With my new computer I was thinking about actually buying Microsoft Office 2007 Home and Student edition since it gives the license for 3 computers and it is not really that expensive; one can get it for around 110 US$ from eBay. So if you have 2 computers at home and a sister of brother that need Office as well, it comes down to 35US$ per computer which is a really good price. There is another side of the story when you actually need to buy a language pack for Office separately - 25US$ per each language.
My believe is that people really get carried away with the fancy stuff and do not realize that there are alternatives to Microsoft Office. They basically do not have the information. For the businesses, on the other hand it's a part of being cool and afford having Microsoft Office and do the presentations in fancy PowerPoint. There are also macro developers as well who do some things in Access and so on. Those probably cannot live without Microsoft products. Still, there is a huge number of home users that actually do not need all the stuff that Microsoft supplies with Office. Could you imagine how may people use just Word for writing some papers and checking spelling before they send essays and so on.
For people like me, it is very often a task to suggest to a person using computers which software to choose. Especially it was so back in Klaipeda when I had to make a decision about persons needs for a certain activity to be performed on the computer. Microsoft Office was one of the must-be-there things at that time.
These days I do not use word processor much at home basically because I do not write long papers for the university. For the emails in English, Firefox and Gmail will do pretty much all I need. On the other hand, for writing emails in Russian or Swedish, there is a need for a spell checker. Well, well, well – where am I heading to? Trust me it took a really long time for me(about 2 years) to persuade myself that instead of getting MS Office I really can efficiently use OpenOffice. But I did it and now I am using OpenOffice at home. I could roll on describing that OpenOffice can actually do most of the things Microsoft Office does example by example but I will just summarize the most important ones.
1. There is a free Microsoft solution to view and print (not edit) all Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, including 2007 formats. So you will never end up receiving a downloading Office file that you cannot view. I can provide the links to download the viewers and support for 2007 format.
2. OpenOffice does have all the features of header, footer, section breaks, graphs, text formatting and so on.
3. OpenOffice does have the spellchecker for almost all the languages.
4. OpenOffice has the output to PDF format. It cannot edit PDF files. Neither does MS Office.
5. OpenOffice is free.
6. There are some quite handy free add-ons for OpenOffice.
7. OpenOffice cannot work with macros that were developed in Microsoft Office.
8. There is a huge knowledge base online for OpenOffice and how to achieve different results with it.
9. OpenOffice user interface is multilingual. You can get all the menus and options in Russian, for instance.
I hope I didn’t roll on for too long in this posting and I hope it will make you try OpenOffice.