many issues because of it. From modems crashing because someone is trying to break in. To finding you don’t have Internet traffic because someone has cracked the wifi and is downloading like mad.

    I personally prefer for business to use modem/routers without wifi and to use wifi access points. Reason you can turn the wifi access points off if you suspect problem.

    ch this is a case you are in business you have to allow for attempted sabotage. What you get away with in home should not really be done in business. Wifi and Modem router in one you should not really find in business.

    Wifi in laptops is so much of a problem.

    ch you just able to get inside but the problem is you solution is missing key parts to be able to work in the real world effectively. A NAS of some form is not avoidable.

  4. Clarence Moon says:

    I can’t imagine any business requiring everyone to do video.

    The whole idea of presentation graphics is to watch them, Mr. Pogson. Certainly the creation thereof is either done by some fairly talented folk or via some automated process. But everyone is expected to ba able to view the results and interact with them in real time using their notebooks or tablets, even their phones.

  5. Clarence Moon wrote, “Complex, at-a-glance sorts of business graphics are all the rage and have been for years now. “

    Graphics != video however. Business types are often not very geeky and don’t make their own videos. They may well have someone on the payroll to work with video but I can’t imagine any business requiring everyone to do video. Some thin clients have the bandwidth to do decent video but the bottleneck would be at the server most likely. That’s why I discourage video. In schools, the proportion of users doing video at any instant has been small. A lab or classroom can easily use a projector giving the teacher control. The most “business-like” operations in schools are the administration/office set and I have never seen any of them do video as a part of work. Play is another matter…

  6. Clarence Moon says:

    assuming video was not big with business applications

    You are mired in the past, Mr. Pogson. Complex, at-a-glance sorts of business graphics are all the rage and have been for years now. Commercial use of the iPad is predicated on its use for displaying these sorts of presentation graphics. Information on this is everywhere. Here is just a sample to get you started.

  7. ch says:

    Some of the reasons for my solution:
    – Using PCs with locally-installed MSO gives you more flexibility: You can use Laptops and thus work away from the network, e.g. at a customer’s place. One of the reasons notebooks are popular in business.

    – Outsourcing the server side to the cloud means you don’t have to worry about the servers. I’m sure that even allowing for marketing-speak, “professional-grade cloud storage” will include things like backups, UPS and redundancy.

    – My solution needs much less IT knowledge, so the company might not even have to hire a professional (although it probably wouldn’t hurt). Set up the FritzBox according to the manual (it comes with a programm for your PC to make things even easier), set up five accounts on MSO365, download and install MSO, and off you go. I have set up Asterisk once, and while it is definitively powerful it is surely not for the novice.

    – Oh, and BTW: MSO is still much better than LO, especially for businesses.

    Please note, too, that the Fritzbox includes the DSL modem, LAN switch, Wifi, DECT base, ISDN, router and firewall. You might replace the latter two with your server (although I prefer an appliance for that), but you would still need some or all of the other stuff.

    In short: In my scenario, the hardware costs about as much as your thin clients, and MSO365 costs about as much as the servers Mr O recommended. (Because of the importance of IT you pointed out, I wouldn’t sleep that well if there was only one $500-PC substituting for a server that everything relies upon.)

    I will give you that your solution would give more flexibility to those who want to **** around with their servers – but that’s not that common in small businesses, I think.

  8. ch wrote, “My recommendation:
    – AVM FRITZ!Box 7390: €209
    Takes care of all things telephone and network (including broadband internet access)
    – 5* PC: e.g. Lenovo ThinkCentre M71e SFJB5GE @ €324
    – 5* Display: e.g. BenQ GL2250M @ €120”

    That’s pretty good with cloud but you need to compare tomatoes with tomatoes. I would use a $100 thin client for business use, assuming video was not big with business applications, and a GNU/Linux terminal server costing $500 ( a little extra RAM and better storage). That’s a neutral change in cost but a huge increase in performance. Performance is what users care about and you can get it much more cheaply using GNU/Linux on terminal server and clients. Put your network and telephone stuff on the terminal server too, saving your €209. That savings is probably trivial yet the performance increase would be dramatic. I know. I have done such tradeoffs in schools many times. For five people one can do a lot with a LAMP stack on the terminal server with zero network lag, just the screen refresh time. Putting a good RAID on the terminal server would be a good use for the €209. Then you could have more heads seeking independently, perhaps one for each user and still with huge caching paying dividends.

