October 26, 2005
The release of OpenOffice 2.0 is a red-letter day for the open-source movement, but what does it mean for for companies and individuals who now have a choice of more than half a dozen alternatives to Microsoft Office? Free is good, and OpenOffice is free -- but is it good? We'll find out -- there's a review coming in Desktop Pipeline RSN.
It looks like the office-suite marketplace is settling down into three camps. The first is the free ones, like OpenOffice. The second is the commercial ones, like Sun's StarOffice 8, that come with support. And the third, and by far the largest, is MS Office.It's surprising how many of them there are when you start counting them up. The catch, of course, is that not all of them started out to be full-fledged replacements for MS Office. GNOME Office and KOffice, for example, are free software that's grown out of the two leading graphical desktop packages for Linux, GNOME and KDE. OpenOffice.org 2.0 and StarOffice 8 are twins, the first freeware, the second, built from the same code base, a commercial product wrapped in the kind of support companies expect for the products they standardize on. ThinkFree Office (www.thinkfree.com) claims MS office file compatibility for its $49 Thinkfree 3 suite of word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software. It also offers a free Web-based service. EIOffice 2004 is written in Java and runs Office-compatible applications in Linux and Windows -- $149. WordPerfect Office 12, along with StarOffice and IBM's SmartSuite, are all products aimed at the corporate market, and priced accordingly, to shelter under the price umbrella provided by MS Office. And to this list you'd have to add IBM's Workplace, which provides most of the same functions as MS Office plus most of Outlook/Exchange. Anybody know of any others? Anybody have any opinions?
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