Apache OpenOffice.org is the free open-source productivity suite that rivals Microsoft's Office suite, the business world's standard. OpenOffice.org is compatible with most Office documents and many other file types. Like Office, it's a collection of powerful tools, but you don't have to install all its modules. The latest version of OpenOffice.org supports Windows 8.
The OpenOffice.org installer's custom option lets users choose which Program Modules to install from Writer, Calc, Draw, Impress, Base, and Math, plus shared Optional Components. During setup, we chose to make OpenOffice.org our default program for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents. OpenOffice.org comes with a lot of support in the form of Help files and other documentation as well as a huge community of users and developers. And, while its tools aren't Office clones, users who are familiar with Word, Excel, and other Office tools will find their OpenOffice.org counterparts easy to understand.
Clicking the OpenOffice.org icon produced a quick-start page that let us open documents, spreadsheets, formulas, and databases. We started with a new document in Writer, the suite's word processor. We quickly created a document and clicked Save to see our options. Writer offered 12 choices, including its proprietary ODF file format (.odt) as well as four Word standards, HTML, text, text encoded, and rich text. Not every format is completely compatible, though. Nevertheless, Writer offers as much as any top word processor. Impress is a presentation wizard, while Draw is a capable graphics editor. Calc is OpenOffice.org's Excel-compatible spreadsheet tool, and Base generates and accesses databases via the Database Wizard. Math is one of OpenOffice.org's advantages over Office: it's a standalone equation editor that can also insert formulas as objects into Writer.
One thing OpenOffice.org lacks that Office has is an integrated e-mail client like Outlook. But OpenOffice.org is compatible with a wide range of e-mail clients, including Mozilla Thunderbird, which many OpenOffice.org users recommend for use with the suite. Still, count us among those who'd like a fully integrated OpenOffice.org e-mail client. In any case, it's hard to find fault with anything OpenOffice.org does, especially since every bit of it is free.
OpenOffice.org is both an open-source product and a project. The product is a multiplatform office productivity suite. It includes desktop applications such as a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation manager, and a drawing program, with a user interface and feature set similar to those of other office suites. OpenOffice.org also works transparently with a variety of file formats, including those of Microsoft Office. Localizations of OpenOffice.org are available in 27 languages, with more being constantly added by the community. OpenOffice.org runs on Solaris, Linux (including PPC Linux), and Windows. Written in C++ and with documented APIs licensed under the LGPL and SISSL open-source protocols, OpenOffice.org allows any knowledgeable developer to benefit from the source.
What's new in this version:
Version 3.4.1 includes Finnish, British English, and Khmer languages and fixed extension cleanup and auto update check now re-enabled by default.