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Rated 4.20/5 based on 638 customer reviews

Even if you use Open Office 4.0 exclusively, you're going to need to exchange files with Office users.

Open Office has always had basic compatibility with Microsoft Office formats, and this release does better at preserving fidelity in your documents for bulleted and numbered lists, tables of contents, outlines, graphical and coloured backgrounds in objects, shapes with text in, 3D shapes, charts and other areas where there have been problems in the past.

It's a useful way to get common tools that are often hard to find in the toolbars and menus, but it's frustrating that more of the Open Office tools are not exposed this way.

For example, you can change the layout of a slide from the sidebar in Impress, but you can't pick a different bullet for a list.

You can open files in the modern XML Office formats (XLSX, PPTX, DOCX) and save any changes; but you can only save new files in the older binary Office file formats (or ODF and Open Office formats).

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Open Office 4.0 has five main programs; Writer, the Calc spreadsheet, Impress presentation software, Base and Draw, plus Math, a formula editor.

It's only useful if you have a large screen or work in documents full-screen; once you put two documents side by side there is rarely room to see the sidebar as well. The new colour palette has a larger selection and they're arranged in clear order, so it's easier to spot the pale blue you're looking for.

The range of colour gradients still includes the old, rather garish multicolour selection, but adds more useful grey, yellow, orange, red, pink, blue and green gradients.

And oddly, when we password-protected an Excel file in Calc and opened it in Excel 2013, we were able to type in the password and view the file, but Excel warned us that the file might be dangerous.

That might be because of the unfriendly way Open Office 4.0 supports Office's XML file formats.

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