Trying to Leave MS Office

I mentioned in a post previously that I didn't like what Powerpoint was doing to presentations.  In fact, I have actually abandoned Powerpoint entirely even
for the few slides I do use in favor of the presentation package from the
free Open Office applications suite.
This package, which has really come into its own with the version 2
beta, opens and writes MS Office applications and is a pretty good
substitute, sometimes better, occasionally worse, for MS Office. 

I am
stress testing the whole package this winter, plus Thunderbird for email and of course Firefox
on which I am already sold for browsing, as a way to begin migrating
our company to having no MS Office at all.  I am tired of paying
hundreds of dollars per seat for applications that overwhelm and
confuse my employees.  Because of our need to interchange files with a
number of other entities, we need to be able to work with .xlw and .doc
files, so this makes for a nice solution for us.  My experience has
been very very good so far - let me know in the comments if you have
experience with these products.

Update: Thanks for the comments, keep them coming.  I continue to have very good luck in my stress testing.  Thuderbird is great, except that the spam filter sends to many good mails to spam - I would like the control to dial it back a notch.  OO Writer is good, with only some small formatting changes on tables from MS word.  I actually find its formatting and outlining tools better than MS word, and like the built in export to pdf.  The excel clone is working fine, and I can hardly tell the difference between the presentation package and powerpoint.  I have not played with the equation editor yet, but my daughter likes the draw package.  I had trouble with the database, but I find it is always hard to migrate to a new DB.  I never was able to switch from access to filemaker, and everyone tells me that filemaker is easier but I just got used to doing things in access.

One of my worries about migrating this to my employees is that many of my managers are computer noobs, and tend to go out and buy excel and word books from Barnes and Noble when they get the computer on the first day.  There are no such reasources for Open Office, and it is different enough from MS Office that the books don't really apply well.


  1. Duane Gran:

    Several years ago I tried to break away by using OpenOffice, but at the time I found that people had occasional trouble opening files I sent to them. This may have improved, but if you find yourself sharing files often with others outside of your organization you may find it frustrating to switch.

  2. Skip Oliva:

    I've migrated most of my nonprofit organization's work from MS Office to OpenOffice 2. The outside compatibility issues have been insignificant. The largest advantage has been the built-in PDF creation function, which is essential for us, because we post a ton of documents online.

  3. rereason:

    I downloaded Open Office last week for my 13 year-old daughter. She had been begging for PowerPoint, which I too find clunky. She created her first presentation in less than an hour.

  4. rereason:

    Oh, I've got to add, it got a glowing review in PC Magazine. They said the portability problems in the earlier version were fixed.

  5. mjh:

    If you're using firefox, could you try to print one of your longer articles from that browser? It doesn't work for me. From time to time, I like to read your articles as I'm walking to a meeting in a different building or at lunch or ...

    But in order to do this I have to go into IE. Any of your articles that are longer than a single page, I can't print in firefox. I sure wish this could be fixed.

  6. markm:

    Duane, unless the other people have to edit the document, export it to PDF and then anyone can read and print it.

  7. Max:

    I have been using MS Office and Open Office simultanously and if I know I won't have to send the files to other people, I prefer Open Office (more intuitive interface).
    However, especially when it comes to Excel documents, Open Office has still problems with the format.

    I have encountered those problems, when it comes to scientific excel calculations that have need for graphic diagrams. Mostly, the functions that are used in this diagrams are confused or just not portable.

    Aside from this issue, I have not had much problems with Open Office and think it is a good and cheap product ;)

  8. Doug:

    Last year I switched to Thunderbird and my only regret is that my employer is so wedded to MS Exchange that I can't use it at work.

    Also, mjh's problems printing from Firefox appear isolated as I print multipage posts regularly and find them formatted much better than IE.