    IMHO this technology works better for non-video IT from 1 user to thousands and costs less per person the more people you add to it. The break-even point is probably around two or three seats. It’s a no-brainer for a school or small or medium business with scarce IT resources. A large business that does not use such technology wherever it fits is insane.

  9. oiaohm wrote, “Final thing the idea that you don’t need backups of what is in the cloud is foolish. What if you get a disgruntle staff member who deletes critical documents.”

    One of the services cloud providers should sell is proper backups with versioning/dates so that deleted documents could be brought back by administrators. It is a valuable service and the cloud provider can do it more cheaply and independently of local personalities. That is really important because the disgruntled employee could be in charge of local backups… Disgruntled IT people can do a lot of damage for their size and a contractual obligation of cloud providers to keep readonly copies of stuff for x years could be priceless in times of disaster. The cost of IT is only a tiny fraction of the cash flow of many businesses yet a disaster in IT could shut down an operation without proper backup. Insurance that repairs the damage is worth a lot more than a bit of cash.

  10. ch says:

    Obviously, ch has never used the Internet where bandwidth is often lower than 1 gigabit/s.

    Mr Pogson, my comment had a context that you obviously missed: I was specifically addressing Mr O’s “challenge” to outfit a company with five employees on a budget.
    – Where I live, DSL speeds of 50 Mbit/s down- and 1 Mbit/s upstream are quite common.
    – Your students would probably use the same sites quite a lot, and there would be more than five of them. The five employees of a company are more likely to use quite different sites since they probably do different things. IMHO, setting up a dedicated server just for internet caching in such a modest setting would be a waste. (And in my example the other uses for a server are already catered for to the extent that Mr O mentioned them.)

    BTW, Windows Vista and above preload your favorite applications after start-up, if they are idle, which seems a perfectly good use of otherwise empty memory for me – and typically more useful than preloading webpages (which usually are much smaller than applications).

    Finally:
    a caching proxy server is very useful [for] reducing bandwidth for frequently changed content.

    I assume you mistyped, since that is the one thing a proxy simply can’t do.

  11. ch wrote, “A proxy server for 5 users?”

    Obviously, ch has never used the Internet where bandwidth is often lower than 1 gigabit/s. In schools, I always added DansGuardian and Squid so that the starting pages of the kids’ frequented sites loaded fast the first time and every time. When kids install a PC and its OS in the lab there is nothing in the browser cache but the proxy server will be full. Granted a lot of interactive pages will be customized to the individual user but CSS, logos, HTML, a lot of graphics etc. will be in the proxy cache. You would be surprised how many gigabytes of bandwidth a proxy server can save. In the North, schools have the same bandwidth or less that a single home may have in the South yet the schools may have superior performance using this technique. At Easterville, visitors were aghast that we could run 153 seats on the default Internet connection when other schools were complaining of performance with just a single computer lab hogging all the bandwidth. Even for 1 user on the system it is worthwhile for new PCs, newly installed apps, or local cache flushes. For five it is a no-brainer. I would even use it for accessing local servers where it will lighten/spread the load on storage. If a server’s read heads are idle because the cache caught something, a server has better response to some user’s other requests. Users care about tiny delays. It’s better to eliminate them. It is far more efficient to choke the caching PC with RAM than to have it scattered all over the building idle.

    I see the same behaviour by using a GNU/Linux terminal server as well. While individual XP machines seek all over the platters booting or loading an app, it just flashes on the screen with the GNU/Linux terminal server because it’s all cached in files. I even preload caches for users by wgetting certainly frequently loaded/changed pages like local weather, news, sports. It’s simple to check the proxy to see what people are loading most often and give it extra care.

    Even in a home, a caching proxy server is very useful as a point of malware-scanning and reducing bandwidth for frequently changed content. With GNU/Linux it costs nothing more but makes the whole system snappier.

  12. ch says:

    Mr O, just some points.

    I asked if € prices would be OK, meaning if you could live with a €5,000 budget. (Computer prices and wages are a bit higher here in Germany.)

