OpenOffice.org vs. Microsoft Office
The fact that OpenOffice.org 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 Linux.com, 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 OpenOffice.org” was the cover story for the March 2004 issue of Linux Journal.
-- Bruce Byfield (nanday)
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