No Word Processor or Office Suite? Microsoft Office too expensive for you?

Go Open Source!

Microsoft Windows PCs, unlike the various Linux distros, do not, generally, have any word processor, bar the little “Notepad”, included and you have to get the word processor, and other office applications, be this spreadsheet, or what-have-you, extra. The idea, obviously, is that, if you want proper word processing capability, and other office applications, you go and buy Microsoft's own product, namely Microsoft Office. Microsoft Office, however, is highly overpriced and even ordinary MS WORD costs far too much for what it is. So, what to do if there is a budget or no budget for such applications but you must have them. And let's face it, you do need at least a decent word processor aboard your PC. So what is the answer?

Go Open Source!

There is the best on in the stable, and it is FREE; free as in freedom and free as in free beer (as I have said already, mine is a Guinness), and that is Open Office. And while I highly recommend Open Office in general, at least Version 2.0.0, do read my piece on Open Office first here, here and here. Open Office 2.0.0 works perfect for me and I shall stick with that on both Windows and Ubuntu Linux (at least for the time being until I get the RAM upgraded on both PCs). The problem for anyone else out there is that Open Office version 2.0.0 is no longer available for download. It was included, however, in Open CD 3.1which also is NO LONGER available for download, I know that – but ICT Review is making this CD available to anyone who has a low-memory PC (256MB and below) on XP or other Windows versions.

Star Office is a commercial open source office suite based on Open Office, and, like Open Office, comes from the stable of Sun Microsystems. This one, however, has to be bought rather than downloaded free. It is still only a fraction in cost of Microsoft Office, though.
Occasionally you can get a free fully featured and working download of this software which is a slightly older version made available via one or the other download source.

In addition to that there are a small variety of other office suites about that are based on Open Office and that are available for free download at times via various outlets.

The great thing about Open Office office suite is that all files can be saved as MS Office compatible ones and therefore interoperability is possible, to a degree.

Why do I say “to a degree”? Simply because until Open Document Standard is implemented throughout by Microsoft – something they seem rather very reluctant to do – it will always be interoperability to a degree only.

Some files created in Open Office, whether in writer or in other applications of Open Office, do not 100% display in the same way in MS Office programs, whether in WORD or elsewhere.

Even for the person who has used MS Office before switching to Open Office should not take too much of an effort, However, you have to realize that Open Office if not MS Office and some of the keyboard shortcuts, for instance, are different and also picture handling in Writer is different to MS WORD. Once you have gotten used to it, though, I am sure, you will enjoy using Open Office.

I use both system, e.g. I use WORD – could not afford the entire MS Office – on the Windows PC together with Open Office, but Open Office more than MS WORD, and I originally came from WORD. This is a WORD 2000 copy so you can tell how long I have had that one. It has gone through a number of PCs by now.

While there are some things were MS WORD maybe, just maybe, slightly superior, such as in the handling of photos/graphics in text and to the insertion of page numbers, for instance, the fact that it is open source and FREE compensates for that in the end, I am sure.

Also, the interface, that is to say, the tools bars don't looks as pretty in Open Office as the do in MS Office. Then again, is that that important? The important part, in my opinion, is that it works and that it certainly does.

© Michael Smith (Veshengro), December 2007

As indicated, copies of OPEN CD 3.1, which contains Open Office 2.0.0, can be had from ICT Review against a donation for the work of the Romani Institute.
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