    The towers – not Laptops – and displays I picked were just the first to come to mind, of course I could pick something cheaper. It’s not like office PCs need to be speed demons 😉 Oh, and the towers of course include keyboard and mouse. A laptop could be had for ~€300 / $340, so five laptops + printer would be around ~$2,500.

    No, the FritzBox wasn’t intended to serve as a file server – that’s what the cloud solution would be for, including backup. And a UPS? If the lights go out (exceedingly rare here) your thin clients would be dead as well. BTW, 1GB LAN for thin clients running office stuff seems a bit excessive.

    The FritzBox does ISDN as well as DSL, so you could have 2 external calls over ISDN without even using DSL – and at up to 1 Mbit/s upload (50 Mbit/s download) DSL lines barely notice VOIP traffic. As for headsets, the FritzBox handles just about anything (DECT, ISDN, analog, VOIP) so you could pick whatever headsets fit the budget or use existing stuff.

    A proxy server for 5 users? Just let the browser cache handle that.

  13. oiaohm says:

    ch AVM FRITZ!Box 7390 + a proper NAS box with decent sata controllers would have been a workable option but also would have put you out the top end of the 5000 dollars.

    5000 dollars is a true bastard figure to work to you might think. In fact this is me being kind.

    If I was being really nasty I would have done bother servers as 500 dollars that is doable. But I was doing serous size ram and storage in the servers. I am talking duel 2 TB hard drives per box and 16 gb+ of ram ECC in the 1000 dollar servers. Serous sized puppies. At times 32 GB ram plus. Ram price effects things slightly.

    So at least 1.5 TB of storage for operations.

    If I drop back to 500 GB or lower read speed of drive storage for operations. Most of the 1000 dollars is in fact hard-drive. 2TB high performance drives are not cheep. Remove those and fit lower performing ones and the boxes are less than 500 dollars each. These will still perform faster than cloud.

    So if was penny pinching I would have come in under 3500 dollars. Cloud is really not even close if I only have to match the performance of it.

    So I have really given you guys 1500 dollars to play with. Where I have overspent so the system can be quickly expanded and performs the best possible.

    That you have 1500 dollars to play with even with minor errors you should be able to come up with a workable solution.

    30 to 50 users was a clue the servers I am using are not small.

    Picking huge servers was an attempt to give you guys a sporting chance.

  14. oiaohm says:

    ch Head sets are also in the 200 dollar thin client set-ups. Yes I have taken the price from call centre set-up. So everything is there to process the calls.

  15. oiaohm says:

    ch there is a reason why I did not go cloud. Network bandwidth is limited. A local mail server with outlook is many times more effective and less disruptive to voip services.

    Office 365 Small Business funny enough does not work as well as people think.

    $2664 USD or 2551 AUD is 2,042 Euro So that is half the budget.

    The monitors you did work out a 149 AUD. I was working on 200 dollars keyboard and mouse with monitor. What is high.

    I will be kind and add on the lowest. Ie $2551 AUD to your software cost. $2249,85 + $2551 = $4800.85

    Under 200 dollars to get printer cables and anything else you need. ch I don’t see you making any profit from that. The AVM FRITZ!Box is also missing a UPS. If you lose your Internet connection you are basically screwed in your setup. So you better be able to keep that modem up.

    USD 100 dollars more 1 50 dollar printer and 50 dollars to try to patch up what is missing.

    Remember I still have 500 dollars in my pocket I have not spent after I have got 2 UPS units 1 Printer(what I put 100 dollars down for what its not going cost). 100 dollar network switch for 8 or 5 that is high its a 16 port 1Gbs of course.

    ch I could have gone lower but I have not cheep option. The servers are able to handle that fully filled with users. So expand 5 out 14 users.

    400 dollars a seat is not getting cheap thins.

    The solution you put up maxed out for the hardware I am deploying is $6299.58 in MS software cost.

    $5600 thin price/laptop price. That laptop price you got is basically the thin price until you add on am monitor. Basically your you are more expensive by the price of the screen going laptop.

    2000+5600 sees me with 14 users up and going either on thins or laptops. Most likely with money left over from the thins. It is possible to get 100 dollar thin clients boxes guess where my cabling cost for the thin clients are. Cabling cost is in the 200 dollar thin client cost. You did not add any cabling cost to the laptops.

