What is OpenOffice?

By Steve Castaneda on July 7, 2008 in News - 37 Comments

OpenOfficeOpenOffice (also referred to as Open Office) is an open source (free) set of applications aimed to function just like Microsoft Office without the hefty price tag.

As of today, the Microsoft Office suite of tools costs $499.95 direct from Microsoft.com. Do you use Office enough to justify that kind of expense?

Agents and Expenses

As a real estate agent, saving money on start up expenses is usually a priority.  After the initial education expenses, association membership dues, and brokerage initial fees, most agent’s pockets are usually filled with lint rather than dollar bills.

It’s in this light that OpenOffice looks very desirable.  Could you accomplish the same thing that you could with Microsoft Office?


Many could argue that Microsoft Office has become an industry standard.  It’s true; most small businesses with the need for a word processor and presentation software will resort to purchasing Microsoft Office licenses and have them installed on all their workstations.

However, in the real estate office most agents are using software like Zipform Online for the contracts; resorting to spreadsheets for things like net sheets, and possibly Outlook for their email (though I’m a personal fan of GMail).

Even databases are starting to be held in online software such as Top Producer 8i or Act! for Real Estate.  Where does the need for a full Microsoft Office suite come into play?

In an article by Lou Dolinar, he talks about what’s holding OpenOffice back and what Microsoft is doing to combat the open standard initiative (just a fancy way of expressing the need for things to be more competitive and easier on the pocket books for everyone). I find it interesting to see that Microsoft’s answer to a unified open standard is to create their own…open standard.

The open source community is looking to create one standard that anyone is free to incorporate into their productivity tools.  In this same article, Lou talks about the OpenDocument:

The anti-Microsoft crowd has an alternate data format, OpenDocument, that anyone can freely incorporate into any program, just as everyone uses the same old free, non-proprietary HTML to build Web sites. Not only that, but they’ve managed to persuade a fair number of governments to legislate standards requiring word processors, spreadsheets and such to include open document standards as well as proprietary ones. – Source

The Decision

I’d go as far as to say that most real estate agents can accomplish most of their main tasks (word processing and spreadsheets) that they do with Microsoft Office in their real estate business with free software like OpenOffice.

I believe you should be using software like Top Producer 8i for your database, and why not use GMail as your email software?  You should also be using software like Zipform Online to manage your contracts.

If you could save yourself $499.95 dollars in start up costs to get you up and running; would you?  $499.95 is enough to fund your monthly flyers or possibly a just listed campaign in a hot neighborhood for a new listing you just took.

Hold your money accountable!  OpenOffice is free, so I definitely think it deserves a look.


About the Author

Steve Castaneda, Realtor has been in the real estate industry since Jan. 2005. He specializes in selling homes in Northwest Houston and spends his free time sharing his passion for technology by writing at TechForAgents and programming web applications. Follow him on Google or Twitter.

37 Comments on "What is OpenOffice?"

  1. Video Conferencing July 8, 2008 at 11:32 pm · Reply

    Open Office is great because it is free! Less-cost, more efficient, and fast! that defines openoffice!

  2. PEI Real Estate July 10, 2008 at 11:05 am · Reply

    Kind of off topic but I use Google Documents. You can access your documents anywhere’s where there’s interent and you can share it with people (if your collaborating on a project for instance.) I would try that out too!

  3. John M July 11, 2008 at 5:18 pm · Reply

    OpenOffice is too good, i have been using it since 6 months and I don’t like MS Office anymore. I like open source technologies because they are being built by more genius people.

  4. Fredrick July 13, 2008 at 4:48 pm · Reply

    PEI Real Estate, you are right and that is kinda online open source version. Even we can have word documents and excel sheets with password protection. I have taught a lesson by loosing my many important documents by loosing my hard drive so I store my documents there often. Another thing, This can’t be compared with open office or MS office because they are offline or desktop softwares and have their own importance.

  5. Jessica July 15, 2008 at 12:49 pm · Reply

    It’s a good program! I really like it.

  6. Steve Castaneda July 16, 2008 at 8:34 am · Reply

    @Jim: Sure is! To learn about using OpenOffice with Mac, head over to here: http://porting.openoffice.org/mac/

  7. Cedar City July 17, 2008 at 12:03 pm · Reply

    I use and love open office. Why pay 300+ to Bill Gates when you can get the same quality for free?

  8. JBO July 17, 2008 at 12:28 pm · Reply

    I use Open Office a lot and really there is no need to use MSOffice any longer. People get too worried about change but the price difference is huge and Openoffice has teh support of a hge community working to make the software work in exactly the manner *you* need it to.

    Bring on open Source Software

  9. Cedar City July 18, 2008 at 7:01 am · Reply

    JBO you nailed it right on the head. Why pay the 300 dollars when you can get open office which has the support of big company.

  10. Violin July 21, 2008 at 12:07 am · Reply

    I have purchased a laptop(Almost an year ago) and OpenOffice was preloaded with it. I was a fan of MS products and have been using MS Office since 10 years, Openoffice inspired me and I was shocked that why it is available in free. Why to spend hundreds of dollars on products which have free alternatives.

  11. Rajendra Mackinley July 21, 2008 at 6:17 am · Reply

    been using open office too, it was more upgraded and much convenient to use.

  12. Lars July 21, 2008 at 11:09 am · Reply

    aside from my microsoft office, out of curiosity, i tried open office too… well it’s basically like ms office, but i’m just so used to using ms that i prefer it over open office. but it’s true, if you’re looking to save up some bucks, you can certainly get the same results out of this open source set of applications.

