It is a typesetting program. It is different from Word as the page settings, alignments are fixed in the template itself with little user control over it (unless you know how to create a template). One needs to fit his/her content in a pre-created template. This is advantageous in many ways as LaTeX itself takes care of alignment of text, new paragraphs, equations, figures etc. The procedure of typesetting is similar to programming.
Similar to working in any programming language, we need three programs, an editor, a compiler and an output viewer. LaTeX code is written in the editor. Compiler makes sense of the code and produces the document in various formats (DVI, PostScript, PDF). The output viewer views this document.
Some softwares pack editor and viewer in single application. Texmaker is free and I find it most user friendly of the lot.
I have used Texmaker for this tutorial.
Here’s what you need to start using LaTeX.
It's easier (and quicker) to learn by making small modifications in a working LaTeX code and compiling it to see output.