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by Mike Zazaian September 10, 2006 - 2:37pm, 1 Comment

OpenOffice Splash Screen

While a variety of office-based productivity applications have been available for years, a majority of the market still believes that only Microsoft’s products can hold their water. is trying to change that.

One of the greatest things about the open source community is that they offer stable, lightweight applications that parallel the abilities of similar commercial apps, but with no pricetag whatsoever. One of the worst things about the open source community is that their advertising budget is small, if existant, and open source projects rely on word of mouth (or forum post) to spread the news about their products. For argument’s sake, this article can be subtitled ‘Or, word of mouth.’, developed by Sun Microsystems, is a speedy, stable, and free office application that rivals the usefulness of the $499 Microsoft Office 2003 Professional. While Sun doesn’t have an exact number of users at their disposal, the product boasts some 49 million downloads, each available in 60 different languages for Windows, MAC, Linux, Unix…you name the platform and they support it. You can even save all of your files in a variety of formats to be compatible with your MS Office installation on another computer.

OpenOffice is built around an “office for everyone” mentality, packing in much more than just a word processor. Each download of the latest version of OpenOffice Suite 2.0.3 includes comparable applications to each product in the Microsoft office lineup:

  • WRITER is OpenOffice’s equivalent to Microsoft word. It can be used for anything from writing a letter to your aunt to writing, formatting, and publishing a book.
  • CALC is OpenOffice’s Excel equivalent, consisting of everything one would need to calculate, analyse, summarize and present a set of data, which can be presented using any of 13 types of charts and graphs.
  • IMPRESS provides the same functionality as Microsoft PowerPoint, with its own set of presentation layouts, backgrounds, and non-antiquated clipart and pictures.
  • DRAW is a vector-based animation program that MS Office doesn’t even have on the map. An equivalent might be Adobe’s Illustrator lineup, whose recent CS2 version retails for about $500.
  • MATH facilitates the production of complex mathematical functions
  • BASE provides a robust HSQL database application, another feature absent in Microsoft’s offering.

Everything about OpenOffice 2.0.3 suggests that it should be more widely used, but the lack of advertisement has kept it in the back of the closet. The OpenOffice project has been in the works for 5 years now, 20 if you go all the way back to its pre-GUI (graphical user interface) roots, and there’s nothing experimental, beta, or unstable about it. Head over to and download a completely free copy today.