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Can’t Afford Microsoft? Meet Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice

For businesses on a shoestring budget, having to fork out cash for Microsoft Office is an additional expense that many could do without. Fortunately, there are some inexpensive alternatives to Microsoft office out there – and one just celebrated a major accomplishment.

Once there was a project called OpenOffice.org. But the owner of that project, Oracle, donated the OpenOffice source code to Apache in 2011. From that project, Apache OpenOffice was born. A couple of days ago, Apache announced OpenOffice had been downloaded an impressive 100 million times in the past two years.

In an official post on The Apache Foundation Software Blog, Andrea Pescetti, Vice President of Apache OpenOffice explained:

“I’m extremely pleased to see us reach this major milestone in less than two years. This is a testament to our community volunteers: The hundreds of talented individuals who make Apache OpenOffice what it is, who write the code, test for bugs, translate the user interface, write documentation, answer user questions and manage our servers. We remain committed to offering the successful combination of reliability and innovation that so many users appreciate.”

Being open-source has allowed other versions of the software to be created. One of these is LibreOffice. A lot of people, including Linux users, prefer it over Apache OpenOffice. But you can’t argue with Apache OpenOffice’s 100 million downloads. So this version is clearly the leader among open sourced options.

There are quite a few benefits in the open software’s favor. First is the price. Apache OpenOffice is free compared with the price for the latest version of Microsoft Office.

Second, you can open and edit all Microsoft Office documents with OpenOffice. There are no compatibility problems. In fact, the only problem you might encounter is a missing font from Microsoft. It’s one for which OpenOffice will provide a simple replacement. But apart from that, documents open and are edited smoothly.

Third, Apache OpenOffice has taken a page from Firefox’s and Chrome’s playbooks. It provides a huge gallery of extensions to choose from.

There are also document templates. This greatly extends the basic functionality of the software. It gives it features that turn it into a productivity powerhouse. From foreign language dictionaries to PDF converters to eBook converters, the extension gallery will probably have what you are looking for.

So when you are looking for your next online office suite of software or even your first as a startup on a tight budget, remember. There are cheaper alternatives to Microsoft Office and lower cost or even free does not necessarily imply lower quality, if you know what to look for.


Mark O'Neill - Staff Writer

Mark O'Neill Mark O'Neill is a staff writer for Small Business Trends, covering software and social media. He is a freelance journalist who has been writing for over 25 years, and has successfully made the leap from newspapers and radio onto the Internet. From 2007-2013, he was the Managing Editor of MakeUseOf.com.

22 Reactions

  1. Also LibreOffice is good and free, available for Win and Mac.

  2. Yes, Apache OpenOffice has great value & is priceless in every sense.

    100 million downloads in 2 years in a remarkable accomplishment & truly a big milestone. So many people can’t be wrong!

    The best part it keeps getting better & there is no cost for upgrades. Its user interface can have lots of customization. Lots of languages are supported.

    I love how you can export to PDF in just 2 clicks.

  3. This is the first I’ve heard of Apache OpenOffice. Sounds really good. If I didn’t already have Microsoft Office, it’s something I’d consider.

    • Mark O'Neill

      Why not use both?

      • Hi Mark…

        I don’t see the point if I already have and use Microsoft Office. For me, it would be like having two of everything and only ever needing one. However, it’s good to know OpenOffice is out there.

      • Mark O'Neill

        Maybe it’s just me then, wanting everything and trying everything πŸ™‚ This is the guy with 5 internet browsers installed :-))

      • If 5 browsers do it for you, Mark, then bless you. That’s just how you are, and that’s perfectly cool. πŸ™‚

  4. >Second, you can open and edit all Microsoft Office documents with OpenOffice. There are no compatibility problems. […]

    Well simply no. Compatibility in AOO is not that good as claimed.
    Open – yes.
    Edit – yes.
    Save – no.

    [Edited by Editor]

    • Dennis, what particular Microsoft Office documents, in your experience, has Apache OpenOffice not been compatible with?

    • Mark O'Neill

      This is simply not the case. I have had no problems whatsoever saving MS Office documents in AOO,

      • Will open office be able to open Docx and xlsx files? I really don’t want to pay Microsoft $300/year just to open a few documents (nor do i need them keeping my files on their server. I don’t trust them).

      • Mark O'Neill

        Harley – yes, Open Office can open Docx and xlsx files. Just download OO and test it out πŸ™‚

  5. One huge factor with Open Office is language compatibility. I have been using Open Office for years. Anyone who uses languages like Arabic, Hindi or Hebrew that are Right to left languages will find that Open Office works much better with them.
    One issue that Open Office has right now is it is not Cloud based at the moment. Google Docs and Microsoft Office Online have this advantage for collaboration.

    • Mark O'Neill

      Maintaining cloud servers costs a lot of money. It’s quite possible that Apache just doesn’t have the money to back such a project up. Especially with the cloud storage market being so crowded.

  6. @Harley Kingsoft office opens docx pretty well too & like the best things in life its free…

  7. Maybe this goes without saying but my old brain doesn’t grasp what may be a no-brainer to some. If I send an Open Office spreadsheet to a business with Microsoft Excel…they can open that and read it, correct? Can they edit it?? I’m currently using Google Sheets but cannot seem to convert it to Excel, that they can save and work with, so I’m considering downloading Open Office because it seems to be a trusted source.

  8. Not a balanced article. This looks like an ad for Apache OpenOffice. All the features mentioned are available in LibreOffice, which does get a passing mention, and which has, in my opinion, a better development path. With this kind of promotional puff no wonder OpenOffice has all those downloads – that doesn’t make it better !

    Have just installed Linux Mint on an old laptop – LibreOffice is installed by default.

  9. I use Open Office with my new labtop which has Windows 10. When I open a OpenOffice document, then save it as a .odt and close it. When I open it again, I get a window asking me to activate MS Word, I close the window and the document appears as a word document with error saying has not been activated and I can’t type or edit anything on it…blocked. Why is this happening. Please help?

  10. I have open office. Recently tried MS word for 30 days. Now I get a banner selling MS office and open office will not come up. How can I get open office to come up again?

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