Impress is the name of the presentation program included in the office suite. Below you see the first window that pops up once the program is told you want to start a new presentation. Look familiar?
Impress looked so much like PowerPoint it was spooky. I opened a PowerPoint slide show complete with a background and lots of pictures, and it opened without a problem and all information intact. Here it is using Outline view.
The Preview window floats above the presentation window no matter which view you select. The Notes view is shown below.
In Slide view, you see the slides in the presentation presented in a "matrix" form.
When I asked Impress to run the slideshow, though it correctly carried over all the transitions, it had a hard time reproducing some of the more special effect types correctly. Just at a quick glimpse, the program seemed to have most of the functionality I would expect to see in PowerPoint. At some time in the future, I'll actually build a presentation in Impress, save it out as a PowerPoint presentation, and report back. Impress can save presentations out in its own XML format (OpenOffice Presentation 1.0-.sxi); its own template format (.sti); Microsoft PowerPoint 97/2000 presentation (.ppt), self-contained presentation(.pps), or template (.pot) formats; OpenOffice Draw format (.sxd), and several Star Office formats (StarDraw and StarImpress).
The drawing part of the program is called (you guessed it!) Draw. Draw also was fairly intuitive and impressive in its feature set for a free program. I created a 3D block easily, changed its colors, rotated it, and changed lighting without having to dig into the program much at all. It has some very interesting font effects controlled by a pallet named Fontworks" which let me rotate, slant, and do almost anything I wished to the fonts. The only thing I had trouble finding were arrange' functions which turned out to be on the context menu rather than up on a toolbar.
Draw also has context menu support.
All in all, I have to say I'm fairly impressed with OpenOffice. The only thing missing from it is an e-mail client/personal information manager like Outlook. Put that in, and you might have a Microsoft Office killer. That doesn't mean I'm going to switch to it from Microsoft Office. But I will keep it in mind and check on it from time to time. (Office 2003's IRM migh just cause me to make the jump.) For the rest of you, if you just can't afford or don't want to pay Microsoft Office's high price, want something you can run cross-platform (versions exist for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X, the latter under X11), or just don't want something with the Microsoft name, give OpenOffice a try. All it will cost you is some time to download and install it. If your experience goes anything like mine, you'll be glad you did.
Rated at 4 ComputerZone CD's! Very, very good!