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Open Office is a free program that competes with Microsoft Office
June 30, 2004. I suggest you pay very close attention to disk space usage on your computer before and after downloading and installing Open Office. I believe, you end up with four copies of it on your computer, at least with Windows XP. I have to double check this though. The four copies are
The Windows installation instructions have still not been updated to reflect that fact that with Windows XP you do not need to run an uncompress utility.
June 13, 2004. I installed OOo again, this time under Windows XP.
After the first re-boot, the OOo Quickstart application ran in the system tray. Other Mozilla.org software (I can't remember which) asked you as part of the installation process whether you wanted a quick-start boost program to run at startup time or not. Open Office did not ask.
As with a prior version, there is a PDF Setup Guide in the zip file you download that is not copied as part of the installation process. If not for the fact that Setup Guide is alphabetically near setup.exe (the program you run to install OOo) no one would ever see it.
To install, OOo, you download a 63.9 MB zip file and are instructed to unzip it into a temp directory. Nowhere are you told that after OOo is installed, you can delete both copies of the download. There might be some people who consider 125 MB of disk space substantial.
Speaking of the downloaded file, why is it even zipped? The compressed version is 63.9 MB, the uncompressed version is 65.4MB. And the authors of the documentation still have no instructions specific for Windows XP in terms of dealing with the compressed file. Considering that XP handles zip files very differently from prior versions of Windows, it should rate its own explanation.
The readme file in the download (both the readme.txt and readme.html) was as of August 11, 2003, a bit old. Fortunately it refers to a page on the OOo web site which had a newer version. However, I couldn't tell the date of this newer version. It was either February 6th or June 2nd 2004. Some people must not know that different countries have different standards regarding putting the month first or the day first. When you see a date formatted as 99/99/2004 there is often no way to know if the month or the day is the first number.
A new user to Open Office does not know where to start. There is a readme file, installation instructions, a setup guide, a user guide and a FAQ. There is no explanation as to what order these should be read or what each contains.
April 8, 2004. I have not used this version, but a reader of this site points out that it fixes some of the gripes I had about the earlier versions.
Thanks Travis for these updates.
April 9,2004. I installed Open Office 1.1.1 on a Windows XP computer. Afterwards, there was no obvious way to start the Word Processing program, Writer. That is, Start -> Programs -> Open Office had options for the spreadsheet program and other programs in the suite, but no option for the Writer program.
May 30, 2004: I had only brief access to the computer with v1.1.1 so I didn't
go into detail on the options in its program folder. A reader of this site
(thanks David) wrote to say that Start -> Programs ->OpenOffice 1.1.1
yields these options:
No doubt my confusion stems from the fact that I was looking for the Writer program. After having used a previous version of Open Office, I was used to calling the Word Processing program, "Writer". Apparently it is now called "Text Document". To me, this implies Notepad. They call a spreadsheet a spreadsheet, they should have also called a Word Processing document, "Word Processing".
Windows 2000 SP3. May 13, 2003.
It comes with a readme.html file from April 24, 2002. The readme.txt file, in contrast, is from March 24, 2003. This readme.txt did not format correctly with Notepad (picture below in the section on version 1.0.2), but did format correctly when viewed with WordPad.
Like version 1.0.2, the readme.txt file says "Make sure you have enough free memory in your temporary directory." without saying how much is enough.
Under Windows 2000 it was installed only for the user logged on at the time it was installed. It was not available via Start -> Programs to all users. There are two different ways to install Open Office - for a single user or multiple users. I didn't try the multiple user install.
Writer Word Processor:
|I open a Word document, make some minor changes, save it and get this (=>) message. The document started as a Word 97 document and the only changes made to it were trivial text changes, so I don't know why this message should appear at all.|
|I say No to the above question, which I assume means the file is saved as a Word document.
The way it is worded it might mean not to save the document at all. When
I next close out of Writer, I get asked this (=>) question. Very confusing.
And the pattern repeats every time I edit the document.
