The battle between OpenOffice and Microsoft Office has been a long one, stretching across years and computing platforms. While the open-sourced OpenOffice does what it claims to do, and acts as a functional replacement for the Microsoft Office suite, is it the "better" option of the two?
The short answer is: not necessarily. While both suites might have small advantages over one another, neither has such a lead as to make it the obvious choice. What it all comes down to is personal preference. OpenOffice prides itself on simplicity and functionality, taking after earlier versions of Microsoft Office in appearance, yet retaining the functions of later Office releases. It has some features (such as word auto complete) that can improve efficiency, but nothing unique to it gives it a clear advantage over Microsoft's product.
Microsoft Office takes a different approach, opting for the more streamlined "ribbon" UI which has a bit of a learning curve to it. In my opinion, of the two, Microsoft Office 'looks' better, but I don't start up Microsoft Word to look at the UI, it's just a pleasant addition. Other than this, most of Microsoft's other features such as the encyclopedia/dictionary lookup features aren't terribly impressive or important, and superior alternatives to many of them are available online. One thing worth consideration, however, is bloat--while OpenOffice runs relatively cleanly and efficiently, even on older hardware, Microsoft Office tends to be slightly more resource-intensive. While this isn't a problem for modern machines, this might be an issue for old computers.
Overall, little differentiates OpenOffice from its Microsoft counterpart; though this seems to be what the developers intended. If nothing else, one can easily migrate from the MS Office suite to OpenOffice with little trouble--a fact which might make the free alternative worth a look to some consumers.