How to write a simple program in Python (opening files and parsing text)

Greetings:

I recently was asked to become familar with Python.  I figure the best way to do that is to take a simple application in C/C++ and make it work in Python.  Hence, my questions are these:

1)  What makes Python different from C/C++?
2)  Will Python perform the same basic functions as C/C++ like opening files and string manipulations
3)  Is there an editor available for download that will enable me to test a product or do I need to purchase one?

Thanks

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