For more years than I care to remember I’ve been using Microsoft Office. It’s one of those applications that has become an industry standard – but one that requires you to be running Windows or Mac. These days I rarely boot into Windows, so finding an alternative for the two or three times a year I need the functionality of Office was important. Thankfully Ubuntu comes with OpenOffice.

I’ve been very impressed by how well OpenOffice works on Ubuntu. It’s as easy to use as MS Office and has a similar enough look and feel that I can do the things I want easily. I don’t have to relearn everything from scratch – always nice when changing applications. Most importantly though, it’s open, imports 95% of office documents thrown at it and allows me to export into PDF easily. With the advent of the web the need for portable documents has become more and more important, so while I may not like the fact that PDF is controlled by Adobe (who do stupid things like stop MS bundling an add-on for MS Office 2007 that allows saving as PDF) it is a truly portable standard – exactly what has been needed for many years.

While talking with my parents about sending documents via email I suggested PDF, but of course they use MS Office so lack the ability to export as PDF. The answer? Install OpenOffice. Documents that can’t be imported and exported as PDF can easily be recreated and then exported. As always, it’s the small things that make a difference and that ultimately lead to applications loosing market share. I’ll certainly never install MS Office again!

Now, if only Adobe would release a Linux version of Photoshop I could actually seriously debate removing windows from my laptop… 🙂