Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Free Office Software

WARNING: Read this article only if you want to save money on basic software for your business.

For those of us involved in small business ventures, expenses are an ongoing concern. One easy way to save hundreds to thousands of dollars in software expenses is to take advantage of the increasingly common and available Open Source software.

You may have heard of Linux or Gimp (a PhotoShop-like program) or MySQL (database) – each of these is an General Purpose License (FREE) product that rivals its paid counterparts. While some of these products are preferred by more advanced users, the most common programs used are discussed below.

We've mentioned in previous postings the value of OpenOffice software vs. shrink-wrapped, over the counter products such as Microsoft Office. I realize that almost everyone is familiar with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and the common user interface.

Does Word's interface resemble the above? What you see is OpenOffice's Writer product. All common features and interfaces are much like their counterparts in the MS Office suite.

“The most widely used alternative to Microsoft Office is an open-source program called OpenOffice, which is sponsored by Sun Microsystems. OpenOffice is an entire office collection that consists of a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and some other applications. It also features Base as an alternative to Access, along with two additional applications - Draw and Math.

OpenOffice tries to match all the major features of Microsoft's program. OpenOffice can read files created in Microsoft Office, and it can create new files that can also be opened by Microsoft Office or specific files that can only be open in OpenOfficeOrg. Therefore, you could take home spreadsheets created at work using Excel, and edit them on your home computer without having to buy Office, or you can create Microsoft Office files at home and take them to work.” 1

The cost for this? FREE. Read that line again: the charge for these necessary programs is NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH, ZIP. FREE.

The latest versions of the product include compatibility with Office 2007 suite and XML support. Multiple languages are also a feature available in all versions of OpenOffice.

One drawback of OpenOffice is lack of an email client and organizer similar to Outlook. Other free programs are available for email and will be discussed in a future post.

Convinced yet? For more information and to download the products, go here:

By the way, this entire article was written using Open Office Writer.

- AJ

This article is the opinion of the author and Thesmallbizpro. Neither the author nor Thesmallbizpro is affiliated with Sun Microsystems or any other open source developer or distributor, and receives no pay or  compensation in any way, shape or form for this article.


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