Are there any good reasons to buy Microsoft Office rather than using Open Office or Google Docs?

Joseph Videtto December 17, 2012
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For years, I’ve used the MS Office apps and love them. I especially like the formatting features and tables. I’m now debating whether or not to upgrade my Windows 2010 apps, or switch over to Open Office and Google Docs.

Aside from the learning curve – are there any other reasons to pay money for MS Office ?

Two I can think of are 1.) Ease of formatting, and 2.) Potential formatting differences when saving from MS Office to Open Office or Google docs, and vice versa. I’ve experienced that the documents I create in Open Office don’t always look exactly the same in MS Office, and vice versa (not sure if anyone else has experience this). Total number of keystrokes for common tasks is another factor for me. I want one-click functionality for saving to web and pack, and printing from the cloud through a smartphone to a printer.

  1. Réy Aétar
    January 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    more compability
    technical support reliability and stability
    better ui

  2. Paul Pruitt
    December 27, 2012 at 4:11 am

    Libre and Open Office seem to be stuck in the 90's in terms of their interface design. The ribbon of MS Office, Windows 8 and other non-Microsoft Windows software is kind of a stylistic improvement. Google Docs interface is also clean, simple and nice and even though it's a kind of thing which is more of an upgrade to the old menu system then wholesale change that the ribbon is, Google Docs type menus may well beat out the ribbon as a style eventually. However, Microsoft can still improve their ribbon to make it less confusing. So maybe its a tossup style-wise between those two apps.

    I think people underestimate how artistic styles of the tools they use affect the quality of their work. If your tools are up to date, I think the stuff you put out is more likely to be relevant to the modern world as it is today as you are subconsciously affected by what you are looking at all day to do your work.

  3. Sashritha Peiris
    December 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm

    MS Word, Powerpoint, and Excel are still the best office applications yet - by far. Almost all businesses and organisations that have computers use these programs. Also no other programs are 100% compatible with the files of MS Office. So you really need to buy the new set.

  4. Avish Kansakar
    December 20, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    if you are doing basic stuffs then there is no difference. I would stick to the free ones. Its all about the features. I don't think I use even 1 of those extra features so I will stick to open office.

  5. DalSan
    December 20, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Hello Joe. In the U.S., Microsoft is the standard. Formatting can be a problem when opening documents in different office suites or software. To ensure best compatibility for U.S. users, Microsoft would be better. If you don't mind that sometimes files don't show properly but is still usable, Kingsoft offers the better option for free. As far as worldwide standards, it is more for open document types, not so much Microsoft. Best advice is having at least two office suites, or use the online versions of MS Office (365), Google Docs (for ease of sharing and collaboration), and Kingsoft Office. OpenOffice was a good option at one time, but had gotten slower and outdated. Even AbiWord is a decent replacement for MS Word, and opens much quicker.

    Btw, online suites are good options, but by chance you don't have internet connection, an offline suite is always great to have, even if it is portable and on a flash drive. Always try the options before buying, but for the most part, MS Office online, Google Docs, and Kingsoft Office would be sufficient at no cost.

  6. Vinh
    December 19, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    I've tried both Google Docs and LibreOffice (or OpenOffice), but I've always found them lacking in some features or speed compared to Microsoft Office. If anyone is looking for an office suite that mimics the feel of Microsoft Office and that has almost the same features, I would definitely recommend the free Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2012. The free version doesn't have the new ribbon interface of Microsoft Office introduced in 2007, but some people might prefer the old Office 2003 toolbar style.

  7. Rajaa Chowdhury
    December 19, 2012 at 12:23 pm
  8. Moez bouhlel
    December 19, 2012 at 9:32 am

    it's not about cost, but about futures.
    i think libreoffice is the best, the only problem is that its developers are spending a lot of tome trying to support the closed standards of MS office.

  9. Andrew Rossaak
    December 19, 2012 at 6:04 am

    I use both MS office and open office. OO is set to save files as a .doc by default so I can edit in either. Formatting can change between MS office and OO - especially in complex documents. But then I find this happens between setups of MS Office anyway!

    One area that does not convert well between OO and MS Office is the spreadsheet graphs.

    When using OO for final editing and setting out, I PDF the result - and this works great.

    I doubt I will pay again for MS Office.

    Google docs is a bit clunky - but excellent for multi-author document editing in real time.

  10. Tom Bogan
    December 19, 2012 at 5:55 am

    As far as formatting from one to the other, MS Office thinks it is the only program and thus will not open some of the open source docs. They have made it such that older versions of the product will not open new docs.

  11. Tom Bogan
    December 19, 2012 at 5:50 am

    The docs that I create are mainly for printouts and thus why should I pay for all the features of Office 2010? I use Open office and the money that I saved is money not spent. Our company has dropped using MSOffice and has gone solely to Google Docs. That is a lot of seats that will not be going to Office 2013.

