is an open source office suite that includes a powerful word processor,
spreadsheet, presentation program, and more. As an open source project,
it can be freely (and legally) downloaded,
multiple systems, and copied and shared with others.
Unlike too many so-called free programs, it does not install unwanted
adware or spyware onto your computer. (For more on spyware, see my Security tutorial).
OpenOffice.org is related to Sun's Star
Office-- the two programs share a lot of common programming code.
Star Office is not free,
though with prices starting at US$60 for a single system, and going
down for multiple installations, it is more affordable than many
competitive products. (Star Office is available for free
schools and non-profits; I prefer to use OpenOffice.org at my
school; this way, students, teachers, and parents can also download and
install the same product that is being used at school). Star Office
includes some different (and higher quality) fonts than OpenOffice.org,
and includes technical support from Sun; because of the tech support,
it may be a better choice for businesses and other organizations.
suite, which is now being distributed as part of Google's Google
Pack- regardless of what your version is called, these instructions
OpenOffice.org (which I'll often refer to
as OO.o) is very compatible
with Microsoft Office;
OpenOffice.org's word processor can open Microsoft Word files, and can
save work in Microsoft Word format. Similarly, OpenOffice.org
spreadsheet and presentation program are compatible with Microsoft
Excel and Powerpoint. OpenOffice.org can be configured to save its
files in Microsoft Office format by default, making it even easier to
share files with Microsoft Office users.
It's not 100% however; documents created in Microsoft Office that use
macros built with MS Office's Visual Basic for Applications will not
work properly if opened in OpenOffice.org. Few individual users make
use of VBA, however, so this should not be a major concern. Documents
created using fonts installed with MS Office will appear somewhat
differently viewed on a system that lacks those fonts. Some Powerpoint
special effects may appear different when running the presentation in
OpenOffice.org is available in virtually-identical versions for a wide
range of operating systems; these include: MS Windows (Win 95 and up,
unlike current MS Office versions which will only run on Windows 2000
and XP), Linux, Sun Solaris, Free BSD, and Mac OS X.
(Mac OS X users should download the related NeoOffice/J)
As of this writing, the current official release of OpenOffice.org is
version 1.1.4. A major update, version 2.0 is expected soon; a 1.9 beta
release is available for download; I am using that 1.9 beta as the
basis for this tutorial, though I will try to make reference to
differences from the 1.1.x versions where appropriate.