Replace Pricey Microsoft Office with Free OpenOffice 3.2

Last Updated Feb 11, 2010 12:27 PM EST

Make no mistake: I like Office 2007. What I don't like is the price, which is why I routinely install OpenOffice in its stead.

No doubt you've heard of the free, open-source suite of applications, which offers full-featured word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases, and drawing.

In other words, OpenOffice can do just about everything Microsoft Office can, but for a total price of $0. And the latest version (3.2) adds much-needed support for Office 2007 file formats, meaning you can import and export documents without worrying about compatibility issues.

Other changes in 3.2 include faster startup, the option to import pivot tables from Excel 2007 spreadsheets, zooming in database forms, and general improvements to the Calc spreadsheet program. Here's the full list of OpenOffice 3.2 updates.

Have you tried OpenOffice? If so, what did you think of it? I know some people have a hard time making the transition from Microsoft Office, but I think it's worth the effort given the money you stand to save.

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    Rick Broida, a technology writer for more than 20 years, is the author of more than a dozen books. In addition to writing CNET's The Cheapskate blog, he contributes to CNET's iPhone Atlas.