OpenOffice.org 3.0 was released on Monday, and the demand was so massive that it crashed their servers. The crash is not good news, of course, but the tremendous demand for the new release certainly is. It shows that OpenOffice has become established as a viable alternative to Microsoft Office, and that it is being installed in very large numbers.
If you are a home user, or a small business, and you are still using Microsoft Office, you really should take a serious look at OpenOffice 3.0. It can be installed on Windows, Linux or Mac systems which already have MS Office (or other such programs) without causing problems or interference, and you can then see for yourself how it works. David Meyer has provided an excellent overview of the new features in the 3.0 release, as well.
I have used (and paid for) every version of Microsoft Office since... well, I don't know, really. The first version I can remember was Office 97, but I was definitely using MS Word before that. In fact, I can remember using Word under Windows 3.1, I just don't recall when I (or Microsoft, for that matter), changed to Office instead of Word stand-alone. The last version I purchased was Office 2007. The point is, I got tired of paying Microsoft hundreds of dollars for every new release of Office, and wondering which programs would be included and which left out this time, and chasing after all the incompatible file format changes, downloading file format converters, explaining to angry users why they are unable to open new documents when they still have older Office versions, explaining to other angry users why all the buttons and menus had changed with the newer versions, and why the contents of toolbars and drop-down menus kept changing, and on, and on, and on...
While I am a seasoned Office user, I do not consider myself to be an "advanced" user. I'm sure there are plenty of features and functions that I have never used. But as far as I have been able to tell from my own use, OpenOffice can do everything that MS Office can, and in most cases better, more smoothly, and with less bugs. If you think that you are so advanced and use such sophisticated features that this might not be the case for you, I still suggest that you install OpenOffice in parallel to MS Office, and give it a try, I think you are very likely to be pleasantly surprised.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
- OpenOffice 3.0 can read MS Office 2007 files (OOXML). It can't write OOXML, but that is of no consequence whatsoever, because it can write earlier Office file formats, including Office 2003, which can be read by Office 2007, so even if you have to move back and forth for some reason, it works.
- OpenOffice can write files directly to PDF format. No more having to pay for PDF conversion utilities, or having to find, install and maintain free pseudo-printer PDF converters.
- OpenOffice 3.0 is available for, and as nearly identical as possible on, Windows, MacOS and Linux. My Mac-using friends tell me that the 3.0 release runs as a native Mac application, which is also a big win. I have personally worked on the same documents repeatedly with both Windows and Linux versions, and had no problem at all.
- OpenOffice 3.0 includes programs for Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Presentation, Database, Math, Drawing and more. All free. Including bug fixes and updates.
The bottom line is, if you are still using and paying for Microsoft Office, you're wasting your money AND you're working too hard. In the business climate we have today, I don't see how many people or companies can afford to do that.
Give OpenOffice 3.0 a chance.
P.S. One other thing... If you move between computers, and reload your operating systems, as often as I do, the Microsoft "authorization" procedure becomes very tedious, very quickly. Exceeding their expected number of activations, and having to call them on the phone and plead for an activation key, is not my idea of a good time.