May 30, 2004. A reader of this site pointed out that you can specify how files are to be saved - Open Office has multiple options. To do so use: Tools -> Options -> Load/Save ->General -> Text Document and chose "Always save as... " and select a file format. Word 97/2000/XP is one of the available file formats. At the least, this should get rid of this dialog box (thanks David).
There is no zooming possible when in Print Preview mode.
FYI: Print Preview is File -> Page Preview.
After using the Gallery icon to insert some clip art, it was not obvious how to close the clip art window. Clicking on the X in the top right corner closed the entire document, not just the clip art window.
Mis-spelled words are not highlighted as they are in Word. The documentation says there is a spell checker. . .
I had a file that Writer would not open. The file name was "winmail.dat" and it was received as an email attachment. This is a common problem when Outlook users send email to people not using Microsoft software. The file contained both a copy of the email message and a Word document that was attached to the email message. Opening the file in a text editor showed the Word document. Word 2000 opened the file, but of course the formatting was wrong because it is not a normal Word document. The gripe is that Writer would not only not open the file at all, it also did not put out any error messages. It silently refused to deal with the file. I tried both double clicking on the file in Windows Explorer to invoke Writer and also using the File Open dialog from within Writer.
In Word if you want to add page numbers to a document, you simply use Insert -> Page Numbers. It is not that easy in Writer. The Help file sends you a section on Page Styles which you don't need. I found that inserting a page footer and then inserting fields for the page number worked.
Changing the color of text was much harder than with Word.
HTML Web Page Editor.
It changed the underlying HTML on its own. Three new META tags were added: a "generator" that mentioned itself, a "created" for the current date (not the real creation date of the file) and a "changed" for the last changed date/time. Worse, it changed the inclusion of CSS information from a LINK tag pointing to an external file, to inline STYLE tag. It moved two scripts from the beginning of the BODY section to the HEAD section. The first table had STYLE="page-break-before: always" added to the TABLE tag. This caused a big problem when the page was viewed in a web browser. The closing "/HTML" tag was deleted.
It was way too hard to change the color of text on a web page. One selected word could only be changed to one color, another selected word caused the color option to disappear altogether.
Hank Kee on the Personal Computer Radio Show reported that the programs in Open Office took twice as long to load as those in Microsoft Office. In fact, he thought something was wrong because there is no hourglass displayed indicating the computer is working.
Hank found table handling in Writer worked differently than in Word. He struggled with inserting a new column and new row. Then he found that deleting a table was not intuitive. There is no specific function to delete a table. You have to mark a spot before the table, through the table, to a spot after the table and then hit the delete key. If you position the cursor in a table, and do Edit -> Select all -> Delete key, it deletes all the data in the table, but not the table itself.
Windows 2000 SP3. April 4, 2003.
I downloaded the 50 megabyte file OOo_1.0.2_Win32Intel_install.zip from www.openoffice.org. Opening the zip file, the first thing I do is read the readme file, no surprise there. However, this was my first problem. It does not format correctly with Notepad. Below is a sample of how it looks. My guess is that this has something to do with line break characters in Unix being different from those in Windows. WinZip 8.1 could display the file correctly using its internal viewer, except for the fact that it does not support word wrap. The WinZip viewer can copy text to the clipboard, from there it pasted into Notepad just fine. .
The readme.txt file was dated April 26, 2002, pretty old for a program downloaded almost a year later. Also, the readme file is getting older. A copy of Open Office 1.0.1 on another computer has a readme.txt file dated July 11, 2002. An older version of Open Office with a newer readme file! The readme.txt file from version 1.0.1 displayed fine in Notepad.
Open Office v1.0.1 included a 64 page Installation Guide in PDF format (from April 2002). Version 1.0.2 does not include the Installation Guide, but it is back in v1.0.3. The file name in v1.0.1 was "Installation Guide" but the manual calls itself the "Setup Guide". In v1.0.3 the file name was changed to "setup_guide.pdf".
Installing 1.0.2 on Windows 2000 SP3. May 3, 2003.
