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OpenOffice 2.0 vs. Microsoft Office 64

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the buddy-tux dept.
Jane Walker writes "Slashdot's own Robin 'Roblimo' Miller compares OpenOffice 2.0 and Microsoft Office in a recent interview with TechTarget and, when asked to identify one of the main obstacles facing widespread adoption, calls for the OSS community to deliver personable, usable training for new OpenOffice and open source software users."
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OpenOffice 2.0 vs. Microsoft Office

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  • The "Outlook" Key (Score:5, Insightful)

    by solarbob (959948) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:00AM (#14962824) Homepage
    I do think the author is missing the point of Outlook in that for some people its just an email client and Thunderbird would work. What he misses is the shared calanders, remote mailboxes, offline working etc all which middle managers need to work. They stick with outlook as it has a good feature set for them. Users want things to "just work" and not have to worry about compatilbity or similar
    • Well, then, perhaps it would be beneficial for OO.org to have it's own e-mail client with all these features that Outlook has. Someone please make it cleaner and more useable than Outlook. And make it "just work" And for everyone who is interested in making another one with similar features, any intercommunications between OO.org's e-mail and the rest of it should be clearly and simply stated.
    • One more thing about outlook.

      It syncs with my pocket pc which is my calendar, address book, cell phone, etc.
      • If you want to get married it's best to look for single women, IMHO.
        • His tagline doesn't say he intends to marry; he merely states he is searching for a wife. He doesn't, in fact, declare his intentions for the event in which he actually locates a wife. For that reason, I will not divulge the location of my wife...
      • You can get about any office-email/groupware app to sync with your pocket pc or palm. You don't neccesarily need to use outlook for that.

        I have several locations /shops I support that use a very nice product called office logic for thier apps and some use the email server called interchange. (from lan-aces [lan-aces.com]) I probably shouldn't have posted a link, I'm not affiliated with them other then calling support to get some third party products supported (wich they were surprisingly able add to the next release). It
    • Some of those features are taken care of with mozilla calendar (I don't recommend Sunbird as it is Alpha right now) as part of T-Bird. It has Icalendar support, and it will email alerts (not working yet in Sunbird). I agree that a better outlook alternative is needed.
    • Kmail pwnz Outlook, especially when using disconnected imap.
      • Pretty much ANYTHING pwnz Outlook when it comes to using disconnected and/or IMAP.

        Seriously. The COO at the company I work for is moving all the salespeople to POP3 so they can keep their e-mail local because of how bad Outlook is with IMAP access and its broken offline support.
        • You're right, Outlook does suck (really really bad) for POP3 or IMAP usage. But most businesses probably use it with exchange server and connect remotely using RPC over HTTP or plain old MAPI through a VPN in cached mode.

          In these latter situations, Outlook 2K3 works pretty much as well as if you were on the LAN.
    • I believe that if you look at what is available with respect to Ms.Office vs. openOffice; The gap is closing.

      About the Middle Manager making decisions; Until Middle Managers can spend how much they deem fit, bugets are always going to be in the fore front for the Middle Earth types. The office is also changing. Work taskings of office staff are changing, and understanding in the ways of computers is becoming better and better. When was the last time you heard, "Take a letter for me." In this day and age
      • Outlook 2003 was a major improvement over the previous version IMO. The entire Office 2003 suite was one of the few new Microsoft products that I liked from the first moment I tried it. If that's "decay" then I'd say Microsoft has a few more good years in them.
    • I have this problem with software I PAY for, and that is that if it has a function, filtering messages for instance, it should DO the filtering each and every time. Well I used outlook since it first appeared all the way through outlook xp/2002, and filtering worked ... somtimes, if 6 messages came in that were filterable, it would filter half of them. On top of that it eats more memory than any other email client, the only real reason to run Outlook is if your company is using Exchange, THE ONLY REASON.
  • For God's sake. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ettlz (639203) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:03AM (#14962830) Journal
    How much bloody longer is this asinine OO.org vs. MS Office "debate" going to rage on? Just choose one and use it, 'cause this is getting old. And as for "personable and usable training", I've found it doesn't matter what suite They are using, calling out "James! How do I..." remains the favoured approach in my immediate viscinity.
    • Re:For God's sake. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ComputerInsultant (722520) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @08:09AM (#14963331)
      Mods, get a clue.

