Break from MS Office with free alternatives

Scott spanbauer By By Scott Spanbauer

If you’re thinking of skipping the next expensive Microsoft Office upgrade, you can begin preparing today for the move to a free Office-like suite or Web service.

A gradual and easy transition allows you to avoid any possible file incompatibilities, because you can still keep an old copy of Office available as a safety net.

I like almost everythingabout Microsoft Office except its price. Even so, like many people, I use only a fraction of the suite’s features. I rely mostly on the basic formatting, spellcheck, grammar, and review features of Word, with an occasional Excel spreadsheet or PowerPoint slide thrown in for good measure. The rest of Office is bloatware to me.

I don’t automate my documents with VBA macros; my Excel tables are rudimentary; and my PowerPoint presentations are just the facts, ma’am. Do I really need to pay to load a copy of Office on every computer I use?

I stuck with the Microsoft behemoth all the way through Office 2003. To date, I’ve never felt a need for Office 2007. In recent years, meanwhile, upstart productivity applications have seduced me away from Microsoft’s ubiquitous suite.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2009-06-18: