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OpenOffice or LibreOffice are what the layman perceives as free office software. Office software you don’t have to pay for. I’m not going to discuss the acedemics of licensing or moral angles of software ownership, just merely point out why you could choose to install OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

OK back to what they actually do
They provide you with the Microsoft Office equivalent of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access.

In what way are they equivalent?
Well you choose by default to save files as the older Microsoft file format standards, so that all your Microsoft friends can read them and you can also read the very up todate Microsoft Office format as well, the best of both worlds.

Sending documents outide
If you need to send a docuement outside your company you can save it as a PDF, so it will look exactly the same to an outside person you email it too. And if it’s unlikely they’ll be editing in Microsoft Office and sending it back to you, then they don’t need the original at all.

So if you were a lawyer or a writer with a commercial publisher, then Open/Libre Office might not be an option for you. However with a just a little training, you can even get cross-formatting issues sorted between Open/Libre Office and Microsoft Office.

Receiving documents from outside
If you receive a Microsoft document from a friend and you need to print or view it exactly as it’s been authored, you only need to have the Microft Viewers installed.

The bottomline
At today’s prices £70 every five years to Microsoft

because that’s roughly the average length of time before they slightly change the file formats to increase their share price or ZERO.

Where is the catch?
Here is the pattern that repeats itself in Western Societies approximately every five years or so:

Microsoft launch a new Office Suite, it does ever such a little more, Word Processing features are included that Stephen Hawking could use in the layout of cunning new formula. Not that his publishers would even use Microsoft Word to layout his next book. But

just in case he might, Microsoft decides to put this new layout feature in.

When you save a document “by default” – it saves it in the “new” format for Microsoft Word, that none of your other friends or businesses have. You haven’t used the new Stephen Hawking feature at all that would require you to save it in the new format, but just in case you accidently did use it, Microsoft Word V304 that cost $134 billion in design consultant fees to come up with the “new easy to use design” will save it in the NEW format. It cannot possibly scan the document to see if you did use a new whizzy feature and save it in the OLD format that all your friends can open it in. No that would be too simple and cost effective. It’s just easier for the shareholders retirement income to encourage the whole of Western Computer society to upgrade to the new version of Microsoft Office.

So because people struggle to save Microsoft Word in the old Word formats, or are too afraid to ask someone by default so that their friends who haven’t upgraded can read them.

The following set of events happens:

  • Friend receives file, cannot open it
  • Weeks of frustration go by because they can’t open it
  • They give up, go to PC World and spend £70 on the Home and Student edition, even though they are a business
  • Install it
  • Find that their PC is too old to really run the NEW Office, because it now really requires some processing power borrowed from the MET Office supercomputer to type out an invoice
  • Return to PC World and buy a whole NEW COMPUTER
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