Open Source

Review: Ashampoo Office 2010

If OpenOffice is too big and runs too slowly and you don't want to pay the full price for Microsoft Office you might be the perfect candidate for Ashampoo Office 2010.

If I ask you how many office suites there are, what would your answer be? One? Two? Three? Microsoft Office, OpenOffice, KOffice, GNOME Office, iWork, Lotus Symphony, Siag Office, SoftMaker Office - the list goes on and on. But did you include Ashampoo Office 2010? Probably not, and with good reason because for some suspect reason the various parts of Ashampoo are called:

  • Textmaker
  • Planmaker
  • Presentations

Sound familiar? It should. The pieces of SoftMaker Office are:

  • Textmaker
  • Planmaker
  • Presentations

In fact, the icons are even the same. So, why the rebranding? And is the rebranding of Softmaker Office worth the $59.00 price tag, when the "official" Softmaker Office can be purchased for just twenty dollars more?

You can download a free trial version of Ashampoo Office 2010 from the TechRepublic Software Library.

What's different in the rebranding?

The most glaring difference in the rebranding is that, unlike Softmaker Office, Ashampoo is ONLY available for Windows. Outside of that the only difference is the price and the fact that Ashampoo Office doesn't include BasicMaker (programming language add-on).

So you have basically the same office suite, with the same look and feel, stripped of its programming language and twenty dollars and you have Ashampoo.

Who's it for?

To be perfectly honest, you will be hard pressed to find someone who needs this office suite. If you do not like Microsoft Office (or do not want to pay the high cost) you have the free OpenOffice. Anything in between free and costly, better have a good reason for the price tag.

If OpenOffice is too big of an application and runs too slowly on your machine, and you don't want to pay the full price for Microsoft Office you might then be the perfect candidate for Ashampoo Office. The $59.00 price tag isn't too steep for the functionality you get. But don't expect Ashampoo Office to be either MS Office or OpenOffice, because you will be disappointed.

What problem does it solve?

Ashampoo Office allows the user to write documents, spreadsheets, and presentations on the cheap and without all of the unnecessary bloat associated with the full-blown office suites you find in today's market.

Features

  • Open and Save DOCX files
  • Graphics effects for presentations
  • Anti-asliasing for all applications
  • Create PDF files in Textmaker
  • Extended character formats
  • Stylesheet manager
  • Import XLSX documents
  • Autocompletion of cells
  • Multi-page search with hit list
  • Simultaneous, multi-sheet formatting
  • 70 different chart types
  • Solver
  • Unlimited undo/redo
  • Export presentations as HTML websites
  • Picture compilations in presentations
  • Interactive outliner for Presentations
  • Run slide show on second monitor or projector

What's wrong?

Outside of the fact that you can get most every feature in this tool for free with OpenOffice and the fact the interface is a little bit out of date, Ashampoo does a respectable job with standard document formats. Ultimately, though, Ashampoo really misses the mark by being Windows exclusive. There is a much larger target market in the alternative operating system arena for tools like this. OS X is a perfect example. This will most likely not change.

Competitive Products

Bottom line for business

The bottom line is simple - do not even bother with this Softmaker knock-off unless you do not want to pay for Microsoft Office and you have some strange aversion to open source software.

User rating

Have you encountered or used Ashampoo Office 2010? If so, what do you think? Rate your experience and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

6 comments
nat18466
nat18466

If you subscribe to email for Ashampoo you will no doubt see the offer for $4.99 usd. I just bought it. Why ? because it is light and swift on my windows machine and handles complex docx. I use open office on my Linux machine.

marcdw
marcdw

I had purchased Ashampoo Office 2008 for use with a laptop that really couldn't handle the likes of MSOffice or OpenOffice.org (I didn't know about SoftMaker at the time). Ashampoo must share info with SoftMaker as I soon received upgrade offers from them. Since then I have Ashampoo or SoftMaker Office 2010 on Windows XP, Windows 2000, Pocket PC, USB flash drive, and Linux. I generally have legacy machines I like to play with and the other two office suites are just too big, or too slow, or include way more than I need. Ashampoo/SoftMaker Office is just lean and fast. If one is already an Ashampoo customer sooner or later one will receive an offer for the suite anyway at well below that $59 (Ashampoo is bit overzealous with their email offers).

stephen.sottong
stephen.sottong

The main advantage of the Softmaker products is that they can read and write more complex DOCX files than OpenOffice. OpenOffice file conversion is less than perfect and it's nearly as bloated as MS Office. I use Softmaker Office 2010 and think it's an excellent product and well worth the few bucks you pay for it.

john3347
john3347

I seldom find my favorite free office suite mentioned in articles like this one. Although I have Office 2010 installed on all of my computers, I also have ZOHO installed and find myself primarily using ZOHO because it does what I need done and does it in a hugely (is that a word) more intuitive way and is times over easier to use for simple tasks than Office.

Realvdude
Realvdude

Softmaker says that the BasicMaker is compatible to MS VBA, which would be give it another step above OpenOffice. I'll be implementing this product if the Presentation is really compatible to Powerpoint. Another bonus: USB drive application portability.

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