General Question

YoKoolAid's avatar

Is OpenOffice a good (free) alternative to Microsoft Office?

Asked by YoKoolAid (2424 points ) July 5th, 2012

I got a new computer and I’m not sure if it’s a good idea to try and save some money by using OpenOffice. Has anyone had experience with it?

Also I found this list other alternatives , please advise on any of those options if possible.

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14 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

It is. Can do everything MS Office can do, and can even handle the MS formats.

tom_g's avatar

Why not Google Docs?

downtide's avatar

I use Open Office exclusively, and it’s great. It will even open (and save in) MS Office formats.

@tom_g google docs is more limited in functionality and relies on an internet service as everything is stored on the “cloud”. Open Office is a standalone program with your data on your PC.

wallabies's avatar

Yes – mostly Word, Excel, and PPT equivalents. I like it. I think it is probably your best alternative. It is kind of incompatible with MS in that the layouts or fonts and stuff like that will get garbled if you try to move between the two. The excel equiv might even be more powerful. Give it a try; you can always switch back if you don’t like it.

wundayatta's avatar

I used OpenOffice for a bit, but it eats up Word documents and spits them out in a way that does not usually successfully convert back to Word. So if you are going to be using Word, ever, don’t use OpenOffice. Just stay in Word format.

If you can make the break completely from Word, then I would say OpenOffice is fine. It has trouble with passwords on Word documents, so if you use them, you may have to decrypt them in Word before you convert them. I’m not sure it has the capability of putting passwords on documents.

I’ve found that switching word processing software is always a pain. OpenOffice does things differently, and I’d rather not have to relearn everything, as I have already done several times in my life. I went from WordStar to WordPerfect to Word, and I’d rather not have to go to OpenOffice. Since I can get academic pricing on Office, I don’t really want to switch.

But if you are going to switch and stay switched, I think it is probably a fine piece of software. I doubt if it does everything Word does, but if you don’t don’t need all the bells and whistles, you should be fine. But if you have to do academic or legal word processing, I would be careful to make sure that footnote software and other specialized things work with OpenOffice.

reijinni's avatar

What I know is that OpenOffice used to be good until Oracle got a hold of it, but now it is a bit stagnate. I advise you to Libreofffice instead. It does a few things that OpenOffice hasn’t bothered getting around to do. Besides, it’s replacing Open Office in Linux distros.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes and no.

First, don’t use Open Office – use Libre Office, which was spun off and most of the good developers moved to that one. OpenOffice has some governance issues which Libre Office does not have.

Second, if you are using Libre Office by itself and sharing with other Libre Office users, it works perfectly, no problem.

If you are sharing with people who use Microsoft Office, you will lose formatting, particularly in complex documents (with tables of contents and other structures). Complex Excel spreadsheets and formulas (and macros) do not cross over well. And PowerPoint will get badly damaged if you try and move them to Libre Office Presentation.

So the real answer depends on how you do things. If it is a closed environemnt, then LibreOffice is fine. If you have to transfer a lot of complex documents, it is not smooth and effortless.

I won’t use GoogleDocs because frankly, it is not mature enough for my needs, feature-wise.

augustlan's avatar

I use OpenOffice, and it’s okay. Not the greatest, but it gets the job done.

jaytkay's avatar

As @reijinni wrote, Libreofffice is the better, updated option.

It’s a great alternative to Microsoft Office.

Try it first, if you really need MS Office you will learn that soon. Remember when you want to share files with Office users, you need to “Save As” Excel or Word or PowerPoint.

And @tom_g‘s suggestion is good, too, Google Docs might be all you need. No installation, no cost.

Thammuz's avatar

I suggest Libreoffice.

It0s by the same people who begun the Openoffice project and then jumped ship when Sun bougth it up. It’s essentially the actually good version.

blueiiznh's avatar

It’s an ok alternative.
You get what you pay for.

Nullo's avatar

If you’re used to a MS Word environment, especially 2007 and onward, you will find the controls a bit confusing. But you shouldn’t have too much trouble, and you can always ask a long-time user how to do something that you can’t figure out yourself.

jerv's avatar

It used to be, but the brains behind it forked off and made LibreOffice while OpenOffice went corporate.

@blueiiznh Considering that most software is free and you are only paying for the license, I have to agree. Thing is, I don’t work with licenses; I work with software.

Ron_C's avatar

Since I use both, I find that I am preferring Open Office. Microsoft is getting too flaky with their on-line registration and expensive upgrades. I need a document writer, spreadsheet with a wide range of calculations, and a “power point” type display system. I get them all in Open Office and can see the day when I no longer use Microsoft.

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