Why Do I Use OpenOffice?
I admit it. I use OpenOffice.org (OOo) at home. I use it in preference to most similar products. I use it because its price is zero and because it is free. (Otherwise, I’d be paying a small amount and using StarOffice.) But if price was the only reason, there are other products out there. KOffice, for example, and both AbiWord and Gnumeric are all zero-price freeware as well as free software. And finally, there is WordPerfect, which remains my favorite office product, but is not available on my preferred platform at any price. There is Microsoft Office, which is what I have to use at work.
I also use KOffice. KOffice is my third favorite office product. I use KOffice when I already have multiple applications open and do not want the dragginess that OpenOffice.org would produce. Whenever that drag is not an issue (e.g., only one other application open), I go back to OOo.
I have access to Microsoft Office 2003 at work. So why do I prefer to wait until after work and use OpenOffice? Because OOo offers nearly everything that MSOffice offers, without being so annoying. One annoyance that I commonly find with Microsoft’s product is the way it changes the interface to hide functionality (menu items, toolbar buttons) it decides you don’t need. It was there last week, but now when I want to use it, it is no longer there. Or how about opening attached documents in “reading layout”? Like it or not, most documents eventually get printed onto paper. When I open an attached document, it is not the content that I am looking for (or it would be pasted into the message body), but the way it looks. Switching to a non-page-oriented display is exactly the wrong thing to do.
In addition, using OpenDocument Format as the default file format helps future-proof my documents. After the current producers of “office software” all move on to something else, will you have the right to create a program to read and manipulate your data in the formats it was saved in? Will you be forced to buy a license from someone? Or perhaps be required to use a particular operating system?
If software is female, WordPerfect is the French maid, OpenOffice is MaryAnn (Gilligan’s Island) and MS Office is the Russian weightlifter. I know which one I’d avoid. This may explain why I question the wisdom of soon-coming MS Ad-infested Office, when others think so highly of it. Or it could be the memory of the old “free dial-up Internet if you view our constant ads” days. I quickly went back to a paid service when the ads consumed most of the bandwidth. Just wait until your print preview requires you to wait 30 seconds while an ad banner dances, sparkles, and sings to you.