Whenever I discuss OpenOffice with someone, the first question they always ask is “Yes, but can it replace MS Office?”, often closely followed by “But if it’s so good, why is it free?”
So how easy is it to switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice? OpenOffice can most likely do everything you currently do with your MS office suite, and perhaps even lots more. You might even find OpenOffice to be even more handy than Microsoft Office, or indeed any other current Office suite.
Users often report that OpenOffice is extremely robust and can handle very large, complex documents with ease, crashing or freezing more infrequently than MS Offic. Many users are also fond of having their files take up 25 to 60 percent less space than that of the leading office suite. You can also open and indeed save files in MS formats so you don’t have to re-create documents.
Another benefit is that since OpenOffice is open source, any security holes are dealt with extremely quickly. Anyone in the OpenOffice community can find and fix any problem or potential problem promptly. There is no waiting for a single company to get around to it. This means it is much less likely that anyone could take over your computer from another location without your knowledge and consent through OpenOffice than with both Microsoft Office or any other leading Offce productivity suite.
OpenOffice was actually created as a Microsoft Office clone, so Microsoft Office users generally experience little or no difficulty making the transition. Having said that there are certain situations do exist where it is not recommended that you switch to OpenOffice.
In my experience two of the main reasons for not switching are:
- Firstly, if your business used the Exchange Server capabilities of Microsoft Outlook, This feature allows you to have shared workspaces with other people on other computers. OpenOffice has no substitute for it — at least not on Windows or Mac.
- Secondly, VBA macros written in Microsoft Office, as well as other macros from other office suites do not convert into OpenOffice and must be reprogrammed. (It has recently been estimated estimated that this may affect five percent of office suite users.)