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Oracle Open Office Review

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PROS / Oracle Open Office supports most third party files.

CONS / Oracle Open Office is not as widely used as Microsoft, which can be problematic when sending files.

 VERDICT / Oracle Open Office is a good choice if you want to save money and still have many home office features.

[This product is discontinued.]

With software packages running into the hundreds of dollars, we’re always happy to find software that is both effective and affordable. Sun Microsystem’s office software suite, Oracle Open Office, is just that—a cost effective solution for everyday productivity needs. Oracle Open Office, previously named Star Office, boasts a rich feature set that makes it suitable for student, home and small business contexts as well. While Oracle Open Office is not as widely used and recognized as our top two products, the features it does have, doubled with its low price tag, gave us no qualms about making Oracle Open Office #3 in the category of home office software.

Word Processing Features

Oracle Open Office Writer is a comfortable word processor that will feel familiar to anyone who’s ever spent time on WordPerfect or Microsoft Word. Writer includes requisite features that are pretty much taken for granted in all home office software packages these days—spell and grammar check, a wealth of toolbars, table and graphic utilities and help files. Oracle Open Office also has footnote, table of contents and bibliography tools that remove much of the hassle that comes with writing college papers and theses. For lengthy documents or side-by-side editing, we found Oracle Open Office’s scalable zoom and multiple page views useful.

The ability to write quick memos, create in-depth reports, diagrams, indexes and a table of contents was also highly impressive and helpful.

Writer also has some unique, advanced features that complete the word processor as well—we particularly liked Writer’s integrated utilities for uploading blog content and Wikipedia posts directly.

Additional Software

In contrast to other basic and home edition office suites, Oracle Open Office manages to provide a comprehensive set of productivity tools, even at its low price. Oracle Open Office includes Writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheet editing and data sharing, Impress presentation software for making full-featured presentations, Draw image editor which lets you create things such as floor plans, sketches and diagrams and lastly Oracle provides, Base which is a database client and a host of extensions for additional functionality.

Oracle Open Office also includes an extension for Mozilla Thunderbird, called Lightning—it adds a calendar, note taking and scheduling functionality to the email client.


Oracle Open Office handily beats out Corel and Microsoft when it comes to working with a wide variety of file formats. We’re particularly happy to note their support for OpenOffice files. Additionally, Oracle Open Office can open and edit Microsoft Office 2007 files, Corel WordPerfect files and other standard formats such as TXT and HTM. Oracle Open Office’s ability to import and export PDF files is a feature we find ourselves using more and more frequently.

In addition to common format support, Oracle Open Office Calc is designed to interface effectively with databases. Oracle Open Office’s database client works with JDBC, ODBC, MySQL, dBase and address book databases. Oracle Open Office does not, however, include support for Microsoft Access databases.

We were very impressed with Oracle Open Office’s support for third party, open source and commonly used file formats. With Oracle Open Office, you’ll rarely encounter difficulty opening email attachments, downloaded spreadsheets or shared files.

User Support

Sun Microsystems has a long standing reputation for supporting their software and we’re happy to see that they provide regular updates to Oracle Open Office. When you buy Oracle Open Office and register with Sun, you have access to three free email or telephone support incidents—this is a useful extra for newcomers to the software. Sun also provides some of the most informative and thorough documentation and reference materials we’ve encountered among home office suites.


In terms of basic tasks like creating documents and running calculations on a spreadsheet, Oracle Open Office is a capable performer with a familiar interface. The rich set of additional features adds to Oracle Open Office’s allure to make an all-around superior home office software suite. Whether you’re a student, small business owner or home user, we can enthusiastically recommend Oracle Open Office for all your productivity needs.