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  1. #1
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    OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    I work in environmental consulting and it was suggested that we look into moving away from Microsoft Office and purchase Open Office to run instead. Based on what I have read, Open Office is supposed to be completely compatible with Microsoft Office. I would like to know if anyone out there is familiar with Open Office, if so, how "compatible" is it with Microsoft Office, and what are the pitfalls? I want to be completely educated before I go into discussion, and I want to hear actual testimony so I know all that I may be faced with. We operate Office 2000/XP right now, and heavily use Word, Power Point, Excel and Outlook. Any information will help. Thanks!

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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    I have not looked into OPenOffice, but I suspect that it will not replace Office until OpenOffice can fully support macros written for Office.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    It depends what you mean by "compatible." As Howard notes, OpenOffice does not host MS Office VBA. If your environment relies on VBA, you will have a big porting effort unless there is a third party conversion tool that works miracles.

    With respect to features, I think you can get reasonable answers but no perfect answer, for three reasons. First, both products are moving targets, constantly being updated, tweaked, patched. Second, the features sets of an office suite are so incredibly huge that it simply would be impossible to compare them keystroke for keystroke, dialog for dialog, across a wide enough range of documents, printers, operating environments, and other circumstances, to determine whether they really offer the same features. Third, it is difficult to imagine that anyone could be so deeply, intimately familiar with an MS Office application and would be willing and able to do an extensive (potentially weeks long), objective, truly enlightened blow-by-blow on the equivalent OpenOffice application. Even more difficult to find someone to do every application.

    On the other hand, if the question is, "can OpenOffice read and write MS Office file formats accurately," I think that is a question that can and will be answered over the course of time because it will impact most users of OpenOffice. But where to search for the answers, other than at OpenOffice.com, I couldn't tell you.

    I don't want to sound indifferent, if I had another 5 hours in the day, I probably would download it and try it out. But mastering the little corner of MS Office that (I think) I have nailed down has taken 9 years; I'm not sure I can do it again!

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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    In the real world, businesses rely on Office and it's macros, especially for Access, Excel and Word, not to mention the tight integration with other software. This integration will get even tighter when the next version of Office is reaeased as it will be .NET-ized.

    And if MSFT sees signs of OPenOffice "catching up" with macros, and I do not believe that is feasible, you can bet your sweet bippy that MSFT will make some change to the development/datbase environment to further lock us in.

    Hmmm, this was my 1100th posting. I yearn to get to 1200 to get my promotion, tired of being a 5 star general.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    While I don't disagree that the power is there for the using, I look around my office and, if not for me, as far as I can tell, there would be no use of Word VBA code here, other than what was supplied by the DMS (document management system) vendor. There is Excel coding going on in Accounting, but I doubt that it would be difficult to recreate in StarBasic, or whatever the macro language of OpenOffice is called. Many people seem more interested in Acrobat applications than MS Office applications.

    In my view, Microsoft has only locked in the power users and a select group of developers. We are opinion leaders and tend to view the world in terms of our needs and preferences, but if we all took an extended vacation at the same time, the world could change very quickly!

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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    Ah, but you must look closer!

    Whilst most users do not write macros, there are lots of 3rd party add-ins, such as Acrobat and WinFax that use VBA for addins. And many/most users are using macros provided by 3rd partys, or inhouse developers, or out house developers.

    I would not find Word/Office as useful without macros.

    For example, I have a macro that computes what I charge for a particular service. I also use it to figure out how much time I am willing to give for a given payment.

    Another macro, updates various cells in Excel worksheets that keep track of the time I spend on certain tasks and computes Client charges.

    I've also got macros that do useful things with Outlook and Powerpoint.

    Learning how to use macros, at even a low level, would result in significant time savings for most users.

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    Super Moderator jscher2000's Avatar
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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    Sure, a lot of folks have little macros here and there. Little macros can be ported or re-created easily. It is only the big ones that would appear on the corporate radar in determining whether to get off the Software Assurance bandwagon. I don't doubt that Adobe and Palm will port their add-ins if customers demand it.

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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    In order to port "macros" to Open Office, OpenOffice would have to provide equivalent macro capabilities and equivalent product integration. Not so easy.

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    Re: OpenOffice compatibility with MS Office (2000/XP)?

    By the way... certain proprietary aspects of StarOffice, including the spell checker, are not included in OpenOffice.org because the copyright holders did not permit open source licensing of those components. Some initially missing parts, such as online help, are still under construction. In light of those gaps, I think that rather than become part of a development project with OpenOffice.org, you should evaluate Sun's StarOffice 6.0. You can put it through its paces for about $70 retail, and it does include a spell checker, online help, and a database program (which I have never used).

    I say all this with a twinge of regret, as there is a certain humor value in working on a community software project. For example, this FAQ from the OpenOffice.org site:
    <hr>I just installed OOo, now I can't open DOC files with Word anymore! What happened?

    When you installed open office, it asked you whether you wanted to associate MS Office files with openoffice. You clicked yes for each type (word, excel, etc). IF YOU DID NOT WANT THE ASSOCIATION, THEN WHY DID YOU TELL IT TO DO IT? ...<hr>
    You know the tech support people at every commercial software company are thinking this, but they never just come right out and say it. <img src=/S/laugh.gif border=0 alt=laugh width=15 height=15>

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