In the past, there haven’t been any legitimate free contenders to Microsoft Office. That is until OpenOffice arrived. In recent years, other free alternatives such as Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, and even OpenOffice’s own spinoff, Libre Office, have stolen the spotlight. However, the original free alternative is still alive and kicking. Much like Microsoft Office, OpenOffice’s open-source suite features word processing, spreadsheet, presentation, and database management programs, as well as math and drawing apps that have no Microsoft Office equivalent.
OpenOffice is free for Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems and is compatible with most Microsoft file formats like DOCX, PPT, XML, and XLS.
OpenOffice: At a glance
Before getting into the review, here are some quick pros and cons of Apache OpenOffice.
- OpenOffice features stellar compatibility with Microsoft Office formats.
- It has a nostalgic, familiar user interface.
- OpenOffice does not include any native cloud storage features.
- Real-time collaboration with other users is not supported.
OpenOffice’s noticeable lack of cloud support makes collaboration nearly impossible, but it has all the essential features needed to work with Microsoft Office formats.
Do you remember what Microsoft Office looked like back in 2003? If you said yes, then you’ll have a pretty good idea of how OpenOffice’s interface looks. There’s no trendy ribbon interface here. OpenOffice uses old-school menus and toolbars. Writing with a word processor can be tricky, so it can be nice to simplify the interface. If you’re not into Microsoft Office’s current look, this may be good news, but it can take some time to readjust if you’re used to the current interface.
OpenOffice’s default file format is the Open Document standard, but you can save to Microsoft file formats. It can also read and write existing Word, PowerPoint, and Excel files. Most of the time, it handles this task flawlessly, even with documents with complex formats like multi-column newsletters and resumes. It has some issues on occasion, but usually, these problems are fixed with minor tweaks. OpenOffice also allows you to export files to PDF format from all three programs. A major way OpenOffice and Microsoft Office differ is in collaboration. Microsoft’s programs, like Outlook and OneDrive, are tightly integrated, allowing users to easily share and work on files with other users without changing programs. While OpenOffice supports document review features such as tracking changes and commenting, it has no native email or cloud storage programs. However, there is an extension that allows users to connect to a plethora of third-party cloud storage programs, including Google Drive and Box. In addition, you can configure OpenOffice’s programs to operate with open-source email clients like Mozilla Thunderbird.
OpenOffice has wonderful, easy compatibility with Microsoft Office.
The familiar, old-school, Microsoft-like interface is nostalgic and easy to use.
Email support and native cloud storage features are sorely missed after using Microsoft Office.
There are no mobile apps.
What is Apache OpenOffice best for?
If you don’t mind the dated interface and only need to work with Microsoft Office file formats, OpenOffice has everything you need. However, if collaboration with others is something you need to do, there are other, easier alternatives available.