OpenOffice – the most popular free office software suites

Over the years, I’ve had a number of people come to me asking for help picking a word processor, spreadsheet, Office component or full suite. While MS Office is the defacto standard for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations, it IS rather expensive. Not everyone can afford its heavy down stroke, even though it can be heavily discounted. That’s why I’m thankful for things like Oracle’s OpenOffice.org. It’s an MS Office compatible office suite and its available for multiple platforms.

OpenOffice.org 3 is the leading 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 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.

Caution should be exercised however, when reading and writing MS Office (and other suite) compatible file formats. While OpenOffice.org is MS Office compatible, it is NOT MS Office. Basic formatting in all your documents (bold, italics, bullets, etc.) will likely transfer in and out of OpenOffice without issues or concerns. Some of your heavily formatted documents may be read and worked with under the OpenOffice component in question, but upon reediting in MS Office, the formatting of the information in the file may be corrupted, requiring a great deal of rework.

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