The Microsoft Office software suite has become standard for many personal and business computing tasks. But many people still don’t have access to Office programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, and don’t want to pay several hundred dollars to buy the software. Luckily, there’s a great alternative to Microsoft Office, and you can get it for free!
OpenOffice is an open source program, which means it’s absolutely free to download and use. The software suite includes Writer (a word processing program, similar to Microsoft Word), Calc (a spreadsheet program, similar to Microsoft Excel), Impress (slideshow presentation software, similar to Microsoft PowerPoint), Draw (a graphic design program, similar to Microsoft Paint), and Base (database software, similar to Microsoft Access).
OpenOffice is not exactly the same as Microsoft Office, but it is similar enough that anyone familiar with the Office suite (especially the 2003 version) should be able to navigate it without too much trouble. You can even open and edit documents created in Microsoft Office in OpenOffice!
Tip: If you are using OpenOffice and know you want to exchange your files with someone using Microsoft programs, be sure to save in the correct file format. For example, if you create document in Writer, save it as a Word-compatible .doc file, rather than in the default “OpenDocument” format.
If you want to try OpenOffice on your personal computer, you can download it from their website. A version OpenOffice is also available for Macintosh computers, or you can try NeoOffice, a similar set of programs developed specifically for the Mac.