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  1. #1
    Star Lounger
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    I've used Microsoft Office 2007 and actually liked it after getting used to the interface! Unfortunately many hard drive crashes and system reinstalls later, I have used up all the installs on the original CD. What to do now? My answer was Sun Microsystems OpenOffice 3.2. It features a word processor called Write, a Spreadsheet application, a Presentation application called [Presenter, database and a variety of other programs. It's roughly equivalent to Microsft Office 2003, in fact the interface is surprisingly similar! There are some things you need to know however before you really start to use it. First by default all files are saved in Open Document Format files.Microsoft Office will not read these! If you need to maintain compatibility with Microsoft Office you have to change what file format it saves to in each application within the suite! Not easily done! If you decide to leave that alone you can go to the bottom line in the Save screen and chamge it to Save as: Microsoft Word 20003/XP document. The problem is you get an annoying prompt that states you're not saving in default format and if you don't click correctly, saves in the damn default format! So change the settings!

    The word processor can be worse than Word for autoformatting! I end up fighting it more than I ever did in Word. I would have preferred more manual control as is the case with WordPerfect! The settings to turn off this are almost nonexistent and nearly impossible to find when they are! This is in my opinion the single most annoying feature of the word processor! Microsoft Word seems to not have any problems reading the file and formatting correctly once the document is saved with the correct file format. So this is a good thing! The other area I use the most is Presenter. This does have some compatibility issues with PowerPoint! A PowerPoint generated file displays with color background offsets, some templates don't display correctly and frequently font is something completely different than anticipated! Going the other way, PowerPoint seems to display everything correctly but again, the font you originally used may be a rough equivalent. This is especially true if you have used one of the special fonts within the suite. Most of the animations display correctly within PowerPoint but not necessarily the other way around...strange! I haven't used the spreadsheet program that much but so far the few I've done seem to display fine in Excel especially if saved in .xls format. The curious problem of the file being locked when I copy it doesn't occur when saved as a .xls file. That's been a real problem for me saving in .odf format so I don't use it anymore. I have not used the other features in OpenOffice 3.2 and will let someone else comment on that who may use them.

    Overall, this is a goodalternative to Microsoft Office but it is loaded with many unusual bugs that I find to be prominent in open software. While Sun has dealt with some of these from version 3.1, not all have been addressed. I guess I shouldn't complain though because OpenOffice 3.2 is free!

  2. #2
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    Glad you found something that works OK for you.

    Microsoft is generally understanding about installations after hardware crashes. A simple phone call probably would've gotten you a new key for Office 2007.

    Joe

    Joe

  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I have had to call MS more than once for an Office reinstall. You generally get 3 installs without the call, then any major change or OS reinstall that requires an Office reinstall will require a call to MS. It only takes about 10 minutes and resulted in a new key from MS. If Open Office does not do everything you want then just give MS a call.
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  4. #4
    5 Star Lounger RussB's Avatar
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    I like Open Office, it does everything that I "need", I do miss a few things, but I don't need them.
    It even does a few things better than MS Office, such as minor edits to a .pdf (need plug-in for this) and quick 'export' to a .pdf (without add-on).
    Do you "Believe"? Do you vote? Please Read:
    LEARN something today so you can TEACH something tomorrow.
    DETAIL in your question promotes DETAIL in my answer.
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  5. #5
    Star Lounger
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    I've used OpenOffice.org (to use the fully correct name) for several months now, and I am mostly happy with it, myself. Only three quibbles:

    1. I haven't figured out how to set the default tabs to something useful (such as .5" instead of .47"). Changing them for each document gets old fast!

    2. The entire suite loads at the same time, so it's a big memory hog. This is a definite problem on an older laptop with only 512MB RAM.

    3. Presenter is somewhat less than intuitive when inserting a picture into a slide. It gives every indication that the rest of your presentation has been deleted, when in fact it's still there but you need to figure out the secret key sequence to get back to it.

    Definitely worth checking out if you're looking for an alternative, but I won't go so far as to say it's the be-all and end-all.

  6. #6
    2 Star Lounger
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    I haven't figured out how to set the default tabs to something useful (such as .5" instead of .47"). Changing them for each document gets old fast.
    You need to create a new default template with the settings you want. See http://user.services.openoffice.org/...hp?f=71&t=1161.

  7. #7
    New Lounger
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    I have used OpenOffice for wordprocessing. There was no problem converting a WORD 2003 document to .odt format. It is a good free alternative to WORD. The only problem I have with the suite is that the database program is not yet as good as ACCESS.

