We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
Office software Reviews
15,670 Reviews

OpenOffice Writer

Free

Manufacturer: OpenOffice.org

Our Rating: We rate this 4.5 out of 5 User Rating: Our users rate this 5 out of 10

The longest-standing free alternative to MS Office is OpenOffice 2.1, a product that has its roots in StarOffice.

The longest-standing free alternative to MS Office is OpenOffice 2.1, a product that has its roots in StarOffice (download it from www.openoffice.org).

Click here to read our analysis of the free alternatives to Office 2007.

The 93MB file comprises six applications: a database (Base), spreadsheet (Calc), graphics package (Draw), presentation software (Impress), mathematics editor (Math) and word processor (Writer). We will concentrate on Writer and Calc.

Anyone familiar with previous versions of Office will have little problem getting to grips with the interface. For the occasional esoteric command you will have to hunt around a little, but otherwise everything is where you would expect it to be.

Features and compatibility

The fact that Writer is free does not mean it is underpowered - anything but. If you need to create complex documents which require an index or contents page, for example, all the required tools are easily available. Plus, Writer boasts features unavailable in previous versions of Microsoft Office - most notably the ability to save to PDF, although this feature has been added to Office 2007.

Similarly, the search-and-replace dialog box is superb, allowing you to hunt for text according to its format. And the latest version of OpenOffice has been dramatically improved with regards to performance.

Release 1.1 could be slow at times and compatibility with other - notably Microsoft - formats was not always perfect. Writer now handles a number of complex Word documents and, with OpenOffice providing software for Linux and Mac operating systems as well, the suite has the edge when it comes to cross-platform compatibility. If you encounter an obscure file format, there is more chance that you will be able to open it in Writer than in Word.

Limitations

Are there any down sides to Writer? The few minor irritations are more a question of personal preference than anything else. If you hated the animated Microsoft Office paperclip, OpenOffice's help system is more discreet but tends to demand your attention.

Similarly, predictive text may be great for SMS messages, but will irritate the experienced typist. However, these are niggles that can be turned off, providing you take the time to hunt through the options.

More significant omissions include lack of grammar checking and collaborative editing tools. Most users wouldn't miss the latter, but for some it's a reason not to replace Office. Plus, more recent versions of Office have included some excellent research tools.

For nearly everyone else, however, OpenOffice's Writer is an extremely effective piece of software that compares impressively well with Word. Documentation is good, performance is excellent, compatibility is superb, and the price second to none.

OpenOffice Writer Expert Verdict »


There are currently no technical specifications recorded for this product.

  • Ease of Use: We give this item 8 of 10 for ease of use
  • Features: We give this item 8 of 10 for features
  • Value for Money: We give this item 10 of 10 for value for money
  • Overall: We give this item 9 of 10 overall

Free does not mean deficient with Writer, which is an extremely comprehensive replacement for Word.

  • OpenOffice 2.2

    OpenOffice 2.2

    OpenOffice 2.2 is the latest update of the open-source rival to Microsoft Office 2007. Our OpenOffice 2.2 review shows that there is plenty to recommend the free alternative.

  • Star Office 8.0

    Star Office 8.0

    In recent years, thousands of corporate desktops have begun to adopt either StarOffice or OpenOffice. Our review of Star Office 8.0, the latest version of Sun's low-cost Microsoft Office-killer, shows why.

  • OpenOffice 3.1 review

    OpenOffice 3.1

    The latest version of the open-source office suite OpenOffice.org 3.1 has just arrived, and it's a good one.

  • OpenOffice Calc

    Calc is OpenOffice's spreadsheet application and, as with Writer, compares very well to its Microsoft Office equivalent.

  • OpenOffice 3.0 beta review

    OpenOffice 3.0 beta

    OpenOffice 3.0 shows that you don't have to pay a bundle for a great office suite - in fact, you don't even have to pay a penny.


IDG UK Sites

Nexus 6 vs Samsung Galaxy Note 4 comparison: What's the best Android phablet?

IDG UK Sites

The iPhone is doomed. Doomed to be marginally less successful than a very successful thing.

IDG UK Sites

How to prototype native mobile apps without writing code

IDG UK Sites

How to prepare for and update to OS X Yosemite: Get your Mac ready to download & install Apple's...