You’ve probably come across the completely free OpenOffice, which sets out to match and improve on the features of Microsoft Office without you having to pay a penny for it. You may have heard that the company previously responsible for OpenOffice, Sun Microsystems, has recently been taken over by Oracle, which has led some open source software advocates to worry about whether OpenOffice will continue to be truly free. Because of this they have created their own version of OpenOffice (called a ‘fork’ in software development terms) whereby they take the freely available OpenOffice code and then continue their own development of it.
The result is LibreOffice. While in most respects it is the same as OpenOffice, the LibreOffice developers have managed to include a number of new features, not currently available in OpenOffice, making it well worth a try. These features include the ability to import and work with SVG files, easy mechanisms to format pages and numbering in Writer, Microsoft Works and Lotus Word Pro document import filters and the ability to import PDF files. The developers also plan many new features in future versions, and what’s more the software will remain free.