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27 October, 2005
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A Glimpse of OpenOffice 2.0 -- Now Available for Free Public Downloading

. . . our first glimpse at OpenOffice 2 is favorable -- so far, we like it! . . . OpenOffice is free, it does not require registration, and there is no product activation requirement . . . it gives lots more bang for the buck than does Microsoft office. OpenOffice is a better choice than is Microsoft Office.

Mike Angelo -- 27 October 2005 (C) -- Page 1

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Article Index

Introduction

OpenOffice Beats Microsoft Office

Migrating to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office

What's Missing in OpenOffice

OpenOffice Is Best Choice

More About OpenOffice

OpenOffice 2 Helps Migration from MS Windows to Linux

A Note from the OpenOffice.Org People

Resources

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Office on the Linux Desktop

OpenOffice 1.1 -- A Complete Office/Productivity Software Suite for GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, MAC, MS-Windows, Unix, and more

OpenOffice.org has released version 2.0 of its shining-star office suite, OpenOffice. It is available for free downloading and it runs on GNU-Linux, Mac, Unix, and Windows.

In milestone 2, the OpenOffice developers have added a database, called Base, to the word processor, spreadsheet, drawing, and presentation modules. Please see Table 1, below.

We have not had a chance to put OpenOffice 2 through all its paces yet. However, our first glimpse at OpenOffice 2 is favorable -- so far, we like it!

OpenOffice Beats Microsoft Office

OpenOffice Calc now sports support for 65,536 rows. That's double the 32,768 rows support provided in OpenOffice 1.x Calc. And that brings OpenOffice Calc spreadsheet size up to that of Microsoft Excel.

The four, basic components of a good and fully-featured office suite are a word processor, a spreadsheet, a slide-show/presentation application, and a database. Except for its lack of a grammar checker, OpenOffice Writer is pretty much on a par with Microsoft Word.

With the increase to 65,536 spreadsheet rows in Calc, OpenOffice has come up to being on a par with MS Excel. Throw the addition of the Base database module into OpenOffice 2 and that pretty much puts OpenOffice 2 on a par with Microsoft Office.

Add to that, OpenOffice is free, it does not require registration, and there is no product activation requirement. There is plenty of sun shining with OpenOffice because it is open source software. And all development is done in full sunshine where anyone can observe the development process, view the program source code, and even make any modifications to the source code they desire. That makes OpenOffice fully customizable.

On the other hand, Microsoft Office is very expensive, requires product activation, and has a very greedy EULA (end user license agreement). Microsoft Office development is out of the light of sun and in the dark.

(Please see the Microsoft Office & OpenOffice Licensing Note and the Microsoft Product Activation Note in the right side-bar below for more about Microsoft's horrible product activation crap and greedy EULA.)

You cannot easily customize MS Office. Nor can you view the source code. A problem with closed program code is that you have no easy way to check to make sure the coders have not put back doors, spy ware, or whatever in the code.

Mix it all together and OpenOffice is much more than merely on a par with MS Office, it gives lots more bang for the buck than does Microsoft office. OpenOffice is a better choice than is Microsoft Office.

Table 1. OpenOffice Modules and Office Suite Comparisons

Function

MS Office OpenOffice WordPerfect Office
Word Processor Word Writer WordPerfect
Spreadsheet Excel Calc Quatro Pro
Drawing Draw
Presentations PowerPoint Impress Presentations
Database Access Base Paradox
Product Activation Required None None
Price (varies with components included) ($149-$500) (Free) ($89-$300)


Migrating to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office

Note: This article was written using OpenOffice 2 Writer running on a Windows 98 SE system. The file was saved in RTF (Rich Text Format). When the article was re-opened for some final editing, we discovered some 500 words at the end of the article had been truncated. This scenario was replicated several times with the same result -- truncation. One of our tech editors tried to open the RTF file in AbiWord and could not do so. This writer then also tried to open the OpenOffice-generated RTF file in AbiWord and was unable to so do too. Nevertheless, this writer was able to open the truncated RTF file in MS Word 2000 running on MS Windows 98 SE. We do not have time to resolve this issue before publication of this article. However, if this issue remains unresolved, we likely will modify if not withdraw our statements that OpenOffice can read MS Office files and write MS Office files. (RTF is a Microsoft Word format.)

OpenOffice is a darn nice suite of office/productivity applications. Moreover, since OpenOffice is a multi-platform applications suite, it looks and feels pretty much the same whether you are using it with GNU-Linux, FreeBSD, LinuxPPC, Mac OS X, MS Windows, Unix or any of the other platforms upon which it runs.

That can be particularly important to IT/IS managers and administrators where their organizations have computers running on different platforms. By deploying OpenOffice, their people need to be trained on only one office/productivity suite of applications.

