OpenOffice, the free open source challenge to Microsoft Office, is in its last stage before general commercial release next month. It includes the usual — a word processor, a spreadsheet application — and can save in Office formats. This version can also export files in the portable document format (PDF) and in Macromedia’s Flash animation format. OpenOffice 1.1 also supports non-Latin character sets, and is available in 30 languages. Maybe now is the time to try it out. You can download the ‘release candidate’ version here.
If money is a problem, it’s a great solution. Am I using it? Er, no. But that’s because I’m too lazy to get over the (admittedly rather gentle) learning curve involved in making the transition. This is professional software, and it’s good enough for prime time.