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Top Ten Reasons to Use StarOffice or OpenOffice.org

Here are the ten best reasons to switch from whatever you're on now to StarOffice or OpenOffice.org.

  1. StarOffice: $75. OpenOffice.org: Free. Microsoft Office: Rather more; up to $450.

    Not being a slave to whatever Microsoft wants to do with pricing, distribution, licensing, and world domination in general: Priceless.

  2. Government agencies publish forms in Word and Excel format. Universities require that students submit papers in Word format. Elementary schools publish their school lunch menus in Word format, for heaven's sake.

    Who's going to pay $450 to read a lunch menu? Just get StarOffice or OpenOffice.org. Even if you don't need most of the features, it means you can read everything in the closed Microsoft world without living in it.

  3. Whatever annoyances you heard about regarding StarOffice 5.2, forget it. 6.0 rules. Really. (We spent about 1200 total hours writing the StarOffice 5.2 Companion. Believe us, we know 6.0 is better.) Check out the reviews of StarOffice 6.0 on Amazon. Reviewers are saying "Thank you, Sun, for such a great product." We haven't seen that on the Microsoft Office site.

  4. Writer (the Word equivalent) is better than Word. It doesn't have more features, since Word has been suffering from terminal feature bloat since about 1996. Writer has what you need, plus better long document handling features. Hate Word master documents? Use Writer: the master document feature is more like FrameMaker's book feature. (Writer can't match FrameMaker, but FrameMaker is a different type of program.)

  5. This just in: It's official. Bill Gates has enough money. Do you? If you and your children in elementary school, your children at college, your small business, medium business, enterprise, educational institution, church, synagogue, library, government agency, law firm, sports league, volunteer organization, or Summons Service'n'Ice Cream Parlor have all the money you need, great. But if not, you need the money more than Bill does. Save it and go with StarOffice or OpenOffice.org.

  6. It's the best drawing program you've never used. It's got 3D stuff you've probably not come across in Word's drawing feature, Visio-like connector tools for architectural and electrical diagrams, cool auto-measuring lines that display the measurement of any object in the drawing (1-1 or to scale). And fancy text manipulation through FontWorks. Plus raster editing (like editing out the red eyes or your ex in your birthday photos) in all the applications.You can happily waste days playing with Draw. Go to Guided Tour of Draw: Vector and Raster Graphics on page 755 to get guided through some of these features.

  7. No muss, no fuss data sources for mail merge (sending form letters to the 1204 people in your contacts database), etc. All you need is your customer list in a text file. The rest is incredibly slick and easy. Just open that text file in Calc (the spreadsheet program) and it automatically creates a nice neat spreadsheet for you. Then use that spreadsheet to do mail merges, create a form, or anything else you want. Forget Access—the StarOffice and OpenOffice.org data source are generally all you need. We've included a tutorial to prove how easy it is; see page 871.

  8. UNIX users, get jiggy. No offense, but Applix and the other desktop publishing applications lacked a certain something. Anyone who's not an enthusiastic LaTeK user is breathing a huge sigh of relief. Plus UNIX folks can now stay off of Windows 24-7, since if you had to go on the road to give a presentation before, you pretty much had to go Windows and PowerPoint.

  9. StarOffice 6.0 files might be the smallest files you ever create. StarOffice 6.0 files aren't in a binary format anymore (like pretty much all the other desktop applications). They're XML. Which means that it's not a Special Secret Formula that no one else can figure out, so other applications can open and deal with that format. It also means that you can write and write, and import all sorts of graphics, and your file sizes will still be miniscule. We wrote some 6.0 Writer documents that approached 80 pages and were still under 100k. Impress, Draw, and Calc all make really small files too. The days of your memory or hard disk groaning under the load of your work files are over.

  10. It's a great principle. Open standards. XML. Nobody has a stranglehold on anyone else. Nobody in Redmond controls anything you do. This is the way software should be. And is.

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