PDF Conversion
PDF to Word Conversion Software

A year ago, I bought a laptop that did not come preloaded with Microsoft Word. I needed a word processor and I didn't want to give Microsoft $200 for its bloated package of proprietary software, most of which I wouldn't use anyway. The first Word Processor I used was Word Perfect 5.1, with the blue text on a gray background, back when we thought it was cool to own a color monitor. My word processing needs have changed very little since then. Unfortunately, Microsoft has virtually monopolized the word processing market. Were there any other options?

I decided to try Open Office, or as it is now called. As the website proclaims, " is a multiplatform and multilingual office suite and an open-source project." Over the past few years, I have used a few different versions of Open Office and am about as familiar with it as most of us are with Microsoft Office: I use the word processer quite frequently for a number of different purposes, but I rarely use the other tools such as the spreadsheet. Thus, I will review only the Open Office Writer. Because Word has such an overwhelming market domination, all ratings are relative to Word.

Rated 5/5


Open Office is free software. It is not ad supported. Not only can you use the product for free, you can freely distribute it to friends. Most importantly, you can freely use it without supporting proprietary software.

Rated 4/5


Generally, Open Office has been remarkably compatable. Occasionally, but rarely, something won't transfer properly from OO.o to Word. For example, the transition seems to change the font used for page numbers. However, the transition is generally very good. Comments and tracked changes made the switch easily. Additionally, some of the shortcuts are different.

Rated 4/5


Open Office cannot do everything Word can. For example, it does not have a speech recognition function. On the other hand, what do I need speech recognition for? I haven't yet found anything I want Word to do that Open Office can't. However, Open Office can directly export a document to a PDF, which Word could not do.

Rated 4/5


There is no Office Assistant. In terms of not being obnoxious, this is a huge plus. On the other hand, differences between Word and Open Office are often annoying. For example, a recent version of the Writer made Ctrl-2 switch text to "Heading 2," which might be a nice feature, except that I just want it to doublespace my document for me. Additionally, OO.o does not particularly like saving things by default as a .doc file. I don't know what the .odt file can do that the .doc file can't, but generally, I don't care. I want to be able to open it with Word. Finally, there are a number of annoying auto-format things — but these are no more annoying than they are in Word.

Rated 3/5


For a few years, I had almost no problems with Open Office. Recently, I tried to do a mail-merge, which caused all kinds of headaches. Of course, that wasn't a particularly common use for me. In the latest version, cutting and pasting non-standard text from Firefox has slowed it down to a crawl. Fortunately, the recovery tool works fairly well, if somewhat slowly, so I haven't actually lost any work.

Rated 5/5

Licence Agreement

I never thought I would do a rating on a license agreement, but this one was awesome. It had fifteen short lines of text, three of which incorportated the LGPL by reference, three of which incorporated license terms for third party code by reference to the THIRDPARTYLICENSEREADME.html, and the rest of which essentially said, "This was put together by a community of people and whomever owns any trademarks owns them." It's the simplest, most elegant license agreement I've seen.

Rated 4/5


I'm pretty happy with Open Office. I definitely wouldn't pay $200 for it &mdash but I would happily use it instead of Word, even if Word came free. However, if I already have Word set up to be as minimally obnoxious as possible, I'm not going to install Open Office to replace it.