OpenOffice VS ClosedOffice Suite

The idea

Many people are using, in their own company, proprietary Office suite, without knowing that some free OpenSource alternatives exist, that are probably fitting 80% of their needs, and likely more backward compatible than the one they are using.

Some examples:

  • Microsoft Office: runs on Windows and Mac OS X. Not on Linux, not on BSD, not on OpenSolaris. With Microsoft Office, I can (or I should normally be able to) read and write to MS Office  formats. And that's it. I don't care about other people that do not have MS Office ...
  • Apple ïWork: runs on MacOS X. Not on MS Windows, not on Linux, not on BSD neither OpenSolaris.  With iWok, I can read and write to iWok format (thanks), and even share files with MS Office people, provided I'm exporting my documents to MS Office format (which is not lossless). So, with iWork, I care a little bit more about others, if they have a Mac or a PC running MS Office.

A few thought you should ask yourself:

  • What happens if I upgrade my Office suite version. Am I sure to be able at 100% to read all my previous documents, that have been created with a previous version ?
  • If I don't upgrade my Office suite this year, am I sure to still be able to exchange all my actual documents with the people that have upgraded ?
  • What happens if I decide (or have) to change the OS ? let say I decide to move from Windows XP to Ubuntu, or from Vista to Mac OS X. Will I be able to read all my attached documents in my archived e-mails ?
  • All the documents I'm creating today, can I be ensured that I'll be able to read them in 5 years ?
  • Is it normal to have one document format per Office suite version ?
  • I'm generating documents for my company. Which format to use to be sure that the data (owned by my company) can still be accessed in 18 months ?
  • I'm part of a community based project, and I have to write documentation. Which format ensure me that all the community members will be able to view/modify my documents ?
  • I ordered some marketing contents from a design company, and I want to keep the source of my documents. Why should I need to buy a Mac to be able to read the documents ?
  • I ordered a CRM suite software. Why should I need to have a MS Office suite to read the provided documentation on the media ?

A few things not well know:

Well, I'm just listing a few of the well knowns OpenOffice features, that are not really known by everybody :)

  • OpenOffice if free
  • It's perfect for home use. 
  • You can read and write (import/export) MS documents.
  • The document format is Open, which means you can write your own code to read/write your documents if needed.
  • There is one single full features version (no Home, Standard, Small Business, Professionnal, Ultimate, super Ultra best of the world versions). Just one version that works.
  • OpenOffice runs on many OSes like MS Windows, Linux, MacOs X and Solaris/OpenSolaris.
  • OpenOffice runs on many CPUs architectures (SPARC for Solaris, PowerPC for MacOS, x86 INTEL and AMD64 for Windows/Linux/Solaris/OpenSolaris/MacOSX)
  • OpenOffice is available in many languages
  • Infos and ressources are available in many localisations
  • There are many free and usefull extensions like dictionnaries, import/export filter (import PDF), templates, database connectors, ...
  • You can freely export to PDF
  • OpenOffice is used in organizations that need to be sure to be able to read their documents in more that 15 years, for legal reasons
  • OpenOffice is widely used in organizations that have to support many OS (Windows, Linux, Mac OS)
  • You can leave your favorite OS and still be able to use OpenOffice on another OS

I personnaly use OpenSolaris, and use OpenOffice with a very nice and free entension for OpenOffice, called Sun Presenter Console: It perfectly manage the dual screen when doing presentations, by allowing to have one external display (projector) for the presentation, while having the other display (internal LCD) to control forward/backward slides, check the timing, show the previous/next slides or see your personnal notes ...

So, give OpenOffice a try: it's free, easy to use and do 90% of the job :)

Of course, you are still free to pay for an Office suite if those arguments do not convince you, and if you owne a Mac, you can still have OpenOffice for Mac and share freely your documents with the others.

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