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I am looking for the fastest cheapest no-headache solution to Office-2003 compatibility across 1 Vista PC + 1 MacOSX machine. So: comparisons across Mac and Windows between bundles of StarOffice vs OpenOffice (3.3.0) vs MS-Office

(I hate MS-Office 2007 and all its obscurantist bloated menus and flabby file formats with a burning passion. So Office-2003 compatibility (.doc not .docx, .ppt not .pptx). Mind you a filter on an Office-2003 product to retro-import MS-Office-2007 documents would be useful.)

Obviously I would strongly prefer to have the same product (and same version) on both machines, but as per below, that seems to be a huge headache. I appreciate fast informed answers because I need it yesterday. Please include URLs where poss.

I did some research and to my knowledge, there is no multi-seat (3-node) bundle across Mac + Windows, am I wrong? I am eligible for student pricing. Do you have to buy separate Mac + Windows licenses/bundles, or not?

My findings so far, across Mac + Windows - please tell me what's right or wrong:

  • StarOffice vs Office: in general, StarOffice is less buggy, less crash-happy, smoother, leaner than OpenOffice (opinions?). OpenOffice crashes like billy-o (at least, the 2008 Windows version sure did) and seemed to be inherently unuseable.

StarOffice: v9 on Windows is free (through GooglePack), however on Mac is 30-day trialware, thereafter $35. I guess a hackish alternative is to run StarOffice (Windows) on a Mac under one of the virtualization offerings (which one? any experiences? obviously that would also need seamless interoperability with the host's native filesystem).

OpenOffice for MacOSX native (Aqua, for Intel) - thumbs up or down, people? stability? leanness? bloat? ADDENDUM: apparently NeoOffice is a very popular fork of OpenOffice specifically to improve stability and speed native on MacOSX. Downside is I really don't want to run OpenOffice on the PC. Some historical comparisons of older versions of OO vs NeoOffice from 2008 and 2009. Consensus seems to have been mixed, especially that OO beats NeoOffice on bigtime on coldstart delay. But that was 2 years ago. Any recent experiences?

MS-Office for Mac: stable, but too damn expensive (even as Student or Home) and too much bloat. Opinions?

A useful CNET forum discussion here.

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closed as not constructive by Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Sathya Feb 18 '11 at 3:33

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.

(I am not yet allowed create a tag 'staroffice'. Perhaps one of you could, and tag it? –  smci Feb 17 '11 at 18:05
I suppose we should add a LibreOffice tag as well. –  garyjohn Feb 17 '11 at 19:14
This seems to be more about what you want, and it's hard for us to tell you what you want, especially in an 'answer'. Basically you're looking for opinions not answers, as it seems you've got all the answers/options, you just can't decide. –  Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Feb 17 '11 at 21:00
@techie007, read my question properly: line 1 states 'fastest cheapest no-headache solution to Office-2003 compatibility'.<br> 'cheapest' and 'Office-2003 compatibility' certainly have objective answers. As to crash stability, I asked users for data. As to performance, speed, memory usage, coldstart time, there are reasonably objective metrics to those too.<br> And no, I did not have all the answers, since I did not have the stability or performance data, which was what I was trying to poll the audience for.<br> You might have simply left it open long enough for stability and performance data. –  smci Feb 18 '11 at 8:50

1 Answer 1

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Sounds like you've done all the right research. Bottom line their is no single identical program as all of them have slight variations between windows and Mac versions but from my experience Open Office seems to be the best option for overall similarity and for keeping the older menu bar options which I prefer as well. However if you do decide to shell out for MS office you will notice the new 2010 version has reintroduced some of the old menu options, not the same as '03 but I find it much nicer to work with than '07.

Bottom line $350+ for 6 licenses for MS office seems like a waste when you can grab all the copies you want of open office and send them a donation of your choosing. Quick and dirty, I'd be going Open Office, in fact I do on most of my personal machines.

Star office is good but I tried it for a while and for all it "lean" looks I found it a bit lacking when doing any advance spreadsheet functions or cascading data between documents so I abandon it for OO at home and MS at the office for licensing reasons.

Also if you are using office 03 on your vista PC there is a conversion utility from MS can't link direct but hit www.microsoft.com click into downloads and search 2007 compatibility pack. It show up #1 or #2 and will allow x versions to be converted back then edited and saved back to x version but some features can be lost or changed in the process.

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Does OpenOffice on Windows still crash as often as my historical experience suggests? (Please state whether XP/Vista/Win7 and your SP number?) –  smci Feb 17 '11 at 20:02
I've had really good luck with Open Office since Version 3 was released. Although I use Office Pro on my primary workstation for most of my publishing work and as I need Outlook and Excel for tie ins to several other utilities it will always be that way I use OO on all 7 other work machines. My current OS's running V3 include Window 2000, XP Pro, XPMC, Vista 32&64 Premium, 7 Pro and 7 Premium. All office machines are on current SP and receive all security updates automatically and non critical updates 7-10 days after they release. I've never had V3 crash but it can load slow occasionally –  Chris - Armor-IT Feb 26 '11 at 3:59

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