OpenOffice 2's user interface now is more compatible with Microsoft Office's user interface. Also, OpenOffice can read MS Office files and write MS Office files. That makes migrating from MS Office to OpenOffice smoother, easier, and faster. In short, OpenOffice 2 is well-poised to blow-away MS Office deployment and installed base.

Figure 1. OpenOffice 2.0 Desktop in MS Windows 98 SE.

Take a look at the MS Word desktop in Figure 2 on page 2. Notice how similar the two desktops appear.


What's Missing in OpenOffice

Microsoft Office & OpenOffice Licensing Note

The applicable Microsoft greedy, end-user agreements (EULAs) taken together with Microsoft's horrible Product Activation system mean that With MS Office 2003 and its product family, you are restricted to installing Office 2003 on only one desktop computer and one laptop computer for each copy or license for MS Office 2003 that you buy from Microsoft.

OpenOffice is Open Source Software and thus not only free, but you may install it on as many machines as you like.

Article Index

Introduction

OpenOffice Beats Microsoft Office

Migrating to OpenOffice from Microsoft Office

What's Missing in OpenOffice

OpenOffice Is Best Choice

More About OpenOffice

OpenOffice 2 Helps Migration from MS Windows to Linux

A Note from the OpenOffice.Org People

Resources

That said, however, there are some issues that OpenOffice.org has not addressed. Those issues leave MS Office with some advantages. Perhaps the most notable is that OpenOffice still does not have a grammar checker. MS Office does.

We addressed that issue in our November 2003 overview, OpenOffice 1.1 -- A Complete Office/Productivity Software Suite. There:

We asked OpenOffice.org's Community Manager, Louis Suarez-Potts, in an e-mail discussion why OpenOffice 1.1 does not have a grammar checker?

Louis replied: It's being worked on. There are open-source grammar checkers and there is the will to do it, so it will be done. Kevin Hendricks and Richard Holtare are leading this effort and have the support of many contributers and their project, "lingucomponent," is popular. But one problem is that OpenOffice.org supports many languages -- several dozen, at least -- and so the task is not trivial.

Thus, it appears that OpenOffice will eventually have a grammar checker. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

Unfortunately it now looks as though implementation of a grammar checker in OpenOffice is going to be late`r rather than sooner. We believe that OpenOffice should have a grammar checker.

Another important missing feature that we noted in our November 2003 OpenOffice 1.1 overview is that OpenOffice cannot read PDF files -- and there was no technological reason it could not be made to so do. OpenOffice can write PDF files -- and there have been some improvements to the PDF writing routines. But OpenOffice cannot read PDFs. We believe that OpenOffice should be able to read PDF files.

Another problem with OpenOffice 2.0 is that it has a very weak change case feature. It only converts text case to all caps or all lower case. It cannot convert to sentence case (first letter of first word in sentence capped and all the rest lower case), title case (first letter of each word capped), or toggle case (invert all the cases of all letters).

  • See OpenOffice Is Best Choice on Page 2 ----->

  • Microsoft Product Activation Note

    OpenOffice does not require any product activation nonsense nor does it require product registration.

    If there were no other reason to chose OpenOffice over MS Office XP or 2003, not having to put up with the Microsoft product activation mechanism would be more than reason enough to chose OpenOffice!

    There are many reasons why Microsoft product activation is a bad thing. Discussion of all the bad and obnoxious things about Microsoft product activation is beyond the scope of today's article. However, a word of caution to anyone who is considering installing Microsoft Office XP or 2003 on a computer system.

    The Microsoft product activation mechanism that Office XP and 2003 places on your system can shut down your MS Office applications until such time as Microsoft decides to let you use your own software that you bought and paid for. In other words, Microsoft, not you, ultimately is in control of your Office XP or 2003 applications.

    There is something that you can do to counter the Microsoft product activation mechanism if it does shut down your Office XP or 2003 applications. Install OpenOffice on your computer before Microsoft can shut you down. Then you can access all your MS Office files on the computer even though the Microsoft product activation mechanism has shut down your Office XP or 2003 software

    The product activation mechanism in MS Office 2003 is not likely to shut down your entire computer. However, it effectively can shut down MS Office 2003 and its component products such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so forth. The MS Office 2003 product activation mechanism, puts Microsoft and not you in control of your office and productivity software.

    Fortunately, AbiWord and OpenOffice have MS Windows versions. So, when Microsoft's Office 2003 product activation scheme shuts you down, just open your MS Word documents in AbiWord or OpenOffice Writer, Excel documents in OpenOffice Calc, PowerPoint documents in Impress and so forth.

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