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It's not Office 2007, but it also won't cost you an arm and a leg

While most of the media attention has swirled around Microsoft Office over the years, there's another contender in the productivity suite market that has many followers. has been around for quite some time providing users with a competent freeware alternative to Microsoft.

Now just as we're getting close to RTM for Office 2007, has released version 2.0.4 of its popular application. There are a number of bug fixes with this release, many of which you can view here. To download the 2.0.4, you can use a traditional download link or download it via BitTorrent.

If you may recall, Microsoft has in the past taken plenty of pot shots at saying that the program is largely outdated and that Office 2007 provides a superior platform for consumers and businesses. While that may be true, many consumers don’t argue with “free” if it fits their needs.

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I think that's the Release Candidate
By Saist on 10/10/2006 3:40:51 PM , Rating: 5
2.0.4 isn't out yet : The news comes from this page :

Release Candidate 3 is available though for 2.0.4, and it could be the final version.

Anyways, to hopefully not derail the topic too much, Microsoft has tended to take potshots at everything under the helm of Ballmer and Gates. With Ballmer pretty much close to out the door due to Vista's delay and Gates already announcing he's leaving, the Microsoft of today has... simmered down... in it's attitude towards competition.

For example, the claims that OpenOffice doesn't do what Office does is true in the long shot. Office supports several more fonts and... stuff... out of the box. Which is a problem for Microsoft when talking with IT Departments. Everything Microsoft Office does above and beyond Open Office is fluff. Features for the accountant type or heavy duty document manager. The basic feature sets and everything that customers need to create documents has been around since WordPerfect for DOS.

Then there is the problem that Open Office does something in it's base version that Microsoft Office needs a plugin for: Export to PDF.

Another potshot that Microsoft took in the past is that training users for Open Office would cost more than buying up a new version of Office for people to use. That argument fell apart with Office 2007. The training leap from Word Perfect to Microsoft Office to Open Office wasn't that much. Somethings were different, but if you had a handle on one, it generally doesn't take as much work to figure the others out. Office 2007 though changes the interface completely...

and I think Microsoft realizes that training existing users to use Open Office's interface is going to cost a lot less than training users to the new Office 2007 interface.

The Microsoft of today has matured, and we aren't hearing as much vitirol spewing forth, here's hoping that trend continues.

By bdewong on 10/10/2006 3:59:19 PM , Rating: 2
shows that 2.0.4 will be released on Oct. 12 but those aren't always acurate. That page was last modified on the 6th.

I like both OO and MS Office, the first because the price is unbeatable, and the latter because all that "fluff" can be very useful for some tasks.

RE: I think that's the Release Candidate
By Spivonious on 10/10/2006 4:07:45 PM , Rating: 1
Everything Microsoft Office does above and beyond Open Office is fluff. Features for the accountant type or heavy duty document manager. The basic feature sets and everything that customers need to create documents has been around since WordPerfect for DOS.

You obviously don't have any experience working with Excel or Powerpoint. OpenOffice's versions of these are what Wordpad is to Word. Also, Word's "fluff" is used by every document professional at my job.

Then there is the problem that Open Office does something in it's base version that Microsoft Office needs a plugin for: Export to PDF.

MS tried to put that in and got a lawsuit from Adobe.

Office 2007 though changes the interface completely...

I won't argue with the training cost difference, but have you used Office 2007? The new interface is fantastic and puts all of the commonly used features at your fingertips. No more digging through menus and dialog boxes.

Bottom line: Free is nice, and OpenOffice is more than enough for home users and students, but as soon as you want to actually do something, it's obvious what the choice is. Perhaps that's why MS makes all its money through volume licenses.

By mindless1 on 10/10/2006 4:37:18 PM , Rating: 4
If you couldn't "actually do something" with Open Office or MS Office prior to 2007 version, the problem is the user not the app. You need replaced, not the software.

