How-To Geek

Beginner Geeks: OpenOffice is a Free Cross Platform Alternative to MS Office

When you’re trying to save money in this bad economy, you probably don’t want to purchase an expensive office suite. If you are just a beginner geek, you might not know about the free OpenOffice alternative to MS Office.

OpenOffice is a free and powerful alternative to Microsoft Office and is available for Windows, Linux, and Mac. The suite includes an alternative for the 4 major MS office apps like Word, Excel, Access, Publisher and PowerPoint. Here we will take a quick look at each of the applications available in OpenOffice 3.1 for Windows. This should give you an idea of what you can expect if you make the switch or are just starting out with it.


Open Office 3

The installation process is similar to that of MS Office and you can choose which features to install.



Writer is your alternative to MS Word and will handle most of your document creation needs.



Calc is the Excel alternative and has similar features that will allow most users to work with spreadsheets, including those created in the MS app.



This is the alternative to PowerPoint and includes a lot of the same features. It provides you with templates to create, give, and publish professional looking presentations.



This is a vector graphics editor which is an alternative to MS Publisher. It includes a lot of features included in other desktop publishing software. You can add clip art from the Open Clip Art Library to ad unique images to your documents.



OpenOffice may not have all of the features that MS power users crave, but it comes close. If you are a fan of the Ribbon feature in Office 2007, you won’t see that here. Another cool thing about OpenOffice is that it’s available in a portable version so you can take it around with you on a flash drive, and is included with several Linux distributions. OpenOffice can open docx files but isn’t able to save them in that format, but MS can now open and save documents in the Open Document format. Because of that you should have little problem interchanging documents between the two. If you are looking for document creation capabilities of MS Office, but don’t want to shell out the money, OpenOffice is a great choice.

Download Open Office for Windows, Linux or Mac

Also check out our look at IBM Lotus Symphony which is built on Open Office.

IBM Lotus Symphony

Brian Burgess worked in IT for 10 years before pursuing his passion for writing. He's been a tech blogger and journalist for the past seven years, and can be found on his about me page or Google+

  • Published 10/7/09

Comments (4)

  1. John Carr

    Any word on Open Office 3’s compatibility with Win 7?

  2. Joella

    I SO enjoy your daily e-mails and have learned volumes with you.

    Reading your entry on Open Office brings me to this question.

    Would I be smart to delete Office 2007. I totally dislike the mail program, and don’t use other parts of it, other than Power Point. Is it possible to delete all but Power Point? I did download Open Office a few months back and fully enjoy it.

    I see I can utilize Power Point type displays through Open Office Impress.

    Thanks for your help.

    Keep up with your good work… I for one use and appreciate your hints..


  3. Jon Baxter

    Been a fan of Open Office since it came out and practically everyone I know uses it on their personal computers. Nice to see a good article introducing it to people.

    One tip I only just bothered working out is setting the default save for text documents in ‘Tools’ under ‘Load/Save’ – ‘General’ as Windows 97/200/XP; it saves you selecting it every time and makes your files readable at work or college (assuming they use Word as most I use seem to).

    For some reason, Microsoft doesn’t read ODF format and turning up to a presentation with excellent work that can’t be printed is a bit embarassing.

  4. BeBob Esq

    You should also try SSuite Office for a free office suite. They have a whole range of office suites that are free for download.

    Their software also don’t need to run on Java or .NET, like so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small and efficient.

    You may try these links:

More Articles You Might Like

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!