Head to Head: Microsoft Office 2010 vs Open Office 3.3

For many an office suite is just as essential as the computer it runs on. But should you continue investing in Microsoft Office or choose the free OpenOffice instead? Karl Wright gets down to business and finds out in our review.

Microsoft Publisher is a good, workaday DTP program. With it, you can create grid-based layouts for newsletter or brochure pages. You can then add content containers, text, images to create the desired publication. If this kind of work is something you do inhouse, rather than farming it out to an agency, then working with Microsoft Publisher is good alternative to spending hundreds of pounds on a professional-standard DTP program such as Adobe InDesign.

Microsoft OneNote is a useful way of keeping track of notes and related source materials, including audio and video sources.

Microsoft OneNote is a useful way of keeping track of notes and related source materials, including audio and video sources. OpenOffice has no equivalent.

What we really did miss in OpenOffice, though, was an equivalent to Microsoft OneNote. This handy note organiser is a great way of pulling together and organising notes and source materials for your projects. It allows you to open a range of "notebooks", one for each project. Each notebook is made up of pages and each page can store text, links, video and audio, arranged and annotated however you feel is useful. We use it for all of our projects, including this review. It's a great way or organising research and preparation - far better than keeping lots of separate Word documents.

Another thing we missed in Open Office,was compatibility with online content sharing tools. With Microsoft Office you can save files both to SharePoint and, more usefully for smaller businesses, to Windows Live. There's no way to do this simply within OpenOffice, though you could cobble together something using Google Docs and with a plugin such as Cloud Desktop G-Drive.

Winner: Microsoft Office it's a tough one this, OpenOffice comes with a database which, next to the standbys of word processor and spreadsheet, most people will use most often. On the other hand, an e-mail client is definitely more useful than, for instance, a mathematical markup programme at least to most users. And the range of programs you get with Microsoft Office is much greater but then, considering the cost it really should be.

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