If a friend or colleague asks you to recommend an office suite, our first thought is often Microsoft Office. However, we forget that this suite can costs many hundreds of pounds, which makes it cost prohibitive for an individual or small business. Besides, everyone just assumes that they automatically require ‘Office compatibility’, but even Microsoft do not help themselves here. The Office 2007 suite produces documents, by default, that wasn’t compatible with older versions of Office, still widely used across many corporations. The Mac Office couldn’t open Office 2007 documents until recently, either.
However, there are many free Office alternatives and few are better than OpenOffice. This will write and open most of the Office formats and is cross-platform, too. If you get used to OpenOffice at work, on your PC, move across to the same version on your Mac and the user-interface is fairly similar. The Mac and Windows versions of Microsoft Office are very different beasts, with completely different user-interfaces, making it hard to become experts across both suites.
OpenOffice ships with a document writer, a spreadsheet, a presentation maker and many other modules. Everything you need to run your business. OpenOffice also saves your documents in the open document format (ODF) meaning that they can be opened within other free office suites, such as Lotus Symphony.
OpenOffice 3.4.0 is the first version to ship from the Apache Foundation. See the detailed 3.4.0 release notes for more information.