OpenOffice is better

To complete most word processing tasks, I have used OpenOffice on PCs and NeoOffice on the Mac (basically a Java version of OpenOffice). I have read many stories about OpenOffice being able to open Word files that even Microsoft Word is unable to open. I have found that to be true.

My main gripe concerning work is that OpenOffice has more powerful page layout features compared to Word, and will let you save files into Microsoft Word format with those features. When such files are opened in Microsoft Word (2003 and earlier, never tried Word 2007) the formatting gets screwed up and pictures that are in the file do not display. For example, a picture taking up the entire background when viewed in OpenOffice will only display within the document margins using Microsoft Word.

If I just need to print, it is not a problem, since OpenOffice natively supports saving to PDF. No Adobe Acrobat installation is necessary, and the files are much smaller than using Apple’s print to PDF function on Mac OS X.

I bring all this up now because sometimes it is necessary to edit files on other computers at work. A brief summary of what I can generally use:

  1. My coteacher’s new Core2Duo PC with Microsoft Word and the Hangul Word Processor. I should point out that the Hangul Word Processor program consumes more disk space and RAM than the entire Microsoft Office suite…so Microsoft isn’t necessarily the worst choice. OpenOffice can open earlier versions of HWP files, but not the most recent kind. HWP is able to export Word files, but it always screws up the formatting, no matter how basic the document is. Anyhow, my coteacher is usually using that computer, and even when she is not, all the software is in Korean.
  2. The work PC intended to be used by me at school. It has a 2.4GHz Pentium4 and 512MB of RAM, but feels more like a 486/33 with 8MB of RAM. It takes 8 minutes to fully boot a basic WindowsXP installation. It overheats and makes beeping noises whenever I do important work on it. I can type something and eat lunch before the letters appear on the screen.
  3. My Samsung laptop, now hitting temperatures in the 80 degree C range, even though it has been underclocked to 800MHz and undervolted. Because I am adamant about preventing the installation of crapware and viruses, it is still faster than the previously mentioned two computers. Still, it will surely not survive spring when the ambient temperatures come back up.

The work PC given to me has an ethernet cable going to the wall that is just long enough to get to that PC. I have to hold the laptop in a very odd position to plug it into ethernet at school or use wireless. The wireless connection has been unavailable most afternoons recently, forcing me to use the desktop computer if I need to search and download materials on the Internet.

My task for the afternoon was to make a menu for a restaurant in the English camp. The menu was to include graphics. Microsoft Word repeatedly failed to have the capability to place graphics where I want them to be, sometimes running off the edge of the page. Nonetheless, I wasted time trying in case my coteacher wants to edit the documents. The closest I could get was by making the file in OpenOffice. Whenever I did anything in Microsoft Word, Word messed up the formatting. Manipulating the file took longer and longer as the size grew past 12MB.

Once I got home, I decided to redo the same document from scratch in NeoOffice, just to see how much less time a good computer would take. What took four hours of time at school took me twenty minutes at home. I decided it was not so important for my coteacher to be able to edit the document.


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