About fifteen years ago, when I started college, I had a copy of WordPerfect for DOS. It was a great little word processor (better than AppleWorks, which is what I’d been using since the early 80’s) and I pretty much wrote all of my papers using it. Computers got more advanced, Windows came on the scene, and WordPerfect continued to improve. The DOS version gave way to a nice Windows-based graphic version, and so on.

Then Microsoft released the monstrosity known as Word, and everyone started using it. These days it’s the de facto standard, much to my chagrin. Word sucks. It sucks big time. The menus are confusing and jumbled, I can never seem to do quite what I want, and it remains a fact that WordPerfect simply has more functionality and power than Word ever will. After all, WordPerfect was around long before Microsoft came up with the whole “Office” idea.

So here I am, fifteen years after WordPerfect for DOS, still cranking away (version 11) with all of my documents in WordPerfect. Occasionally I have to open a Word document from a client, but generally I avoid using Word whenever I can.

Enter OpenOffice. Sun recently released their 2.0 version of it, and I downloaded it for a trial spin. It’s great, actually. Not only can it import and export Word documents almost flawlessly, it can also (new feature) handle WordPerfect files. After a couple hours of poking around in it, I’ve decided that its functionality is quite good– better than Word, for sure– and it might be a suitable replacement for WordPerfect.

The problem, really, is that WordPerfect doesn’t have a Linux version. I hate having to boot a Windows computer just so I can edit a contract or proposal or whatever. Long ago, WordPerfect 8 (I think) was converted to Linux but it sucked so bad it gave the good people of WordPerfect a bad name. We loyalists choose to simply forget it ever existed.

But now, if OpenOffice is really as good as it appears, I can run a native Linux version, a Windows version if for some reason I need to, and (oh yes) a Mac version. All of my documents will be cross-platform, and if I need to send something to a client or whatever I can dump it to (shudder) Word. Better yet, I can export it directly to PDF and avoid the use of the terribly expensive Adobe Acrobat suite.

Whee! There’s hope for us Linux guys…