Note: I now recommend the LibreOffice (LO) suite over OpenOffice.org (OO.o) due to improved performance and licensing issues. LO is a fork of OO.o and is on a faster development track.
Microsoft Office, LibreOffice, and OpenOffice.org are roughly equivalent-- like MS Office, OpenOffice.org is a suite of applications. The main parts of each suite are similar: a word processor (MS Word vs. OpenOffice.org Writer), a spreadsheet (MS Excel vs. OpenOffice.org Calc), and presentation software (MS PowerPoint vs. OpenOffice.org Impress). The difference? OpenOffice.org is free of cost and open source software-- MS Office is neither free nor open. OpenOffice.org is also cross-platform--versions are available for Windows, Linux, Mac OSX, and others.
One has to wonder why school systems (especially in low-income areas) continue to teach Microsoft Word or Microsoft Office. Many students' families may have problems being able to afford MS Office packages costing between $100 and $350 (and more). For these users (and most others) a free equivalent like OpenOffice.org begins to look pretty good.
To a considerable extent, once you have learned any word processor, that knowledge is useful for any similar program. In fact, most Windows-using beginners would be well-served by starting with the WordPad application included with Windows and working up from there-- especially when differences between the different versions of MS Office are taken into account.
Read the full article here (My Articles page).
Go to my relevant download links page.