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OpenOffice.org 3

OpenOffice-Icon Microsoft Office software can be fairly expensive.  If you don't use it often, it may not be a wise investment.  Home versions of Microsoft Office sell for $150 while the professional versions can cost up to $500.  For those who need an office software suite, but don't use it regularly, OpenOffice.org 3 is a viable alternative.

OpenOffice.org 3 is a free, open-source, office software suite that includes many of the same features as Microsoft Office.  The Writer program is similar to MS Word.  Writer will save your documents with a .odt file extension by default; however, you can easily save all your files with the .doc file extension used by MS Word.  The Calc program is similar to MS Excel.  You can save your spreadsheets with the default .ods extension or use the .xls extension used by Excel.  Writer and Calc are probably the two most popular features included in OpenOffice, but you will also find programs for slideshow presentations, databases and graphics.

If you're worried about opening your old Microsoft Office documents with OpenOffice, you have nothing to fear.  OpenOffice.org 3 will open most your MS Office documents with little or no loss in formatting.  Like I pointed out earlier, you can also save your OpenOffice files with the Microsoft Office file extensions.  This will allow MS Office users to open your documents at their PCs.

The licensing agreement allows for anyone to use the software.  It doesn't matter if it is for home, business, educational or government use.  You may want to try it out at home to see if it works for you.  More information on the software can be found at http://www.openoffice.org/


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I love OpenOffice, though I must admit most of my experience is only with Writer. The only difference I've noticed is that Writer handles page margins differently if you're using headers or footers. Really, though, it's awesome. If you haven't tried it, you should.

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