OpenOffice is an Office Software for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD and Unix created by Oracle Corporation under the GNU Lesser General Public License.
Open Office Summary
Open Office 3.3 is the latest release of Sun MicroSystem’s productivity suite that competes with Microsoft Word. It offers six applications, such as Writer, Calc, Math, Impress, Base and Draw, and each of these receives considerable overhaul from the previous versions. The program is a 148MB file that is downloadable from openoffice.org, but despite that huge size, the installation barely takes a minute.
For users unimpressed with Word for its appearance and being proprietary, Open Office is a good alternative because it is free and serves the functions equally well provided by its Microsoft counterparts. However, if you have been a Word baby, you will surely find adapting to its interface quite a feat.
Open Office Features
For all your documents, Writer has all of the good stuff you need to create professional papers. The Wizard is a good way to start if you are starting new, since it will guide you step by step through the process of creating diagrams, indexes, memos, and other publishable content. Templates can be created from scratch or downloaded, and there are different styles and formatting options you can use. If you work with different languages, the program can handle that too, and mistakes types can be corrected right away with the AutoCorrect dictionary. Other features similar to Word’s are AutoComplete, text frames and linking, table of contents, HTML exporter, and more, and it can handle various formats, even Microsoft’s .docx.
Compared with Excel 2003, Calc looks very similar except that it does not allow keyboard shortcuts, which can be a problem for Excel experts. Also, there is no support for VBA macros, which makes Calc unable to convert macros-laden Excel files. Despite these, Calc offers many features, including natural language formulas, DataPilot, Intelligent Sum button, Scenario Manager, Calc Solver, and Wizards. Calc also allows collaboration, so other users can input additional data to your file.
Impress is a simple alternative to PowerPoint, and that is literally meaning simple because Impress provides all functions you need to create a decent presentation. On the down side, it does not allow multimedia additions, which is a safe disadvantage, since its Microsoft counterpart cannot also handle the same files. It allows you to use 2D and 3D images, drawings, animations, and special effects, and there are several views available for editing your presentations. Impress also supports multiple monitors, tool bookmarking, and a lot of diagramming and drawing tools. Although it is as good as PowerPoint, Impress cannot handle new versions of the said MS program.
Draw offers the basic functions for creating drawings from scratch, while Base does the same when creating your database files. Both have Wizards to guide you through creating specific files. Base fully integrates with other Open Office tools, so supplying address books in Writer and linked data in Calc is a cinch. Draw can handle most image formats, and one surprising function is its ability to create flash versions of your files.
Open Office User Interface
Overall, the user interface of Open Office applications may not satisfy long-time Microsoft program users, but if you need the basic functions for drawing, calculating, and writing, these programs can serve the purpose well. Much effort is given not to imitate any of Microsoft’s interfaces, so users can expect a big difference looking at both suites. Some users even say that these programs are dull-looking, but it really depends on your visual preference.
Open Office Review
Open Office 3.3 is a good alternative if you are looking for a freeware productivity suite. There is not much to expect in terms of looks, but there is so much to offer in terms performance and functions. However, Microsoft veterans should beware because switching to Open Office may prove painstakingly difficult for a long-time start.