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) or higher, 512 MB RAM, 1024x768 or higher resolution and Java Runtime Environment 1.5.x
Size: 650 MB HDD