Home > news, software > OpenOffice.org 3.0 released – and why you might want it

OpenOffice.org 3.0 released – and why you might want it

Think of this post as an OpenOffice.org 3.0 review, in comparison to Microsoft (MS) Office 2007.

OpenOffice.org 3.0 was released on the 13th of October, and as an x.0 release, it warrants some attention.

For those who do not already know, OpenOffice.org is a free, mature, office suite that may be used as a replacement for the extremely expensive Microsoft Office 2007 suite. It is mainly open source and actively developed by Sun Microsystems.

OpenOffice.org consists of replacements for Word (Writer), PowerPoint (Impress), Excel (Calc) and Access (Base).

To begin with, there is a long list of the latest features here. The most notable among them are the MacOS X support, Open Document Format support, and the clinching ability to work with the file format default generated by MS Office 2007.

But as you go through the rest of the features, you note that some are much less important: New icons? A start center? And many of the improvements are such that they should have been taken for granted – there is nothing really innovative there.

MS Office 2007 is clearly superior in terms of functionality. At least on Windows, it can do nearly everything OpenOffice.org can do, and much, much more besides. And that’s only counting the 4 core components of MS Office that OpenOffice.org replaces – nobody forgets Visio, Project, OneNote, InfoPath or Publisher.

Besides, MS struck a killing strike in the office suites arena with the introduction of the Fluent User Interface, aka the “Ribbon” UI. Features, that were once hidden deep in the cascading menus and could come to the surface after a lot of digging by proficient Office users, became so accessible that even newbies could get to them fairly intuitively.

There is no doubt of the superiority of Office 2007 in pure function. Those who claim otherwise are biased, or astrally elsewise.

So with all that in mind, why would you want OpenOffice.org?

And the answer to that lies in one small word: price.

  • Microsoft Office 2007 Standard: $400
  • OpenOffice.org: $0. Free. Nil. Zero.

OpenOffice.org is not bad. It is strongly comparable to Office 2003, and has a slew of features that enhance usability. It is highly extensible, and very compatible with whatever suite others may be using: collaboration is a cinch. It has native PDF export capabilities.

You can do practically all you want with it. The everyday tasks of making basic presentations, letters, reviews, spreadsheet calculations, memos, reports, etc. are about as easy as they were in Office 2003 i.e. not very difficult.

But the point remains: you get all that for free!

Overall, OpenOffice.org is powerful enough for the average user, provided one is willing to go through the learning curve. While it is not as powerful as Microsoft Office 2007, or as easy to use, it costs nothing.

Take out your credit card (or cheque book), and think. For those not willing to dig in, OpenOffice.org 3.0 is a straightforward choice.

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