OpenOffice.org is a free software office suite, available from the website of the same name. Most people just shorten the name to “OpenOffice,” but the “.org” is really part of the software’s name.
But, a lot of people like to drop the “.org” and refer to the free suite as OpenOffice.
Why is that part of the name? Good question.
Why should I use it? Because you can!
Would you like a free program that reads and writes Microsoft Word files? And, a free on that reads and writes Microsoft Excel files? And a free one that reads and writes Microsoft Powerpoint files?
No, it’s not the same menus and some of the functions are a little different, but most of the things you do in Excel, Word and Powerpoint, you’ll be able to do in the free, open-source OpenOffice.org package.
OpenOffice.org started as a program called StarOffice, and was written by a team in Germany. Sun Microsystems eventually bought the rights to StarOffice.
They also released the source code to the community under a custom license (it is not the GPL) and created the organization OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org (the organization) coordinated development of the office suite which was then released for multiple operating systems, including Windows.
Don’t be afraid of the term Open Source. You don’t have to get the source code and you don’t have to do anything like compiling the program. You can download a Windows version that installs similarly to most Windows programs.
The license for OpenOffice.org is a little unusual. Sun Microsystems has the commercial rights to the program — only they can sell the product commercially (their version is marketed as StarOffice, and includes the basic OpenOffice.org programs plus more fonts, more themes, some more goodies and some support.
But, anyone can download OpenOffice.org for free and use it for free. Get it at www.openoffice.org. As I write this, the current version is v2.1.