Apache OpenOffice (OpenOffice.org) 4.1.2

A free yet powerful office suite that is a good alternative to Microsoft Office

  • Category:

    Office Suites

  • Version:

    (OpenOffice.org) 4.1.2

  • Works under:

    Windows Vista / Windows XP / Windows 98 SE / Windows 8 / Windows NT / Windows 2000 / Windows 98 / Windows ME / Windows 7 / Windows 2003

  • Program available in:In English
  • Program license:Free (GPL)
  • Vote:
    5.9 (280)
Apache OpenOffice (OpenOffice.org) 4.1.2
Apache OpenOffice (OpenOffice.org) 4.1.1

OpenOffice from Apache is a productivity suite designed as an alternative to the industry standard productivity suite, which is Microsoft Office. The software is reliable, robust, and best of all, it's totally free.

Much like Microsoft Office, Apache OpenOffice is made up of several individual applications, each with a different productive function. The suite includes a spreadsheet program similar to Excel, a word processor similar to Word, a presentation tool like PowerPoint, an art tool similar to Paint, a database editor not unlike Access, and a small editor for formulas.

Each component of OpenOffice provides a set of powerful tools designed for working within the app's general field. Even though this suite is open-source and entirely free, it offers much of the same functionality as Microsoft Office. Some could make the argument that it exceeds Microsoft Office since this suite can work with just about any file format, while Office struggles with unusual filetypes.

Since OpenOffice has been free from the very beginning, it initially lacked some of the flash associated with more popular productivity suites. The old user interface was not nearly as developed as it should have been, but that's mostly due to the fact that the software is developed almost entirely by volunteers. At the time, it was much more important to the creators that the software be functional and not necessarily 'pretty'. However, the most recent version of OpenOffice has seen a huge upgrade to the interface, and it now has much more visually in common with Microsoft Office. OpenOffice has incorporated artistic icons and fully-organized menus for improved usability.

The six primary apps found in the OpenOffice suite are Impress, Calc, Writer, Math, Base, and Draw. You can easily access these apps once they have been installed, and you can take advantage of the improved menus to quickly find the document or tool you need.

Most standard users will find that OpenOffice is just as efficient as Microsoft Office when it comes to editing and creating documents. One feature that puts OpenOffice into a tier of its own is the fact that you can download and install new extensions and templates for the suite. This helps you optimize and personalize each app for your specific workflow.

While some might be wary of relying on open-source software, you shouldn't worry about OpenOffice. It's free only because of this open-source nature, but that doesn't mean the software has to be inferior or susceptible to hacking. In fact, since the software can be altered and upgraded by anyone, the community often releases new extensions, updates, and other improvements that anyone else can use. There's no denying that you'll have more freedom with OpenOffice compared to Microsoft Office. The only thing truly missing for the OpenOffice suite is an email and calendar application.

Pros

  • Near-Universal Format Support
  • Eye-Catching Interface
  • Integrated Components
  • Helpful Extensions

Cons

  • Lacks Email Client
  • Large Applications

Apache's OpenOffice is an open-source productivity suite similar to Microsoft Office. Users can create text documents, presentations and spreadsheets with ease. The software and all of its features are free. No premium versions of these programs exist. While Power users of Office might not find OpenOffice adequate enough for their needs, the overwhelming majority of computer users will find this free productivity suite quite useful.

OpenOffice includes the following programs:

  • Writer
  • Calc
  • Impress
  • Draw
  • Base
  • Math

Getting Started & Navigation

Users of Microsoft Office will feel comfortable using OpenOffice as menus and toolbars for each program look similar to their Office counterparts. Apache's productivity suite offers a more simple user interface in some ways. Therefore, certain users might consider OpenOffice a bare bones approach to Office. New users won't have to battle any sort of learning curve here.

Write, Calc, and Impress Reign Supreme

Most individuals will download OpenOffice for its core three programs: Write, Calc and Impress. These programs are identical to Word, Excel and PowerPoint respectively. Without a doubt, ordinary users won't use other programs featured in OpenOffice. All three programs run smoothly and come with basic editing features. Documents can even be converted into PDFs or protected with a password. Currently, Write rivals Word, but Calc and Impress noticeably lag behind Microsoft's alternatives feature-wise.

Other Thoughts

OpenOffice features Calc and Base for managing databases. While these programs accomplish that feat, managing larger databases becomes nearly impossible. On the other hand, Microsoft's Excel can tackle the largest databases with ease. Likewise, presentations through Impress aren't that exciting. PowerPoint wins out because it comes with more templates, transitions, and design elements. Office 365 gives users Microsoft Office in its entirety for a low monthly or annual fee.

Still, Apache's OpenOffice makes sense for many users. Free software is enticing for virtually everyone, and OpenOffice will handle the needs of most individuals. Schools that can't afford hefty licensing fees for Office can install Apache's alternative free of charge. Then again, all organizations and individuals can download OpenOffice and do whatever they'd like with it. Such versatility, without a price tag, is always worth considering.

The Verdict

In the end, Apache's OpenOffice is a worthy rival to Microsoft Office in many ways. Its programs lack a few features found within Microsoft's productivity suite. Users can still create basic documents and presentations without a hassle, though. In its current form, OpenOffice is compatible with more file types than Office. The argument comes down to whether a user needs premium features or a cost-effective bare bones approach to productivity. Apache's software falls into the latter category, and that's not a problem by any means.

Pros

  • OpenOffice is 100% free
  • Compatible with Microsoft Office files
  • Comes with enough features for most users

Cons

  • Microsoft Excel better suited for spreadsheets
  • Microsoft PowerPoint far more advanced than Impress
  • Office 365 subscription relatively inexpensive

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