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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Freeware review

Sun Microsystems has released an open source office suite called OpenOffice, or for those of you of Mac persuasions, NeoOffice. Considering the fact that the last computer I've worked with built by Apple was the Apple ii-e (and some of you younger readers, assuming there are any, may want to look for an online museum to find out what it was), and considering that NeoOffice is based on an earlier build of OpenOffice than the current version which I'm using, I have no useful commentary to provide on that program. However, I have played with the OpenOffice software for Windows, and it's an impressive suite, comprised of six office programs: Writer, Impress, Math, Draw, Calc, and Base. Writer is, as its name would suggest, a word-processing program capable of saving and reading documents in a wide variety of formats, including compatibility with three different types of Word, three types of StarWriter and StarWriter templates, Palm documents, Pocket Word, .txt, .html, .xml, the archaic RealText format, and can even export files in .pdf format, though to read or use any of the other functionalities of Adobe Acrobat, you will need the Adobe Acrobat Reader or greater. Similar or greater versatility can be found in Calc, the spreadsheet program, along with the ability to export as a .pdf file. Frankly, I haven't figured out what to do with Math, though I understand it's more of something to do with statistics. Draw is great for creating logos, org charts, and more. I haven't really played much with Database, the database portion of this suite, or Impress, the slideshow portion of this suite, but the transition from one portion of this suite to another is very clean. Of the programs with whose analogs I was already familiar, it was almost identical to that with which I was already familiar, though there were slight differences. Overall, I'm very impressed with this suite, and would recommend it to anyone with a sufficiently fast internet connection or with a friend who has one and is willing to download it for you. This is a large download in the 90 meg neighborhood.

Though this is speculation, I think this was an excellent bit of strategy by Sun. In short, I think this could help drive demand for their proprietary software by showing people exactly what they're capable of creating. Also, it allows for the use of files in their format for people who may not have their StarOffice software. All in all, very good work.


1138 said...

Glad you like it.
Star Office has really matured over the last 10 years.
A lot of folks were concerned about the Sun takeover, and it hasn't always been a smooth ride between SunOffice and StarOffice, but overall it's gone a lot beter than many other things over the last decade.

Mandelbrot's Chaos said...

I'm slowly trying to wean myself off of Bill Gates' tit, so I figure this was a good first step, a good way to put my toe in the water. Also, prior to that, I'd been forced to rely on Microsoft Works spreadsheets, and trust me when I say that's a level of hell you don't want to go through. Still, even if I had Excel on my computer, I'd still love this office suite. For my next computer, as a result of this experience, I'll probably go with the most current version of StarOffice. Besides, they make a version that's Linux-compatible, and I'm thinking either RedHat or SuSE for my next computer. It'll mean I can't play some games on Yahoo, but that's okay.