I have written several times about free alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. For my word processing needs, I mostly use OpenOffice.org and a Macintosh variant of the same program called NeoOffice. I am writing this article in NeoOffice. When traveling or when I need to collaborate with others, I use Google Docs or Zoho Docs. Now Scott Spanbauer has written a rather detailed side-by-side comparison of these and other free programs in the Windows Secret newsletter.
I like almost everything about 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 couldn't agree more. If you have not yet paid $300 to $600 for the latest bloated version of Microsoft Office, you might want to check out the free alternatives. You can read Scott Spanbauer's article at http://windowssecrets.com/2009/06/18/02-Break-from-MS-Office-with-free-alternatives.
By the way, the Windows Secrets newsletter is a great publication. It is packed with information of interest to Windows users. It comes in two versions: one is free and there is a Plus Edition subscription-based version that has extra articles that do not appear in the free version. (Sound familiar?)
You can read more about the Windows Secrets newsletter at http://windowssecrets.com.