Now, I like Microsoft Office, but then I also like OpenOffice, but which is better? Well, there’s only one way to find out… Fiiiiiiiight!
If money was no object I’d probably go for M$ Office 2010 every time. But, the truth is that money doesn’t grow on any of the trees in my garden so it’s definitely worth considering the free alternative. Did I say free? Yes I did, you can download a copy here.
Most people are pretty familiar with the main Microsoft Office Components. They get upgraded and tweaked every few years but essentially they stay the same.
Just In case you have been living in a cave for the last few years, these are the main Office 2010 components (Professional Edition):
Word – Word Processor
Excel – Spreadsheet Application
PowerPoint – Presentation Program
OneNote – Program to take and share quick notes
Outlook – Email Client, or “Personal Information Manager”
Publisher – Desktop Publishing Application
Access – Database Program
The latest version of OpenOffice is Version 3.2 and it contains the following components:
Writer – Equivalent of Microsoft Word
Calc – Equivalent of Microsoft Excel
Impress – Equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint
Base – Equivalent of Microsoft Access
Draw – Like Microsoft Publisher, ish, a bit
Math – Equivalent of Microsoft Equation Editor
I think it’s fair to say that out off all the components that are included, 90% of users would only use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Now, OpenOffice doesn’t include and equivalent email client so I’ll only compare the other three.
Word Vs Writer
The new version of Word is packed full of even more features, most that the average user won’t ever touch, but some handy stuff all the same. Writer does the basics well, it doesn’t look as flashy but I would say that 90% of users would not be able to tell that this was not a Microsoft product, all be it a slightly older version perhaps. Both have a great spell checker, they both allow me to insert and manipulate images, create bullet points, insert tables, they both contain all the formatting options that I would require. Microsoft Office has better image manipulation options, but most people could live without this.
Excel Vs Calc
With Calc you may be forgiven for thinking that you have opened a slightly older version of Excel. Now, most users use, at most, 5% of Excel’s functionality, both these programs perform well and all my previous Excel documents opened just fine in Calc. You may struggle with some more advanced macro’s but essentially Calc is fine for the average user.
PowerPoint Vs Impress
I was quite impressed with Impress, hmmm, but seriously, I was. The wizard when creating a presentation made it really simple and I got all the functionality that I would have expected from PowerPoint. Again, I think most of my users would swap this for PowerPoint and not notice any real difference.
You can trial Microsoft Office 2010 and you can get OpenOffice 3.2 for free, so you might as well get them both and see which works best for you.
While I’m on it, check out this article on the BBC’s tech site, perhaps you can have Microsoft for free too, ish.