Help it’s late Saturday afternoon and my child has to turn in a PowerPoint project on Monday morning. …and we don’t have PowerPoint on our computers at home. What shall we do? First of all be thankful they didn’t wait till Sunday Night. You’ve still got some time. Some readers may have had this same challenge with a Word project.
Before I suggest anything about substitutes for the Microsoft Office Suite programs, let me say that they are simply the best; MS office sets the world standards for productivity suites. The Office Home and Student 2007 or 2010 family pack comes with Word, PowerPoint and Excel and can be installed on three of your computers (Regular price $149.99). If you can afford that, by all means spring for it and you’ve covered the most common productivity needs for home and school use. Other Suites containing Publisher and Outlook, etc are considerably higher.
But, let’s face it! Not all of us can afford $150 for software. So let’s examine some less expensive alternatives. There are several free, complete productivity suites available for the downloading. OpenOffice, LibreOffice and Kingsoft Office come to mind. Readers of this column know that I have long recommended OpenOffice and have recently bumped LibreOffice to the top of my list for economy class software. As with anything that is free there are always a few little things that are not as good or as complete as a paid version.
I want to add Kingsoft’s Office Suite to the list for your consideration for a couple of reasons. It is very small compared to the others and it will automatically save documents in the usual Microsoft compatible formats if you accept all the default settings during the installation. Word processor documents are saved as .doc files for example, just as MS Word 2003 documents are saved. You’ll note that Kingsoft’s free office suite has program interfaces that are similar to the MS 2000-2003 programs (and so do OpenOffice and LibreOffice files). If you want a graphical user interface similar to the newer Word 2007-2010 programs, you’ll need to upgrade to the Kingsoft pro version at about $70 for the three programs.
Please also note that Kingsoft only offers the word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs while OpenOffice and LibreOffice include additional programs like drawing and database software.
If you want to make a judgment on your own, download and install the Kingsoft Free Suite and either one of the other two(they are too similar for you to need both). Try the different versions and make and save a few projects. Let your kids create some and take to school (saved as MS documents) and then choose. When you’re done, uninstall the one you’re not using and allow the remaining one to be your default for each program that you use.
Don’t be shy to fly first class if you can afford it, but choose economy if you need to. The coach section is pretty large on most airlines. Till next week, send your questions to: