versus Microsoft Office – Are you kidding?

I have been hearing a bit of buzz from people about OpenOffice again, so I went and tried OpenOffice again (and I really tried to like it). The last time tried it (almost 2 years ago) I refused to Microsoft Office for a month in order to really get used to the interface and commands in OpenOffice.  In many scenarios, OpenOffice still peforms well for basic tasks and a few advanced tasks like embedding documents (spreadsheets and charts into Writer, the word processing app).  The last time I tried OpenOffice I had to admit I was still having a tough time making a ton of distinction between Office 2000 (which I was using at my client site and Office 97).  This time things were a bit different for me.  I having been using Office 2003 long enough now I can clearly make a distinction on why Office 97/2000 are not good enough.  The killer app that was missing from OpenOffice (and previous version of Microsoft Office for that matter) was SharePoint. 

I have a limit on my e-mail box and getting several large attachments throughout the week is like a denial of service attack on my Inbox.  In addition to some of my customers aggressive mail filters making it difficult to send and receive some attachments at times.  You can say what you want but the ease of use and integration in the Office 2003 System, which includes SharePoint to share documents makes for a compelling solution.  I am really looking forward to Office 12 and the integration of Groove into the platform, and offline capabilities as well.  I hear all the time people saying Office 97 is good enough, I think that is true if you are doing the same thing you were doing eight years ago, the reality people are not the same thing from eight years ago, staffs are shrinking and people are being ask to create manage, more information in less time.  I am of the mindset that there has to be a better way and I am always looking for solutions to make the tasks I did eight years ago easier to manage, find and share. Using OpenOffice for me was like using Office 95 with the "Save As PDF..." function built in, OpenOffice is still not good enough.

Happy coding....


Comments (7)
  1. marcus says:

    I think you are missing the point. It is not, is OpenOffice as good as MS Office, but is it good enough for most poeple. I think OpenOffice 2.0 is (and so is/was Office 97).

  2. Frans Bouma says:

    though, OpenOffice ‘just works’. Like using a table in a document: a breeze in openoffice, a hell in word. Like applying formatting, it’s not as buggy as Word 2003 (and as you, I really tried to use word, but it simply falls flat on its face in some areas).

    And, openoffice has intellisense typing, which greatly speeds up typing. Word doesn’t have that. What word also lacks is a docked document overview next to your document, so you can quickly browse the complete document while working on a document, click a header in the tree and go there.

  3. chris says:

    I just hate Sharepoint server. With IE this "onmouseover" causes 100% cpu and webdav isn’t responsive and cost nerves, Infopath forms are statically linked and not editable from outside (I know, but I don’t want to create an installer and deploy it URN based, because it costs time and it costs another 30 seconds to open the forms.)

    I’m using OfficeXP, it’s good enought. My Computer have 800mhz and 256 RAM.

    Have you played with the Forms in OO.org2? Have you seen the cairo rendering in OO.org2.

    I’m very "Microsoft Commited", but it seems that all products only work 90%. You always get hasseled by something. If we would use OpenOffice, we could place a bounty or "rent a programmer" and our problems (and those of many others) would be solved.

  4. Austin Lamb says:

    To Frans Bourna : regarding the docked document overview – have you tried View -> Document Map in Word? Seems to be what you’re talking about?

  5. Damon Allison says:

    First off, I want to see Open Office succeed. I think the competition would be good for everyone. After reading this post, I downloaded and installed open office and played around.

    I consider myself a "most people" that OO should work for. I don’t do anything fancy. Bold stuff, tables, change font sizes, and a TOC if I’m getting really wild. No problem for OO, right? Oh yeah almost forgot, I also make a lot of comments 🙂

    I make a lot of comments on word docs for meeting questions or document reviews. So I created a small document and added some comments. I get this really small yellow rectangle displayed where I put in my comment. Unusable. When I’m viewing the document during the meeting, I would have to highlight each comment with a mouseover or double click? Sorry, that won’t cut it. I want to see my comments on the screen as we’re going over the document in the meeting. I don’t care where you display the comment – perhaps on the top/bottom – left/right – superimposed in the window, I con’t care. Just show me something..

    Just to be sure I was comparing OO’s "Note" to Word’s "Comment" fairly, I pulled up the docs.

    Sure enough :

    Microsoft Office XP

    AutoShapes Gallery Objects

    Change Case Case/Characters

    Comments Notes

    Is this feature going to prevent me from using Open Office? Unfortunately, yes.

    Now I have three options:

    1. File a "bug" complaint or feature request.

    2. Code it myself.

    3. Use Office and pay the $400

    I’m going to do #1 because I spent an hour on this and want someone to hear about it. I could try #2 but its not worth the time – and I’m guessing not trivial. #3 will work fine for me, at least until the next version and I can re-evaulate 🙂


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