Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Has Open Office finally come of Age?

A few months back I got a new laptop but due to a hiccup in the IT department of the organisation I work for there was a delay in getting Microsoft Office installed on the machine. The Laptop was no use to me without some Office Program so I  installed the latest version of Open Office as a stop-gap for the couple of days it would take to sort out the IT issue.

Here I am three months later still using Open Office version 3.2.1 on the Laptop. It just works and it works well enough for me not to be bothered about replacing it. I use a word processor, spreadsheet and a presentation programme on a daily basis and the Open Office equivalents do everything I need them to do and are just as easy to use as the Microsoft versions. In fact I slightly prefer the default style and menu layout of Open Office Writer while I think Power point still scores slightly in usability over Open Office Impress. Overall its a tie.

Most impressive is the compatibility. A few years back I experimented with an early version of Open Office and abandoned it quickly because of format corruption. Now however after months of use I haven't had a problem opening documents nor have any of my colleagues had a problem reading my documents. I save everything in Office 97-2003 format (*.doc, *.xls, *.ppt) even though OO recommends using their default format instead but it has never given me a problem. To be honest even if I was using Office 2010 I would still have to save in these formats because a surprising number of people still can't read the newer *.docx and *.xlx formats.

I still use Microsoft Office on my desktops but I am strongly considering a complete move to Open Office including using their ODF file format. I particularly like the fact that it would remove any ambiguity over licensing on multiple PCs.


Thallian said...

I agree, Open Office is no longer a write-off piece of software. It's on par with Microsoft in many ways, and its way above it on price. (its free)

mbp said...

The most striking thing for me Thallian is that I have been using Microsoft Office on my dektopsand Open Office on my laptop in parallel for several months without really noticing the difference.

Granted I am not really a power user, although I have been known to do some pretty fancy things with spreadsheets.