Is free OpenOffice download the best alternative to Microsoft Office?

Is free OpenOffice download the best alternative to Microsoft Office?

Posted 09.14.2009 in Articles by Angela


Microsoft Office has had a corner on the office suite software market for nearly all of its twenty-two year existence. But over the past few years many alternatives to Microsoft Office have attempted to challenge dominance of the Microsoft software. The strongest challenger is Apache OpenOffice, a program which performs many of the same tasks as the Microsoft Office suite, while being free to download. 

OpenOffice is an open source software suite, used for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and more. It can be used for many operating systems including the Mac, Windows, and Linux systems, and can save and edit in the OpenOffice document format as well as open and edit Microsoft Word documents or rich text format documents and files, from Word, Powerpoint, and so on. OpenOffice can also export to pdf. 

OpenOffice comes with the following components: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math. Each of these programs has the following functions, respectively: word processing, spreadsheet and creating graphs, multimedia presentations, graphics, database management, and a component for mathematical equations.

It is open-sourced and has a wide community for support, as well as those who contribute to its development. Its installation is free, it is available in many languages, and the software is generally easy to use, especially for those familiar with other software suites like Microsoft Office. It is updated more frequently because it is open-source; however, there are some drawbacks to this application. One of those is that OpenOffice is slower than Microsoft Word, and compatibility isn’t always a hundred percent perfect. For example, OpenOffice handles rich text format files poorly, and many users have complained that saving documents in .rtf will, once the document is reopened, lead to scrambling, font size changes, and other formatting problems. Saving and opening documents made in OpenOffice in other formats such as the MS Office .doc can sometimes result in scrambled formatting or other errors.

Microsoft Office and OpenOffice do appear to be very similar on a surface level, with the obvious differences being that Microsoft Office needs to be paid for and is a professionally created product, whereas OpenOffice is free. OpenOffice does not have tech support like Microsoft Office does, and OpenOffice users must rely on the OpenOffice community forum. OpenOffice handles images more poorly than Microsoft Office, and it is frequently frustrating trying to insert and format images in an OpenOffice document or file. However, OpenOffice users can generally find a way to work with the many features that OpenOffice does possess to achieve the same results as one would working in Microsoft Office.

AbiWord is a free open source software word processor that can be used on Windows, Linux, Solaris, QNX, Mac OS, and FreeBSD.  It can also open OpenOffice and Microsoft Word documents.  It is designed with the intention of being fully cross-platform. The software has basic and advanced word processing features including lists, tables, headers and footers, styles, etc. It also has a collaboration plugin allowing several users to work on the same document at the same time, and a Presentation view showing presentations made in AbiWord on screen-sized pages.

 Google Docs is a Web-based office suite, which can be used to create documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. The files can be collaborated on and opened by other users and edited at the same time. It is a free service, and supports a variety of common formats including OpenOffice documents, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint, Apple Pages, and others. Mainly it is used for online editing, and as it automatically saves users don’t have to worry as much about the program crashing and losing their work. However, it does miss or make more cumbersome some of the more advanced features of programs like MS Office and OpenOffice. It is mainly used for editing uploaded pre-existing documents, not creating new ones. Google Drive is an extension of Google Docs, a file storage and sync service which allows users to store files online. 

Overall, OpenOffice is the most comprehensive software in comparison to Microsoft Office. OpenOffice is indeed the most similar to MS Office, with a lot of file compatibility and features like those in the Microsoft Office suite. It’s not perfect, but despite its kinks, OpenOffice is a very viable free alternative to Microsoft Office.





Login or create an account to post a comment

Articles Categories