The Case for OpenOffice

I am a long-time user of Microsoft Word but, now and then, I also dabble with OpenOffice (particularly on Linux where Word is not an option). One thing which keeps me – and presumably others – from making more extensive use of OpenOffice is lack of familiarity with it. Although it is superficially similar to Word, there are also enough differences that you have to be prepared to re-learn a few things.


Of course, learning how OpenOffice Writer differs from Word (or Impress from Powerpoint) takes time and this is something which many of us – myself included – are reluctant to invest. We are busy and we already have a solution we know works so why bother learning OpenOffice? Good question. Indeed, for many people it doesn’t make sense – they have no compelling need to switch. They have Microsoft Word and see no reason to change. For others, however, there are some reasons why OpenOffice might be of interest:

  • They use Linux or another non-Windows Operating System for which OpenOffice is available and would like to know more about how to use it.
  • They use more than one Operating System and see OpenOffice as good way to ensure their documents are editable across all of them.
  • They use Windows but would like to move to Linux so see the need to switch from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice.
  • They use Windows but do not want to keep paying Microsoft for new versions of Office and they see OpenOffice as a viable alternative.
  • They are interested in supporting the open document formats promoted by OpenOffice.

Since I use Linux (currently Ubuntu) as well as Windows, I probably fall into the first two of these categories.

Whilst I have previously invested minimal time in learning OpenOffice, I now feel that, with a little extra effort, I could get more out of it. To that end, I will be firing up OpenOffice more often – yes, even on Windows – in an attempt to create my documents using it and, of course, documenting my findings (positive or negative) here as I go along.