OpenOffice.org recently released its 1.1 version. In the past, ooo has been funcitonal but clunky, so even though I’ve wanted to like it, I’ve usually ended up using Word on MS or Abiword on linux. The latest ooo release has won me over. The interface is slicker, the start time is drastically reduced, and it just feels a lot smoother. In short, it’s not clunky any more. The MS filters also seem to be much improved, and they were pretty good in the previous version. I feel very comfortable recommending that non-geek folks use this release as an MS Office replacement.
I’m even optimistic that the product will take significant market share away from MS, and if it doesn’t, it will be plain proof that MS’s dominance in the office apps world is a result of its monopoly. Free or $79 for the supported version vs. ~$500 for MS’s product is just too big of a difference to be justified by the very small difference in functionality.
Ooo also has a nifty export to pdf feature, which is quite handy for us, since we have had to buy acrobat for a lot of folks who like to create pdf versions of their word files. However, I’ve recently found another free (speech and beer) program called PDF Creator that provides the same print-to-pdf functionality that we’ve been buying Acrobat for. Even though it’s long been possible to create pdfs for free by printing to postscript and then using the free ghostscript tools to convert the postscript files to pdf, this process is way too burdensome to expect non-geek users to navigate it. PDF Creator uses ghostscript to provide the same ease of use of Acrobat without the difficult process.