OpenOffice.org One-Year Anniversary

Try it for two weeks then decide.

By Erik J. Heels

First published 5/17/2003; LawLawLaw Newsletter; Clock Tower Law Group

On 05/01/03, OpenOffice.org celebrated its one-year anniversary. Since then, around 10 million people have downloaded the application that reads and writes Microsoft Office files, saves files in XML format, and runs on Linux, Windows, Solaris, OS X, and other operating systems. Don’t take my word for it, read the testimonials (http://www.openoffice.org/about_us/testimonials.html). And if you think your old MS Office data is portable, think again. I tried opening some MS Office files created in 1997 (which wasn’t THAT long ago) with MS Office XP, and I wasn’t able to open the old files. OpenOffice.org writes in XML format, so your data will ALWAYS be available, even after Microsoft ceases to exist. But don’t let the version number of the latest release fool you, OpenOffice.org is a nearly 20-year old software project (http://www.openoffice.org/about.html#history) and the product is VERY mature. Try it for two weeks then decide. I suggest that you use the native file formats for storing. OpenOffice.org can save MS Office file formats, but that defeats the purpose. Create a test word processing document called test.sxw, then use Winzip or the like to uncompress test.sxw to see the underlying XML files. Use the “Autopilot” feature (under the “File” menu) to convert files to OpenOffice.org format (while leaving your original documents untouched). Very cool.

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