Tell people that you can get a legal copy of a word processor or spreadsheet program that’s compatible with Microsoft Office and many of them will disbelieve you. But that’s the case with a range of open source alternatives including LibreOffice and OpenOffice. There’s no charge for the software, and no limitations or trial restrictions: you just download it and use it. For casual users at least, it will do almost everything they need.
With this type of software, the issue for most users isn’t everything that works, but rather the few things that don’t. LibreOffice gets off to a great start by modelling itself on the “classic look” of Microsoft Office that should be familiar to anyone who’s resisted the upgrade to the latest editions. The package works intuitively and there’ll be little need for help guides for most basic features — which is fortunate as help is somewhat lacking for some features.
OpenOffice.org is another great open-source office suite, and includes applications for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, and databases. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in a standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages, including Microsoft Office.
OpenOffice.org 3 is easy to learn. If you’ve used Microsoft Office, or a similar set of tools, OpenOffice.org will be familiar and comfortable to you. Best of all, OpenOffice.org 3 can be downloaded and used for free.
Having a free, open source alternative to Microsoft Office, especially for budget conscious families and students is important. Though Microsoft has a student version of Office, it’s still somewhat expensive. OpenOffice and LibreOffice offers Microsoft Office (as well as other) suite compatibility in a familiar environment. The tools are intuitive and easy to use, especially if you’ve used Office Suite products before, and at this price point, it’s really hard to beat.