Westlake Village (CA) - Today OpenOffice.org released its newest version of the famously free application suite, OpenOffice 2.0. The suite, like its competitor Microsoft Office, contains several productivity applications such as a word processor and spreadsheet. In 2000, developers morphed Sun Microsystems old office suite, StarOffice, into OpenOffice 1.0. While many considered the first version of OpenOffice to be a good first try, OpenOffice 2.0 aims to be a more serious contender.
The applications Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Math and Base are included with the OpenOffice suite. Each application has a direct counterpart to applications inside of Microsoft's Office Suite - Writer is similar to Word, Calc is similar to Excel and so on. OpenOffice 2.0 has been improved to support OASIS, which is an open XML format, unlike Microsoft Office's proprietary binary format.
One major reason people may want to switch to OpenOffice is cost - The suite remains free. In contrast, a retail version of Microsoft Office can cost several hundred dollars. It's no wonder that Office is a huge money maker for Microsoft and in fiscal year 2004, the Office unit had $11 billion of Microsoft's $40 billion in revenue. OpenOffice throws in a forms generator and technical drawing program, which are applications that must be purchased separately from Microsoft Office. In addition, OpenOffice has a free Adobe PDF generator. In contrast, a retail copy of Adobe Acrobat 7.0 is $449.
There are some drawbacks to OpenOffice. It doesn't include an email program, while Microsoft's Office bundles Outlook email with their suite. Some say this isn't really a drawback because users can always download and install a free email client like Evolution, Kmail or Mozilla's Thunderbird. In addition, some documents exported from OpenOffice into Microsoft Office may have changes in formatting. For most users, however, OpenOffice can read and write to/from Microsoft Office documents.
OpenOffice 2.0 is currently available in dozens of languages and users can install the suite on Windows, Macintosh and Linux operating systems.