Well, Open Office appears to be free once more. Not that it was ever expensive, unless ten dollars would break your budget.
As for the side bar being "innovative," I think that claim is a bit much. MS Office had a side bar for years but in the latest versions folded it back into the tool bar, or ribbon as it's called now. I wouldn't call being ten years behind the curve innovative. It's a change, certainly, but it remains to be seen whether regular OO users consider it an improvement. I always liked the Office side bar - it was much easier to access formatting controls there than in the menus. But the ribbon in Office now works OK, too, once you get used to it.
One feature Open Office shares with the newest versions of Microsoft's software, including Windows 8 and Internet Explorer 10 is a bright white, flat interface that is rather hard on the eyes. I definitely don't like that aspect of the new OO.