Sunday, June 17, 2007

OpenOffice 2.2.1

Microsoft Office is expensive. Office 2007 isn't even backwards compatible with older versions by default, due to the .docx extension...

So, if you can't fork over the $150 to buy Office, OpenOffice provides an excellent free alternative. It's got the usual productivity programs, such as a word processor (Writer), spreadsheet (Calc), presentation (Impress), database (Database), and desktop publishing (Draw). All of these programs are structured very similarly to their Microsoft counterparts, and although lacking some of the advanced features provided by Office, let's be honest - who uses them anyways?

Bad news is, the formatting sometimes gets messed up between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office documents, but for the most part things tend to be fine if you make sure to save the OpenOffice documents as their Microsoft equivalents (use Save As and make sure the file extension is .doc to make it Word compatible, .xls to make it Excel compatible, .ppt to make it Powerpoint compatible, etc.). Also make sure to use normal fonts; don't expect fancy fonts to be duplicatible.

This one's got potential - OpenOffice is financially backed by Sun Microsystems, who certainly has some interest in reducing Microsoft market share. It's a spinoff of Sun's StarOffice, which is a similar (but not free) office suite. Definitely look for OpenOffice to be a serious contender in the future; it's already a very viable alternative to Office.

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