Comparing Microsoft Office and Open Office
In case you've been using Internet for a while now, you're most likely already aware of different office utilities you can use with your computer. You're also probably aware of one of the biggest competitors Microsoft has when it comes to office software. And that's Open Office.
On first glance, and with the most basic features, these two programs might look like the same thing. For an example, instead of Word with MS, Open Office has its Writer. Both of the utilities do the same thing - create and edit .doc files. Moving on, MS has its Powerpoint, and with Open Office we've got Impress. Open Office has an alternative for Excel as well, called Calc. This pretty much says enough about Open Office. It is a free alternative to Microsoft Office, offering all the same features and benefits of creating and managing documents, slide shows/media files, spreadsheets and so on.
Since Open Office is free, it becomes obvious that it might be the best way to go, especially with businesses who would need to purchase MS Office packages for dozens of computers. Using MS might get a bit pricey while you can basically get every feature with a free alternative.
Of course, the outlook of these two programs are different, menus are in the different places, different labels and hotkeys are used, so there's a learning curve into using Open Office. Once you get that out-of-the-way, you're all set. And if you're new to office applications in general, watching a basic MS Office tutorial will pretty much get you set to using any of the two apps. Only major difference is that one is much more cost efficient than the other.
By now, most people who are unfamiliar with all the details are probably wondering why would anyone use MS Office, when there is an alternative which does all the same stuff and it's free? Well, lets start comparing some of the features these programs have to offer. For example, lets look into the difference between Microsoft's Powerpoint application and Impress from Open Office. Someone who's been working with Powerpoint for years and has really used all the benefits of it, won't really be able to do the same with Impress. Impress offers less decorative varieties with your slide shows, such as effects and templates.
That said, a basic user in both of these will however be able to settle with Impress and create a perfectly decent slide show.
One other great example here is between MS's Access and Base from Open Office. While Base does all the basic work such as storing and retrieving data, Access seems to be a better choice for professional users, it simply offers more detailed analysis options, being able to manipulate the data results, running more comparisons and things like that. Still, the average user will have pretty much the same experience between both, much like the case with Powerpoint and Impress.
Now, let's get in touch with the most used program in any office suit. I'm talking about word processing of course. While MS Word is certainly dominating the market right now, there are however, better alternatives. I'm not talking about Open Office again, whose word processing app is pretty similar to Word. I'm talking about Word Perfect from Corel. It's been a beautiful alternative to Word for so many people and especially for authors who don't like the bulky code they get with MS's Word and with Writer from Open Office.
One other general issue with switching over to alternative programs from MS, is that they're not really compatible with each other. Take this for an example, you have a text document with tabs, pictures and what not ready to send to someone. And you do. The problem emerges when you realize that person is using MS Word to open your Open Office document and what happens? Disaster. The stuff you put in one of these, will look like complete mess in the other.
By now, it has become pretty much obvious that using MS Office might be the best solution for you, since they've simply put more power and versatility into their software, but you know what? That's not the real question here. Do not forget that Open Office is completely and utterly free. No catches. So then we have to ask, is MS Office worth buying? Even with the advantages over Open Office? It all depends on what you're going to use the office applications for.
This is when your personal choices and needs come in. If you're a basic, average user, in need of simply generating some text documents and printing them, the Writer from Open Office will suit you perfectly. Need to create and combine some spreadsheets? Open Office Calc will do the job perfectly, no problem. It is simply a true fact that all your office needs will be delivered with the free alternative which is Open Office.
You only need to figure out what you'll need to be doing with the software. Figure out whether or not can Open Office meet your demands and complete the swiftly as MS Office would. At the end of the day, trying Open Office will cost you nothing, literally, OK, maybe some time. But since it is free, it should certainly at least attract enough attention from you to download and try it out.