Free alternative to Microsoft Office

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What is the most common format for a computer-created text document? Naturally, it is .doc. When you see a filename that ends with .doc, you know that it was created with Microsoft Word, and you will need to use Word in order to read or edit it.

Well, not really.

A growing number of people are getting tired of sending a few hundred dollars to Microsoft every time a new version of Microsoft Office comes out (Office is the group of programs that includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook). There is a type of software called “open source” – that means that it is free, and anyone can download and use it (or even reprogram it).

There is an open source suite of programs that is working hard to replace Microsoft Office. It is called Open Office, and you can download it at It includes a word processor that does just about everything that Word does – including opening and editing actual Word documents. Best of all, it’s free.

Open Office also has a spreadsheet program that opens and edits Excel files, and a presentation program that works like Powerpoint.

Yes, using Open Office means that you will have to get used to using a different program for your text documents. But it might just be worth it, because:

1. You are saving a couple hundred dollars, and wouldn’t that money be better left in your checking account than in Microsoft’s?

2. When Microsoft comes out with a new version of Office, you have to learn that all over again anyway (if you don’t believe me, you haven’t used Office 2007 yet). So why not just learn on the free program?

This week’s video from 1904 – it displays the ancient art of Foot Acrobatics.

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