    At 14 $5600 for you laptops + $6299.58.

    Of course since my users are sitting in 1G network to servers there speed and responsive is way ahead of your solution.

    1000 dollar servers are including the cost between them of the adsl modem. Printer is connected into the 4 port adsl modem in thin if all 14 users are required.

    By the way AVM FRITZ!Box is a joke for a business. Home yes business no way in hell. USB storage is not fast enough those are only USB 2 not USB 3 so does not have the transfer really to be servicing many users quickly. Also you don’t add 100 dollars for even a drive for the FRTIZ box most likely because you know its foolish.

    1000 dollar server set-up are to be able to run a full asterisk or freepbx that can do press 1 press 2…. and so on that is useful. Also has the performance to back it up.

    AVM FRITZ!Box might be a adsl modem I choose so you can pick up the physical phone line and route to voip server. File handling don’t even think about it just does not have the balls.

    No proxy server to reduce Internet traffic is in the FRITZ box again something you want when going voip.

    ch basically you have created a design that going to fail in nasty ways. Voip does mean you do serous-ally consider Internet traffic reduction methods.

    Cloud and Voip in fact don’t mix that well. ADSL connections are only so wide. Think if you want to hold a few people on hold. So in business hours you could kiss your Internet access good bye because the voip calls from your customers are consuming every bit of bandwidth you have. This is why the idea of a cloud server solutions don’t really work when mixed with voip.

    Final thing the idea that you don’t need backups of what is in the cloud is foolish. What if you get a disgruntle staff member who deletes critical documents.

    Reality if you want to go cloud and voip its normally go 2 adsl modems and 2 phone lines. Doing that you were out of budget. Reason is so you have Internet bandwidth to look stuff up on the cloud and handle the call.

  16. ch says:

    Clarence Moon here is a straight up challenge.

    You have a budget of either 5000 AUD or 5000 USD.

    You have to seat 5 staff members with an Office suite, CRM, Groupware, and voip phone system.

    Since I live in Germany, are € prices acceptable?

    My recommendation:
    – AVM FRITZ!Box 7390: €209
    Takes care of all things telephone and network (including broadband internet access)
    – 5* PC: e.g. Lenovo ThinkCentre M71e SFJB5GE @ €324
    – 5* Display: e.g. BenQ GL2250M @ €120
    ——————————–
    That’s €2,429 for the hardware part, taxes included. Since companies in Germany get the VAT straight back, that’s €2,042 w/o taxes.

    As for software and server, what about using the cloud? If that’s acceptable for the company, they might go with Office 365 Small Business Premium:

    In addition to Office 365 Small Business, the new Office 365 Small Business Premium is designed for organizations with 1-10 employees, and each user gets the following benefits:
    •All the Office applications: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access, and Publisher plus Lync.
    •Ability to use Office on up to 5 PCs or Macs for a single user. Users also have flexibility to change their 5 devices at any time, and full featured Office applications are available for temporary use on any PC.
    •A 25 GB Outlook mailbox, shared calendar, contact manager, scheduling and task-list tools, and 10 GB professional-grade cloud storage for the organization plus 500 MB per user.
    •Ability to host online meetings with audio and video using one-click screen sharing and HD video conferencing (HD video camera required)
    •Set up, build, and maintain a public-facing website with no additional hosting fees.

    Essentially, every user gets to use MSO 2013 either online or on a local machine, the “Outlook mailbox” amounts to a full Exchange server, you get online data storage so you don’t need a local server or backups, and a website is thrown in. Price? $149.99/user/year, so for 5 employees and three years that’s $2249,85. That should leave room for some printers, cables and telephones.

    http://blogs.office.com/b/office-news/archive/2012/09/17/the-new-office-365-subscriptions-for-consumers-and-small-businesses.aspx

  17. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon here is a straight up challenge.

    You have a budget of either 5000 AUD or 5000 USD.

    You have to seat 5 staff members with an Office suite, CRM, Groupware, and voip phone system.

    I can do this with FOSS.

    2 x 1000 dollar servers. 2000 dollars
    5 x 200 dollar keyboard and screen combinations. 1000 dollars.
    5 x 200 dollar thin clients 1000 dollars.
    That leaves me 1000 dollars to play with for backup media, UPS, Switchs, printer and paying me. 500 dollars in my pocket.

