While I provide IT consulting services to large enterprises with tens of thousands of users on a daily basis, it is important to remember that as an IT consultant, I am a small business owner as well. As a business owner, you try to reduce expenses as much as possible so that you profit more from the work that you do. One of the ways to significantly cut costs in your business is to not purchase needless software.
Office application suites are a staple to any business. We use word processors to create documents that we send to clients. We use spread sheets to hold various forms of alpha-numeric data in a human readable format. We use presentation software to create visual representations of our business offerings for various audiences. We use drawing/diagramming software to make flow charts, organizational charts, infrastructure diagrams etc. Each of these applications perform a key function for a business, and grouped together, they are known as an office suite.
Open Office is one such suite which packages all of the above mentioned applications along with a mathematical application and database application. The fact that Open Office is open-source is of paramount importance to the software industry, but the fact that it is free is of more importance to businesses. The applications allow you do to the same things you do in costly application suites like Microsoft Office, but with no cost involved. The user interface is very similar to what you would see in other commercial applications, and there's even additional built in functionality like exporting a document in PDF format on-the-fly. Open Office is available for many operating systems like Linux, Microsoft Windows and Mac.
Open Office is quite a nice suite of applications that will allow you to do business as usual without paying the high costs of commercial software. In addition, you are supporting the community that creates this free software when you report bugs or request features and enhancements. I urge you to head on over to http://www.openoffice.org and check it out for yourself. You can download the software (for free of course) and start using it right away. If you like it, please tell your friends, family and business associates about it. Helping the open-source market grow is a great way to boost competition in the market and force the overall software market to lower prices to reasonable levels for consumers.