vs. Microsoft Office

Nobody disputes that Microsoft Office is king of the hill in office suites, but if you put marketing and market share aside, how does compare?
The Outcome

The fact that is free software predisposes me to prefer it. However, until I completed the analysis, I had no idea what the results would be. They ended (if you haven't been keeping score) with OOo and MSO in a tie for general interface and spreadsheets, OOo in the lead in word processors, and MSO ahead in slide presentations. What these results suggest, I think, is that both office suites are mature products. Given a moment's thought, that shouldn't be surprising, since OOo's development goes back more than 20 years. But we tend to think of OOo as a recent development, so the closeness of the comparison may come as a bit of a surprise.

This is the fourth time I have compared the two office suites. Each time, the differences between them have gotten smaller. Now, they are less than ever before. For those of us in the Free Software community, the latest results help to prove what we have known all along: opting for free software does not mean being satisfied with inferior tools. Of course, you might disagree with my conclusions, depending on your needs and expertise. But what they emphasize, more than anything else is that today free productivity apps can stand toe to toe with their proprietary equivalents, and win as often as they lose.

Bruce Byfield is a computer journalist who covers free and open-source software. He has been a contributing editor at Maximum Linux and, and he currently is doing a column and a blog for Linux Pro Magazine. His articles appear regularly on such sites as Datamation, Linux Journal and Linux Planet. His article, “11 tips for moving to” was the cover story for the March 2004 issue of Linux Journal.


-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)


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Not always.

Anonymous's picture

I've been writing code on various platforms for 30 years, but I still find spreadsheets to be useful for quick and dirty solutions.

I certainly wouldn't use one to create an application as such, but they can be very good for doing things like generating ad hoc graphs, or doing personal finance stuff.

If I want to generate graphs on a regular basis, I usually do it with a mix of bash scripts, gnuplot, and image magick. But not one-offs.

Calc != Excel

Anonymous's picture

For anyone who uses Excel on a regular basis, Calc just makes them angry. Little things count.

The contrary is also true.

Anonymous's picture

The contrary is also true.


Anonymous's picture

Count things little? Big things count? ;-)

Try large spreadsheets with

Anonymous's picture

Try large spreadsheets with multi thousand formulas and autocalc switched on in excel and calc...
Till Calc uses more than one cpu, it will be something for the netbook users to create their household accounts. Calc is just not ready for the technical world yet - those who rely on the power of spreadsheets.