Low cost alternatives to Microsoft Office

Q: Are there any cheaper alternatives to Microsoft Office? Is WordPerfect still available?

A: Let me start by answering your second question first. Yes, WordPerfect is still available. In fact, it is part of an office suite called Corel WordPerfect Office X3. Depending on which version you get, you should be able to save yourself some money versus the comparable Microsoft Office suite.

However, if cost is truly your number one concern, you might want to check into some of the free alternative office suites readily available on the Internet. An example of one such suite is OpenOffice which can be downloaded for free at www.openoffice.org. OpenOffice contains the same word processing, spreadsheet, presentation and database applications that you would find in Microsoft Office. And usually, you can open anything you save in OpenOffice in Microsoft Office so you don’t have to worry about not being able to share your files with others.

Better yet, you could consider a free web-based office suite such as Google Docs and Spreadsheets. With Google Docs and Spreadsheets there is nothing to download. The applications reside on the Internet along with your documents.

While some people may see this as a security concern, I think the upside of these free web-based applications outweighs that concern. For example, if a bug is discovered in one of the applications, Google just needs to make one change in the Internet application and instantly, every user is running the new and improved version. Furthermore, with web-based applications and documents, you can view and edit your documents from any Internet-enabled computer in the world.

ZohoFinally, if you are looking for a more complete set of office applications, you might want to check out Zoho at www.zoho.com. Zoho offers far more than just a word processor and spreadsheet. The full Zoho suite also includes web conferencing, note taking, organizer and project management applications just to name a few. The majority of the Zoho applications are free to use although some do require a monthly payment if you add in more users or features.

This post was originally broadcast Friday, August 31, 2007 on Tech Talk with Noobie, a weekly radio show on WCBK 102.3 FM in Martinsville, Indiana. Tech Talk with Noobie airs every Friday between 11:30 a.m. and noon. If you have a question you would like Noobie to answer on the air, simply e-mail your question to [email protected].