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Wednesday, January 11th, 2006, 2:25 am

OpenOffice and Microsoft Office Comparison

Microsoft Word
A screenshot of Word (Office 12) with copied graphical themes highlighted

OPENOFFICE 2 was officially released a few months ago. Microsoft Office 12 will probably be out in the near future and it imitates much of the Mac OS X look, for which it has been criticised. See the above image if persuasion is needed that the contention is true.

Around the release time of OpenOffice, a particular controversial article made the rounds. It described OpenOffice as slow and inferior. Comparisons involving Microsoft Office and OpenOffice were only conducted under Windows, for it seems the only possible platform for benchmarks of this nature. However, it is a ‘home and away’ situation.

Windows is optimised to run Microsoft Office. It keeps many common objects in memory, for which there is a noticeable cost. On the other hand, OpenOffice ‘feels’ most comfortable in its origins: Open Source environments. The Windows OpenOffice version could be treated as merely a secondary port. Moreover, someone claimed that the OpenOffice build which was used in this comparison had been compiled with debugging ‘bits’ which accommodated for bug reports. It was not the final product, but merely a candidate with a practical purpose that entailed improvements.

Judging and comparing office productivity tools on Windows is unfair and grossly biased. It is like assessing the performance of a football team based only on its home games. This is not the first time that biased studies are conducted. Web servers, legacy hardware, and security are a few more examples. There was recently a big controversy over a study which counted security flaws, but compared Windows against many dozens of different Open Source platforms and applications like Apache and Firefox. The miserably-delivered figures were very deceiving, almost intentionally so. Flaws count was aggregated from just about any distribution or derivative of UNIX and then compared against the corresponding number from Windows.

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