Computerized Investing > October 27, 2012

Apache OpenOffice 3

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By now, most individuals who use a computer recognize the importance of having a good word processor, a way to process spreadsheets and a way to create multimedia presentations. However, contrary to popular opinion, most individuals do not require top-of-the-line programs to do all that and more. For instance, every business student believes Microsoft Excel is a vital tool, but most do not explore the software’s full functionality. For those that don’t delve deep into Microsoft Office products, or for those who have no interest in learning advanced functions, Apache OpenOffice should be sufficient for their needs and will be far cheaper than Microsoft Office. In fact, Apache OpenOffice is completely free to download, use and distribute.

Unlike Microsoft Office, which is a collection of individual programs, OpenOffice is one program with everything from a word processor to database management. There is an OpenOffice equivalent to most Microsoft Office products and OpenOffice is compatible with them and other major office suites.

As with Microsoft Office, Apache OpenOffice takes some getting used to, which may be slightly more difficult when switching to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office. Coming from the Microsoft Office perspective, we found that most of the drawbacks with OpenOffice were minor irritations. For instance, in Excel, the components of a function are separated with a comma, while OpenOffice prefers using a semicolon. Moreover, those who use a 2007 or 2010 version of Excel may find it more difficult to use functions in OpenOffice because Excel presents a drop-down of suggested formulas as you type, which users can select by simply pressing the Tab button, while OpenOffice requires that users type out the whole function including parenthesis. Although such minor kinks are probably not a deal breaker, they do add up and the program does take time to get used to.

Those who believe free products lack quality will undoubtedly find Apache OpenOffice a pleasant surprise, especially if they put in the time to familiarize themselves. However, since Microsoft Office remains the standard office suite, and office suites take time to learn and take full advantage of, many may find Microsoft Office preferable over OpenOffice.

The Apache Software Foundation

System Requirements: Windows OS, Linux 2.6 or higher, Mac OS X (Tiger) or higher, 512 MB RAM, 1024x768 or higher resolution and Java Runtime Environment 1.5.x

Size: 650 MB HDD

Price: Free


Paul Swinton from MO posted over 5 years ago:

I've been using both the MS Office suite and the Sun OpenOffice suite, and like them both (on different machines). I'de like to know how the Sun versions compare with the Apache version.

jim from wa posted over 5 years ago:

Wayne's article, "using-excel-web-queries-to-retrieve-data" tells how to use Excel for these queries.

Just wondering, can Open Office make similar queries?

Robert Weir from MA posted over 5 years ago:

Thanks for the mention of Apache OpenOffice!

I'm a lifetime AAII member, and coincidentally also a volunteer on the Apache OpenOffice project.

I think it is important to note that OpenOffice is not only free, but it is "open source software", published by the Apache Software Foundation, a US-based non-profit corporation. The software we publish is developed by volunteers. We welcome suggestions, bug reports and also more volunteers at

It is worth noting that we also have a large template library of free document templates. Many of the Finance templates could be of interest to AAII members:

Finally, for support questions, we have a community support forum, run by volunteers, here as well:

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