Microsoft Office vs. Open Office

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Difference between Microsoft Office and Open Office

Microsoft Office is undoubtedly the king of the hill as far as office applications go, with a range of features that few other software packages intended for office use can begin to match. Nevertheless, the rise of OpenOffice has caused many to consider the alternatives to Microsoft’s offerings, particularly with regard to the cost aspect. OpenOffice does come for free, which is a definite advantage over Microsoft Office, but can its features compare to that of the flagship of the software giant? Let’s take a look!

Philosophy

As you may have guessed from its name, OpenOffice is based on the open-source model, in which the software is the result of the combined effort of several programmers and developers. Programs of this kind are also generally made available for free, and not just for ordinary use either. Under the open-source model, anyone and everyone is free to redistribute, adapt, and even modify the code as they see fit.

Microsoft Office for its part is strictly commercial in its philosophy and approach, with proceeds from sales going into paying the salaries of developers, programmers, and even marketing and office personnel. However, while Microsoft Office does come at a cost, nonprofit organizations in the United States may be able to avail of a Microsoft Office copy for free or at minimal cost.

Supported Devices

Both Microsoft Office and OpenOffice will generally work on any computer of recent vintage, with both Mac and PC platforms being supported equally. It is also interesting to note that while OpenOffice tends to slow down when opening large or complex files in Microsoft Office native formats, it does offer better support for older computers. OpenOffice also seems to offer better support for mobile devices.

Unique Features

One of Microsoft Office's best-regarded features is its grammar checking. OpenOffice doesn't actually provided its own grammar checker, although you could get similar–albeit limited–capabilities from the downloadable  “LanguageTool” plug-in. Microsoft Office also has the edge in terms of macros, and OpenOffice’s macro and scripting features simply can't compare. OpenOffice also does not support Microsoft Office macros.

Where OpenOffice edges away from Microsoft Office is in its find-and-replace feature, which is a lot less cumbersome than Microsoft Office’s "find" feature. OpenOffice files are also generally smaller than equivalent Microsoft Office files.

Summary

Microsoft Office

  • Adopted a strict commercial-license model
  • Proceeds from sales go into the paychecks of programmers, project managers, testers, office managers, marketing and sales staff, and company stockholders
  • Available for free or at nominal cost to nonprofit organizations based in the United States
  • Works on most modern computers
  • Offers support for both Mac and PC

OpenOffice

  • Adopted an open-source model
  • Software is developed collectively, usually by volunteers
  • Is distributed freely to anyone
  • Allows developers to redistribute, adapt, and even modify the code
  • Works on most modern computers
  • Can be a bit slower than Microsoft Office, particularly when opening Microsoft formats
  • Offers support for Mac and PC as well

Which office product is better?
  • Microsoft Office
  • Open Office
 
 

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