I recently started to grow tired of Microsoft Office controlling my PC and the last time I reformatted my PC I opted out of installing Microsoft Office 2003 in favour of the free open source application suite OpenOffice.org. This entry focuses on the Word Processors that are included with the suites.
Microsoft Word 2003
Like most of you reading this article, I am a Microsoft Word veteran having used the application suite Microsoft Office since Office '97 was available and I consider myself well versed in the operation of Word. By well versed I mean I am capable of formatting a document how I would like and using all the little things like spelling and grammar/synonym check, paragraphing, format painter, that sort of thing. I am 100% happy with the way Word operates 99% of the time. Why did I want to switch away from Microsoft Word? I didn't, but some advice from a friend of mine put me on the trail of Open Source software and I was no longer interested in using Microsoft Office for my daily word processing activities.
As a Word user, I expected Writer to look like Word when I opened it up after installing it. After waiting a ridiculous amount of time for the programme to execute I was greeted with a fairy familiar screen landscape. I proceeded to explore Writer and search for similarities and differences since Word/Writer plays a large part in my computing life, at any given time, if one of my computers is on, it is usually open to the Word Processing application of my choice, so I wanted to know exactly what was what with my new Word Processor.
I will say that Writer is clunkier, and not as streamlined as Word, but it is trying its darndest to look like MS Word in its layout and overall operation. One thing you will notice straight away is that the page that is displayed that you are typing on is actually to the left of your filed of view on the screen. This is most irritating for veteran Microsoft Word users like myself as I find that I like the page that I am working on at the time to be in the middle of my screen. Another thing that you will note immediately is that the menu bars at the top of the application are slightly irritating the way they sit atop one another instead of line up into one line. Without extensive configuration of the buttons you want to keep around, you cannot “slip” the toolbars into place.
What do I use now?
Microsoft Office 2003 for Microsoft Word
I will not mince words (no pun intended) MS Word works better. It formats better, it starts faster, and it looks better, IMHO. I am also not entirely sure, but OpenOffice.org, seems to mess around with the way that my pc is handling copying/cutting and pasting. Something has happened where it does not always work and after some thought this problem seems only to be in effect when OpenOffice Writer is involved.
Writer is a great alternative to MS Word but if you are used to MS Word I see no reason to switch to Writer at this time and in its present state of development. Switch at your own risk, I have decided to follow my original instincts and stick with MS Office.