The Good Provides free, high-caliber office-productivity tools; runs on multiple operating systems.
The Bad Provides fewer management tools and less clip art than its sibling, StarOffice 8; lacks an e-mail client; tech support supplied by fellow users.
The Bottom Line OpenOffice 2, the freeware version of Sun Microsystems StarOffice 8, is a great deal for home and small-businesses users who don't mind browsing online forums for tech support. But enterprise users are better served by StarOffice 8.
OpenOffice 2 is an undeniable bargain. This robust, free productivity suite offers full-featured word-processing, spreadsheet, database, and presentation apps--and it won't cost you or your business a dime. Too often, freeware carries a you-get-what-you-pay-for caveat, but OpenOffice is the real deal and a solid alternative to Microsoft Office 2003, particularly for small-office or home users who don't mind browsing online forums for product support. OpenOffice reads and writes Microsoft Office files--albeit imperfectly--and it supports multiple operating systems, including GNU/Linux, Mac OS X, Sun Solaris, and Windows. Still, while Sun and its allies are far from creating a multiplatform suite that ends the market domination of Microsoft Office, they've made OpenOffice an inexpensive alternative that's worth a look.
OpenOffice 2 is the open-source version of Sun Microsystems'desktop suite, which costs between $70 and $100. In 2000, Sun made the StarOffice source code publicly available and invited the open-source community to join Sun's developers in shaping future upgrades. has more extras, including additional presentation backgrounds and clip art, as well as better administration and Microsoft Office-migration tools.
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Sun aims for ultracheap cell phones
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