Monday, January 25, 2010

Microsoft Office Alternative - Open Office

Need the functionality of Microsoft Office but can't afford the price tag? 

Download the feature rich Open Office 3.1 free of charge from aims to compete with Microsoft Office and emulate its look and feel where suitable. It can read and write most of the file formats found in Microsoft Office, and many other applications; an essential feature of the suite for many users. has been found to be able to open files of older versions of Microsoft Office and damaged files that newer versions of Microsoft Office itself cannot open. However, it cannot open older Word for Macintosh (MCW) files.

Here is a quick run down of what Open Office contains:

Writer - A word processor similar to Microsoft Word and WordPerfect. It can export Portable Document Format (PDF) files with no additional software, and can function as a basic WYSIWYG editor for creating and editing web pages.

Calc - A spreadsheet similar to Microsoft Excel and Lotus 1-2-3. Calc provides a number of features not present in Excel, including a system which automatically defines series for graphing, based on the layout of the user’s data. Calc can also export spreadsheets to the PDF format.

Impress - A presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint and Apple Keynote. It can export presentations to Adobe Flash (SWF) files, allowing them to be played on any computer with a Flash player installed. It also includes the ability to create PDF files, and the ability to read Microsoft PowerPoint's .ppt format. Impress lacks ready-made presentation designs. However, templates are readily available on the Internet.

Base - A database management program similar to Microsoft Access. Base allows the creation and manipulation of databases, and the building of forms and reports to provide easy access to data for end-users. As with Access, Base may be used as a front-end to a number of different database systems, including Access databases (JET), ODBC data sources and MySQL/PostgreSQL. Base became part of the suite starting with version 2.0. Native to the suite is an adaptation of HSQL. While Base can be a front-end for any of the databases listed, there is no need for any of them to be installed. Raw SQL code can be entered by those who prefer it, or graphical user interfaces can be used.

Draw - A vector graphics editor and diagramming tool, similar to Microsoft Visio and comparable in features to early versions of CorelDRAW. It features versatile "connectors" between shapes, which are available in a range of line styles and facilitate building drawings such as flowcharts. It has similar features to Desktop publishing software such as Scribus and Microsoft Publisher. Draw can also export its creations to the PDF format.
Math - A tool for creating and editing mathematical formulae, similar to Microsoft Equation Editor. Formulae can be embedded inside other documents, such as those created by Writer. It supports multiple fonts and can export to PDF.

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