OK, now OpenOffice is definitely good enough

There is a reason that the OpenOffice.org 3.0 servers are struggling to keep up with demand.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor

There is a reason that the OpenOffice.org 3.0 servers are struggling to keep up with demand. OO.org 3.0 really is a serious upgrade over version 2.4 and makes NeoOffice irrelevant for Mac OS X users (previously, OpenOffice only worked within X11; While NeoOffice did a great job porting OO.org to native OS X, OO.org 3.0 works out of the box in OS X as a native Aqua application).

Last week I asked if OpenOffice was good enough. The general consensus? OO.org is good enough to start a flame war, but we're not really sure if it's good enough to be a serious competitor to MS Office.

Now that OO.org 3.0 is out, I'm having a much tougher time seeing both sides of the issue here (I actually like Office 2007/2008, by the way; I think they're slick, well-polished, and highly functional). I had never liked the OpenOffice equation editor; this version brings a very nice graphical and text-based hybrid editor to us math teachers. Mail merge was clunky in OO.org; this version brings a mail merge wizard and improved label templates. Outline numbering tended to be a bit kludgy for notetaking in OO; this version improves the stability and interface of outlining.

Annotations are now incredibly easy to add (Insert, Note) and Office 2007/2008 formats are supported across the board. While Microsoft has dumped VBA support in Office 2008, OO.org users can run Visual Basic scripting, as well as Python and Javascript.

I'm not actually bashing MS Office here. It's a great suite and they still have something that OpenOffice lacks: Publisher. However, Publisher was lacking on the Mac platform anyway and *nix users haven't had access to MS Office (including Publisher) without some serious Wine work. Speaking of Access, OpenOffice continues to bring a solid database offering to all platforms. Is it as powerful as Access? I don't think so (let's face it - Access 2007 rocks). However, Mac, *nix, and Windows users can all interchange databases and use OO.org Base as a front end to a variety of data sources (including MySQL).

OpenOffice.org is not a clone of Office 2007 (good call, Sun). It's a full-featured suite that gives us everything we need from MS Office and the world of productivity software while keeping the bottom line quite a bit more reasonable (you don't get any more reasonable than free).

Yes, OO.org has been good enough for a long time; the latest release should leave little doubt for any users who had been on the fence.

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