February 12, 2007


Posted in office at 3:04 pm by weiszguy

About a month ago I tried to reconfigure some setting or another in MS Excel. I ended up hosing something so that I always got an error message when starting Excel and when closing it. The program worked just fine, other than the error message, so I didn’t bother trying to fix it right away. Finally, the annoyance got to be too much. So I stuck the CD in and ran the repair option in the install program. That seemed to run just fine, and it told me I had successfully repaired MS Office 2003. Fired up Excel, and… bummer, still get the error message.

The only option left to me was to uninstall Office and reinstall it. But wait, why did I have to reinstall? Haven’t I been wanting to try OpenOffice.org for a long time now? The only reason I never tried it before was that I had a perfectly good copy of MS Office. I jumped at the chance, uninstalled MS Office, installed OpenOffice, and haven’t looked back!

OpenOffice.org is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project. Compatible with all other major office suites, the product is free to download, use, and distribute. It has an application to match each application in MS Office; complete with a word processor (Word), a spreadsheet application (Excel), a database application (Access), and a presentation program (Powerpoint). Also included are a vector drawing tool (Visio) and a mathematical function creator.

Have you ever been in a tall building, on a bridge, in the arch in St. Louis? It sways a little bit and you’re not quite sure if the thing is gonna hold. It always does, of course, but you don’t have that secure feeling until you’re back on the ground.

So it is with office suites. MS Office never did anything worse than annoy me a little, but OpenOffice feels like terra firma. It doesn’t feel like several applications bundled together, it feels like one application. It feels solid; I no longer fear that I’m going to flip some switch somewhere and hose the whole thing up. The interface is identical between all the applications, so you only have to learn where something is once.

Like anything new, it does take a little getting used to, of course. It’s not MS Office, and some things don’t work like they do in MS Office, but in most cases the differences are actual improvements, not annoyances. If you can adjust to different toothbrushes every six months, you can adjust to the differences in office suites.



  1. snowjunkie said,

    The only good thing about the MS Office Suite is Outlook and Access. Outlook can be replaced easy enough, but a good Access replacement is hard to find.

    What are you using instead of Outlook?

  2. weiszguy said,

    I admit, Outlook is one thing OpenOffice doesn’t replace. I’m using Thunderbird for email and calendar, and it works just fine for home use. For work use, you’d have to have Exchange or one of it’s competitors, I don’t think there is a good open source replacement.

  3. snowjunkie said,

    I think Zimbra is well on it’s way as a suitable replacement.

  4. weiszguy said,

    chandler is another app I’d keep my eye on

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