Since introducing its Office productivity suite, Microsoft has established itself as the dominant player in the worlds of word processing, spreadsheets and slide presentations.
Until now, consumers were required to spend large sums for applications such as Word and PowerPoint in order to assure their work would be compatible with other computers.
This is no longer the case.
Consumers can now have the same functionality of Office for free. Open Office is a set of programs that handles all the functions of traditional Office applications while still keeping the file formats intact.
Among the program’s uses are word processing, spreadsheet creation and presentation tools.
These uses are still kept within a user-friendly interface that retains some of the same visual styles as those found in the Office programs.
Although it may look like Office, the program still has some rough edges that the company said will be worked out in further editions. These improvements could bring them within the same caliber as Microsoft’s offerings.
There are some features, such as autocomplete and autoformat, which have made their way from the Office programs intact. This allows users who are accustomed to the Office applications to make a smooth transition.
Nevertheless, the program’s open-source status gives it the luxury of having a number of programmers within its user base who can contribute to fixing any bugs or other problems.
This means that any ideas that these programmers have could be added to the program to bring new functions that were not present in other productivity suites.
With 16 million downloads to its name, the company may be well on its way to making sure everyone can have the functions of Office without the cost.
The program is available as a free download from www.openoffice.org, or it can be ordered on CD for $5. It is available for both Windows and Mac OS X.