Free OpenOffice 2.2. Bye Bye $679 Microsoft Office 2007!
Do You Want This For 7 C-notes, Or Do You Want It Free?
Microsoft has a larger annual GDP than many sizeable countries. They have ruled computing with an iron fist going into its third decade and they show no signs of relaxing that grip around the throat of the worldwide PC user. It was once estimated that the money earned by Microsoft converted into $100 bills would fill the holds of four Cargo 747s.
For longer than some of the readers of this Hub have been alive, Microsoft Office hasn't just been a popular general business suite, it's been the only one. Word, Excel, Outlook, Access and the other major components have become as much an accepted part of daily life to the modern office worker as the sun setting in the west.
There have been many challenges in the past. Corel and others took a leap at the Microsoft Office mountain but soon took their microscopic market share back home to lick their wounds.
Microsoft Office comes in several permutations, the most capable of which retails for almost $700: a higher price than most of the computers it's running on. Businesses paid the usurious price of admission to gain the benefits of the vast capabilities of the software added to the universality. No matter where you email a Word or Excel document, you can be sure that the person on the other side can open it with just one click.
The Open Source camp fielded various business suites, some backed by Sun computers, but most couldn't hold a candle to Microsoft Office. They found a home in the miniscule market of the die hard Linux fanatic who equates Microsoft with Satan and would rather rip out their own heart than install a Microsoft program. The rest of the business world yawned and kept on buying and installing Microsoft Office.
By the end of 2006 something rather amazing occurred. It turned out that the latest versions of Open Office were no longer insipid suites best suited for impoverished Third World wannabes. This Open Office was good! It did pretty well everything that Microsoft Office did, or at least the most popular features that 99% of users access, and it did it at a really interesting price: Free.
In fact, Open Office 2.2 did something that Microsoft Office couldn't do out of the box: Save a file as a .pdf format, which is a very common and popular file exchanging format. All of a sudden, completely out of nowhere there was a serious contender for the business suite crown and it came from the bohemian wasteland of Open Source!
Take 100 Microsoft Office users. Force them at gunpoint to use Open Office for a week. At the end of the week, it's quite likely that only one or two will be complaining. The rest of them will be perfectly happy working away, barely aware that this is indeed not a Microsoft product.
Open Office can create, open, modify and save any .doc, .xls or other major Microsoft file format. You never even have to deal with their proprietary and Microsoft-incompatible formats. You use Open Office with the same files in the same way. The Open Source guys and gals have applied massive amounts of insecticide to earlier versions and squished out all the bugs, so that now it can be said that Open Office 2.2 is actually more stable than Microsoft Office 2007! And it doesn't have that horrific "big blue waste of pixels ribbon for the lobotomized" at the top of every screen!
Why should you not use Open Office? Beats me! Maybe if you're some kind of esoteric power user who relies on some obscure Excel function. As for me, I've been using Microsoft Office since Mac version 1 in 1989, and Word and Excel well before that. I don't have Office on my PC today. I do everything I need to do, bar none, on my Open Office and I'm putting that 7 bills aside for my Mexican vacation this summer.
In fact, the case can be made that today's Open Source software can compete toe to toe with any of Microsoft's most popular applications. I use almost no apps other than Open Source. GIMP has several centuries to catch up to Photoshop, but CS3 is an Adobe product and has nothing to do with Microsoft anyway.
If you're the kind of person who goes into Neiman Marcus, points, and doesn't look at the price, then you'll probably be very happy with Microsoft Office. It's more bright and colorful on the screen and will appeal to your profound shallowness. Anyone else who actually works for their money and needs capable and universal word processing, spreadsheet and the most often used office applications has absolutely no, repeat, no reason to use Microsoft Office. Welcome to Open Office! As the guy with the accent in the ING Bank commercials says: "Save your money!"