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  1. #1
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    Two free, full-blown alternatives to MS Office




    TOP STORY

    Two free, full-blown alternatives to MS Office


    By Fred Langa

    As Microsoft's Office has grown in size and complexity, more than a few users have wondered whether there's a viable alternative especially when it comes time to pay for an upgrade or new copy. There are very few alternatives. Two Open Office and LibreOffice provide the core functionality of classic versions of Microsoft Office and are completely free!

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/top-story/two-free-full-blown-alternatives-to-ms-office (paid content, opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

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    Libre Office has added Visio Drawing IMPORT to the Draw application which is a boon to not have to maintain Visio for the odd drawing. It is not perfect, but is about 95% IMHO.

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    Kingsoft Office deserves a look...

    The Office 2003 "Word" look and feel can be had by using free Kingsoft Office Writer.

    http://www.kingsoftstore.com/download-office/

    It comes with Writer, Spreadsheets and Presentation as part of the free package. I like the Office 2003 interface and don't see any need to go with the ribbon update of Office 2007 and later. Give "Kingsoft Office Suite Free" a try. At just over 39 MB, it's a lot smaller than the other office suites mentioned here.

    Moonwink

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  6. #4
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    One problem that I've had when trying to move to Open/Libre Office is that neither of the database applications seem to support the use of the MS Access programming language VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). Over the years, I've developed a number of MS Access systems which make heavy use of VBA coding - I have always completely avoided including macros and SQL, a query language, just doesn't have the ability to embed processing routines.

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    I agree. A neat little package that does most of the functions that a home office might need. I have both Kingsoft and LibreOffice on a portable hard drive and have shortcuts on both my laptop and desktop pc's. That way I save drive space on the PC's.
    Quote Originally Posted by Moonwink View Post
    The Office 2003 "Word" look and feel can be had by using free Kingsoft Office Writer.

    http://www.kingsoftstore.com/download-office/

    It comes with Writer, Spreadsheets and Presentation as part of the free package. I like the Office 2003 interface and don't see any need to go with the ribbon update of Office 2007 and later. Give "Kingsoft Office Suite Free" a try. At just over 39 MB, it's a lot smaller than the other office suites mentioned here.

    Moonwink

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    I have been using Libre Office since it first came out, and have updated it as each new version has appeared. I am just an ordinary, elderly, home user, so I don't test it to anything like its probably limits. I do the custom install for Writer, and Calc (Income Tax !), and found I needed to add Impress because kind souls occasionally send me Power Point files.
    Septuagent

  9. #7
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    Try Kingsoft Office

    Been using KingSoft Office Spreadsheets and Writer most everyday. Doesn't have some of the very flexible toolbar customization as Office 2003 (no doubt the best MS Office version) and have no need for the other programs in Apache Open Office or Libre Office. Always be able to use Libre Office with Linux.


    http://www.kingsoftstore.com/kingsof...-freeware.html

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    In support of the usability, quick learning curve and cross-platform nature of these packages, I can report that when my wife (still an almost complete computer novice after 10 years or more - meaning she still hasn't finished Course 101 and doesn't fully understand folders) decided to switch from Windows + Office 2003 to a Mac a couple of years ago, I installed Open Office on her new machine and she happily picked up from where she left off. My personal help desk can't support her quite as easily as I don't have the photographic memory of OO which I did of Office, but on screen it's a very straightforward application to use.

    We've changed the default file formats to MS equivalents and have no trouble exchanging file with Office users she encounters. The tricky ones are Apple iWorks Pages users which are weird beyond belief.

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    Why not go the whole way and start using Linux? Moving to Linux is probably no harder than moving to Windows 8 and a lot of the software you use on Windows is probably available on Linux. Office peaked with 2003, and Windows peaked with Win7 (but XP was pretty good). The only way Microsoft is going from here is down.

    I was a major sceptic till I actually tried Linux. And I was particularly impressed by the fact that my new, fast, Linux box is a 12 year old desktop PC rescued from the attic that had struggled to run Windows for years. Download Ubuntu, burn it to a CD or copy to a USB stick and boot up. All goes pretty easily and there's loads of help on the web.

