Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Office killers? Cheap alternatives to Microsoft

Still running Microsoft Office 2003? ’95? Or, maybe even working off of the Works programs that came pre-installed on the machine because it would cost too much to upgrade everyone’s machine?

Microsoft’s suite of productivity programs has long held the lion’s share of the marketplace even though upgrades can cost hundreds of dollars. But, if you’re looking for a low-cost, or even free, alternative, the time has never been better. A growing number of companies, including IBM and Google, are releasing free products in an effort to wean people off of Microsoft Office.

Tuesday alone saw the release of two new, would-be Office killers. First up is Google’s Presentation, a take on the popular Microsoft PowerPoint, which joined the Document and Spreadsheet programs of the search giant. And, IBM rolled out Lotus Symphony, a free suite of programs drawing on the venerable Lotus name.

Additionally, OpenOffice, another free, open source suite of office programs, released a major upgrade this week. Or, you can always get Sun’s Star Office, which used to run for $70 or so, for free as part of Google’s “Pack” of essential software.

What’s your favorite freebie software?

-BEN MOOK, Assistant Business Editor

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