      This is hardly flamebait. He says that no amount of "personable and usable training" is going to change the behavior of most users.

      The most common user most certainly does not want to spend any time learning how to use any software. They just want to get their work done. If there is a way of getting the work done without learning anything they will.

      There are only a few people in my small software development company, but the most common complaint of the senior programmers and adminstrators is that they have to keep on repeating the same instructions for the same tasks to the users.

      There is no need for training - personable or not - when James is right there and already knows how to do it.

      By the way, James, I forgot how to file my TPS reports, can you show me how to put the new cover sheet into these documents? Thanks.
      • The trouble is that in many cases, your senior programmers and sysadmins and I, don't know how to do what a user is asking, but are better at finding out how (e.g., knowing how to search on-line help or Google).
        • This is a very good point. Not only are you better at finding out how, you are more willing to do so.

          I don't care what group of humans you are talking about 20% of the people do 80% of the work, with the others more than happy to wait for someone else to do the work. Be it a club, company, religious organization, or whatever there is always a core of people who do all the work and a larger group who reap the benefits of that core group.

          My wife and I are active in our church as well as Scouts, and you al

    • How much bloody longer is this asinine OO.org vs. MS Office "debate" going to rage on?


      It will last as long as the Vi vs. Emacs war did. This is yet another dsw (dick size war).

      The funny thing is that I use both MS Office and OO.org, and I find both suites are good for what I use them for.
  • Mr.Clip for OOo? (Score:2, Informative)

    by ScorpFromHell (837952)
    A CBT [Computer Based Training] module for OOo should go a long way to increase awareness about typing letters in it. Most proprietary s/w vendors have a link called "demo" which does not lead to a demo version of the s/w but to a video which shows how the thing can be used. Most people on /. may not require it, but my dad sure would like it. Also, even in a corporate world people use MS Office because its already installed on their workstations and can ask the person sitting next to them how to "bold" a
    • by Imsdal (930595) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:33AM (#14963166)
      in a corporate world people use MS Office because its already installed on their workstations and can ask the person sitting next to them how to "bold" a word.

      I know this is /., so we should all hate users and consider them to be morons.

      However, in the real world, there are millions and millions of users of the Office suite, and a surprisingly large number of them are power users in Excel. This is where MS has a true mind share monopoly. There are so many companies that have invested literally millions of dollars in "development" of Excel models, macros and procedures. Telling those people to switch to an inferior product just because it's a bit cheaper is quite futile. (OOo is much cheaper in percentage terms, of course, but only marginally cheaper in terms of total savings per employee per year.)

      Excel is the best software ever written for the mass market, by quite some margin. The rest of the MS Office products are OK with deficits (Outlook) or just plain bad (all the others, except Visio, if one includes that).

      Getting people to move away from Word is probably quite possible. Likewise with PowerPoint, I'd guess. Getting people away from Outlook is obviously possible, considering that people actually use Lotus Notes (Ugh! I get a pain in my stomach just writing that...) No one uses the MS Office Suite becuase of Access. And no one uses MSO for any other of the programs.

      Excel, people, Excel. Give us a superior spreadsheet and you will see it catch on like wild fire. Unfortunately, anyone trying will find that making a better spreadsheet is pretty darn hard...

      • ... No one uses the MS Office Suite becuase of Access. ...

        Hate to disagree (mostly because I really wish you were right), but a lot of mid-level managers (often an overlapping group who are Excel Power Users), also use Access because even some of them have gotten through the idea, that some things require a database instead of just really complex spreadsheets.

        I've had to work with some of them and it was an eye-opening experience to see how much they love their (rather flawed from my perspective) tools, sim
      • Excel as a platform (Score:3, Informative)

        by IL-CSIXTY4 (801087)

        In the corporate world, Excel is more of a platform than a simple spreadsheet these days. I have seen a multi-million dollar company essentially run off of three Excel spreadsheets with a ton of macros. The input data would come from some reports we generated off the database for them, and the finance people would enter them into the spreadsheets and let the macros morph the data into the views the senior management wanted to see.

        I rather liked this arrangement because it empowered the users in finance

  • by albalbo (33890) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:16AM (#14962853) Homepage
    .... but I can't. Training doesn't seem to be in demand. I've never been asked for it, few other companies I know have ever been asked for it. There's an organisation in the UK who are funded to give training in free software to local small businesses, and have a good marketing budget. They get interest in mono, PHP, that kind of thing. OpenOffice.org training they can't even give away.