    As for the "no vba" issues with the Open Office database, I'll accept you probably can't run unmodified Access VBA but it DOES have a powerful basic-like macro language and if you learn some SQL you can write stored procedures within a MySQL database back-end. After 12 year I've stopped using Access for new database systems, preferring to use any one of the many ways to work with native SQL databases that don't require the end user to have a $300 software package.

    Not good news for a Windows discussion forum...

    Ian.

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    Hi, Ian,

    I switched mostly from XP to 7 in the 2010-2012 time frame. I am still running some XP utility machines. The fastest (3.2 GHz P4 with 3 GB of RAM) may indeed become a Linux machine. Sadly, all my good audio software is Windows based, but I hope to keep Win7 for a LONG time...I totally skipped Vista and am hoping to do that with Win8.

    Richard

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    In switching to one of the free office alternatives, can you still utilize cloud ?

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    I've been holding back switching to these suites because they appear to require Java - and Java's security issues have been a hot topic lately. I've disabled it on my PC. Am I being overly concerned?

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    The minute one of these suites comes out with a vba language type support, I think that the defection rate will skyrocket. I use VBA in all of the office apps, and have been consistently disappointed with the decreasing support for VBA as MS tries to push us into VSTO. If I'm going to have to rewrite all of my code, I'd be happier doing it in a free office suite.
    [b]Catharine Richardson (WebGenii)
    WebGenii Home Page
    Moderator: Spreadsheets, Other MS Apps, Presentation Apps, Visual Basic for Apps, Windows Mobile

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  18. #14
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    A free - great - free alternative to MSOffice

    I've used Office for 12 years, at home and at work, where I'm the IT mgr.

    Curiosity (obsession?) drives me to try lots of software. I've tried OpenOffice and Libre and they are fine, but they never tempted me to switch away from MS - it's always some little annoyance.

    Then I tried SoftMaker Office 2008. This version is available and free for personal use (you may have to hunt around a little to find the 2008 version).

    The 2012 version also has an email client that seems to have all the good Outlook stuff. It is $99 for businesses and $15 for students, teachers and academic users.

    It has:
    Linux and Android versions
    TextMaker - Word
    Presentations - Powerpoint
    PlanMaker - Excel
    BasicMaker - Database
    Prints to PDF.
    and it can be installed on a USB stick to make it a portable app.

    Totally compatible - both directions. I have never run into a situation where it failed to open a file from MSOffice perfectly, or have one of its files fail to open perfectly in MSOffice. I have not tried BasicMaker.

    Further, it installs quicker, takes up less hard drive space, and opens faster than the other ones mentioned.

    Use it for 10 minutes and you'll love it.

    This one deserves a serious look. Did I mention that SoftMaker Office 2008 is free?

    You're welcome. ))

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    Thumbs down

    Upon installing LibreOffice I was taken by surprise that it does things which some of the graphics programs do. It changes both the icons of your saved documents, as well as decides how it gets opened...opening a document gets opened in LibreOffice instead of MS Office...often changing formating, losing some text and formatting, and possibly changing how the item as an attachment to an email is received and opened.
    There seems no way to change this, unless I totally remove LibreOffice. The one I downloaded and installed was ver. 4.0.....xxx.

    Having had that experience, I don't think it would be a good idea for writers in Windows Secrets to be suggesting these freebees without also saying what the operations might change what you have on your machine.

    You did mention in your article, not very forcefully, to save your work, back it up, but having those items saved on your computer doesn't help, since LibreOffice does indeed take doc, and docx files and changes those files when installing the software, giving them a LibreOffice icon and extensions. I didn't check Excel

    I've used StarOffice, which became OpenOffice, from time to time in order to open articles sent to me for publishing which MS Office couldn't. So I find OpenOffice useful and may eventually have to use LibreOffice as other writers convert to it and send me work for our publications.

    I'm wondering why a software group would not give one a choice or tell you what it is about to do to your files. I thought we've come further than this; creating "do-it-our-way or no way."
    Last edited by trescott; 2013-03-14 at 13:40.

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