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Friday, April 17, 2009

Free Computer Office Suite

Tired of paying for Microsoft stuff? I had the Microsoft 2000 Professional (I wanted the Powerpoint, so I payed for the whole thing) and then come 2007, none of my stuff was upgrading anymore or having its bugs fixed because they wanted me to pay for the new Microsoft Office 2007. I was not about to shell out several hundred bucks again! I got a bit angry.

So, I found that you can have a completely comparable Office Suite just for downloading. It is called OpenOffice. It has everything the Microsoft Office Professional has and more! Writer is the same as Word (a wordprocessor), Calc is Excel (a spreadsheet), Base is the same as ... I forgot the name for Microsoft's (a database), Impress is Powerpoint (presentation slides), and then it has two bonuses, Math which will do scientific equations (don't ask me how) and Draw which is kind of like a wordprocessor but you can stick in pictures and arrows without the funky formatting problems you have with a wordprocessor. I had fun creating a timeline on it, it worked very well!

I have used this now for a year and have no complaints. I use mainly Writer, Calc and Impress. I taught a class with a slide presentation with Impress, I liked that I could save the slides as pdf files and send them to the class participants so they could click the links on my slides without having to have Open Office on their computer. And for Open Office Writer documents, I have to submit things in Word format and read Word format and Writer will both accept and save files as Microsoft Word documents (or almost any other format from the looks of the list of things you are capable of saving your document as).

But best of all it's free! You can download it and see if you like it with no hurt to you, or maybe the Extra Math and Draw things are of interest to you. You can put it on as many computers as you want for whatever purpose you want. When I bought my new laptop I didn't even bother asking for the Microsoft Suite, just downloaded Open Office.

UPDATE: I have found its weakness. If you need to save it in other formats with Track Changes set on, it goes screwy. So if you need to do track changes and send them to people in other formats it's not a good bet. I had to buy Word because I got tired of it messing up hours of work. I would save it, but as soon as I clicked out of the program the saved work showed up differently the next time it was viewed. So if you are just looking for something that you can type with and print out, it's a good deal (that's what I have done for years), but now that I am critiquing other's work and formatting it and sending it, it's more headache then help.


Louisa said...

OpenOffice is great. I've used it for a few years along with other Free and Open Source software including GIMP (which is like Photoshop), Inkscape (which is like Adobe Illustrator) and Pidgin (which rolls MSN and other instant messengers into one ad-free program).

These are all free as in zero-cost but also free as in freedom: you are free to do what you like with them. You can install them on as many computers as you like or give them to your friends without breaking any license agreement.

More information:

Suzanne said...

I know people who love Office so much you couldn't pay them to buy and use Microsoft's products. But I have found it to be a little too quirky for my likes.

You will be happy to know, however, I have used the newest version of Office and as long as I save it in a Word-compatible format, the track changes stuff saves fine.