Let's Talk Alternatives (Office)

Matt Hargrave is not only a relative (thanks to Haley) he’s also a really great guy to have in the family. He’s been telling me how Haley bought a really really nice new computer.

There’s only two flaws with it:

  1. There’s a partially eaten piece of fruit on the front of it.
  2. There’s no office suite (word processing, spreadsheets, etc)

So Haley’s been leaving the computer “off” and going to the library to the wee hours of the evening to get papers done.

There’s a better way. Sure you can shell out anywhere between $150 and $500 to get Microsoft’s Office suite. It’s popular, looks flashy, and is so confusing sometimes it’s hard to get a job done.

Before you spend the money shop around a bit and see what else is out there. This week OpenOffice 3.0 was released. So many people downloaded it that the servers are overloaded. Still want to try it out? You can download it here. Since it comes in so many flavors, you’ll need to know a bit about your computer. Most of you will probably not use the version for Solaris.

There’s two changes you’ll want to make when switching office suites. The first one is in your head:

  1. Stop thinking in terms of the Microsoft Labels. You’ll have to tell yourself that you don’t want Excel anymore. You want to make spreadsheets. Your formulas, functions, shortcuts, graphs, and charts will all be at your disposal, but they’ll be in a ‘spreadsheet application,’ not in Excel.
  2. Pay attention to this one. Open Office by default likes to save things in the OpenOffice format. Microsoft Word saves things as a word document “.doc” OpenOffice has it’s own file format to save things as. Guess what Microsoft’s applications wont read it. (How they do like their monopoly). We can change it to help you avoid any incompatability issues
  • Open the Word Application.
  • Tools
  • Options
  • Load/Save
  • General
  • Under Document type select “Text Document”
  • Always save as “Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP”
  • Under Document type select “Spreadsheet”
  • Always save as “Microsoft Excel 97/2000/XP”
  • Under Document type select “Presentation”
  • Always save as “Microsoft PowerPoint 97/2000/XP”

It’s a lot simpler than it looks and the program is fairly solid. If you’re not able to get student discounts and rebates for the Microsoft Version this one is worth considering.

Actually the software is so good between linux and open office I’m considering getting donated computers, repairing them and loading them up with the free software out there and donating them to the school. The final state will be that the school gives them to students who otherwise wouldn’t have a computer. I’ll probably start setting this up towards December.