If OpenOffice is the solution, what is the problem?

On this page we're brainstorming about what OpenOffice is good for, what kind of individuals and organizations, what their needs and concerns are and how they might hear about OpenOffice.


What problem are they trying to solve

How OpenOffice solves the problem

What would they search Google for to find a solution?

University student with limited budget

Need a word processor for their course, but Microsoft Office, even with student discount, costs money.

  • OpenOffice is free
  • OpenOffice is compatible with their existing documents
  • free microsoft office
  • free office
  • discount microsoft office
  • free office <platform>

IT Director for Public Library or Community Center with a computers available for public use. 

Wants to provide office suite functionality to their patrons.  They have limited budget, so commercial software licenses come at the expense of other potential services.



Operator of Internet Cafe

Need an inexpensive way to provide office suite functionality to their patrons



Employee who uses MS Office at work, but occasionally wants to do some work at home.




IT Director or CIO of company who have been subject to BSA software license audits




CIO of large corporations facing end of support for Office 2003 in 2014




Budget computer manufacturer

Consumers want basic office functionality on their new computers.  An easy solution was to OEM Microsoft's Office Starter Edition.  But Microsoft has announced that it is ending this program, and has not offered a replacement.

Manufacturer can bundle OpenOffice for free, and their users get a full suite, not just a trial or ad-supported product.

  • replacement for Office Starter Edition
  • alternative to Office Starter Edition
  • OEM OpenOffice

F/OSS Enthusiast

Prefers to use open source applications wherever possible.  Where alternatives exist may use the option believed to be most open.

Open source, open community, reputation.

open office

(in other words, this category of user can be assumed to already know the "openoffice" name and would search for this directly.

Manufacturer of In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) systems, media hubs, kiosks or similar computing appliances.

Wants to embed office-functionality without the expenses of commercial licensing or royalties.  Maybe have additional constraints on available system resources.

Open source, Microsoft compatibility, portability of code, lower system resource requirements than commercial offerings.

  • open source microsoft office
  • microsoft office alternatives
  • royalty free office
  • embeddable office

Telecom provider/ISP

Wants to provide a library of free software for their subscribers,  as a value add to their service.  May want to customize or even rebrand the UI, e.g., "Comcast Office"

Free, open source, easily customizable, available on all major platforms.  Permissive license makes it easier to get internal legal approval to work with it.

  • most popular free software
  • most downloaded free software
  • free customizable office suite
  • open source customizable office suite

IT Director or CIO of company who plan for the desktop cloud deployment

Wants to embed office-functionality without the expenses of commercial licensing or royalties. And avoid the expanding license fee when the scale of the virtual desktop client number grows.

Free, open source, easily customizable, available on all major platforms.  Permissive license makes it easier to get internal legal approval to work with it.

  • open source microsoft office
  • microsoft office alternative

Archivist or other user than needs to be able to read older documents.

Microsoft has dropped some older formats in Office 2010, such as Lotus wk1 spreadsheet formats.  Users may need to read old documents.

Reference;  actual user case:  [https://twitter.com/umdatalib/statuses/223130950136115201
Microsoft tech note:  http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel-help/file-formats-that-are-supported-in-excel-HP010352464.aspx#BMunsupportedformats

OpenOffice imports many file, including older ones like Lotus 1-2-3.

The permissive license of AOO makes it possible for programmers to add more formats.

AOO users even have success loading damaged DOC files that even Word will not load.

  •  how to read <format> documents
  • how to read <format> files
  • excel cannot read <formal>
  • <format> reader
  • <format> editor

Company or indivdual running Windows XP or Vista

Microsoft has announced that Office 2013 will require Windows 7 or Windows 8.  Users on earlier operating systems will have an expensive upgrade, if their hardware can even run Windows 8.







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1 Comment

  1. I am not a techie anymore, thanks to Multiple sclerosis, but I would add the following:

    Disabled persons looking for office suite that can easily integrate with accessibility products like Dragon, voice to text, text to voice, and hands free operation. Aside from being free, there is a much better chance of getting something written for open office than anything Microsoft puts out

    Also, I run a small membership based non-profit that provides human services assistance to low income members. In the past we have literally built desktop computers out of old parts and donated materials to give to members who need to be able to do schoolwork, work from home, do welfare required job searching online, and more. We no longer build machines, but we often have members who need the muscle openoffice has, but who cannot afford to pay even a small amount of money.

    The ministry itself would never have been able to afford the license fees for Microsoft, and this is a very common issue for non-profits. Yet, we can't serve out our mission with stripped down products that are bundled with a budget machine.

    Hope the ideas are useful...thank you for your time!