Seamlessness between Open Office and Microsoft Office?
January 10, 2006 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Let's say that I got a new computer without MS Office on it and I install Open Office. Let's also say a person sends me a Word or Excel file via email. Will I be able to read it and edit it in Open Office without messing up the format? If I make any changes to the file and email it back to my friend, will he be able to read it and make further edits to it while using the Microsoft Office applications?
posted by NoMich to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Best answer: Yes.


Glad to be of service. :-)

Seriously, OpenOffice reads and writes Word/Excel files, and preserves formatting in all but the most convoluted documents. That's assuming that the documents are prepared properly, of course. If I had a nickel for every time I've seen a secretary or other person who should know better going *space* *space* *space* to line things up on a page, I'd be rich.
posted by griffey at 12:09 PM on January 10, 2006

Most of the time, most of the time.

I fully support the use of open source software and freeware. And it isn't worth doling out the money for MS Office. But you will encounter fuckups, especially the more graphics and borders and tables and fancy shit (like on a fax coversheet) on your document. Even if it is laid out correctly, unfortunately.
posted by schroedinger at 12:22 PM on January 10, 2006

I have done this in both directions, and it works OK. So long as it is straight text with simple formatting (even custom styles) everything will work OK. More complex stuff like flowing text around pictures and boxed text will probably come out strange, but it usually does between two different versions of MSWord anyway.
posted by AndrewStephens at 1:00 PM on January 10, 2006

As noticed above (I guess both first answers are good enough), you may encounter some problems with heavily formatted tables and some kinds of images. Also, heavily scripted Excell spreadsheets are somewhat problematic. But for 99% of the time, griffey's answer nails it, yes and yes.

On the other hand, in our last job here we encountered the opposite: a largish Word document that for some reason Word wouldn't read (we have three different versions in different machines here) but OpenOffice opened it without even blinking. Go figure.
posted by nkyad at 1:03 PM on January 10, 2006

Best answer: NoMich, here's a testimonial.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 1:19 PM on January 10, 2006

Response by poster: Fuck it, good enough. I'm downloading as I type. Thanks Mefites and especially you DrJohnEvans. I hafta to give him an extra shout out as he is an integral part of the experience.
posted by NoMich at 1:26 PM on January 10, 2006

I've found that most of the time, OO does just fine editing Word and Excel files that have been created on those respective applications. PowerPoint, not so much. If you want to check and see how your file will look in the correct MS Office App, you can use one of the free Office viewers from MS.
posted by octothorpe at 1:28 PM on January 10, 2006

seconded: always check OO presentations in the MS viewer, since playback will almost always occur via Powerpoint... silly little things will often be revealed: odd font colors, strange or missing animations, etc... otherwise, the two progs integrate almost seamlessly.
The minor inconveniences I experience from time to time are not nearly enough to get me to stop praising OpenOffice.
posted by RockyChrysler at 2:12 PM on January 10, 2006

I've been using NeoOffice (Open Office in a Java wrapper for OS X) on a Mac Mini, in a mixed WinXP/OS X network for only a week or two but so far have to say I'm very impressed. I first tried Open Office about three years ago, back in it's infancy, and wasn't impressed - slow and seemed buggy - so I gave up on it. It's obviously come a long way since.

It's opened everything I've thrown at it from Office XP, including some spreadsheets with fairly complex formatting. Saving as native Ofice formats and going the opposite direction hasn't caused any aggro, either. I'm more of a spreadsheet user than a Word user, so I can't say I've stress tested-docs, but so far so good. I also don't do Powerpoint, so can't comment there.

Overall we can't see any compelling reason to buy the Mac version of Office at this point, honestly.
posted by normy at 3:13 PM on January 10, 2006

There is no SpoFi cabal. Maybe.
posted by DrJohnEvans at 7:33 AM on January 12, 2006

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