by Dennis Faas
Infopackets.com Senior Editor
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Microsoft wants you to pay $499 MSRP for MS Office Professional 2007
(MS Word, MS Excel, etc) -- and if you're like me, spending that kind
of money on a glorified word processing suite isn't likely going to
So, how about a freeware alternative that is 100% compatible for next
to nothing? We did a bit of research and came up with the following
- Free isn't always the best way to go, but that doesn't mean you
- Free software usually implies no tech support for a product -- at
you need some help: you'll likely find it in the form of a "How To"
article or online a support forum.
[Ed. Is there ANY free support for COMMERCIAL SOFTWARE or do you have to pay $25-$35 per incident?]
- Pay-for products usually offer bonafide tech support via the phone
support you can get; some are unlimited while others are pay-per-
incident or a mixture of both.
- For $50 bucks you can get a really good word processing suite that
froogle of folks can afford something that's "second best."
With that said, let's get straight to it!
1. OpenOffice 2 ~ 6.0 out of 10 ~ Free ~ Windows, Linux, Mac, Solaris~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
OpenOffice 2 is the freeware version of Sun Microsystems StarOffice 8, and does word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages.
Pros: Free; does just about everything you'll ever need it to.
Cons: No phone support -- only online forum help; no email capabilities; unfamiliar interface.
2. Google Docs & Spreadsheets Beta ~ Free ~ 7.5 out of 10 ~ Platform Independent
If you're looking for "just the basics," Google Docs & Spreadsheets is great for everyday word processing and spreadsheets. Google Docs & Spreadsheets works right over the web and almost all web browsers (minimum requirements are: IE 6+, Firefox 1.07+, Mozilla 1.712+, or Netscape 7.2+).
Pros: Free; portable; support for online collaboration; works on any computer.
Cons: web-based support (forums and articles); only operates over an active Internet connection.
3. Corel WordPerfect X4 ~ $89 to $399 ~ 7.5 out of 10 ~ Windows Only
The Corel WordPerfect Office X4 suite is best for those who prefer traditional interfaces for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Program features are plentiful but not well integrated, which may cause a bit of frustration for some users.
Pros: Reasonably priced; strong file support (60+ file formats) including MS Office 2007; has email, database, and graphics integration; unlimited free email support (24 hour turnaround).
Cons: $15 per-incident tech support fee over toll free phone line.
4. ThinkFree Office 3 ~ 8.0 out of 10 ~ $50.00 ~ Windows, Linux, Mac,
ThinkFree Office 3 for the desktop is a low-cost alternative to Microsoft Office -- in fact, it looks, feels, and behaves exactly the same as MS Office whether it's on a Windows, Linux, or Mac. ThinkFree Office 3 offers a free online component, has more storage, and a few
more extra features than competing, browser-based services.
Pros: dirt-cheap MS Office alternative; multi-platform plus web access; 24-hour email support and forums; can download and try before you buy.
Cons: No database, email, or drawing capabilities.
[Editor: See Church-Mart.com for another option, SoftMaker Office 2008 which includes Textmaker [Word], PlanMaker [Excel], Presentations [PowerPoint] and BasicMaker [Macro-creator] . ]
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