  12. Brian Smith
    December 19, 2012 at 12:03 am

    I have found similar problems with formatting in either MS Word 2010, Libre Office or Open Office and trying to convert from one to the other. Providing you can stay within one suite, then Open Office works well. You can always send the documents using pdf format.


  13. Mel Cartera
    December 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    None. The cost isn't justified.

  14. Bonnie L. Snyder
    December 18, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Google Docs, Open Office, Libre Office and others like them are really excellent office suites EXCEPT, they are based on JAVA and are inaccessible to the blind. Would somebody PLEASE correct this?

  15. Stephen Wilson
    December 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I love open office. I have no problem sending my open office doc to another person who has Windows office. The doc becomes a word doc when they get it and if the send me a doc from win it will become an open office doc when it gets to me. That simple. Just when u save it in open office it will ask you if you want to keep the current format or change to a odt format but keep the current format and you will have no problem.

  16. Matthew McNamara
    December 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    I've been using Google Docs for 99% of my needs for the last 3.5 years in business and then a couple years before that (when they were released?) as a student. I use Open Office in the rare (1-2x a quarter) that Google Spreadsheets doesn't do something I need.

    What I've learned:
    Unless you're doing complex calculations in Excel or need a program in the MS suite that the Goog doesn't offer, then Docs works just fine and in many cases is way better.

    If you're like me, a heavy user of Google products (and I have an android), then the integration with drive and having the files anywhere and everywhere is huge. It offers a very seamless experience.

    Personally, I like the simplified interface and simplicity of controls. Working off of that, I also like the fact that it forces me to have a more simple layout/formatting/style. Some more complex styling (or even not so complex- two columns wasn't available without a workaround last I checked) may not be available, but then ask yourself if it is necessary. I've found that my documents now look cleaner and are easier to follow. Coworkers have even made comments and yet I'm actually doing less than I used to, especially in PowerPoint.

    I also like the collaborative features within GDocs. Sharing and collaborative editing are great. It allows for completing things with coworkers, remote coworkers, and contractors much faster.

    A lot of people will say "But Google Docs doesn't do X, Y, Z" and in some cases they're right. In most cases, however, I've found that you can do almost anything, but you may have to learn a different method. Head to Google and search what you want to do and add "in Google Docs." This is how I learned you can pretty much do 2 column layouts using a border-less, two-column table. In the cases it isn't possible all I can say is they're adding new features all of the time.

    There are definitely some annoyances like placing images and moving them pixel by pixel, but again, it has forced me to keep it simple [stupid].

    On a final note, I played with a MS Surface recently and played with Office a bit. It was the first time I said I could use a tablet to replace a basic laptop (a really basic one). And, with their Skydrive, the cloud storage is tackled too. Too bad the suite still costs hundreds of dollars.

  17. Doc
    December 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    OpenOffice is still relevant??? LibreOffice incorporated features that Oracle wouldn't allow OpenOffice to add, such as opening & saving Office 2003/2010 files (.DOCX, .XLSX, .PPTX) and hundreds of other fixes. Why would anyone use OpenOffice when it's years behind its "fork"?

  18. Nohl Lyons
    December 18, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    Honestly, when I read the title, I thought it was a trick question. The Desktop app does do some nice comment tracking.

  19. Anonymous
    December 18, 2012 at 8:38 pm

    Google docs can't replace ms office, but open office can :) Its all about the habits. People have learned ms office environment, and don't want to change their habits.

  20. Marcus Glahder
    December 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    Well MS office is more user friendly and therefore easier to use
    Google docs is ****. I can not recommend it. Stay away from it, it really sucks
    As for open office, I havn't used it, but my friends says that it sometimes gives him certain problems especially when doing assignments for school

  21. Mike Peek
    December 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm

    As you are able to configure Open Office to save in Microsoft format as default there is little reason not too use the free office Suite. I think that it is more a case of having confidence in using free software.

  22. Benjamin Trotter
    December 18, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    If you work for a big enough employer, Microsoft usually offers the company Home Use Program (HUP) for Office. Its a highly discounted version of Office software w/ key. Its mainly a internet download (extra cost for a disc). I bought mine for $10.

    Last I heard, Office 2013 is going to be either a free download for Win7&9, or fairly cheap. Its mainly for the fact Microsoft is trying to push people to try out their Live and Cloud services.

  23. Douglas Mutay
    December 18, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    I would suggest to try both of them and work with each of them on the same document and see which one perform better as to the kind of work you're doing. You will be certainly able to decide by yourself wich one to use. Any answer here will be totally subjective and related to each one personnal experience.

  24. shaurya gupta
    December 18, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    I guess it is easier to use ms office 2013!

