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MS Office 2007 vs. Open Office

written by: Arnold Zafra•edited by: Michele McDonough•updated: 12/23/2008

For awhile, Microsoft has been dominating the desktop office application niche with its Microsoft Office suite of business applications. It was never threatened by competitors until an open source alternative came out in Open Office. Is Open Office a worthy alternative to Microsoft Office? Read on.

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    Free vs. Paid

    Of course, the first thing you have to consider when thinking of what desktop office suite to use is the price. Whether for personal and business use, the price you have to pay to use particular software is always a prime consideration. This is the area where Open Office beats Microsoft Office hands down. The comparison is rather moot and academic. Open Office is a free software suite while Microsoft Office is available at starting prices of around $150 for the basic version. The decision between which product to use would seem unarguable considering the price difference between the two, but that's not quite the case.

    Since it is free software, you won't get after-sales support from Open Office. You are practically on your own once you've installed the software. You have to learn how to troubleshoot the software when you encounter an error and you cannot demand support from the developer. In contrast to this is Microsoft's after sales support both online and through a hotline number which you can call anytime for as long as you have a valid copy of Microsoft Office installed on your machine. Of course, when it comes to problems with Open Office, you can always rely on other users which you can readily find on the web, but nothing beats the support that you'd get from the official developer and creator of Microsoft Office.

    One last thing to consider related to price is the fact that since Open Office is free, you can install it in any number of computers that you have without spending extra. Contrary to this, additional licenses for Microsoft Office would entail additional expenses.

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    Built-In Email Client vs. Third-Party Email Platform

    Microsoft's email client, Microsoft Outlook, despite its flaws and inconsistencies, is still a robust and powerful email client which has received a huge amount of usage. The best thing about Microsoft Outlook is the way it flawlessly integrates with other Microsoft Office applications. And today, we all know the importance of the role email plays in our daily lives, be it our business or personal endeavors. Unfortunately, Open Office doesn't have its own email client. You need to use a third-party email client to work with your Office applications or, better yet, a web-based email client.

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    MS Office Applications vs. Open Office Applications

    Of course, the most important aspects of these two desktop suites are the various applications or programs that you can use for your computing needs. Microsoft's basic Word and Excel applications are easily matched up by Open Office's Writer and Calc. Microsoft has its presentation software, PowerPoint, while Open Office has Impress. Microsoft Access is Open Office's Base and Microsoft Visio is Open Office's Draw. Each of these programs has their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other.

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    Based on these three aspects alone, it would seem that Open Office can already match up with Microsoft Office, and it even has the advantage of being offered for free. However, a very important factor to consider is the after-sales support which Microsoft offers. Microsoft Office, because of its price, would best answer the needs of enterprises while Open Office is well suited for personal home use. If you don't mind spending extra for a desktop business application tool, Microsoft Office would still be a good choice. But if you don't want to spend extra bucks your best bet of course would be Open Office.