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OpenOffice.org
Free
Windows2000/ XP/ Vista/ 7
September 27th, 2013
4.0.0

"Open Office includes desktop applications such as a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation manager, and a drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to those of other office suites"

Key Features
Free to Use Office Suite
Includes All Necessary Office Tools
Available in Many Languages
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Review

A credible rival to MS Office, OpenOffice.org includes powerful applications for making text documents, spreadsheets, presentations, diagrams, and databases, as well as HTML and XML documents. Not only does it let you edit basic documents, such as letters and faxes, it also handles equations and complex and multipart documents with bibliographies, reference tables, and indexes.

The interface is similar to that of MS Office, and even advanced Office users will find almost everything they’re used to: templates, collaborative features (versions, recording changes), macros, and even a programming language. OOo, as it’s known, lets you open and save documents in formats as diverse as MS Office formats, PDF, HTML, and XML. It can also import files from those formats, as well as WordPerfect and others. However, it normally saves files in the open-standard Oasis OpenDocument XML format, for maximum compatibility with other applications.

The latest versions of OpenOffice have seen a spurt of growth in the extensions available for the program. These include templates for professional writers, an export tool for bidirectional functionality with Google Docs, blog publishing, and others. Blog publishing assistance especially strikes us as a natural area for word processing to grow toward.

We were pleased to find that stability has improved too. No doubt about it, the multilingual and crossplatform OpenOffice.org is a compelling option for anyone in search of an alternative office suite.

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Why You Need to Use Open Office

Since its first development in 2000, Open Office has sparked a lot of debate. The best argument for using Open Office, its price, is also the number one reason why people don’t believe it to be a real alternative to other office software packages. Because, come on, how can free software be any good in a product that is such a cornerstone of computing and so crucial to the day to day operations of almost every business in the world as we know it?

Does it have all the features of competitor software packages? No, certainly not. Is it as good a solution for the needs of the average user? I believe so. Especially since the compatibility issues in earlier versions are history, there is very little reason why especially small businesses and home users need to pull out their wallets or credit cards and pony up the cash for the very expensive office suits of today. Even larger corporations can benefit from its unprecedented customization options. With its word processor Writer, its spread sheet program Calc and its presentation suite Impress, it offers the most used functionality in any office suite. And there’s a database program as well. The only program that isn’t included since it is purely focused on document editing, is email software.

Open office is open source software, like the operating system linux. That means it is created and improved upon by a large community of volunteer programmers and project managers who like to cooperate on a project that is not driven by marketing or sales goals. Unlike its operating system counterpart Linux, that is geared towards advanced users, open office is just as easy to use as any other office suite. You can download it from the openoffice.org site and will work immediately. There are open office versions for all modern operating systems, including all windows versions, mac osx and linux as well. That means that cross platform compatibility is excellent.

Because it is not developed for a specific operating system, trying to incorporate all the latest shiny options available, it is a lot less bloated than it’s alternatives. This means that open office is fairly easy to get used to. When you’re used to how it is structured, you will never want to go back. Open office is a suite that does exactly what you need for most office or home needs. Nothing more, nothing less. With a few simple settings you can autosave all your documents to the corresponding Microsoft formats, making exchanging files with others a breeze.

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What Are the Components of Open Office?

OpenOffice, the open source Office suite that competes with Microsoft Office, includes the following three major applications:

  • Writer: A full-featured word processor that also includes an HTML editor for designing Web pages
  • Calc: An extremely capable spreadsheet program that also allows you to link to corporate databases
  • Impress: A very capable presentation program for creating electronic slide shows

What is Writer?

Writer is the Open Office equivalent of Microsoft Word. If offers all the standard word processing tools that you have probably come to expect, but also includes advanced features such as:

  • Designing and creating your own Web pages.
  • Creating forms for automatically inputting data into databases.
  • Creating personalized documents with Mail Merge, and link to your e-mail address book or external database.
  • Automatically generating standard documents such as letters, faxes, agendas, minutes, or importing or creating your own templates.
  • Creating your own Style Sheets
  • Importing seventeen different types of text documents with ease, including “doc”, and “dot”; and export nineteen different file formats, including “pdf”, “html” and three kinds of “doc”s.
  • Automatic indexing, tables of contents, bibliographical references; plus such details as custom headers, footers, footnotes, and endnotes.
  • Automatic outlining, Spellchecking, and Thesaurus.
  • Automatically correct words, or automatically complete words as you type.
  • Create and use macros.

What is Calc?

Calc is the Open Office equivalent of Microsoft Excel. If you’ve ever used Excel or another spreadsheet program you will find Calc familiar. It can calculate anything you hand it. It’s a full-featured spreadsheet program with all the great bells and whistles you’d expect from the best. While Calc is great at doing all the basic spreadsheet things, such as adding, sorting and manipulating rows and columns, it also letsy you do the following:

  • Link to external databases, such as dBase and MySQL (or even your email address book) and view, query, sort, filter, generate automatic reports and more, without affecting your original database.
  • Use an intuitive graphical interface to organize your data from your spreadsheets or database.
  • Filter your spreadsheet or database data to locate information quickly.
  • Use automatic subtotaling with outlining capabilities to give you instant information of the big picture, whenever you need it.
  • Use any and all of 364 built-in functions for financial, mathematical, statistical, database and other purposes.
  • Create your own formulas.

What is Impress?

Impress creates presentations (also known as slide shows) that you display from your computer, often with a projector, so that people can see what is on your screen. It is the equivalent of Microsoft’s PowerPoint program that comes with Office and works in a similar way. As well as the usual functions Impress allows you to do the following:

  • Create a presentation quickly with AutoPilot or a template.
  • Add notes to each slide that are just for the presenter.
  • View your presentation in several ways using the Drawing, Outline, Slide, Notes, Handout, and Slide Show views.
  • Save, print, and export and import in several formats.
  • Format text characters and paragraphs.
  • Create bulleted and numbered lists.
  • Control the look of the presentation with a master slide.
  • Insert graphics and control them using layers.
  • Create your own graphics, including 3-D graphics.
  • Add text animation and slide transitions.
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