Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I personally use OpenOffice (OOo) on both Windows and Linux, but have MS Office installed at work. I understand that in some business situations there are thousands (upon thousands) of existing MS Office documents that may or may not convert cleanly to OpenOffice.

Not everyone is in that situation though. Among non-IT folk, I rarely see OOo. Why is this so?

What are common reasons for people not using OpenOffice? Are they from before it is even tried, or is it from unsatisfactory experiences when actually using it?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Bobby, 8088, Diago Sep 30 '11 at 7:02

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

No Ribbon?!? Or my grandma doesn't know how to use it –  Ivo Flipse Feb 5 '10 at 7:49
hate java. hate it hate it hate it. i only use OO.o nowadays because the last valid MS Office license i got was for Office 97. –  quack quixote Feb 5 '10 at 8:01
@quack: Why the hate for a programming language? –  Bryan Feb 5 '10 at 8:06
I notice a lot of people are using the reason, 'Customers can't read my OO docs in word without the formatting being messed up'. The problem here isn't the translation between the OO & MS Word, but instead it's user error! Send the doc in a format that won't be messed up. E.g. as a PDF file. –  Bryan Feb 5 '10 at 13:01
There are currently a lot of answers at -1 (which I'm about to go vote back up); how is this? This is a subjective question asking for peoples' opinions! Down voting because the answer doesn't match your own opinion is not what this site is about. If you are down voting answers, why not do as requested and 'Consider adding a comment if you think this post can be improved'. –  Bryan Feb 5 '10 at 16:13

15 Answers 15

I started writing this as a comment, but then realised I was actually answering your question.

I've not looked at OpenOffice in years. It used to look horrible, and I guess the saying 'first impressions last' is true, as that's why I never looked at it since because of the way it looked.

On Linux, I used to put a lot of effort into making the fonts look as nice as possible, but OpenOffice used to do its own thing with font rendering and widgets and it looked awful.

I don't use Linux these days, (Mac at home, Windows at work), but after reading your question I went to investigate OpenOffice again. Version 3 looks really nice, and could end up replacing Office 2008 on my Mac, pending some testing of course.

share|improve this answer
And prior to v3, it was slooooooow. –  chris Jun 22 '10 at 11:35

Marketing, pure and simple. Most non-IT folk I know have never heard of OpenOffice.

Personally I use it because I don't have £300 spare for something to type the occasional document up or open an attachment people send me.

share|improve this answer
You can use MS Word/Excel Viewer for free. –  gogiel Jun 22 '10 at 10:38
And what about typing something up? –  lajuette Jun 22 '10 at 11:32
More like £70 for the Home and Student version, £300 is more around your Standard/pro versions. Still, £70 more than it's worth to type up and view the odd document at home. –  Bonus Jun 22 '10 at 15:27
@Bonus: It is illegal to use the Home and Student version for non-academic purposes. –  Flotsam N. Jetsam Oct 15 '10 at 17:11

This is a summary of already given reasons, broken up into categories. Feel free to improve it.

Technical problems/issues

  • OpenOffice Calc has issues loading large (> 10 MB) MS Excel documents.

  • Keyboard shortcuts depend on keyboard layout.

  • Rendering issues with document display

  • Formatting isn't always correct between MS Office and OpenOffice (even older MS Office formats)

    • Problem sharing documents for editing to those without OpenOffice
    • Issues/Time required when converting existing MSO documents to work correctly with OpenOffice
    • People don't realise they can share read-only documents via the PDF format.


  • Doesn't have the ribbon-style menu.

  • Slower out-of-the-box than MS Office.

  • Currently has no solution to match MS Outlook, especially for level of integration.

Usage Training and Financial

  • People already know MS Office.

  • People haven't paid for current version of MS Office, so have no need.

  • Keyboard shortcuts different to MS Office.

  • Enterprises already committed to MS Office.

User perceptions

  • Bad first impressions from older versions.

  • Marketing. Most non-IT folk haven't heard of it.

  • Not seen to be written by a major/reputable company, so it can't be good.

  • See MS Office is a standard.


  • MS Office usability/stability has improved, so less need to look elsewhere.
share|improve this answer
It is slower anyway than any other alternatives (See SoftMaker, MS office). –  Shiki Jun 22 '10 at 11:27

I think the main reasons why people don't try or use it are the very simple and partly false ones:

  • Because they only know MS Office
  • Because it was written by geeks in the basements of their parents house, it can't be good
  • Because it 'completely looks different'
  • They never even paid a Dollar for MS Office, so they don't care
  • They are under the misinterpretation that MS Office is a Standard (no, I still don't accept OOXML)
share|improve this answer

I use MS Office when I am on Windows. But on Mac OS X and Linux, I use OpenOffice. When I have a choice of either to use, I incline on MS Office when I know that the people I will be sharing the resulting document with are those who will only ever open it on MS Office. I've had complaints of document formatting issues from people who opened my OpenOffice constructed document on MS Office; and when the document you are creating puts a lot of importance on the layout, that becomes a problem.

share|improve this answer
So I guess, PDF was not an option? Because that's what PDF is for. It looks the same everywhere. –  foraidt Feb 5 '10 at 8:51
mxp, yes, when it is an option, I make a PDF out of the document and share. But that is not always the case, sadly. –  ayaz Feb 5 '10 at 9:14
PDF is the right choice for when you want a document to display the same everywhere, and it doesn't need to be edited further. If you're distributing, use PDF. If you're collaborating, you can't. –  David Thornley Feb 5 '10 at 14:37

My issues were that I found OOO a fair bit slower than MS Office (to open for example), and that some of my regular keyboard shortcuts didn't apply. I was moderately satisfied with Open Office until a free beta of MS Office 2010 became available.

