The logo for OpenOfficeThe popular alternative to Microsoft’s office suite OpenOffice is now natively available as a beta for the quickly growing operating system Mac OS X. Openoffice could become a major threat towards paid office clients as it’s popularity is dramatically increasing.

One of the primary problems with buying a computer is having to purchase a large amount of software in order for basic functionality. Upon purchasing my Mac, I needed to spend extra money for Microsoft Office, which cost me $150.

The main advantage of OpenOffice (Besides it’s price) is the fact that it is open-source, meaning that anyone can modify it. While on Microsoft Office or Apple iWork, users have to wait for firmware updates from the manufacturer. If there are problems, programmers from around the world can improve it. 

Upon purchasing my linux-equipped netbook, it was included with applications which Microsoft or Apple would have charged me over $300 for. OpenOffice was one of those programs included, which was a surprisingly complete set of software; featuring word processing, spreadsheets, and presentational applications.

However, the Mac version is a disappointment. Upon opening the program, it took longer than Microsoft Word 2004 to open. To make matters worse, instead of being taken directly to the program, I was greeted with a command window reading “bash-3.2$”, and 20 sec before an error message popped up reading, “Command timed out.” 

After recieving this error message, the program opened and functioned just like the linux version. But in terms of initial accessibility, this is a large problem for those with little to no computer knowledge. This program is only in beta at the moment, but will need to iron out it’s problems before it truly becomes an alternative to Office 08.

The initial point of the computer was to word process and carry out complicated tasks. Software such as Microsoft Word used to be a luxurious alternative to word processing clients such as the crude Notepad. But now we live in the age where we are dependent on Word processing. In fact, office suites have become a necessity rather than a premium. 

OpenOffice is a threat to Microsoft’s traditional business model. Why pay $150 for something you can get for free? While OpenOffice for Mac needs work, the PC and Linux versions are excellent alternatives to MS Office.

The computer should be accessible to everyone, and by offering a free program which serves one of the crucial purposes of computing; OpenOffice may threaten Microsoft’s monopoly on the productivity software industry.

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