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Apache OpenOffice Free and Open Productivity Suite

If it comes to dealing with word processing, Powerpoint, Spreadsheets, Databases and so on, most people using a Windows PC would immediately think of Microsoft Office. Many PCs come with a 3 month test version, which however requires buying when this period is over. There is a good number of free and good programs that can do most, if not all Microsoft Office can. Probably at the top of this is Open Office.

OpenOffice Free – an alternative to Microsoft Office

Open Office Suite
Apache OpenOffice Free and Open Productivity Suite

Open Office is free, open source application suite with several modules, including Writer (word processor), Calc (spreadsheet, similar to Excel), Database (base), Impress (presentations), a PowerPoint clone, Draw (graphics), Math (“A tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor”).

The recent versions allow you to open Microsoft password-protected documents and export to PDF. You can always save the documents in Microsoft compatible formats, so they can be opened and edited by folks using Microsoft Office components. It may need getting used to the user interface, if you are coming from a Microsoft Office “background”, but once you spend sometime with it, you will find it offers quite a lot and for free! A basic version of Office “Office Home and Student 2010” with Word, excel & Powerpoint went for about $150 (at the time this was initially writen). Other versions offering all that O.O does cost considerably more.

Open Office is available in many languages and for different operating systems like Linux & MAC as well, in addition to Windows (Windows XP, Windows 2003, Windows 2012, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, RAM, best at least 512MB & 650MB disc space).

The text processor Writer

OpenOffice Text processor - Writer
OpenOffice Text processor – Writer

Writer saves documents by default in the “.odf” format. It is important, if you would like Microsoft Word users to open this & other OpenOffice composed documents to save them in Microsoft formats, in this case “.doc”. The first time you save, use “Save as” & then select the file type “Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP (.doc)(*.doc)”. You will be asked to confirm if you would like to save in this selected format, i.e. not .odf. Confirm & you now have a Microsoft Word-compatible format. Subsequent savings of the same document do not require this since the format is set to .doc.

Get Open Office

Go to https://www.openoffice.org/download/index.html and select the right version for your PC, for Windows, the “Download full installation”. You need a fast connection for the about 160MB or it will take quite long to download.

During installation, the installer first extracts files into a folder on the desktop [unless you change this], before proceeding. After installation, this folder can be deleted. The functionality can be widened by installing extensions, such as dictionaries & templates.

Alternatives

There are quite a number, but I will name

  • LibreOffice Productivity Suite from http://www.libreoffice.org/download/. This is similar to Open Office, from which it is derived.
  • WPS Office Free (2014) from Kingsoft Software. “WPS Office Free 2014 is perhaps the most versatile free office suite, which includes free word processor, spreadsheet program and presentation maker.”