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18 November 2008
OpenOffice.org version 3 is the latest version of a completely free Office Suite. Version 3 was released on the 13 October and in about a month clocked up Twelve Million (12,000,000) downloads from the main site. The actual number of installed copies is most likely much higher as some Linux users may have downloaded through a package repository or from their distribution and of those downloads some may have been installed multiple times.
OpenOffice.org is the leading Open Source Office suite. It comprises of a Word Processor (Writer), a Spreadsheet (Calc), a Presentation program (Impress), a vector graphics application (Draw), a Database (Base) and an Equation Editor (Math). These are all available in a free 12MB download file(free), or get a copy on cd - get a friend to give you a copy (completely legal) - or buy from a disk reseller (usually under £10).
If you are used to other Office suites then you should have no problems getting to grips with OpenOffice.org. There are a few options under different menus, but otherwise it is very similar.
It's completely free. Not only that, but it includes applications that are sometimes only available in the more expensive versions of alternative OfficeSuites.
It runs on most operating systems, so if (like me) you both Windows and Linux then you can use the same application for both. It will also open most other office formats (with some incompatibilities - eg. scripting).
Last but not least it's main file format is the Open Document Format which is ratified as an official format and is free from patents and other restrictions. This might not seam such a big deal, after all your current files are in a program that is well supported currently, but will that be the case in the future - and will you still have the program able to read it then. For example I have a number of documents that I wrote at University which I can no longer read as I don't have the version of Microsoft Works originally used to create the files. For me it's annoying, but for a business it could have both legal and financial repercussions.
Don't just take my word for it you can also read the following reviews:
The great thing is that because it's free you have nothing to lose. So download it today and give it a go - it's free and you may end up replacing your current Office Suite.