There’s something warm and fuzzy about the concept of OpenOffice. Maybe it’s because this program was built to replace all of those expensive office suites (yes, Office, that means you). Maybe it’s instead due to the fact that OpenOffice is an ideal tool that users of all kinds can use. Whatever the cause it, OpenOffice has been making a splash lately for good reason.
If you’re new to OpenOffice, here’s what this suite is in a nutshell: OpenOffice is a shared program, or suite, that anyone can use free of charge. The premise behind OpenOffice is to allow people an alternative to higher priced programs such as Microsoft Office or iWorks. So, how does OpenOffice compare? Here’s what you need to know.
OpenOffice plays nicely with most MS documents. Unsurprisingly, it is not possible to run Word documents with OpenOffice. As stated, this is not surprisingly, since Word is notorious for its slew of security issues. Instead of Word and Excel, OpenOffice offers up Writer and Calc.
Word documents that have been combed over and formatted to work with Writer open almost perfectly when using OpenOffice. Excel spreadsheets don’t have any issues opening up inside of OpenOffice. If you’re working with iWorks documents, you may run into some bigger issues, so it’s best not to use OpenOffice if your main goal is to open up iWorks docs.
Writer: the Word Replacement
Since most people use OpenOffice for Writer, it’s important to touch base on what Writer does, and doesn’t, offer. One of the reasons why Writer stands out is for its ability to export PDFs. Writer is also relatively nice to work with, and most people will find it very similar to Word. The one, and this may be major for some people, drawback is that Writer doesn’t offer a grammar checker.
Depending on what line of work you’re in, grammar may, or may not, matter. Still, if you want to present any written words to the outside world without making a million grammar blunders, you may not want use Writer. Can Writer replace Word? Only if you’re ready to use that fine-toothed comb.
The Bottom Line
OpenOffice offers a fine substitute for those who don’t want to pay a lot for a comparable program. Programs like Apple’s iWords and Microsoft’s Office Suite are expensive. Yet, these programs are also popular for a reason. OpenOffice has its fair share of writing and spreadsheet tools, but don’t expect things to go smoothly when trying to open up an iWorks or Word document with OpenOffice.
OpenOffice has come a long way since its inception. Today’s OpenOffice is a smoother beast full of admirable qualities. Yet, this free program still has some room to grow. If you’re desperate for a reason to replace MS Office or Apple iWorks, give OpenOffice a try. If not, cough up the cash to purchase one of the few programs that everyone else on the planet currently uses. You’ll find that life is much easier when the program you use is compatible with all the other programs on the market.