Recently my sister-in-law called me with the following problem: her daughter had a Word Document that she needed to work on for homework, but she could not get Microsoft Office to run because the version that came with her Dell PC was asking for a product key and she was having trouble locating it. I told her to try OpenOffice.org instead of rummaging through the house looking for the missing product key.
OpenOffice.org office suite is the freeware alternative to Microsoft Office. While Microsoft Office has many features tailored to business use, OpenOffice.org has all the features necessary for home users and can be used in an office environment as well. I have been using it exclusively for two years now and am very happy with it. Take it for a test-run and decide for yourself. The price (free) is hard to beat and the quality of the software is outstanding.
OpenOffice.org includes the following programs:
OpenOffice.org Launcher: Makes it easy to choose a new document type, but individual OpenOffice programs can be started without the use of the launcher.
Writer: Word Processor equivalent to Microsoft Word and Corel WordPerfect. It can open and edit Word Documents and Wordperfect Documents. It can also save in DOC (Microsoft Office) format but not in WPD (Corel WordPerfect) format.
Impress: Presentation program similar to Microsoft PowerPoint. It can open and view PowerPoint Presentations. Additionally, presentations can be saved as Flash (SWF) so that they can be viewed in any PC with Flash Player installed.
Calc: Spreadsheet program comparable to Microsoft Excel. Can open Excel Spreadsheets and is feature-rich.
Base: Database program equivalent to Microsoft Access.
Draw: Vector Graphics program similar to Microsoft Visio and Microsoft Publisher.
Math: Program for mathematical formula creation comparable to Microsoft Equation Editor.
OpenOffice.org is a very robust Office Suite with the ability to save documents as PDF with just one click:
The settings are extremely customizable and can be set to automatically save as Microsoft Word Document format (DOC) by going to Tools, Options from within any OpenOffice.org program. Click the plus sign next to: Load/Save, then choose General to edit the file format options (see screen shot below). Choose: Always save as Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP, then click OK.
If you install it and decide it's not for you, OpenOffice.org can be easily uninstalled via Add/Remove Programs. You have nothing to lose, try OpenOffice.org today.