  13. Upstart Agent July 23, 2008 at 10:39 pm · Reply

    I’ve been using Open Office for a few months now and like it even more than microsoft office, as it has extra features & is better for exporting to PDF. All in all, it is one of my favorite open source software programs 🙂

  14. Steve July 28, 2008 at 11:46 pm · Reply

    I am amazed to see that how many people are using Open Office. I think that it will beat other products in market. Star office is another office application and it comes with Solaris.

  15. Martin Bouma, Ann Arbor Real Estate July 30, 2008 at 6:17 am · Reply

    Thanks for posting about Open Office. You are right it is a great tool to use and you certainly can’t beat the pricetag!

  16. Jayson August 1, 2008 at 2:55 pm · Reply

    I read about this a few months back but never gave it a shot. I’m a little worried that I won’t be able to share documents with Microsoft Office users.

    The price can’t be beat and I guess everything deserves a go.

    @Violin – what laptops come pre-installed with this software…just curious

  17. Flusche August 2, 2008 at 3:35 am · Reply

    There are too many people who are going in that way. I think open source is kind of blessing and we should use all open source resources. I have no fears saying that I am addicted to use open source media as well, I always enjoyed it fully. Using Microsoft’s products was the only way to survive a few time ago, but it is not now. We can’t be forced to do that because we have too many options.

  18. Bob August 4, 2008 at 6:33 pm · Reply

    Good to know, my version is somewhat out of date, will have to check it out.

  19. Atlanta Condos Advisor August 4, 2008 at 11:51 pm · Reply

    I am wondering how open office compares with google docs? I have used g docs and loved how fast and easy it was. Only a matter of time before these two apps are the norm.

  20. Real Estate Paulding County August 5, 2008 at 8:07 pm · Reply

    Thanks for your research. Definitely worth looking into.

  21. Covent Garden Estate Agent August 5, 2008 at 10:44 pm · Reply

    License fees are getting out of hand for property management and sales software.

    We’re just starting to look at Open Source.

  22. MileHigh Houses For Rent August 7, 2008 at 11:05 pm · Reply

    Hi Steve,

    Randomly stumbled upon this post. Funny thing is I have had the ‘OpenOffice’ icon on my desktop for some time and didn’t remember how the heck I got it. I am all for open source projects and look forward to using Open Office. Thanks for sharing!

  23. Curtis Reddehase August 9, 2008 at 10:11 pm · Reply

    Open office was installed on a computer that I purchased otherwise I would have never known about. the people in our office that use it seam to like it

  24. Carolyn Gjerde-Tu August 10, 2008 at 4:25 pm · Reply

    I have used microsoft office for years and breaking habits seems difficult, however I moved away from outlook a couple of years ago, use an online contact management program, seems like would just be retraining myself to use open office instead of my very out of date word program.

  25. Estate Agent in Africa August 13, 2008 at 4:45 pm · Reply

    Open Source is popular here in Africa for obvious reasons. It’s a Godsend helping to bridge the digital divide and level the playing field.

  26. Jonathan Bentz August 18, 2008 at 2:43 pm · Reply

    My office uses OpenOffice. While I have yet to fully “embrace” this – I come from a line of jobs that used the entire MS Office line – I definitely see why smaller companies should be using OpenOffice. Saves a ton of money and provides basically the same line of products. I say use it.

  27. Investment Property August 20, 2008 at 12:58 pm · Reply

    I can’t imagine how those companies could offer open source programs while MS couldn’t considering the are in same line of products.

  28. Albuquerque Real Estate August 20, 2008 at 10:55 pm · Reply

    I use MS Office. I have had the program for years and feel I get my money’s worth. I use Access for my database and don’t have to spend $40 a month compared to TP. Since I have been using it for 5 years now I figure I have saved $1900 so far.

  29. Ken Smith, Elgin Illinois August 21, 2008 at 10:14 am · Reply

    I haven’t used the Microsoft Office suite for at least 2 years now. The only program that we buy is Publisher because my wife really likes it and doesn’t want to have to learn another program for our marketing material.

    Gmail is the way to go for email IMO. Can manage multiple accounts from one location and I can access it from any computer. Makes vacations much easier not having to drag my laptop around with me.

  30. HIP August 22, 2008 at 4:15 am · Reply

    ive been putting off swapping over, though think the time has come – love open source projects

  31. Scott Hack August 25, 2008 at 3:38 pm · Reply

    OpenOffice rocks. I also use Mozilla’s Thunderbird, and FireFox which are leaps and bounds above Microsoft’s products. If you enjoy OpenOffice, give those a try as well.

  32. Hampstead Letting Agents August 25, 2008 at 5:32 pm · Reply

    In the present climate agents are going to have to start looking at open source software to keep overheads down.

  33. Real Estate Paulding County August 26, 2008 at 4:51 am · Reply

    At last some competition for Microsoft.

  34. Ki August 31, 2008 at 2:52 am · Reply

    I used open office on a laptop I had awhile back. I never had any problems with it. They did a pretty good job with it.

  35. sohbet June 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm · Reply

    I’m happy to see the team grow. If you guys ever open up a Whistler office let me know, I’m so in

  36. Dan October 9, 2012 at 9:11 pm · Reply

    Thanks for spreading the word about OpenOffice, and more importantly, there are alternatives to Microsoft!

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