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OpenOffice 2.3 is out, and it rocks.

October 3, 2007

I’m not a member of the “Microsoft is Evil Incarnate” clan. Sure, some of their business practices are, well, open to scrutiny and legitimate critique. I do not like their resistance to open document standards that would make formatted documents readable, writable and editable in multiple word processing programs.


When beginning seminary I bought a laptop that had the “other” popular office suite – Corel WordPerfect. WordPerfect has always been a more powerful word processor than MS Word, but it seems everyone else in the universe uses Word. I found myself frustrated when all of my classmates would send Word documents (.doc) for me to read. While WordPerfect could open them, the formatting was often horrible.


I certainly didn’t want to spend hundreds more dollars on Microsoft Office. Sure, I could have used the Microsoft Works disc from my other computer, but that wouldn’t have been exactly legal and besides, Works didn’t exactly handle .doc documents seamlessly either. I began searching the internet and happened upon and its sister suite, StarOffice. StarOffice (Sun’s commercial version of was available free for educational use (students, teachers, researchers), so I applied for the free educational license and installed it.


I didn’t regret it. It handled .doc waaaay better than WordPerfect, and I didn’t have to pay a dime. I could save my papers as .doc and nobody ever complained about my formatting. I could also export documents as .pdf (something Word couldn’t do) when I needed something to look perfect when I printed it. I could create slide show presentations, save them as PowerPoint documents and play them on the school’s computers beautifully. Sure, sometimes it was best to fine-tune the document a little bit using PowerPoint, but for the most part this suite was truly usable.


Later I switched to OOo, simply because their upgrades came faster.


Now I’m employed and I could afford MS Office, but I’m not going to buy it. Microsoft does not deserve a virtual monopoly on productivity software – nobody does. In fact, I will happily serve as an evangelist for OOo for a number of reasons!


  • It is free to download, use, and upgrade for any kind of use whatsoever. Free for students, businesses, individuals, schools, anybody!

  • People can get rid of illegal installations of Office.

  • OOo is supported by a responsive community of developers and users. The forums have helped me out many times when using the software.

  • Writer (the word processor) has some very powerful features that are lacking in every other suite. There are some features the average user will never need, but it’s sure nice to know they’re there.

  • It is available for multiple operating systems.

  • They are constantly working to improve the product, and several bloggers update the community on improvement status.

  • StarOffice is now available to everyone for free via Google Pack.

Don’t use someone else’s disc to install Office on your computer. Don’t support the virtual monopoly on office software or file formats. Get OOo or StarOffice (or if you only need simple word processing, get AbiWord; another free, open-source word processor that can read, write and edit .doc and supports open file formats).

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