RE: I think that's the Release Candidate
By BPB on 10/10/2006 4:45:37 PM , Rating: 2
Bottom line: Free is nice, and OpenOffice is more than enough for home users and students, but as soon as you want to actually do something, it's obvious what the choice is. Perhaps that's why MS makes all its money through volume licenses.

So home users and students don't actually DO anything? I'm a financial systems consultant and work primarily at very, very large financial institutions (most in the top 10 of their respective business lines). Trust me, the average office worker is behind the average college student, and no more ignorant of what Word can do than the average home user. Granted, the average office worker may have to fill out forms using Word docs that OO can't replicate, but they themselves just about never need anything behind the most basic of Word functions, and for many WordPad might even suit their needs. Tech worker or office work does not by any means mean techie. Most know what they have to know to survive in their universe and little to no more. And that includes the programmers and hardware guys I meet.

I may go to Office 2007, and I may not. But if I do I'll admit right now it's just to impress people I need to impress and for no other reason.

By Ringold on 10/10/2006 4:54:22 PM , Rating: 2
As a university student myself, I tried OOo..

Didn't last long though. Two problems: No class that requests files (versus printed docs) will accept anything but Office 2003 .doc's, .ppt's, .xl's. Exporting from OO to Office formated files never quite worked perfect -- I'd always have to end up opening them in Office to double-check and then fix a few minor things. Second problem. I'd been working with a huge xls for an economics course, playing with complicated models, and the performance difference was quite tangible, enough to be annoying.

So now I'll just say it's good for home users, not necessarily college students, but high school students have what they need.

On the other hand though, unless I can snag a free/really cheap copy at school, and unless I'm forced to, probably wont drop all the cash required for 2007.

By Varun on 10/10/2006 7:43:44 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously some people have a low expectation from a word processor. OOo is so far behind MS Office in terms of features and performance that the only person I would recommend it to (and have) is the home user.

If you have ever tried to use OOo for any semi-complex spreadsheet it will make your system crawl. It is poorly optimized for any sort of intensive work.

I like Corel Wordperfect, and I have used OOo and would use it anywhere I needed a basic office suite, but to suggest that it is the user and not the software that needs to be replaced is absurd.

I also find it funny that someone would praise OOo due to the integrated PDF function. MS Office 2007 had the PDF creator built in, but it was amazing how quickly Adobe said their "Open" standard was closed only for MS.

OOo has a place - the standard home user, and the price gives a hint of the quality of the product. I think I will try the new version though, to see if they have addressed any of the main issues I have with OOo.

By NoSoftwarePatents on 10/10/2006 10:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
Open Office's Writer is VERY capable competitor against Microsoft Word. While some may be bothered that there is no grammar checker in Open Office Writer, unless you need VSTO functionality in your Microsoft Word documents, Open Office's Writer can do pretty much everything Microsoft Word can, for the majority of users. Yes, the MAJORITY of users.

If you need more fonts, just go to and get all the free stuff you want.

Also, while the Calc application is a nice spreadsheet, the other Open Office components don't quite match Microsoft Office's products...yet.

By hands on 10/11/2006 12:44:11 PM , Rating: 2
While I agree that the previous poster was far too general about what constituted "fluff" I have to feel that you have been too general as well.

OOo does some things very well. There are other things it can improve on.

I have tried very hard to get Word to do some comparable (I realize that feature for feature isn't always possible) things to some of the features that are available in Writer. After quite a bit of frustration, I simply decided that it wasn't worth the effort. For a word processor, I'll take Writer any day of the week, and I appreciate some very good compatibility in exporting to Word when the necessity arises (I have noticed that a document created in Writer does a better job being converted to a Word document than a Word document does being imported into Writer).

Excel is easily the most powerful and capable spreadsheet application available. There is no subsitute for those who need it. For many people (including many that I have worked with), Calc is more than capable enough. For me, I use Calc when I know that I don't need something more complex than what it offers.

