Sobering Review of Office Alternatives

The open source OpenOffice looks like an attractive alternative to Microsoft Office. But when you are collaborating with Microsoft Office users, can you keep up? According to this review, the answer is absolutely not.

I could go on quoting examples, but suffice to say that OpenOffice.org 3.1’s interoperability features were wholly inadequate. When the application thought it could successfully render an object, it often mangled it beyond recognition. When it became confused by, for example, an unfamiliar chart type or an unsupported configuration parameter, it simply discarded the extraneous data. It’s the kind of half-baked file format compatibility that keeps IT personnel awake at night.

Bottom line: OpenOffice.org 3.1 failed to deliver on its promise of better Microsoft Office interoperability. It severely mangled our Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel test data files, and no amount of new features or targeted performance improvements could overcome this critical deficiency. Factor in OpenOffice’s other well-documented warts — buggy Java implementation, CPU-hogging auto-update system, quirky font rendering — and it’s easy to see why the vast majority of IT shops continue to reject this pretender to the Microsoft Office throne.

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