Let me start by saying, I am not an open source guy (I actually really like Microsoft Office) or at least I wasn't until discovering the office suite of applications from OpenOffice.org. The product is AMAZING. Its a full suite of office applications ands its completely Free. OpenOffice.org 2.1 includes:
Word Processing- Like Microsoft Word.
Spreadsheet- Like Microsoft Excel
Database- Like Microsoft Access
Presentation- Like Microsoft Powerpoint
Plus there are a few other applications in the OpenOffice suite I have not yet used so I will stick the above 4 where I have direct experience.
What is really impressive is how well these open source applications work. I have used each of the 4 mentioned OpenOffice components and all provide them same functionality as the standard counterparts from folks like Microsoft and Corel (WordPerfect). To put the full value of OpenOffice.org 2.1 in perspective, I checked prices of Microsoft Office on Amazon and found:
Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003: $300 - $400
Microsoft Office 2007: $400 - $500
Microsoft Office 2007 Upgrade (from 2003) $200 - $250
So right from the beginning you get at least $300 in value with the open source solution. Plus, since all upgrades are free, you do not need to spend and additional $200 for the latest software for a total value of $500.
As important as the functionality and value of the OpenOffice solution is Microsoft Office COMPATIBILITY. As such OpenOffice can open and process any type of document or file created using a Microsoft Office application. Likewise documents and files created using OpenOffice can be saved as Microsoft Office applications so that they may be sent to and processed by folks running Microsoft Office.
Installing OpenOffice was easy on the Windows XP based desktop I used. The entire suite downloaded over a T1 connection to my desktop in approximately 5 minutes. From there installation took another 5 minutes and from there my system was up and running. Please note the desktop in question had little else on it and specifically did not have Microsoft Office installed.
Its also worth noting that OpenOffice is a open source community supported by Sun Micro Systems who has a vested interest in creating competition for Microsoft. In this case Sun purchased Star Division in 1999 and released its first suite under Sun's ownership in 2000. Over the past 7 years, the product has grown through an Open Source community and Sun's support.
Bottom line is that OpenOffice provides a strong alternative to Microsoft Office. The product works extremely well, is 100% Microsoft compatible and will save you hundreds of dollars.
— As Microsoft has a vested interest in protecting its software, reputation and customers, they have done a great job with Defender and the best part is that Defender is provided to registered Microsoft customers free of charge.