Monday, April 26, 2010

Open Office Worth A Second Look

The prices of desktop and lap top computers continue to be very affordable. There are net books available for about $250 and desktops loaded with features for not too much more. Once you make the purchase you are often in for a surprise. The cost of the necessary software can be as much or more than the hardware. While operating systems like XP, Windows Vista or Windows 7 come included in all but the most inexpensive computers, the software required to actually do something productive with your machine costs extra.

Even a basic suite of programs like Microsoft Office (Student Version) which contains MS Word, a word processor, Excel, a spreadsheet program and Power Point, a presentation program, costs about $150. If you want the deluxe edition, the price can go over $500. That is more money than many of us will pay for the new computer.

You may be surprised to learn that you have an option and do not need to purchase these expensive software packages. There are very good programs available free on the Internet. No, they are not pirated versions of Microsoft programs. If you download them you need not worry about seeing a black Chevy Suburban coming up your driveway complete with a contingent of FBI agents led by Bill Gates.

One of the leading free packages is Open Office, a suite of programs that has been developed by some very smart volunteer programmers spread throughout the world. In fact, the code for these programs, rather than being a guarded corporate secrete, is available to anyone who wants to make improvements to the programs. As of this writing there have been more than 100 million downloads of the Open Office software.

The basic package available at contains a word processor, spreadsheet program, presentation program, database program and a neat drawing program. All of them are compatible with MS Office. You can read and write files in Open Office and use those files in MS Office and visa versa. Open Office looks and feels much like Microsoft Office. You will find many of the same conventions, icons and tools. If you have used MS Word or Excel, you will need little or no training on Open Office.

Getting Open Office is a snap. Just set your browser to and follow the downloading directions. It will take about 20 minutes to download the programs and set them up on your computer.

Open Office has been around sine the late 1990s and is used by people all over the world. Since the development is ongoing there are new features and improvements offered through the Open Office website all the time.

Before you order that new version of MS Office, you may wish to give Open Office a try. What have you got to lose? You can’t beat the price.

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Blogger Georgie Pie said...

Have you ever considered SSuite Office as a free alternative to MS Office?

Their software also doesn't need to run on Java or .NET, like MS Office and so many open source office suites, so it makes their software very small, efficient, and easy to use. :)

8:51 AM  
Blogger Jack Dominic said...

I have not tried SSuite but will try it and give my comments in a future post.

10:31 AM  

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