OpenOffice, StarOffice, Microsoft Office Oh My!

The last time I looked at either OpenOffice or StarOffice they weren’t impressive. Microsoft Office has been my standard for a long time, but with the release of the first beta of MS Office 12 I’ve decided to see where these other office suites are in comparison, to help me answer the question “should I upgrade to MS Office 12 when it comes out?.” I do a lot of writing in Word, mostly because it’s easy to spell check things, and I use Excel as a lazy way to do some basic text manipulation. As of right now I’ve installed OpenOffice 2.0.1 on all three of my PCs. My plan is to use OpenOffice for two weeks, then use StarOffice 8 for two weeks, then maybe try the MS Office 12 beta. If I can do everything I need to do, I’ll pick the one I like the most.

My first thought about OpenOffice is that Sun seems to be cannibalizing its own market by contributing to OO when they’re trying to sell StarOffice. But as Guy Kawasaki points out in one of his books, it’s always better to steal your own customers than have a competitor do it. It seems Sun is hell-bent on taking Microsoft down, so if that means more options for the rest of us, I’m totally cool with that.
My second thought is that I bet Microsoft knows now what Lotus felt like when Excel came along. OO Calc looks identical to Excel. OO Writer looks exactly like Word. Too bad we don’t have look & feel suits anymore. Oh, wait, no, I don’t mean that…