I have been using the latest builds of OpenOffice as they have become available over the past 9 months or so. I have to admit I am quite impressed with how mature this product has become. I would have to say that this suite could be ready to replace Microsoft Office for the vast majority of users out there.
We all know that most of the features in the Microsoft Office suite sit unused for all eternity never to be touched by end users. Also if you have ever taken a look at MS’s balance sheet, you will see that the Office suite is the big cash cow in their product line.
I would ask you to give it a try if it has been a while since you looked at OpenOffice. I am fully convinced my company could get by using this suite, but I think the level of resistance from end users and upper management would prevent this from ever happening. But think of all of the licensing costs that could be saved.
I have been eagerly watching the case regarding the state of Massachusetts giving closed document formats the boot. I wonder if there is any way I could push for something like this in my own city. Probably would have to run for city council before I could make this kind of change a reality, but you have to admit that the fact that a taxpayer funded government produces public documents in a format that requires the purchase of proprietary software seems a bit off.
If I had to gaze into my crystal ball, I would have to guess that Microsoft will be forced to create converters to and from the Open Document Format put together by OASIS. The question will be how long they will be able to hold out.
Here are some screenshots of OpenOffice opening some of Microsoft’s template files available from their website. I especially like the presentation I pulled up in Impress (the PowerPoint equivalent). You can click the pictures for larger versions.
Update: Added Screenshots for OpenOffice Writer, Calc, and Impress