I have heard a few people mention that Impress doesn't measure up to Powerpoint. There are a couple of somewhat obscure things that I have only been able to accomplish in Powerpoint, but once again thanks to some good compatibility, if I really need to I can easily convert a document to Powerpoint from Impress. Impress also has some features that I would very much like to see in Powerpoint though.

Access is another application that really has little competition in consumer software. Most people really don't understand what a relational database is though or that they probably use one or more on a daily basis. So, professionals who are likely to use it already know what they need and why.

Performance can be an issue with OOo, but it doesn't really become very noticeable with the kinds of simple files that I see so many people creating. In fact, with many of the features that are available in OOo, I have found that I can accomplish more in a shorter time period thanks to better tools regardless of performance issues.

I very much appreciate what OOo offers, and since it doesn't cost me anything to install it, I will continue to use it alongside MS Office. I will probably use it even alongside Office 2007 simply because I still haven't seen Office 2007 doing many of the things that I appreciate in OOo.

RE: I think that's the Release Candidate
By Wwhat on 10/11/2006 1:50:49 PM , Rating: 1
Fluff in Microsoft office? surely not! ask any fanboi in this thread.

By TomZ on 10/11/2006 2:40:15 PM , Rating: 2
Problem is, Microsoft has to carry every feature they ever offered forward because they have 400M users, and there are no features that wouldn't be missed by somebody.

Not a fanboy - just stating the facts - I don't care one way or another.

Spell Check?
By beepandbop on 10/10/2006 10:02:14 PM , Rating: 2
The spell/grammar check is far superior on the Microsoft word though.
And I have tried both.

RE: Spell Check?
By althaz on 10/11/2006 4:31:54 AM , Rating: 2
At the moment, I use Open Office, mainly because I don't have a spare (legitimate) copy of Office (and I'm not buying one so close to 2007 coming out). Previously I've used MS Office exclusively and I have to say, for basic word documents, Open Office is the equal of MS Office. The other utilities, sadly, are lacking. They all work though, and they are a great alternative for your average home user. That said, if you are a professional not using MS Office, your productivity WILL be lower, it's that simple. MS Office is a great app, but if you are a normal home user then you need not spend that sort of money when OpenOffice is free and very, very usable.

RE: Spell Check?
By Kim Leo on 10/11/2006 4:32:24 AM , Rating: 2
There is no grammar check in OOo, and spell check, well on my language Danish, i havn't seen any difference, and i have also tried both. If you could come with an example to support you'r claim that could be nice :)

RE: Spell Check?
By Kim Leo on 10/11/2006 4:36:25 AM , Rating: 2
Argh my above post was ment to the post under me.. "for me it's MS office 2000..."

By phatboye on 10/10/2006 3:00:39 PM , Rating: 2
I just went to the OO.o website all I see is the release candidate for 2.0.4.

RE: OO.o
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 10/10/2006 3:05:10 PM , Rating: 2
Did you try clicking the download link?

Also, the BitTorrent link of oO's website has a pull-down listing for 2.0.4.

RE: OO.o
By rocketbuddha on 10/10/2006 4:05:40 PM , Rating: 2
I think they will slowly fill all the download mirrors and then make the announcement public. I downloaded my copy from

When I tried PAIR another mirror, I could not find the exe under /stable.
So give some time.

for me it's OO versus Office 2000
By mforce on 10/10/2006 7:01:04 PM , Rating: 2
I installed both of them on a PC and I use them both , MS seems a bit better because it has the best compatibility with the .doc files and it's actually a lot faster .
The thing is I only use Word 2000 and that has all the things I need already . I don't need a newer Office as MS has nothing more to offer that I could need . In the end it gets the job done and that's the only things that matter .

Around for "some time"
By Trisped on 10/11/2006 1:53:11 PM , Rating: 2
For me "some time" in relation to software existance is pre- 2000 which I don't think OpenOffice is. In fact I don't even remember hearing about it before 2004, so that makes it quite young as far as office software is concerned.

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