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Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

written by: •edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 6/28/2011

Software is an essential component of any home office setup, but investing in the latest technology is often difficult when you're an entrepreneur on a tight budget. Fortunately, there are a number of free Microsoft Office alternatives available.

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    Exploring Free Microsoft Office Alternatives

    Free Microsoft Office alternatives can be a great resource for entrepreneurs who are struggling to make ends meet as they begin their home based businesses. Instead of spending all your money on basic software, you'll be able to focus your investments on the key components of your particular business.

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    OpenOffice is perhaps the best known alternative. This software suite is great for word processing, creating spreadsheets, preparing presentations, and manipulating graphics. It can read and write files from other common office software packages and stores your data in an international open standard format. The design of OpenOffice is fairly intuitive, especially if you're already familiar with Microsoft Office programs.

    OpenOffice is available in several different languages and can be used for personal, business, or educational use. There is no limit to the number of computers that can run the software and you are free to make as many copies of the program as you need.

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    Lotus Symphony

    Lotus Symphony is a free software suite developed by IBM based on the OpenOffice project. The suite features three separate programs: Lotus Symphony Documents, Lotus Symphony Spreadsheets, and Lotus Symphony Presentations. Like OpenOffice, Lotus Symphony uses the Open Document Format to ensure cross-application portability of data.

    Lotus Symphony is quickly becoming a popular choice for thrifty computer users in search of quality software. In fact, the program was voted office productivity software product of the year for 2008 by Datamation Magazine readers.

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    Google Pack, a free software package that includes Adobe Reader, Skype, Spyware Doctor, Firefox and a number of other useful programs, is now available with a free version of StarOffice. However, Google Pack does give you the option of only downloading the programs you want in case you choose not to install all of these features onto your computer.

    StarOfffice includes StarOffice Base, StarOffice Calc, StarOffice Draw, StarOffice Impress, and StarOffice Writer. It supports most Microsoft Office formats and can export PDF files if needed. The interface for the programs is very similar to Microsoft Office. As an added bonus, StarOffice is also integrated with Google Search and Google Desktop to make it easier to quickly find relevant project files on your computer.

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    You don't need to spend a lot to get good software.