icrosoft Office is a vital tool for any computer user. For some, including those like students who often need it the most, its hefty price tag can be a big problem. What many people don’t realize is that there are several great ways to get all the capabilities of Office without putting a dent in the user’s wallet.
Open Office offers one solution. This program is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris, and is free to download from OpenOffice.org. It contains several programs that can be used in place of Microsoft’s.
Open Office’s word processor is easy to use and looks similar to Microsoft Word. Its spreadsheet program can make both spreadsheets and charts. It also has a presentation program similar to Microsoft Powerpoint, and a drawing program. Any file made in Open Office can also be saved in Microsoft’s file format, so that it can be opened in the corresponding Microsoft program.
Open Office isn’t the only piece of free Office software, but it is the best known. It is also regularly updated and reliable, making it a good option.
Several Internet sites also offer easy to use, secure browser based alternatives to Microsoft Office. These sites have some unique and often beneficial features. Because they are online, no software needs to be downloaded in order to access documents. They can also be accessed on any computer operating system, making them a good choice for computer users who regularly use several types of computers.
All documents created on or uploaded these sites are stored online, and can be accessed on any computer simply by logging into an account made at the site. This can be both a great asset or a possible problem, depending upon how reliable the user’s Internet connection is, so connectivity should be taken into account before deciding to use one of these sites.
There are a few good options for web based office suites. Google Docs is one option, especially useful for those who already have Google or Gmail accounts. It allows uploading of Microsoft Office files, and files from Google Docs can be saved in Microsoft’s formats. Google Docs also allows a user to invite others to view or edit their documents, allowing for easy collaboration on projects.
Like Open Office, Google Docs offers a word processor, a spreadsheet program, a presentation program, and a simple drawing program. These programs have features similar to their Microsoft alternatives. Google Docs also features a simple interface, appearing similar to Google’s Gmail.
While Google Docs is a popular suite, there are alternatives. ThinkFree.com is one choice. On top of being able to make documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, ThinkFree has integration with Android, Windows Mobile, and iPhone. Android and iPhone users should be aware, however, that the ThinkFree apps are not completely free.
For those who don’t want all their documents online, office suite sites offer another use. Documents can be backed up to them easily, either through uploading or simple copy and paste, providing the user with extra protection for their most important files.
For those seeking an alternative to Microsoft Word, this brief guide should serve as a jumping off point, but it is by no means complete. The programs mentioned here are chosen because of their general reliability and versatility, but they are by no means the only ones on the web, and there are many other options that can be found with a simple search.