    And his remarks about OOo Base are a bit off. It's a buggy application, and unsuitable for "real" work. Believe me, I've tried. It's impossible to use the forms without resorting to macros (you can't even make a button on a form open a different form when it's clicked without writing a custom macro), and it has no equivalent to Access's switchboard. Sure, the reports, forms, etc. may all be there, but without a switchboard you only have Base's bizarre UI which no end-user will ever get.

    It sickens me that OOo doesn't seem to excite people. I can't understand why businesses seem so happy dropping so much money on Office, and aren't willing to investigate alternatives. For most people, especially those using the wordprocessor, and maybe spreadsheets, OOo is more than good enough.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:45AM (#14963240)
      For most people, especially those using the wordprocessor, and maybe spreadsheets, OOo is more than good enough.

      No, it's not. That's exactly why most people/businesses aren't switching to the free-as-in-beer alternative and still cough up the cash for MS Office. Contrary to popular belief, I rather doubt most people using an office tool really do just type letters and view using right alignment as an advanced technique.

      Before I continue, let me just say that I personally use OpenOffice at home and MS Office at work, and have done for several years now. I don't use office software enough at home for MS Office to be worth the asking price to me, and I don't believe in ripping off other people's software illegally, so OO it is. I'm grateful to those who give OO away so I can use it, and I'm not criticising them for having an inferior product. They are several years of development time behind MS here so it's unreasonable to expect the two to be similarly powerful/refined.

      Having made that clear, I have to say that OO simply isn't up to scratch on usability yet. The other day I was editing a word processor document, and using a lot of small capitals formatting. I wanted to add a button to the toolbar or a shortcut key to make this easier, but in OO you can't. I was going to report this, but found there's already an open bug to this effect and has been for years. In general, the keyboard support in OO is weak, which near-fatal in a word processor: where are the easy ways to set keyboard shortcuts for styles, special characters, specific formatting, etc? Compare and contrast with Word, which has done this stuff in its sleep for years.

      I try to think of a different example every time I make this point. Last time it was silly limitations in mail merging and fundamental weaknesses in the data sources model used in OO. Next time it'll probably be underpowered charting in Calc, or maybe the terrible keyboard and mouse behaviour when using things like tables and text boxes in Writer. The point is, MS Office products are quite mature now, and while they may not have changed much in years and certainly have places they could be improved, they have relatively few really daft shortcomings. OO just isn't there yet, which is why I'm happy to use it at home for fairly simple jobs, but wouldn't dream of recommending it for business use.

      Ultimately, the feature list is a battle OO can never win, as long as they're trying to be a better MS Office than MS Office and always chasing the leader. Microsoft might give them a huge boost by actually sending MS Office backwards with the weird new interface, but I'd bet by release time there will be an option to switch that off. Meanwhile, if OO wants to start providing genuine advantages over the MS offering, it needs to stop trying to be that MS offering, and start focussing on improving its own features and particularly their usability, and on offering things MS Office can't (like page layout and typography options beyond kindergarten level, or genuinely useful writing aids, for example).

      • Contrary to popular belief, I rather doubt most people using an office tool really do just type letters and view using right alignment as an advanced technique.

        Well, my observation is that I'm about the only person I know at work who uses styles, which places 90% of Office users in the "Don't know what the fsck they're doing" category.

        • Well, my observation is that I'm about the only person I know at work who uses styles

          Indeed. As I've argued around these parts in the past, one area where today's word processors could seriously improve is to shift the UI focus and formatting tools from ad-hoc adjustments to the use of more powerful stylesheet and template features.

          If they did this, a user who doesn't care about formatting would soon learn to add the "emphasized" tag instead of clicking italics. The way that emphasis within emphasis h

          • Well, there's LyX.

            But yes, it seems like word processors actively try to lead users astray. Even Apple does it in Pages, hides the styles away as an "expert" feature you have to turn on, and leaves the ad hoc formatting commands as the only visible way to change things.
      • Having made that clear, I have to say that OO simply isn't up to scratch on usability yet. The other day I was editing a word processor document, and using a lot of small capitals formatting. I wanted to add a button to the toolbar or a shortcut key to make this easier, but in OO you can't.

