Alternatives to MS Office – and they are FREE

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Without a doubt, Microsoft Office is the choice of most businesses and individual users when it comes to word processing (Word), spreadsheet (Excel), and presentation (Powerpoint) software. When virtually everyone uses a particular program, you might find it difficult to use something completely different. If you send a file to someone else, they need to be able to open it. So most people just use Office to avoid compatibility issues, even though it is expensive and sometimes rather slow.

However, there are alternatives.

Lotus Symphony is a suite of applications that includes document creation and editing, digital presentation, and spreadsheets – much like Office. One big difference is that Symphony is free. And you can use Symphony to create or edit documents in Word, Excel or Powerpoint format – so anyone with Office can still open your files. I have not used Symphony, so I don’t know how it compares in speed.

Another option is Open Office, which is also free. Again, this software is compatible with the programs in MS Office. I used Open Office a few years ago, and it seemed to be pretty slow. However, that may have been the fault of my computer. Or, more recent versions may be faster. The advantage of Open Office is that there are more software choices – this group includes programs for word processing, presentations, spreadsheets, drawing, database and advanced math.

There are other alternatives as well, depending on your preferences. CNET has a good article on this, as well as a comparison chart, here.

This week’s video – a chair that assembles itself:

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