Oh, not again…someone sent you a file that needs Microsoft Word to open it, or perhaps Excel.
That’s often the case when you are an officer in a club. Last year’s secretary sends the newly elected secretary a spreadsheet of the members and their addresses — with the file done by Microsoft Excel. Or, perhaps the worst case, all the data is there, but it’s just one long text file in Notepad.
If you don’t have Microsoft Word and Excel, what are you to do?
Fortunately there are several free alternatives that read and write files in Microsoft Office formats. There are also some inexpensive office suite alternatives.
Although I use Microsoft Office 2007 at home and at work, I occasionally take a look at one or more of the alternatives. The one that I like the most is OpenOffice.org. (Yes, that’s the name of the web site — and the ".org" really is part of the program’s name, too.)
At one time, the rights to OpenOffice.org were owned by Sun Microsystems. Sun bought an office suite program which it renamed StarOffice. After a while, Sun created OpenOffice.org and turned and turned the coding into an open-source project. However, although the program was distributed for free, Sun retained the sole right to commercialization of the program, which it did using the name StarOffice.
Now, we’ll fast forward to the present. Sun Microsystems was purchased by Oracle Corporation in 2009. That sent some chills through the OpenOffice.org open-source programming world. In April 2011, Oracle announced that it was discontining its commercial product Oracle Open Office. In June 2011, Oracle donated the OpenOffice.org project to the Apache Software Foundation to be in its "incubator."
The current version is OpenOffice.org 3.3.0, which was released while the program was still owned by Oracle. Downloading and installation are easy, assuming you have a relatively high-speed connection. First, you download the 154 MB file and save it to somewhere convenient (like your Downloads directory). Then, double-click on the filename or the file’s icon to start the program installation. That will uncompress the installation files into a newly create folder on your Windows Desktop and then automatically run the installation.
Starting the program is easy — there’s a Desktop icon and there are entries in the Windows Start Menu.
I successfully opened Word 2007 .docx and Excel 2007 .xlsx files. They appeared to be formatted perfectly.
However, the current version does not save in the Excel 2007 and Word 2007 formats (and probably not the other Office 2007 formats, either). You can save in Excel and Word 2003 and earlier formats.
There are other alternatives, but OpenOffice.org is a good one to try. The price is certainly right!
Get it at OpenOffice.org.