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Double Stamp is an easy-to-understand guide to useful computer and internet technology. It's written to be readable by everyday computer users.

OpenOffice: Save That Ca$h!

Recently, a good friend of mine told me how disappointed he was when budgeting for a new computer. He could afford paying for the computer itself, but was completely overwhelmed when he realized how much he would have to spend on software. A brand new copy of Microsoft's Office 2007 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc...) would have cost him over $300 for the professional version, a program that is NOT included in Windows by default.

So, are you stuck paying a boatload of money for software? Absolutely not.

OpenOffice (OO) is a FREE alternative to Microsoft's office package, and it works very well. It has all the programs that office does, only under different names. For example, the OpenOffice equivalent to Word is called Writer. The Excel equivalent is called Calc. OpenOffice also contains programs for presentations, databases, and charts/drawings. It is even capable of opening/editing/saving documents in Microsoft's proprietary formats. All of the major features of MS Office are available in OpenOffice, and it's completely free (even for commercial use). If a company of 1,000 employees used OO, that would save them over a quarter of a million dollars. Send some of that cash over here!

Ok, Ok. Maybe you are skeptical. How well does OpenOffice really work compared to MS Office? My answer: I, personally, would rather write a document in OO than I would in MS. There are many ways to customize the tools for an individual, and the interface is clean/professional. The annoying glitches that often plague MS documents are gone. Need a PDF of your document? Just click "Export PDF" and you got one. Best of all, OO is free from any proprietary formats, so no one can ever control you or your work. Did I mention it's free? Click here for a list of reviews on OpenOffice.

What you should know about OO

Users should have no problem learning how to use OO if they already know MS Office, because most of the interface is very similar. Some features are placed in other locations, so be patient as you get familiar with OO.

One thing that is still under development in OO is a grammar checker. While this feature is not yet completed, future versions of OO will undoubtedly have it. The spell checker in OO works perfectly.

OpenOffice will do a good job of allowing you to open/edit/save your MS office files, but there may be issues when dealing with documents containing a lot of formatting. For example, if you are using MS Word to create a brochure (why you would use Word for this, I don't know), it may mess up some of the alignment. This is due to the fact that MS Office files are stored in a proprietary format. It's not OpenOffice's fault.

Get OpenOffice

Give it a try. If you don't like it, it was free anyway. I'm sure you will appreciate this product if you give it a fair try. Just click this button:



Rob said...

Good review, of course for me you are preaching to the choir.

Open-source software rocks, you should check out the GIMP next:

Wasatch Girl said...

Completely agree. I used open office on my last PC and was completely satisfied with the computing abilities and the pricetag. =)