The latest version of Open Office has just been released, Open Office 3.0. I downloaded it on both of my computers today and so far really like it. There are some new features that were not on 2.4 so I'm working to become familiar with them.
I love Open Office because it's compatible with Microsoft Office but it's a lot cheaper. It's FREE!
It has a counterpart to pretty much everything in Microsoft Office except one program, Publisher. I use that program to produce several newsletters so I still have to use Microsoft Office.
The Writer program is the Open Office version of Microsoft Office's Word. Files can go back and forth in either format without any glitches that I am aware of. I use Writer most often and I really like the word count feature. In Word it is right at the bottom of the document; in Writer you click Tools and then Word Count.
To download Open Office just go to www.openoffice.org. It's a wonderful tool for writers!