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    It is interesting the comments about OpenOffice -- I've been using it for about five years now and I don't install or use Microsoft Office at all. I've learned Openoffice well enough that trying to use Word on my Dad's system is like a nightmare. There are things I do in OpenOffice easily that are very difficult for me in Microsoft Office -- and some of my documents are quite complicated.

    I guess it is what you get used to that works the best -- like the original author's comments about WordPerfect...

    For free -- OpenOffice is enough for me. I especially enjoy the Language Tool add-on that checks grammar on the fly.

  9. #9
    New Lounger
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    I would highly recommend Go-OO http://go-oo.org/. It is an open office derivative with many improvements. including support for VBA macros and MS 2007 formats (docx, ppt, xlsx etc). It starts much faster and also uses less memory than the official Sun build.
    Download link here

  10. #10
    New Lounger
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    To clarify, the five minute phone call to Microsoft for reactivating Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007 resets the existing 25-character product key so it works again, it does not reissue a new product key. At least in my experience.

    As for OO.o, a great suite. It has its share of bugs though.

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    I have not found any problems with saving in either .doc or .rtf; just go to tools>options>load and save>general> and select the file type you want to automatically save stuff in unless you specify otherwise at the time of saving.

    The only problem I ran into at first is envelopes; you need to mess around with the envelope a bit to get it right; when you get the thing formatted the way you want, save it and use it as a future "template".

    Karl

  12. #12
    New Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Liesse View Post
    I've used OpenOffice.org (to use the fully correct name) for several months now, and I am mostly happy with it, myself. Only three quibbles:

    1. I haven't figured out how to set the default tabs to something useful (such as .5" instead of .47"). Changing them for each document gets old fast!

    2. The entire suite loads at the same time, so it's a big memory hog. This is a definite problem on an older laptop with only 512MB RAM.

    3. Presenter is somewhat less than intuitive when inserting a picture into a slide. It gives every indication that the rest of your presentation has been deleted, when in fact it's still there but you need to figure out the secret key sequence to get back to it.

    Definitely worth checking out if you're looking for an alternative, but I won't go so far as to say it's the be-all and end-all.
    Try programs=>openoffice=>writer=>make shortcut + then drop the new shortcut to the desktop. This will load ONLY writer and avoid loading the entire shebang. I've been using the suite since I bought StarOffice from Sun (long ago before they released the source code to the community). It beats word all hollow once you're up the slight learning curve.

  13. #13
    5 Star Lounger
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    I use OO 3.2 at home and work. We're replacing older copies of MS Office with it at work. With our new Win7 machines, and for the refreshed XP machines, Open Office will be the only option for 85% of our users. Aside from some formatting that needed to be cleaned up, it is working very well in our pilot areas. The biggest compatibility issue that I've seen in the past, besides document formatting, is spreadsheets with complex formulas and pivot tables. Here some good tutorials on how to use Open Office:

    For OpenOffice Writer (comparable to Word):
    http://www.tutorialsforopenoffice.or...rocessing.html

    For Calc (comparable to Excel):
    http://www.tutorialsforopenoffice.or...readsheet.html

    For Impress (comparable to PowerPoint):
    http://www.tutorialsforopenoffice.org/category_index/presentation.html
    Chuck

  14. #14
    2 Star Lounger
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    A good source for user to user help is http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/index.php. Another user to user site is http://www.oooforum.org/forum/index.phtml. This one gets lots of spam.

  15. #15
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    After more than 20 years of MS Office, I was forced into OpenOffice because I bought a Mac and Excel for mac is garbage. It will not run any macros and is not customizable.

    At first I thought I'd switch over the entire company, where we currently run Office 2002 and 2007. But there are still a lot of problems with OpenOffice.
    ---It will not release links. Tell it to break the links and it does, but they come back when you open the file, so you can't send it to anyone without Copy/Paste values
    ---There are a lot of things you can't put on the toolbar
    ---By default, copy/paste special opens to the same as paste, and unchecking put leaves everything checked.
    ---Formatting for printing, or selecting for sorting takes several more screens
    ---It is easy to save into Excel, but frequently the receiving computers can't open them.
    ---You can only filter one column at a time on a workbook. filter one sheet and the rest disappear
    ---The freeze panes sometimes disappears
    ---The text and background colors default between every click. You can't just go down the column clicking to highlight
    ---You can't use multiple "if" statements in formulas.

    Anyway, I've given it 9 months of trial, but I am anxiously awaiting the release of the new Excel for Mac at the end of the year.

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