With the rapid growth of personal computers in the home and small business, we have all become far more aware the jargon associated with the industry and the software solutions that are in common use.
Due to their position in the market, which has made them an unofficial de facto standard, even many basic home computer users have installed some form of Microsoft Office product, in particularly Word™ and Excel™.
From my field experience I know that many of these copies will be effectively illegal, borrowed from friends or the office and installed on home systems. However, for those of you that have shelled out your hard earned ‘shekels’ for a legal personal license for the Office suite, you will know that it is not cheap. Depending on your circumstances and requirements, the offerings range from £85 to many hundreds.
What many people do not know is that there are far more cost effective alternatives and one of the best is a product called Open Office.
Open Office is a productivity suite produced along a similar design to Microsoft Office. It contains a variety of applications including a word processor, spread-sheet application and presentation software. It is also fully compatible with the Microsoft Office so can be used to read and create documents in the Microsoft format.
Open Office is categorised as an ‘open source product’. This means that it has been produced by volunteers; programmers and technicians who have a passion for producing free to use software applications of a high quality.
The software can be freely downloaded via the internet and can be found at http://www.openoffice.org
To download the application click on the Download link on the OpenOffice home page.
Next you will be asked where you want to save the installation file.
Download should take approx. 5-6 minutes on broadband.
Once the download has completed you can either select Run if prompted or browse to the folder where the file was saved and run it by double clicking on it.
Following installation you will see an Open Office icon on your computer desktop.
Double Click this icon to run Open Office.
The application load screen, similar to the one shown, will pop up and you can choose to use any of the inclusive products.
By default (ie; standard setting) any new document created will be saved in the Open Office format; .odt, .ott, .oth, and .odm
To save documents in Microsoft format, create them in Open Office but when you have finished select Save As (instead of Save) and change the file type to reflect the MS Office format required (e.g; .doc, .xls, .ppt). This will create a Microsoft Office compatible document.
As indicated earlier, there is no charge for Open Office, it is free to use. Apache, the organisation behind the application do ask for donations to help fund their activities. This is very much voluntary though and there is no mandatory requirement to donate. See their web site for more information.