Downloading Open Office to your computer can save you at least a hundred dollars on purchasing Microsoft Office. It could save you much more than that, depending on the specific programs and features you need for your computer and whether you are a business, personal, school or non-profit user. However, Open Office, the free office suite software offered by Sun Microsystems is not the best choice of office software for all users. Depending on your needs, Microsoft Office may be the better choice.

Open Office is free of charge to all users. Developers constantly update and tweak the functionalities of Open Office’s programs, and it gets better with each version. Open Office’s programs are similar in feature and function to many Microsoft Office programs. They include Writer for text documents, Calc for spreadsheets, impress for slide show presentations, draw for creating drawings, Math for a calculator and formulas and Base for databases.

One pro of Open Office is that it is compatible with Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris and Free BSD. This makes it easy to download and use for almost any operating system. Another plus of Open Office is that you can download it at one time. You don’t have to download individual programs. Open Office documents can also be saved as files that Microsoft Office programs can read. This enables you to send or receive a file created in Open Office without worrying over whether it can be read. You can also easily export the file as a PDF without having to install extra conversion software. If you want to build a web page using a presentation or a drawing, you only need to click File>Export.

Today, the PC is often still considered just a tool, but together we need to make it a lot more than that. We need to make it a path to experiences.

Jim Allchin

Drawbacks to Open Office are many, however, for many users. For example, it does not offer all of the same functionalities as Microsoft Office. This can be particularly irritating for business users who need the advanced statistical and analytical features of Microsoft Office. Another downside to Open Office is that it takes a significant amount of memory and CPU time to operate. It is thus much slower than Microsoft Office. However, each new release of Open Office seems to take less time to perform the same functions as Microsoft Office. Open Office also does not offer nearly as many fonts in all of its programs as Microsoft Office. Support for Open Office is also limited compared to Microsoft Office. Since it is a free suite of software, the only support is available from other users and developers. Getting and finding the help you need when you need it can be a bit difficult.

Home computer users will likely find that Open Office will meet their needs nicely. They can avoid having to pay for Microsoft Office licenses. Learning to use Open Office may take some time if they are used to working with Microsoft Office. Business users will likely want to stick with using Microsoft Office for its advanced features and support offerings. The reasons you use office software will ultimately dictate which office program suite you use.