Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Open Office

Most of us use word processors, presentation software, and spreadsheets on a regular basis. These important software are a basic part of our everyday lives. Most of us "grew up on" Microsoft Office. Microsoft always makes such a sleek user interface for their software packages and they make it so darn likable. The new Office 2007 for the PC (love it or hate it) is by far the best and most intuitive office suite software package created by Microsoft thus far. But, let's dispatch with the niceties...

The big problem with Microsoft is that you have to sell body parts on the black market in order to afford the software packages. So why do people buy the software? Unfortunately, the world is entrenched in the mindset that only Microsoft produces good office programs and that if we were to try one of the the less expensive programs, we wouldn't be able to communicate with the rest of the world. Another explanation is that Microsoft was the first to create a really good software suite and streamline it. Other software packages like WordPerfect provided an excellent word processor, but failed to gain the large market share that Microsoft did. They made it available, by default, with their popular operating systems as well as through partnerships with various Microsoft distributors like HP, Dell, Gateway, etc. "Ohhh the tyranny of monopoly... when will you release us from your clutches?"

May I present to you a beautiful alternative... A software package created by the superheroes of the technology sector: Open Office. Let's learn a little about this package from the makers themselves:

"The OpenOffice.org project is primarily sponsored by Sun Microsystems, which is the primary contributor of code to the Project. Our other major corporate contributors include Novell, RedHat, RedFlag CH2000, IBM, and Google. Additonally over 450,000 people from nearly every curve of the globe have joined this Project with the idea of creating the best possible office suite that all can use. This is the essence of an "open source." community!"

"But," you plea, "if the superheroes of the technology sector made this software package, it must cost a lot of money." Fear not! This software package comes at a very reasonable price: ABSOLUTELY FREE! "But," you cry, "I won't be able to use it with Microsoft Office documents. Especially since they recently changed their file formats to .docx, .xlsx, etc. in effort to further oppress us and keep us down" Fear not! Open Office 3 Beta is completely compatible with these file formats. They have broken evil Bill's grasp on the office suite market share. "BUT," you exclaim with your last breath, "I won't know how to use this magical "open source" software as well as Microsoft Office." Fear not! The software is very intuitive and user friendly. Dare I say, more intuitive than Microsoft Office because it was made by us, for us (think FUBU).

Enough drama. Open Office contains a word processor, a database wizard, a spreadsheet creator (or whatever you call it), a paint-like program, and presentation software. Here is the link so that you can download a version for yourself and test out the wonder that is Open Office. They have a version for Windows XP/Vista, Mac OS X, and the many various Linux distros. Keep in mind, the Open Office 3 Beta is a work in progress so it might be better for you to start with Open Office 2.4. Here is the link: Download it free here.

Below are some screen shots. Notice that the appearance is akin to Office 2003. In the new version 3 the design format is much the same. User experience is the same as what one would expect from Office. You have to try it to really know how similar it is. I don't think that you should switch from Microsoft Office. I use Office (on my mac) and its great. But, I still think that Office costs too much. I think that if I had to purchase Office, I would just use Open Office. Try it and Enjoy it!

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