ExtremeCPA - Technology for Business

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Google Office?

As you are all most likely aware, I'm an open source aficionado and enjoy using technologies like Linux, Python, etc. I read an article today that announced how Google and Sun have teamed up to "Declare War on Microsoft". Forbes doesn't seem to think that this is too much of a threat to Microsoft, but I'll let you be the judge of that one. A little more background may be in order.

Sun Microsystems created the infamous Java programming language that has become widely prevalent today. Google, I'm sure, requires no introduction. What Sun has also built, that you may not be quite aware of, is OpenOffice. This is a suite of office tools similar to Microsoft Office, yet it is open source and therefore FREE. You can typically purchase support from Sun or other consultants on a fee basis, or you can use the online community message boards to try and get your questions answered. I would think, though, that if you don't have any problems with MS Office, you probably won't have any with OO (OpenOffice). Included in the standard distribution are Calc (think: Excel), Writer (think: Word), Impress (think: PowerPoint), and Draw (think: Paint on steroids).

You may be thinking, "But all my historical documents are in MS Office format, I couldn't just give that up!" Fret not, because OO can typically read and write documents that were originally written in the MS Office Suite without a hitch. The only problem that I've run into is scripting in VBA. OO will simply ignore VBA code, as it doesn't (as far as I can tell) know how to interpret it correctly. But I seem to think that very few people will have an issue with this, as most Word documents and Excel spreadsheets go without the added complexity of VBA code. If you have macros that you use in Excel, they will also not work in OO, BUT you can recreate your macros in OO fairly easily.

All in all, I try to use OO whenever possible, although I do have quite a few VBA procedures that I use often that hinder this approach. I would highly recommend you try out OO, and keep an eye out for the Google-Sun combination, as it could prove to be a viable alternative for the more costly, proprietary MS Office. Check it out if you get a chance!


  • Superb research tool utilized by CPA's nationally...Mary Knoph

    By Blogger Mary Knoph, at 10:07 PM  

  • I love open office, and wish it was more widely adopted. OS is always the way to go imo...

    But I type that from my windows XP OS, with Visual Studio and MS Excel open. I wish the transition was smoother, but until MONO is more widely adopted, people who depend on .net applications (like every single small to medium sized business) will not be able to smoothly transition.

    By Anonymous Nick, at 9:38 AM  

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