Open Source Applications for Small Business

GIMPshop screen shot is not simply a cheap knock-off of Microsoft Office. Some proponents say that Writer,’s answer to Word, actually bests Word in a number of areas, including page layout, lists, headers, footers and endnotes. (On the other hand, Word maintains the edge on outlining and templates—for a price.) But for typical word processing needs, Writer contains many of the same conveniences you expect, including spellcheck and autocorrect, and Writer can save documents directly to the PDF format. In fact, we wrote this story with Writer.

While you can exchange documents between Writer and Word, some layout features may be lost in the translation, depending the sophistication level of your document.

Likewise, the other applications maintain that familiar-yet-different relationship to their Office counterparts. In Impress, the presentation manager, you can export completed presentations to a PowerPoint format for traditional clients, or you can save them in Flash SWF format for easy Web publishing.

If is a free and open source alternative to Microsoft Office, then IBM Lotus Symphony could be described as a free and open source alternative to Actually built from the OpenOffice source code, Symphony takes the main components of—writing, presentation, and spreadsheets—and refits them with a visual and functional makeover. The overall effect is to streamline the original OpenOffice, in some cases removing features, but improving accessibility and workflow.

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