Tuesday Tech Tips

So you just bought that shiny new computer….but what can it do?

A common “complaint” I hear is “There’s NOTHING on this computer!” which really means…no Word, no Excel, no PowerPoint.

True, unless you purchased them. Bill Gates isn’t CEO of Microsoft anymore, but he still wants some of your money, after you pay him for the operating system (right now, that’s Windows Vista, more than likely). That’s when you have to get a valid copy of MSOffice, or do you?

I like “free” when it works. Sometime “free” software isn’t your answer, but it might work just fine for your friend, who isn’t really using their computer as you do. In the case where you’re not elbow deep in writing code to do processing in the background for Excel or Word, this is a pretty much perfect fit for almost everyone, while being at the very affordable price point of “FREE!”

In the case of standard office type application, such as Word, there is an excellent free replacement: Sun Microsystems has been publishing OpenOffice for years and is now up to version 3. I mention Sun, so you understand they are a major player in the IT industry, with plenty of resources to produce a great piece of software.

Now, not only does this application do what the Microsoft “competitor” do, you can configure it so that it opens your files created by MSOffice, and also so the default file type you save to are MSOffice formats. This means you can get your documents from your co-workers and friends and make your edits and send them back, or you can produce your work and they’ll never know you don’t have MSOffice.

More info on what Open Office does is here.

So, in summary, once you get your shiny new computer out of the box and on the next, you can head for OpenOffice to download your copy and install it and get to work. On top of just saving yourself several hundred dollars (the cost of MSOffice Standard), you’re not violating copyright law. This is also a great solutions for non-profits and charitable organizations that often run on a shoestring budget, but still need to be electronically connected with the “world” around them using normal office applications.

Sun Microsystems actually encourages passing the install files around! How’s that for helping out?

Happy computing!

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