OpenOffice.org

OpenOffice.org is a free, multi-platform office suite. It includes key desktop applications, such as a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation manager, drawing program, and database module. OpenOffice.org is an Open Source project and available on all major platforms, including Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. At present, you can choose from more than 100 different language options.
OpenOffice.org avoids the risk of vendor lock-in because it uses a standardised, XML-based file format that makes interoperability easy and your documents future-proof.
OpenOffice.org is compatible with Microsoft Office. The latest version imports .docx files and continues to be able to read and write all the other Office formats.

Get OpenOffice.org

“OpenOffice.org is released under the LGPL licence. This means you may use it for any purpose—domestic, commercial, educational, public administration. You may install it on as many computers as you like. You may make copies and give them away to family, friends, students, employees—anyone you like.”
download.openoffice.org

Submitting Bug Reports

“Simple end users are really critical in the process of making the code better. It’s important for end users to understand how important they are in the process.” OpenOffice.org developer Florian Reuter discusses some of the issues and explains how you can take part.

What exactly is LaTeX for?

“Many people discover LaTeX after years of struggling with wordprocessors and desktop publishing systems, and are amazed to find that TeX has been around for over 25 years and they hadn’t heard of it.”
Peter Flynn

LaTeX is a free document preparation system that enables you to create beautifully typeset pages. It implements a set of commands designed to control TeX, the typesetting engine developed by Donald E Knuth. LaTeX stores the information about your documents as plain text, thus avoiding the risk of vendor lock-in and ensuring that your documents will still be editable twenty years from now. LaTeX processes the plain text data and, with pdfTeX working in the background, generates PDF output of the highest typographic quality—perfect for viewing on-screen or printing on paper. LaTeX runs on many platforms and is included as standard with most Linux distributions. Ready-to-run LaTeX systems are also available for Windows and Mac OS X.
miktex.org, tug.org/mactex

Office 2007 to gain native ODF support early next year

“Users will be able to set ODF as their default file formats under Office 2007, and Microsoft plans to continue support of the OOXML-ODF translator for those using older versions of Office.” Jacqui Cheng details Microsoft’s recent announcement to make Office 2007 compatible with OpenOffice.org.
Personally, I remain sceptical about Microsoft delivering on these promises. But genuine interoperability has to start from somewhere…
arstechnica.com

Users of Microsoft Office may also want to consider the Sun ODF Plugin for Microsoft Office as an alternative solution.