OpenOffice.org OK says Govt. User

The controversy surrounding the decision in Massachusetts to jettison Microsoft Office has government analysts speculating on how difficult it will be to make the transition from Office to, say, OpenOffice.org.

But at least one government customer of the free OpenOffice.org package thinks it’s OK, if not downright excellent. From Difficulties of OpenOffice are overblown by Ramon Padilla Jr., a State Government Consultant and IT veteran:

I have been using the new OpenOffice beta 2.0 (Windows Version) for about a week now. I downloaded it, ran the install, and began using it immediately. I did not peruse the help files, check out the read me, or anything of the sort. I just started working. Since then, I haven’t had one difficulty arise that prevented me from composing or editing a document in OpenOffice Writer or creating a spreadsheet.

I call this success…

So I am a little alarmed when I see articles or remarks espousing how costly and difficult it would be to switch to an open source office suite such as OpenOffice or a commercial package such as StarOffice, or even Corel Word Perfect Office, or Lotus SmartSuite.

I will be the first to admit that there will be some costs involved, particularly for the power users who actually use the more detailed features of Microsoft Office. And there will be some conversion headaches with some documents for sure, but as far as word processors and spreadsheets go, for the majority of users, the transition would be far less traumatic than many make it out to be.

To those who have never tried OpenOffice, I encourage you to download it and give it a whirl for a week. I think you will find that as a package it does some things better than MS Office and some things worse than MS Office and some things different than MS Office. But as a whole, does a more-than-adequate job–particularly when you compare the price.

I couldn’t agree more. I use OpenOffice.org on a Mac, and even with its X Window interface, it is more reliable than Word on the Mac. It has not crashed in over a year of use. I would love it more if it didn’t use the X Window interface and look like the Windows version of Office, but the price is certainly right.

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