A reader wants advice about OpenOffice, the free, open-source office suite that many think is better than Microsoft Office:

“Thanks for the information about OpenOffice. I have considered using it but as I’ve been with Microsoft Office for many years, I have customised all the programs, particularly Word, with shortcuts, autotext, macros, etc.

I’m concerned that Writer, for example, will be too basic but perhaps you have used it and can advise would-be converts!

I have now retired and Microsoft Office is going to be a bit expensive for me.
I have Office files going back many years and still need to access and sometimes edit them.

Your advice would be greatly appreciated.”

I can promise you that OpenOffice is far from basic.  It has the ability to execute Macros, though you would need to rewrite your Word Macros.

Many Excel Macros will indeed work, though you must manually enable this feature. Choose Tools and then Options from the drop-down menu.


Choose Load/Save and then VBA Properties.


Enable the Executable code checkbox and choose OK.


The nice thing about OpenOffice being free is that you can download it while you still have Microsoft Office and give it a try. It should be able to open and edit your Microsoft Office documents without a problem. If OpenOffice doesn’t work for you, just delete it. Nothing lost but a little time.

Another nice thing about Office is that they have an extensive online help section to answer your questions.