During the install you are warned to make sure you have enough "free memory" in the temp directory. It does not say how much is enough. This is also using the word "memory" incorrectly.
I did a standard install to the default directory of
The first program I tried was the word processor - Writer. It does not say what it is. The blue stripe at the top of the window says it is OpenOffice.org 1.0.2, but not the name of the program. Even Help -> About does not identify the program. This was true for all the programs. Help -> Contents does identify the program but this is not the Windows UI standard.
There is a Global program that actually starts the Writer program. It was not obvious what this is.
In the HTML editor program, Help -> Content shows Help for the Writer program. I assume they are one and the same even though there are different icons to start each one.
FYI: The downloaded zip file was about 50 MB and had 413 files. After unzipping, the extracted directory was also about 50 MB, the files hardly compressed at all.
In my first attempt at installing Open Office I did a custom install that failed. After the install was done and it said it worked, the programs were not there. Start -> Programs -> Open office setup program was ONLY choice. With no other choices, I ran the setup program and it crashed.
Event viewer application log said: The application, ,generated an application error The error occurred on 05/02/2003 @ 11:30:10.875 The exception generated was c0000005 at address 0053E5CB (cppu::WeakImplHelper_query) access violation.
After this error, all the programs were visible from Start -> Programs. However, they didn't run. Clicking them produced the logo but nothing else, they seemed to start and stop almost immediately. I backed out and ran a standard install as described above.
The latest online readme file is not so latest. As of May 8, 2003 the last update was April 24, 2002.
What changed between version 1.0.2 and 1.0.3? Or between 1.0.1 and 1.0.2? It is too hard to find out. I searched the Open Office web site and struggled to find the release notes. The notes for version 1.0.3 are written for programmers. Non-technical readers will get very little out of it. May 8, 2003.
The system requirements for Windows are not consistent. In some places it says Open Office runs on Windows NT, but other places say it requires SP6 or later. Some, not all, places say that Windows 95 requires a DCOM95 update. Some places it warns that you must be a Windows admin class user to install the software, but in others it does not. Some places warn about Windows 9x/Me needing the Microsoft Layer for Unicode - unicows.dll, but others do not.
The disk space requirements are also all over the map in the documentation. Before installing, the requirement is for 250 MB of hard disk space. When installing, it says the standard install needs 132 MB and a minimum install even less. The PDF Setup Guide says you should have 190 to 250 MB free and also an additional 40 MB of space for temporary files. This is the only place where you are warned of the extra space needed for temporary files.
Speaking of disk space, after installing Open Office you have three copies of it on your hard disk. The original zip file, the uncompressed zip file and the running copy. Nowhere are you reminded to delete one or two of the pre-install copies of the software. Considering that the first two are about 50 MB, you might want to delete one or both of these copies. However, before doing so, copy the Setup Guide (file name setup_guide.pdf) which is part of the download, but is not installed.
The actual name of the application suite is "OpenOffice.org" ostensibly due to trademarks.
Open Office (really OpenOffice.org) does not clone the user interface of the programs in Microsoft Office. The interface is somewhat different and anyone familiar with MS Office should expect a learning curve.
Open Office runs under Windows 95, 98, ME, NT (Service Pack 6 or higher), 2000 or XP. To run it under Windows 95 requires a DCOM95 update. (see www.microsoft.com/com/dcom/dcom95/dcom1_3.asp for more). It will work with any Pentium compatible CPU, needs 64 MB of RAM and 250 MB of hard disk space. It also runs under Linux and Solaris.
Very brief introduction
to Open Office.
A four page flyer introducing Open Office (Acrobat format)
Instructions for Installing and Setting Up Open Office
If you can't download Open Office, there is a list of companies that sell it on a CD.
LockerGnome has a screen shot of Writer.
Open Office 1.0 is the free version of Star Office 6 from Sun. Star Office 6 is free only to educational and research institutions.
|Created: May 8, 2003||Page last updated: June 30, 2004|