        Can't? Try this:

        1. Open the "Styles and Formatting" window.
        2. Create a new Character Style by Right clicking in the window and click on "New"
        3. Give this style a name - say "Small Caps".
        4. Click the "Font Effects" tab. Click
        • I appreciate the reply, but AFAICS that workaround is only effective if you're not already using styles for anything else. Similarly, one could record a macro that went into the relevant dialog box and flicked the list box to the right setting, if one were brave enough to go near OO macros. But you still can't, say, add a control to the toolbar that indicates when small caps are active, as you can (and by default do) have with the bold or italic settings, nor can you use the expected UI to set up a keyboard

    • OpenOffice.org training they can't even give away.

      In the states, classes in MS Office is are close as the your neighborhood public library, high school or community center.

      Certification programs for the disabled and those on welfare are often free. Their ticket out of sub-minimum wage jobs.

      can't understand why businesses seem so happy dropping so much money on Office, and aren't willing to investigate alternatives

      L.A., New York, the high Artic or the Mississippi Delta, it doesn't matter.

      You can draw

      • You can draw on a skilled labor pool age 16 to 75.

        Do I correctly read your comment? Are you arguing that people actually know how to use Office? Most people who use it are constantly fucking things up. They have all kinds of botched formatting, which in HTML would be the equivalent of a bunch of <strong>&nbsp;</strong> or equivalent.

  • Lack of manuals (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jasontn (758694)
    There is still the lack of uptodate printed manuals and dummy books that the new user could handily refer to, when it comes to OOo, whereas MS-Office had numerous books since the earliest versions.

    -----------
    "I do not wish to realise when I die, that I had not lived ... Carpe diem."
  • Macro editing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingSkippus (799657) * on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:24AM (#14962873) Homepage Journal

    First of all, let me start by saying that for 90% of what I do, I love OpenOffice. However, I'm one of these constructively lazy people who would rather spend twenty minutes writing up a macro to save me a couple of hours than spending, well, a couple of hours doing it the manual way.

    Unfortunately, I detest the macro creation/editing facility in OpenOffice. Just as a side-by-side test, I just popped open a document, recorded a macro to insert the words "This is a test!" and went in the edit (presumably, to customize) the macro.

    Here's what I get in OpenOffice:

    sub TestMacro
    rem -
    rem define variables
    dim document as object
    dim dispatcher as object
    rem -
    rem get access to the document
    document = ThisComponent.CurrentController.Frame
    dispatcher = createUnoService("com.sun.star.frame.DispatchHelpe r")

    rem -
    dim args1(0) as new com.sun.star.beans.PropertyValue
    args1(0).Name = "Text"
    args1(0).Value = "This is a test!"

    dispatcher.executeDispatch(document, ".uno:InsertText", "", 0, args1())

    end sub

    Jesus, that's a lot of lines just to insert a few words of text! And if I wanted to customize it, I wouldn't have a clue where to begin! Microsoft Word, on the other hand, gives me this:

    Sub TestMacro()
    '
    ' TestMacro Macro
    ' Macro recorded 3/21/2006
    '
    Selection.TypeText Text:="This is a test!"
    End Sub

    Wow! I'm really not just cherry-picking one rare example. As the tasks get more difficult, the macro code gets exponentially harder in OpenOffice than in Microsoft's apps. In my experience, macro editing in OpenOffice is like pulling teeth, but so easy that even I can do it in Microsoft Office applications.

    Like I said, in my day-to-day dealings, I use OpenOffice. The applications work just as well for almost all of my uses as Microsoft Office, and the price just can't be beaten unless Uncle Bill comes to my house and pays me money to use his applications. But whenever I'm doing something that involved more than just popping it open and tossing out a quick letter, Microsoft Word is the way to go.

    I'm not a programmer, so unfortunately, all I can do is sit around and wish and hope that at some point, the OpenOffice development team, folks a lot smarter than I am, comes up with something a bit easier to use in automating the suite.

    • Re:Macro editing (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cerberusss (660701)
      This reflects in OpenOffice its API [openoffice.org] as well. A few years ago, I tried to create a document programmatically using the Java UNO api. It ran up to thirty lines, when all I wanted was something like:

      Document doc = new Document();
      doc.setText("Hello World");

      This thing is so freaking baroque, with all sorts of nifty objects, interfaces, patterns and god knows what. It's really overengineering at its best.