    The reality is the MS Office subscrition alone is going to consume into the 5000 a large block. You still have to pay for the server hardware.

    Next is entry level Microsoft Server does not support fall over mode so you cannot deploy 2 of them.

    If your budget is tight there is no room of Microsoft products. Since the end result is you normally end up paying out as much in MS licensing as what the hardware is worth.

    $6000 is what we do a start up office for with chairs and desks. You might go to $7000 for 1 machine for running windows based accounting software.

    Some of the quotes I have seen are that high in the Microsoft solution that you can afford to place a shipping container building on the site and still be under going FOSS.

    How I see the costs.

    Essentials MS is looking at $500 then you have to buy Exchange there is $708 on top then $410 for the the 5 thin client access then another 599 for lync(MS voip) and crm still not accounted for.

    I have just spend in licensing the amount of money it costs for 2 servers that can handle 30 to 50 users for 1 server. I am only using 5 in this case. I have not paid for sharepoint since all you could afford in this case is sharepoint foundation.

    So basically 2217 in software licenses. Plus the 1000 dollars for the hardware to run it. $3217 gone in 1 server. Cannot deploy pair for High Availability and you are so screwed its not funny since if that server glitches you are down. You have to forget High Availability because you cannot afford it so you are now running gauntlet. $1783 to thin client it. So now 5 x MS Office you want outlook right $219 so 690 left for thin client hardware. Common sense wins you cannot afford outlook. $139 x 5 so you are now down to $1088. Getting your screens and the thin clients out of $1088 only way its possible is second hand with all the bugs that brings. Possibility of profit for us installing non existent. Because we have to with windows install every part individually.

    82 dollars + MS Office licence. Equals basically spending as much as the thin client box itself if go year subscription of MS Office enough to cover replacing the thin client,screen and keyboard every 3 years.

    Can you do better and bring a 5 seat office in for under 5000 dollars. Clarence Moon. This is why I recommend start-ups going FOSS. Quality of Microsoft in the 5000 dollar budget is crap.

    Why the voip what is the point of having 5 staff if you don’t have 5 incoming phone lines to match up to them.

    Going for thick clients you are not going to make it either. $5000 is all you have. Make a workable solution that you can afford to buy everything new Clarence Moon.

    Really the only way I know that something like this would be workable is if Microsoft would allow anyone to buy the action pack. $699 for enough for 10 users.

    I might not make a profit at that. But I would stand a chance of getting it under to close to the 5000 dollars.

    Clarence Moon small business deserves High Availability just as much as big businesses.

    The issue is the quality of the Microsoft solution is not there for people with tight budgets.

  18. oiaohm says:

    iLia this issue has been simple user annoyance.

    Before products zentyal get samba 4. Each provided item would not automatically get single sign on from windows.

    This is the big change. Now after you are logged in on Windows machine with zentyal you can now access the web mail and the rest without being bugged for passwords. Users hate being bugged for passwords. Same is true for the thin clients.

    iLia start ups and companies being recovered have to find that money up front they might not have. Cost spreading is over years is only possible if you have the money in the first place. People Pushing Microsoft forget this. For a start up it can be staff or software.

    iLia
    –Maybe integration with everything else produced by MS?–
    This is correct. But even inside this integration there are a set of keystones. The biggest keystones is the Active Directory(ADS).

    Auto configured outlook happens because its used group policies that are connected to the active directory. Same with restricting clients.

    Exchange uses again a lot of information stored in Active Directory.

    See a trend yet. While Linux was stuck with NT 4 style domain lot of software design for Newer Windows servers would not integrate properly.

    The Linux small business distributions have just got the tech to integrate Windows clients properly. To integrate outlook will not be far behind. So the keystone of exchange is almost busted as well. So if you only need ADS and exchange you best option is going to be these FOSS drop in replacements. No cals no client counting they work basically the same as exchange and ads on windows server just with no cals and no license cost up front. You can pay for support after you are up and running and have the money to pay for it with FOSS.

    The first fail is going to be the server room. Problem is Linux guys are going to attack from thin and zero clients the desktop.

    Microsoft will try to create a new keystone form vendors from the cloud. Mostly because there old keystones are failing. You want to run your cloud stuff locally you will use MS software basically. I don’t know how well that is going to work out.

