What is OpenOffice?

All Windows devices come with Microsoft Office installed as the “official” office suite. It is now considered a standard in the industry. Being such a complete product, Microsoft Office is a paid service. But what if you wanted a free alternative that didn’t lose the features that made Microsoft Office the standard? Free software lovers turned to OpenOffice, a completely free and open-source alternative. It soon became a favourite for millions around the world, but what is OpenOffice? Let’s dive into its history and some other interesting details.

Why is it free? What is the benefit of designing a quality office suite and distributing it without charging anything for it? The find the answer, we must understand the philosophy of free software.

Remember that whenever you’re downloading free software, it’s important to be aware of safe cybersecurity practices.

A Brief History of OpenOffice

In 1992, Star Division launched the first rudimentary version of OpenOffice. This first version was branded “Star Office,” the precursor to the OpenOffice we know today.

It wasn’t until 1996 that the first OpenOffice launched with support for Linux. It soon became an office suite available for a wider variety of operating systems than its Microsoft competitor.

In 2000, the ambitious open-source project grew even more with the creation of OpenOffice.org. This kickstarted a huge boom for OpenOffice. Within a few years, OpenOffice reached 20 million downloads, was available in 110 different languages, and was used on Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Microsoft Office, once the undisputed king of the office suite, now had a serious competitor.

In 2009, the Oracle Corporation acquired Sun Microsystems, the main developer of OpenOffice, and rebranded the office suite as Oracle OpenOffice. The following year, unhappy with this new direction, some prominent members of the OpenOffice community launched their own office suite. This suite, Libre Office, sought to capture the original vision of OpenOffice. There have been attempts to end this rift in the community, but they have failed.

Now branded as Apache OpenOffice, the beloved open-source alternative to Microsoft Office, is a stalled project in danger of closing down and with an end in sight.

Open Office applications

Even though OpenOffice has slowed down in recent years, it still has plenty to offer its users. First, however, it is important to know what it is and what it has to offer. Last updated in May 2022, OpenOffice is still an active software and is still used by many people and companies around the world. Here are the applications available as part of the OpenOffice office suite:


Writer is OpenOffice’s word processor, its answer to Microsoft Word. Using Writer; you can open and save documents using many formats, including the .doc format, Microsoft Word’s official format. Writer has the capabilities to password protect documents, allow inserting images and OLE objects, support digital signatures, use symbols, formulas, calculation tables, charts, hyperlinks, bookmarks, forms, and more. It also has a powerful, easy-to-use HTML editor built in. Recent versions of OpenOffice Writer have improved the user interface and have solved many pre-existing compatibility problems with other file formats.


Calc is OpenOffice’s spreadsheet application, fully compatible with Microsoft’s Excel. Calc is a fully compatible OpenOffice spreadsheet application Excel from Microsoft. In some aspects, Calc is even superior to its Microsoft counterpart. Calc is less vulnerable to certain viruses and is able to perform functions Excel cannot, such as graphical representation of data series. Calc also boasts a much more sophisticated function wizard.


Equivalent to Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Impress is OpenOffice’s slideshow editing program. With Impress, users can create PDF files and export presentations to run on any computer that has Adobe Flash Player installed. However, a weak point of Impress is its comparatively small selection of design templates.


Base is OpenOffice’s answer to Microsoft Access, an information management program used to store and manage data for reporting, analysis, and reference. It is a useful tool that can be utilised to carry out functions like creating and modifying tables and forms from the HSQL database management system.


Similar to Microsoft Visio, Draw is OpenOffice’s vector graphics editor. It allows users to create anything from simple diagrams to complex 3D illustrations. Draw can import graphics from a variety of formats, including BMP, GIF, JPEG, and PNG.


Math allows users to create and edit all kinds of simple or complex mathematical formulas, similar to Microsoft Equation Edition. Math can export formulas to PDF format and also to other documents in OpenOffice applications, such as Writer.

Should you use OpenOffice?

Everyone has their own different tastes and preferences, but it’s hard to ignore the package available with OpenOffice. If you want to enjoy the benefits of a robust office suite like Microsoft Office for free, OpenOffice is a great option. It is a full-fledged office suite packed with capable programs with much to offer its users. However, it should be noted that most of OpenOffice’s applications are a bit outdated and, in some cases, may not function properly due to the lack of recent updates. 

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