    • Re:Macro editing (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ciw42 (820892) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @09:28AM (#14963791)
      Yeah, it's very poor indeed. But the reason is primarily, that even though the language is BASIC, the structures behind it all are really Java-like, and that brings with it a whole host of baggage. Users presented with an environment for programming in BASIC, will naturally expect a simple and easily understood object model to work with. As it stands, to use the OOo object model, you have to write pages and pages of the ugliest code, if you want to do even the simplest of things, largely because it's stuff that BASIC just isn't well suited to.

      Was doing some data analysis and automation work using VBA in Excel for a client recently, and as I had a little spare time on my hands, and use OOo exclusively myself, I decided that I'd re-implement everything using OOo. I gave up.

      It's not because it was difficult, although it's absurdly convoluted and finding the info you need to use the API is a pain in the arse, but because it would have taken at least 10 times as long to achieve the same results, and that was way longer than I had spare.

      I've developed in some God-awful systems over the last 20 years, and even I looked at it and thought "I just can't be arsed". Can you imagine what a regular end-user with no programming experience is going to think?

      Show them VBA for automating MS Office however, and even though they'll probably never really understand the full implications of what the simple commands they are issuing do, or the full extent of the object model, it doesn't matter. They work, and the commands they type just seem to make sense, they "read" right, and are straightforward enough to memorise and re-use.

      What's really needed is a full re-implementation and extensive simplification of the object model, but obviously for a product as far along the path as OOo, that's not going to be practical. So, I'd personally suggest either a set of macros, possibly even implemented in OOoBasic, or the creation of a parallel API hiding all the messy nonsense and allowing users to interact with the suite in a similar way to VBA in MS Office. You need to get rid of all those cryptic Sun-isms like "com.sun.star.frame.DispatchHelper" if you don't want to scare off casual users.

      Until this happens, nobody in a business environment is going to take OpenOffice.org particularly seriously. It's fine for individual members of staff just adding up columns of numbers and typing letters, but being able to automate things when your requirements go beyond that, is such a major thing even for many small businesses, that OOo won't get a look in until its macro facilities become significantly easier to use.
    • But whenever I'm doing something that involved more than just popping it open and tossing out a quick letter, Microsoft Word is the way to go.

      Exactly what I've kept running into with Open Office when I've been doing some consulting gigs for transcription groups. These are serious "power users" - huge numbers of templates, macros, abbreviation expanders, and so on. There's a lot of things I like about OO versus Office, from the security standpoint in how document templates are done, and the potential i

    • Re:Macro editing (Score:3, Informative)

      by Trelane (16124)
      Wow. Yeah, that's kinda stupid.

      It's interesting to note that the python script is much simpler: # HelloWorld python script for the scripting framework def HelloWorldPython( ): """Prints the string 'Hello World(in Python)' into the current document""" #get the doc from the scripting context which is made available to all scripts model = XSCRIPTCONTEXT.getDocument() #get the XText interface text = model.Text #create an XTextCursor cursor = text.createTextCursor() #and insert the string

  • Open Source (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zaguar (881743) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @06:27AM (#14962881)
    I know what we will do! We open-source the support! Free GPL'ed code, delivered straight to your door, ready and willing to support OOo.

    Seriously, does it matter? Some things just won't gain huge, widespread acceptance, displacing a massive, well funded market monopolist. OOo is great (I use it now) but I can't see it getting supported. Christ, I just got off the phone to Tech Support at Bigpond (biggest broadband supplier in Australia), they don't support anything except Outlook Express and Outlook. If a simple email app can't get supported, what hope is there for a 100MB+ Office suite?

  • by AlvySinger (900304) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:18AM (#14963091)

    So he prefers OO. So what? If this was a pro-Office article they'd be people here calling "FUD".

    He writes that he's "used it [Outlook] and do not find it impressive". We all have opinions but as an Office user I'm not swayed by this. He continues "I use Thunderbird for my e-mail, and it beats Outlook in stability and ease of use by many miles". I can put my finger in the air to come up with unqualified rubbish too. In my experience Outlook is not unstable. Not at work, not at home. I can't remember having to restart it or watching it crash. This is just mud-slinging or the type that gets shot down when MS are perceived to do it.