  25. salim benhouhou
    December 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

    i do believe that openoffice or libreoffice are better than microsoft office

  26. Kiril Vasilev
    December 18, 2012 at 10:40 am

    Try Libre Office. I'm using it and it's perfect.

  27. Eath Chantrea
    December 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

    A lot of users are using Microsoft office.

  28. Arun Singh
    December 18, 2012 at 9:54 am

    i love ms-office then any other because i have used it from long time.

  29. Tha?indu Wijeratna
    December 18, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Try OpenOffice once you get use to it, you have unlocked a free word processing / spreadsheet package for the rest of your life. =) It's almost 2013, don't waste your time on a monopolistic corp.

  30. Dimal Chandrasiri
    December 18, 2012 at 8:33 am

    MS Office is more user friendly. even if you don't know what you want, you can easily find the feature. in open office, you need to know the exact function to perform it!

    • SPGoetze
      December 21, 2012 at 9:49 am

      My experience is the other way around.

      I've worked with WordStar, WordPerfect, Open/LibreOffice, and various versions of MS Office. When MS Office started with the Ribbon, they lost me. Even after years of working with it (I'm forced to...) I still can't find stuff easily, that I instantly find in LibreOffice.

      That's why I use LibreOffice for all my "private" stuff - I'm self-employed... (even very complex Calc-Sheets - my invoices, bookkeeping, tax preparation...)
      Google Docs for shared (with friends/family mostly) stuff.
      MS Office only when I'm forced to.

  31. Alan Wade
    December 18, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I thought long and hard about your question and all I can say is I have always used MS Office although I tried Open Office once but like most human beings - dont like change! By that I mean to get the formatting correct etc you need to learn the differences between the two programs.
    I have a friend who has only ever used Open Office and when we exchange spread sheets, text files etc, yes we have to do a bit of work to get them to display correctly but its no big shake.
    My advice would be - try Open Office for a week or so if you dont like it then upgrade your Office package.

  32. Benny Teo
    December 18, 2012 at 7:48 am

    If you use excel with formulas and functions and work with people who have office, its best to stick to office. The formulaes can go really awry from Excel to Spreadsheets.
    Powerpoint formattings also go haywire when opened in OpenOffice.

    • Stephen Wilson
      December 18, 2012 at 11:05 pm

      Not true

  33. Fawad Mirzad
    December 18, 2012 at 7:38 am

    If you are working with RTL (right to left) languages like Persian you won't find open source office applications like Open office and most of its forks a good choice. although Google docs can handle it,
    If you are sharing data with friends, colleagues and family who uses MS office. then you and they won't have complex formats of data. although basic formatting like color, font... will be maintained.
    MS office gives you extra options in formatting (as you mentioned) and productivity than others.
    If you are sharing and collaborating with MS office owners and love the features of MS office, have access to a good speed of internet and do not want to learn then i recommend using office web applications. Go to skydive and you will have free online word,excel, PowerPoint and one note

  34. Thomas Petrucha
    December 18, 2012 at 7:25 am

    If you´re working with ohters and all of them are W-Office users it could be a reason, but I´ve changed from W-Office to OpenOffice/LibreOffice a long time ago and had never missed something.
    If there is no need for an integrated Windows environment a OpenSource Office will do it´s job ;)

  35. Tug Ricks
    December 18, 2012 at 5:47 am

    I think it all depends on your individual situation. As a student, I'm fairly reliant upon MS Office, as it's the standard. (At least at my university.) I also get it for free, which makes it a no-brainer. A normal user who isn't worried about always having things formatted correctly could probably get away with using Google Docs or Libre Office. (Newer version of Open Office.)

  36. Raghav Gupta
    December 18, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Theres not much difference..only logos and polishing is different

  37. Junil Maharjan
    December 18, 2012 at 4:34 am

    I have always liked ms office and would suggest you to stay with it. you need constant internet access for most of the cloud based office apps like google drive (formerly google docs) and open office or libre office like free office are good but do not provide features like ms office.

  38. josemon maliakal
    December 18, 2012 at 3:22 am

    Better that you continue with open office and don't waste money

    • Stephen Wilson
      December 18, 2012 at 11:04 pm

      Open office costs nothing

  39. Jose Paolo Gonzales Otico
    December 18, 2012 at 12:26 am

    It's all about features, ease of use, and comfort. Also, some open-source software have different default page formatting, which is a no-no for a lot of companies/schools. It's all up to you entirely on features as well.

  40. ha14
    December 17, 2012 at 10:31 pm

    depends on the version of office 2013 and if you want cloud support and pdf editing feature

  41. Elrick Browne
    December 17, 2012 at 9:14 pm

    it is more ease of use, than anything else and if you need like publisher and stuff like that, but no major difference

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