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msoffice and openoffice

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gechurch

This has been discussed plenty of times elsewhere. See http://www.lmgtfy.com/?q=differences+between+microsoft+office+and+openoffice/

Some of the bigger points through (in my opinion):
* If you have existing documentation you will need to update it.
* If users have experience with Microsoft Office they will have to learn the differences.
* OpenOffice saves in different formats (you can change its defaults to save in the Microsoft formats though).
* You may notice differences in layout. Ie. Open a document in Word and it might fit neatly on one page, whereas perhaps in OpenOffice it might push some content to the second page.
* VBA support is not the same
* OpenOffice doesn't include an Outloko equivalent
* Central management. In a domain environment it is common to create custom transform files to install Office in a certain way, install updates silently, you can configure settings through GPO etc. You can't do a lot of this with OpenOffice.

I used OpenOffice for a few years about 4 years ago (and I was used to Microsoft Office before this). I didn't think it was worth it. I found it hopelessly slow to open documents from a network drive (it was literally quicker to copy to the desktop then open it from there). Clipart was pretty awful. I ran into compatibility issues. Not heaps, but it wasted a lot of time when I did (I remember having an issue with a header that just wouldn't sit right. I spent over an hour mucking around on what should have been a 5 second job). I found it was slow to open the program compared to MS Office.

Some of the above may have been specific to our environment and some things may be fixed now. That was just my experience. So is it worth it? It depends. If you have a small environment that you don't manage centrally, if you don't own existing Office licenses, and your users have just basic needs (bold, italic, center, change font etc) then OpenOffice may well be fine. Just be sure to set it to save in .doc/.xls/.ppt format in case they email files outside of the office.

As another option, have you considered second-hand licenses of Office. I personally would rate Office 2003 as easily better than OpenOffice. Second-hand licenses for it are probably pretty cheap now (see http://www.discount-licensing.com/ and http://valuelicensing.com/). There had been questions about the legality of buying second-hand licenses, but a court case this year upheld that reselling it is legal.