Free business software alternatives to Microsoft office

By: Paul Wilson

The cost of using 'paid for' business software has become prohibitive. Both businesses and home users are focusing on new and affordable avenues.

The options include free software:

StarOffice: The code base can be accessed at OpenOffice.org.? This is the group coordinating the development of the product. OpenOffice .org runs on Windows, Linux, Solaris as well as Mac.? Version 5.2: enhances browser compatibility and has the latest security and performance related enhancements. 602ProPC suite: Free after registration it is MS office compatible.EasyOffice Freeware: For personal use, it has ten applications; a text speech program and Adobe PDF file creation.GNOME Office: A part of the free GNOME Desktop for UNIX, many of the applications are stable to use but in development.K Office: Runs on UNIX, Linux, and FreeBSD, the office suite has eight important applications.OpenOffice.org 1.0: Based on StarOffice 5.2, this is a complete system offering word processor, spreadsheet, drawing program, presentation program, and equation writing. Compatible with Windows, Linux, and Solaris.RagTime Solo: Designed for desktop publishing, built in functions include: word processing, spreadsheet, and graphics.

This is free for personal use.SOT Office 2002:? Runs on Windows and Linux and has, a word processor, spreadsheet, a drawing program and a presentation program.

These are just a few examples from the many options available. Most of the above are high quality and glitch free. There are no initial costs or upgrading pressures. Most work efficiently on older computers which means, one can exit the cycle of constant forced upgrades.

Free software offers a freedom for the user to run, copy, understand, as well as modify the software. There are no restrictions, the program can be adapted to suit specific needs, and, it can be distributed along with the adaptations/improvements. ?The term free denotes access to the source code and not just to costs.

The advantages are:

Cuts down capital outlay.Is constantly evolving as users provide valuable inputs and feedback.One can make modifications. Go beyond the interface and understand the workings. Plenty of user group support is available.Access to the source code increases user options. Permits unrestricted use of software, permits free sharing, as well as individual modifications. No obligations to the company. Freedom from dependencies on multinational companies who create a monopoly.Little or no maintenance and upgrade problems. Extends the lifespan of older hardware.Many are fast, hardy, as well as reliable. This can be credited to the open system of development, implementation, and testing.

However, one must find out if there are any disadvantages to the free software selected for use.

Consider:

Is the software established?Are updates, patches, and new features freely available?What about support?How widely is the software in use?Is documentation understandable and complete?Are there any maintenance costs?Is there a forum that helps in case of problems?

Make a detailed study of your needs, then study all the options in operation, if a related business is using a particular system find out their experience and why they chose the system. Knowledge is power and a reliable guide.?

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