    Clarence Moon
    –No sane corporation is going to throw their operations in such chaos for saving pennies as you recommend that they do.–
    They are not. But green field deployments inside those businesses are more often than not going FOSS.

    Clarence Moon
    –But you do not understand, so you post again and again your MS Office cost vs free argument, totally unaware of the value inherent in maintaining consistancy of operations formed over decades of use of MS Office functions as they evolved over the same time. Your experience has warped your point of view to where such pittances as you describe being charged for ongoing MS Office version seem to be enough to control buying decisions of these companies.–

    This is the thing to catch up takes developer time than to make it in the first place. Libreoffice does not have to use creativity to catch MS Office.

    Clarence Moon
    –Look at Munich, the often-cited example of throwing off the Microsoft chains by the Linux integration movement. After almost 10 years, they are still far from complete. It is more of a poster child than a flagship.–
    5 years consumed by Office suite Migration. Same Migration today would not take that amount of time. Lot was added in that 5 years process. You also don’t have the problem in Greenfield.

    Result to Munich was 4 million euro savings even with all the conversion time. 80/20 split can bring savings even in the worst case that Munich is. French Police are more the best case. 100 percent migration is not required for saving to business to be achieved.

    The ones that go first always have a harder time. As tech evolves the ones following have a simpler and simpler time.

    Clarence Moon do yourself a favour. List what server products business commonly use. The list what the Linux small business distributions will be providing.

    At this point Microsoft is in trouble. CAL cost on top of installation cost not going to be workable.

    Clarence Moon remember Microsoft has drop their Small business servers with everything basically integrated and setup. Because they could not get it to work. The issue of small business not having enough qualified staff has not change. There is a market for these simple to install and manage servers. Microsoft has basically abandoned that market to Linux. Small businesses in time are normally what becomes the big businesses.

  19. dougman wrote, “Eventually M$ will come out with their own version of Linux and probably model RedHat.”

    Nothing prevents that except M$’s inertia keeping their installed-base locked in. M$ has actually locked itself in along with its current customer-base and the world is moving on with emerging markets setting the pace in IT little by little. Within five years, China will be completely independent in IT. When that happens, much of the emerging markets will have an obvious choice and I would be the Chinese will work harder than M$… That probably makes it inevitable that M$ release their own distro within five years. They could probably do it within a year if Ballmer said “Go!”. Instead M$ will come to hard times, sack Ballmer, and become just another of many players in IT within a few years.

  20. Clarence Moon wrote of my career, “Not enough by far when you consider your inexperience with company office management and automation, Mr. Pogson.”

    Education is big business but the size of a business is of no import in these discussions. All kinds of organizations use GNU/Linux. My experience in school was that only a few documents had any issues with compatibility and they could be quickly retypes as they were forms to be printed. The whole time I was in education I saw only one “essential” M$-only app and it was written in Java and used MySQL! It was filled with embedded “C:\” strings. I was easily able to migrate the database to work with GNU/Linux. No alteration of the database was required. All the rest was browsing and word-processing and a little multi-media stuff. GNU/Linux beats the pants off M$ in education. No EULA means no restrictions/limitations on what schools can do with their PCs.

    The school at Easterville, for instance, had 500 students, 24 teachers, a building costing $28million and CAT-6 cabling. That’s not a small business and it was all in one building. I have worked in school divisions with dozens of similar schools. None of them needed that other OS to do the essential tasks of education very well indeed. Education in some regions is the least locked-in organization you will find because there are very few applications beyond an office suite and multi-media stuff. There is an abundance of that for schools.

  21. JR says:

    @ Clarence Moon

    “If you understood what they did with this software, you would understand why people pay and will continue to pay.”

    An explanation would be nice.

    “totally unaware of the value inherent in maintaining consistency of operations formed over decades of use of MS Office functions as they evolved over the same time.”

    With different file formats always incompatible with
    the next version tell me about consistency

  22. I thought five careers and three continents and six decades would be enough…

    Not enough by far when you consider your inexperience with company office management and automation, Mr. Pogson. That is the business segment that is happy to pay Microsoft’s fees year after year, version after version. If you understood what they did with this software, you would understand why people pay and will continue to pay.