That said, MS Office 2007/2010 is playing havoc with my keyboard shortcuts.

share|improve this answer
Google around..around..: the11throck.wordpress.com/2008/01/12/… (It'll make OOo faster, not just the startup.) –  Shiki Feb 5 '10 at 9:06

For me, it's mostly formatting in writer. For overdesigned documents, it's like IE6 vs modern browsers. But I use OOo everywhere if I can.

share|improve this answer
MS Word's formatting is worse. Did they ever get rid of printer-dependent formatting? –  Broam Jun 22 '10 at 12:11

OpenOffice Calc have problem with opening a big Excel file (for example, 12 MB).

And shortcuts in OpenOffice depends on keyboard layout.

share|improve this answer

+1 for MicTech's answer. I also have problems when openning big Excel file in OOo Calc. And I have some problems when using OOo in Windows, including:

  • Slow start-up process.
  • Slow context menu displaying.
  • Bad font/picture rendering, I have to zoom in and zoom out again or do something to make it re-render to view it smoothly.
  • Some shortcuts are different from MS Office (of course this is just a matter of taste)
  • Not fully compatible with MS Office's file formats, not only with MS Open XML (.docx, .xlsx, ...) but also with former file formats (.doc, .xls, ...)

However, when using OOo with Linux (Slackware on my computer), I don't have any problems related to performance. I think OOo is implemented on Linux better than on Windows.

A small note: although OOo is poor, its Go-oo build is not so bad.

share|improve this answer

Microsoft Office used to be pretty unstable and rubbish but these days it isn't too bad. For those folks with an MSDN subscription it doesn't really make much sense not to install it, particularly when your customers are highly unlikely to be using OOo.

Personally, I'll use the OOo Calc tool when I'm working with CSV files as Microsoft Excel doesn't really work with anything that isn't in one particular "form" of CSV.

share|improve this answer

The major reason, is that companies still are sold to Microsoft. All enterprises are using Microsoft office. So on all document containing reviews and comments and all MS related features, we are forced to use MS Office.

Though Open Office supports these features, it somewhat looks quirky. Even Table of Contents created in Open Office, looks bad when opened in MS Office.

I use OpenOffice.org on my Mac at home. The same documents when opened in office, looks lacking. Only when Enterprises adopt OOo, this problem will be solved.

share|improve this answer

Does not have anything to match Outlook, which I really like.

share|improve this answer

To be honest there is no major drawback. Okay, its a bit slower and there is no ribbon interface which is quite annoying. BUT. You can speed it up . REALLY much.


Secondly, you can have/install awesome plugins, addons like "Lightproof" spellchecker. Its a Hungarian spellchecker, and it does a superb job. The theme is adjustable under Linux, and there is no problem with anti aliasing/fonts (you just have to ask / Google how to set it.) Thats all. AND. Use Go-oo. You can read why, and what is it on the webpage. Ubuntu packages this version by default for example. But on Windows you should get this one.

share|improve this answer

I used OpenOffice for a few years without too many problems - little annoyances here and there. Then at some point my PC would slow down to a crawl. I then found out that after exiting OO, it would leave a process running, and that process would use up nearly 100% CPU. Open a few documents a close several times and the processes would add up. I talked to a few OO users I know and they had the same problem, so it wasn't something odd on my PC. That was the last straw. I don't have a tendency to suggest a bug in open source software - had too many "STFU and RTFM or fix it yourself!" (I'm not joking.) You try to help improve a product and you get shot down, soo... Hey, call me when you grow up.

In the meantime, I got a chance to try Office 2007. Unlike many people, I got used to the ribbon pretty quickly, and it also works very well and has an improved grammar checker (after years of stagnation.) So I uninstalled OO have been running Office 2007 for nearly two years now. And now we've upgraded to it at work as well, so I'm dealing with the same software at home and at work.

I still use a lot of free and open source alternatives in other domains, but I was tired of dealing with the little quirks in OpenOffice. I still think it's a very decent suite - I do recommend it to people who don't want to pay for/cannot afford Office, though I mention that little CPU usage problem I had so they can keep an eye on it.

Anyway, I don't know how "common" a reason this is, but I do know a couple of people who have moved to Office (or the WordPerfect suite in one case) for the same reason.

share|improve this answer

I had bad initial experience with OO when it came out. Tried it again last year and found it to be much improved. I also have a single user license for MS Office but it's a little out of date, being Office 2000. I use OO where I can and MS Office 2000 where I must.

share|improve this answer
What was the bad experience? –  Tshepang Jul 20 '11 at 19:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.