Suite considerations

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2004-04-26 Print this article Print

Another Writer feature that stood out for testers was the application's word-complete function, similar to the auto-complete function of many Web browsers. Writer attempts to complete words being typed based on words previously typed in a particular document. Deborah Hordych, a buyer at FN Manufacturing, liked this feature but said that users would have to be careful that Writer was suggesting an appropriate word.

With a Belgian parent company, FN Manufacturing users were, not surprisingly, interested in Word 2003's translation capabilities. Using a document he created, Kevin Patten, a controller in FN Manufacturing's finance department, was able to use Word to effectively translate specific phrases from English to French, something Patten said he does frequently during his daily work routine.

"Extras like the translation feature are a really nice touch because they cut down on the amount of time I have to spend on a document," said Patten. "Every minute I save on something like this is a minute I can spend working on something else."

Suite considerations

OpenOffice.Org 1.1.1


  • No licensing costs As a free-software project, is freely available.
  • Good integration among suite applications eValuation testers said, for example, that they appreciated being able to create new spreadsheet documents from within the word processor application.
  • Variety of export options ships with PDF export capabilities, as well as support for saving presentations in Flash format. Cons

  • File-format compatibility issues Although does a good job of handling Microsoft Office file formats, small formatting inconsistencies will require reworking of complex documents.
  • Lack of traditional support Office suites typically do not require much vendor support, but the fact that is an open-source project means software support must come from the community, generally spread out across various Web sites and newsgroups.
  • Interface differences is similar to Microsoft Office in its design, but users will need some time to grow accustomed to differences between the two.
  • Office 2003


  • Familiarity Most knowledge workers use some version of Microsoft Office already, and an upgrade to a new version of Office presents the flattest learning curve.
  • File-format compatibility Microsoft Office file formats are de facto standards, and no rival suite handles these proprietary formats as well as Office does.
  • Advanced features Office 2003 has more features and capabilities than competing suites. Although many users do not require or use much of this functionality, advanced users, particularly of spreadsheets, often find it vital. Cons

  • High licensing costs Microsoft Office licenses are priced at a few hundred dollars each-a cost that can be difficult to justify when your users require only basic productivity suite functionality.
  • Advanced features require latest versions Some of the most compelling features added to the last two versions of Office-such as extensible smart tags, document protection and Smart Document creation-are not backward-compatible with earlier versions of the suite.

  • Next page: Excel vs. Calc

    As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

    Submit a Comment

    Loading Comments...
    Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

    Rocket Fuel