    But you do not understand, so you post again and again your MS Office cost vs free argument, totally unaware of the value inherent in maintaining consistancy of operations formed over decades of use of MS Office functions as they evolved over the same time. Your experience has warped your point of view to where such pittances as you describe being charged for ongoing MS Office version seem to be enough to control buying decisions of these companies.

    No sane corporation is going to throw their operations in such chaos for saving pennies as you recommend that they do. Fully burdened employee costs are very high and the amount of time needed to become agile in the use of a new set of procedures and sorting through the inevitable bugs is very much more costly than any possible savings. Look at Munich, the often-cited example of throwing off the Microsoft chains by the Linux integration movement. After almost 10 years, they are still far from complete. It is more of a poster child than a flagship.

  23. dougman says:

    Re: Another way to look at this situation is that M$ held much of the world back for 6 years. That was their intention, I am sure.

    That’s an excellent point. M$ wanted to satiate the market further with Office and to make sure that DOCX XLSX PPTX files would not be compatible as long as possible.

    Now, one can work with DOCX or ODT with Libreoffice without a problem.

    Re: The pace at which people and organizations are coming to the realization that they don’t need Microsoft is accelerating.

    Another excellent point. Eventually M$ will come out with their own version of Linux and probably model RedHat.

    Point to Clarence the Clown: Anytime I send out documents and someone cannot open then, I either send out as PDF or point them to download Libreoffice.

    Another point, with the world economy that we are in, Linux popularity will ensue as people cannot stomach the costs for software, especially if your a entrepreneurial startup. Instagram is one success story that used Ubuntu and made a killing.

    http://www.internetnews.com/blog/skerner/instagrams-billion-sale-powered-by-ubuntu-linux.html

  24. kozmcrae says:

    iLia wrote:

    “Or maybe users don’t want to see the software they depend on becomes abandoned by its developers, like chandler, you know there are bugs in software, and these bugs needs fixing, who will fix them?”

    You mean abandoned like when Sun was sold to Oracle? Oh wait, it wasn’t abandoned, Oracle just sat on Open Office for about a year before they decided to do anything with it. That’s why Libre Office was born. So what was abandoned here? Nothing. In fact, something was born and is thriving.

    Your lame attempt to introduce uncertainty about Libre Office has failed iLia. Libre Office is a vibrant project second only to Linux. You are spitting into the wind trying to badmouth it. The pace at which people and organizations are coming to the realization that they don’t need Microsoft is accelerating. Get used to it.

  25. iLia says:

    I wonder why all these business people, who can run a business with 5 employees didn’t figured out that they do not need MS stuff. They are all stupid? They cannot read? They never tried some FLOSS?

    MS is not the only company in this market, IBM, Oracle and SAP. So people who don’t like MS stuff have some choice. Microsoft is not a monopolist even here.

    Maybe there is some real reason why MS products are so popular? Maybe quality? Maybe integration with everything else produced by MS? Maybe all kind of educational stuff, like good documentation, books, certification programs for personal, translated in many, many languages? Or maybe it is a good customer support?

    Or maybe users don’t want to see the software they depend on becomes abandoned by its developers, like chandler, you know there are bugs in software, and these bugs needs fixing, who will fix them? You, mr.Pogson, I don’t think so.

    So a SMB with 5 users, has to fork out $1000, just so they can read email, create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and take notes.

    What kind of scam is M$ operating??

    If every of these 5 users gets $1’500 a month, then the total $7’500 a month $90’000 a year. You don’t need to buy new MS licenses every month, many buy them once in 3-4 years, so these licenses will cost you $300 a year.

    Please compare $90’000 and $300 (you can use division here to get really terrific results)

  26. Clarence Moon wrote, “Your experience is very limited, Mr. Pogson”.

    (sarcasm)I know. I could have done more but I thought five careers and three continents and six decades would be enough…(/sarcasm)

  27. JR wrote, “arrogant and condescending”.

    You are too polite. There are several trolls who haunt this place with similar attitudes. It does get tedious.

  28. oiaohm wrote, “tell me what a business will need a Windows server for.”

