OpenOffice: better,faster, stronger

Okay, so your computer got a virus and needs to be reformatted. After getting all of your data back, you need to find that pirated copy of Microsoft Office so you can do your homework.Actually, you don’t need to resort to piracy in order to get your productivity software back. The solution is OpenOffice.org, a free open-source productivity suite from Sun Microsystems. Never heard of it? If you’ve ever used the Groovix work stations in the library, chances are you’ve used OpenOffice.org. Unlike browser-based applications, such as Google Docs & Spreadsheet, it runs and looks exactly like Microsoft Office does. The layout of the main programs – Writer, Calc, and Impress – are nearly identical to Word, Excel and Powerpoint, making the transition between the two suites remarkably easy. Writer is a solid word processor with a more extensive dictionary and thesaurus than Word. Special features include word finishing, which will complete long words for you based on their use in previous sentences. Calc and Impress are just as dependable, however Impress lacks Powerpoint’s built-in templates and shiny objects for presentations. There are other programs included in the suite, but most of them are useless to an Arts & Sciences major.OpenOffice.org uses its own, proprietary format to save files (.odt for documents). Since relying solely upon its own formats would drastically reduce its utility in a market dominated by Microsoft formats (.doc), OpenOffice.org can save in dozens of formats including Office formats dating back to Windows 95. Why would someone want to save in Office 95 formats? That’s anyone’s guess.OpenOffice.org also has its own community of developers whose job it is to constantly improve the functionality of these programs. While it is an open-source project, meaning its source code is available for anyone to edit, the program is centralized through Sun Microsystems, and its updates are timed throughout the year.Microsoft recently browsed through the source code, however, and reportedly found 45 different patent infringements by OpenOffice.org. This number was never substantiated by any objective measure, even though many technology Web sites attempted to, and it was part of a smear campaign against Linux and other open-source programs. Thus, no one takes it seriously.So, for once, don’t stick it to The Man by stealing Microsoft Office instead of paying hundreds of dollars for it. Just get the free, better version of it: OpenOffice.org.