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Microsoft Office vs OpenOffice.org

Microsoft Office has been providing businesses with it's word processing ans spreadsheeting capabilities almost since Windows first began. Certainly, Word has been around way back to the days of MS-DOS (an earlier, simpler operating system). With this in mind, MS Office has had long time to mature. It offers very sophisticated manipulation of documents with a high degree of interoperability. We have been using the application for over a decade. There is something about Office, particularly the cost, that is overkill for the average computer user but there are times that having powerful word processing or spreadsheeting capabilities is a godsend.

There have been many alternatives over the years but, recently, an open source choice has reared it's head and has enough grunt to be heard.

OpenOffice.org is the open source alternative to application suites such as MS Office. It provides a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing and database application.

What do you get in OpenOffice.org version 2.2?

The application, WRITER, is OpenOffice.org's equivalent of MS Word: It can be used for anything from writing a quick letter to producing an entire book with illustrations, tables of contents, cross-references, indexes, bibliographies etc. Writer is powerful enough to tackle desktop publishing tasks such as creating multi-column newsletters, brochures etc. Writer is capable of reading and writing MS Word format files.

Despite it's dreary name, CALC is a powerful spreadsheet (like MS Excel) that has all the tools you need to calculate, analyse, summarise, and present your data in numerical reports or graphics. A fully-integrated help system makes entering complex formulas very easy. It has decision-making tools with very easy access. Import external data using the Data Pilot, and sort it, filter it, and produce subtotals and statistical analyses. Use previews to select from many types of 2-D and 3-D charts.

IMPRESS can produce slide style presentations, just like MS Powerpoint, using special effects, animation and drawing tools.

DRAW is great for creating simple diagrams. It can also be used to generate dynamic 3D illustrations and special effects. It takes a little getting used to but the effort is worth it.

BASE enables you to manipulate database data within OpenOffice.org. You can create and modify tables, forms, queries, and reports, either using your own database or Base's own built-in HSQL database engine.

Conclusion: An Opinion
OpenOffice.org offers more than enough power for the average home and small business user. Based on reports of whole companies and government departments taking this into their fold, it appears that there is enough functionality for the big companies too. Although OpenOffice.org offers a lot of compatibility with Microsoft file formats, not all characteristics in those files are imported.

For a company or individual who needs to maintain exact feature for feature compatibilty, there is little alternative. But any one that operates standalone or has the ability to dictate policy and "move over" in one go, then OpenOfice should be considered a serious alternative to the likes of MS Office.

If the deciding factors are price and capability it would be hard to go past OpenOffice.org.

 Use OpenOffice.org

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