Open Office, a free alternative to Microsoft Office, is now at version 3.0. I’ve been using Open Office for quite some time now and like it. While it is not as polished as Microsoft Office, it is free and competes well on a feature by feature basis. I suspect that it is helped motivate Microsoft to continue to offer the special pricing for the Student/Home version of Office.
Office will still enjoy its domination of the market, but Open Office is whittling away and has carved out a niche for itself. Give it a try. You’ll like it.