    Even Hotmail uses GNU/Linux, I’m told. Today, no business needs that other OS anywhere. Many businesses are putting all new systems on GNU/Linux and migrating old ones to web applications that can run on GNU/Linux. In schools where I worked the only reason anyone had that other OS on a server was to manage M$’s client OS which needed a server even for a few dozen clients. With GNU/Linux, the IT guy could use his PC to administer any number of GNU/Linux clients. Of course, GNU/Linux clients are useful too but one can manage without a server until the resources of a single PC are exceeded. A single PC running that other OS has its hands full with just a single user…

  29. JR says:

    @ Clarence Moon

    Your Post No: 2.

    Have you any idea how arrogant and condescending you sound.

    Get over yourself and contribute some constructive
    posts.

    On the other hand I may be out of line here not knowing how far you and dougman go back but you have to take it at face value.
    And that is exactly how it looks

  30. Most popular today…

    Your experience is very limited, Mr. Pogson. That gives you a wrong view of the world.

    I will be recommending FOSS solutions at least

    And no one will ever care, Mr. O. Quit fantasizing!

    To be properly competitive MS will have to give up Client Access Licenses

    Have you forgotten so soon, Mr. O? That all was laid to rest some months ago.

  31. oiaohm says:

    Clarence Moon lets take a serous point here.

    http://trac.zentyal.org/wiki/Document/Announcement/3.0

    This is a mostly preconfigured solution of Linux. Everything you listed FOSS replacements are included bar sharepoint. Alfresco can be added to that giving share-point as well.

    There will be more of these drop and go solutions released over this year and the start of next Clarence Moon.

    Thin clients included by the way. Reality MS stops the Small business server and the Linux guys are releasing their own small business servers.

    Reality by end of year most of this will be coming into alignment.

    3.7 Libreoffice should have cmis integration in perfectly by then.

    There will be other preconfigured Linux solutions. Again most will provide thin-client support for free to how many the server can handle. Most will include voip based phone system for free. Internal instant messaging also include for free. Most will include a groupware to replace exchange. All should include ADS. Some will include CRM solutions out box.

    See a problem yet. Not in cloud Microsoft is basically nuked. You will get way more for less in the linux server solutions.

    Clarence Moon really tell me what a business will need a Windows server for. Start-ups I will be recommending FOSS solutions at least. Lower start-up cost for huge amount of features.

    By by market Microsoft. To be properly competitive MS will have to give up Client Access Licenses.

  32. dougman wrote, “Libreoffice uses the agreed ISO standard (ISO/IEC 26300:2006), took M$ 6 years to finally catch up!”

    Another way to look at this situation is that M$ held much of the world back for 6 years. That was their intention, I am sure, to maintain monopoly as long as possible. They cannot any longer. I think after 2011/2012 it’s all downhill for their monopoly thanks to */Linux, FLOSS, thin clients, small cheap computers and web applications.

  33. Clarence Moon wrote, “A one man company does not need Exchange, I agree. A one man company doesn’t need SharePoint, I agree. A one man company doesn’t even need Outlook. “

    Neither does an organization of any size. They may need such functions which are available by many means. Most popular today are web applications that can run on any OS, even GNU/Linux, for clients and servers.

  34. I can do all that…

    Sure you can, dougster, sure you can! If you ever had to do that, of course. You are a one man show at a low level of engagement in business and obviously do not see the big picture. A one man company does not need Exchange, I agree. A one man company doesn’t need SharePoint, I agree. A one man company doesn’t even need Outlook. Most likely you don’t need a wordprocess, spreadsheet, or data base program at all. Given the breadth of your endeavors listed on your website here, I would imagine that you could conduct all of your business without a computer at all, keeping your records on scratch paper.

    But if you have been conducting a large business for 20 years using MS Office and the Windows environment to manage it or if you are going to want to interact B2B with one that has, you will appreciate the minimal cost of doing so.

    But you have to be in business to appreciate that. So go ahead and use LibreOffice. It can’t hurt.

  35. dougman says:

    So a SMB with 5 users, has to fork out $1000, just so they can read email, create documents, spreadsheets, presentations and take notes.

    What kind of scam is M$ operating??

    I can do all that, PLUS create databases, draw diagrams and work complex math formulas to include into any of the above items.

    Also to add, Libreoffice uses the agreed ISO standard (ISO/IEC 26300:2006), took M$ 6 years to finally catch up!

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