If necessity is the mother of invention, then why does Microsoft exist? So other software companies have someone to hate, right?
How else do you explain the existence of so many Microsoft Office look-alike suites with a sweeter price tag? Sweeter? As in free. If you need Office, need cross platform compatibility, but don’t need the associated costs, check out what open does.
Open Is Microsoft’s Nemesis
One man’s nemesis is another man’s alternative. Once it became clear that Microsoft was going to own the world’s desktop PCs, the OpenOffice movement was born.
Open as in, “Let’s do a Microsoft Office-like suite of apps and give it away for free.”
This plays like a sticky soap opera.
These days, OpenOffice is owned by Oracle, a Microsoft nemesis. Oracle is run by Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ good buddy, Larry Ellison. Oracle is also the home of Java (thanks to Sun Microsystems selling out to survive).
Microsoft, if you remember, is an Apple competitor and chic-wannabe in wolves clothing. So, OpenOffice is a Microsoft Office-like suite of similar apps designed primarily to provide an alternative to Office, while sticking it (rather unsuccessfully it seems) to the man (in this case, probably Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates).
In Other Words…
In other words, if you can’t afford Microsoft Office, but you want to run Office-like apps on your Mac or PC, there’s yet another in the seemingly never-ending supply of open this or open that alternatives.
OpenOffice is written in Java, so it behaves, more or less, the same on Mac, Windows PC, even Linux PCs. There are five basic components which compete, more or less, with a full version of Microsoft Office (but without an email option).
Writer is the OO version of Microsoft’s Word. Calc is the equivalent of Excel, the spreadsheet king. Impress is designed to impress you with how similar it is to PowerPoint.
There’s also a drawing app called Draw. And a database app called Base. OpenOffice is utilitarian, not creative.
Writer – It’s what you think it is. A word processor that acts as a magnet for seldom used features. From AutoCorrect to AutoComplete, Styles, Formatting, Table of Contents, and a measure of desktop publisher thrown in.
Calc – Yes, Virginia, there is an alternative to Excel. In OO it’s called Calc.
It looks like Excel. It does spreadsheets.
Just like Excel isn’t fully compatible Windows to Mac, Calc isn’t quite compatible with Excel, but it’s close. Less fun than horseshoes, not quite as dangerous as grenades.
Impress – PowerPoint is the de facto standard for presentation software in business, and Impress aims to, well, try to impress. It does 2D and 3D graphics, has effects and animation, and more tools than Fox News has bias or Democrats have sweat beads.
Draw – Alright, it’s not Photoshop for free. It’s a simple drawing app, but it’s good for flowcharts, org charts, diagrams, and realizing that a picture is worth a thousand words, but isn’t as easy to draw as it is to write a memo.
Base – Finally, Base is the database app that attempts to compete with Microsoft’s Access by combining a free price with Wizards and Design Views. If you roll your own, not bad.
There you go. Everything you really need to know about OpenOffice before you download it and install it on your Mac (or, Windows PC, if you’re so inclined, as in hunched over, as in suffering a great weight).