    Then there's the "more logical division" of separating other apps from email. I'd suggest otherwise. Working in a real office I notice there's quite of a lot of emailed Office documents going around. Word has a toolbar button to email the current document. Real people find this useful. There's also a lot of general emailing happening and quite a bit of meeting organising. With Outlook. I can even get someone's telephone extension by right-clicking their name in an email. Outlook 2003 also tells me when they're free by checking their calendar. All useful stuff. Can't see why they're shouldn't be a division in the real world: I can write Word documents without Outlook so what's the problem?

    It might be that Office users are all working inefficiently or somehow incorrectly. But what they have works. In a real environment it could be argued email makes more sense of part of an office suite than a browser/internet app as some organisations limit web-browsing.

    • With Outlook. I can even get someone's telephone extension by right-clicking their name in an email. Outlook 2003 also tells me when they're free by checking their calendar.

      These aren't really features in Outlook itself; this information is provided by the Exchange server that your organization is using. If you were to use Outlook outside an Exchange environment -- say, for checking your personal email from home -- you wouldn't have these features either.

      Outlook's advantage in this case is simly that i

  • Yes, but... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MoogMan (442253) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @07:54AM (#14963268)
    Another thing that ties people to Microsoft Office is Outlook. I have used it and do not find it impressive. I use Thunderbird for my e-mail, and it beats Outlook in stability and ease of use by many miles.

    This isn't possible in a corporate environment that uses Microsoft Exchange. The Evolution ximian-connector/exchange plugin is a good start, but there are some features that it doesn't support (the 'categories' field/column in your inbox, for example).

    It's a shame, because I have to agree - Outlook is really REALLY bad. The version I'm using in work can't even block images!
  • Rob comes off very condescending. He starts off his interview talking about how "The people who use OpenOffice first ... They seem to look down on the unsophisticated user and say, 'It's easy!' " and proceeds to do that himself the entire interview:
    1. 2.0 is better, faster and smoother. The interface is much easier to use. (opinion... I disagree)
    2. The spreadsheet utility in 2.0 is now able to handle a much larger spreadsheet, at least as large as Microsoft Office's at this point. It is admittedly slower than
  • OO is fantastic. It's really great, fairly easy to use, and best of all, it's free. That was my first impression.

    Then I started attempting to make a document in traditional outline format. Something so easy to do in MS Word. In OO, however...

    It is what my old buddy Clarky used to refer to as having a "50M-50B" problem: 50% of the problem is that it is mysterious, the other 50% of the problem is that once you figure it out, you realize it's broken.

    So, while I will continue to use OO, I'm not fooling myse
  • by blueZ3 (744446) on Tuesday March 21, 2006 @11:09AM (#14964447) Homepage
    Sheesh-- Why does everything on Slashdot have to devolve into some half-witted religious flamewar between Open Source and Proprietary software? I guess something rational, like a list of features with an (even moderately) unbiased comparison cuts down on the page views, or something.

    Both Office suites have advantages and disadvantages. MS Office is fairly expensive, OO is free. Microsoft's VBA is relatively straightforward, OO's scripting is convoluted. Microsoft has annoyances like "personalized menus", while the Open Office interface is relatively static. Outlook provides some powerful tools for cooperative scheduling, which OO doesn't support. Open Office is infinitely more "tweakable" (if you're willing to poke around in the innards) while MS only provides the customization the they think you need. The list goes on and on.

    My advice: Choose the feature set you need and then pick the office suite the provides it. If you can't live without macros and scripting and you aren't willing to deal with the convoluted scripting language of OO, pick Microsoft. If you're ethically opposed to using software you haven't paid for and can't afford MS Office, pick OO. If you prefer one interface over the other, choose the suite you prefer. But don't do the Office Suite Taliban thing... dare I say that it's "just" software?

    Anyone willing to look at both suites openly and fairly will admit that Open Office is still somewhat behind MS Office in usability and functionality (in most areas). There are a lot of reasons for this: OO is relatively new, MS has more money to spend, MS's development efforts are centrally coordinated, etc. Open Office has, however, made some big strides forward from when I first used it, while Microsoft Office development seems to have stagnated.

    As someone who spends most of my days writing, I can tell you that for some tasks, Writer works great, and for others, Word is a good choice. For a lot of my writing tasks, I use FrameMaker, because neither Writer nor Word can do the things I need. I pick the tool that works and use it.

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