8 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use OpenOffice

Posted on March 20, 2011


We are living in a special age. An era where more and more people are embracing open source software over commercial closed source software. Only a few years ago, open source was used by few, only the extreme geeks who had the desire to develop, collaborate, and tweak their own software. But now, in this new age of open source development, even people who have used commercial products for years are deciding to make the switch. Businesses, professionals — not just the freedom fighting hippies of technology that people envisioned to be using these products. Products like OpenOffice, a free open source office suite, are alternatives to programs like Microsoft Office and Apple iWork.

Unfortunately for open source optimists, most businesses still choose to use Microsoft Office. And they do have good reasons — “why should we change what has worked for us for years?”. A common defense for those who don’t want to take the plunge. But, like many things, the pros of changing over to OpenOffice outweigh the cons.

1. It Works Just As Well

People never use all the functions packed into Word and Excel, most of the work you’ll be doing won’t even come close to pushing the limits of the program you’re using. OpenOffice can do everything your everyday Microsoft Office programs can. It just takes a bit of getting used to for someone who’s used to working on MS Office, but after a bit of use you’ll have it mastered.

2. Easy Upgrades

The main benefit of open source software is the community behind it. Millions of people working together to make the software better. All the time. Every day of the week, every month of the year. Unlike Microsoft, which releases a new improved version of Office every 3 years, the OpenOffice team is always releasing little patches and upgrades to keep the software running smooth. Also, you don’t need to completely reinstall the program for every update, it just happens automatically, quickly, painlessly. Best of all, if there’s a problem, just report it to the community and it could get fixed within a few days. That’s the power of the most powerful community in the world.

3. Easy To Redistribute

Not having to worry about costly licensing and distribution fees is great. You can get one copy and give it to all your employees to take home, absolutely free. Parents are constantly worrying about spending hundreds of dollars for Microsoft Office so their kids in school can work on their computers at home. With OpenOffice, schools could distribute CD’s to all parents, students, and teachers.

4. Extensions and Add-Ons

If you want extra features, the OpenOffice community has thousands of add-ons that you can download to get more functionality out of your software. For example: the Google Docs Integration add-on lets you automatically export your documents to Google Docs. Extensions can be downloaded from extensions.services.openoffice.org.

5. Open Formats

OpenOffice uses the ODF format (OpenOffice Document Format). Each program has its own ODF extension — Writer has ODT, Calc has ODS, etc…. Best of all, in Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft added support to all Office versions to allow them to support ODT documents. The same works the other way around; OpenOffice programs can read and write Microsoft Office documents too (.docx, .xlsx, etc…). That means you can easily collaborate and share documents with Microsoft Office users, no extra add-ons required.

6. PDF Support

Unlike Microsoft Office, OpenOffice has been able to support PDF files for a long time. That means you don’t need to deal with Adobe Reader to read and edit basic PDF documents.

7. More Software

There’s only one version of OpenOffice, as opposed to several versions of Microsoft Office. The one version of OpenOffice includes more software then the basic Home and Student version of MS Office as well — it includes a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program, vector graphics program and a math program.

8. Cross Platform

OpenOffice works on Mac OSX (Intel and PPC alike), Windows, and comes standard on all versions of Linux. Best of all, the UI and features don’t differ from different platforms — it’s all the same no matter what operating system you’re running.