Office Productivity Software
You're looking to become fully operational for the lowest price possible as a small business owner. You've obtained your hosting provider, built a website, procured the computers for your office staff, and have to make a tough decision: do you purchase the license for Microsoft Office Suite? You have to, don't you? NO!
Did you know there are open source choices you can use for making spreadsheets, databases, presentations, word processing, email, and desktop publishing? Let's take a look at four ways to save a bundle on your office applications.
Office Productivity Software: Open Source: Trusted
Don't lose any sleep about choosing an open source office software package. Just because it doesn't cost anything doesn't mean it is less useful! In fact, there are plenty of resources available to you just as if you were using MS Office, both online documentation and communities full of developers and users to help you every step of the way. As for features, with some choices, you won't even notice you aren't using MS Office!
Worried about compatibility? Again, don't be. The open source applications support MS file formats, so you can save a document as a Word document, allowing the user on the other end to open it in Word without a problem. Let's take a look at few choices so you can go with what works best for your business!
Office Productivity Software: Apache OpenOffice
Personally, this is my favorite choice. I use this on a daily basis, and let me tell you, you wouldn't even know you're using something other than Word! It gives you the power to save in MS Word format, open MS word documents, and create documents, spreadsheets, graphics, databases, and presentations. Here's a breakdown of the tools OpenOffice offers:
- WRITER. Obviously, this is the equivalent of MS Word. With autocorrect, design wizards, styles, HTML and MediaWiki export, formatting, desktop publishing actions, and tables, do just about any word processing task imaginable.
- CALC. This is the equivalent of MS Excel, allowing you to create a spreadsheet, perform calculations, analyze data, and compile reports or graphics based on those tables. Import data from databases, use formulas, wizards, the quick sum button, and a Scenario Manager.
- IMPRESS. A PowerPoint replacement, create presentations using draw and diagramming tools, slideshow animation, and other effects. It supports multiple monitors and offers many different views like outline, draw, slides, and notes.
- DRAW. Use this image application to make diagrams, 3D illustrations, and everything in between.
- BASE. MS Access-like, Base allows you to create and modify tables, queries, forms, and reports.
- MATH. Create an assortment of mathematical equations by either typing equations into the equation editor or using a graphic user interface.
OpenOffice is currently in version 3.4.1, available for free download at [openoffice .org] (http://www.openoffice .org/). It is Windows, GNU/Linux, and Mac OS X compatible.
Office Productivity Software: NeoOffice for Mac OS X
This application was an answer to Mac OS users prior to OpenOffice becoming compatible. It brings you all of the great features OpenOffice does, except it is Mac-specific.
The current version, v3.3, offers native Mac OS X text highlighting, is compatible with Mac OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion and Gatekeeper, and supports high-resolution text on Retina displays. Check it out at [neooffice .org](http://www.neooffice .org/neojava/en/index.php). Users must pay $10 in order to download the program.
Office Productivity Software: LibreOffice
This software suite was developed by the Document Foundation, and has underlying source code exactly like OpenOffice. However, it branched out in a different direction after Oracle acquired sun Microsystems in 2010. Certain OpenOffice developers were worried Oracle might alter the code base somehow.
Their tools are exactly the same as OpenOffice, but features are a bit different. It is thought by some to be more developed than OpenOffice, offering a PDF import feature, Wiki publisher, and presentation minimizer. Numerous extensions and templates bring the user even more functionality.
LibreOffice v3.5.6 is available for download for Windows, GNU/Linux, and Mac at [libreoffice .org](http://www.libreoffice .org/).
Office Productivity Software: Google Docs
Now, let's look at a cloud hosting solution for your documents: Google Docs. Heard of it? I'm sure you have. If you have a Google account, you can take advantage of this tool to create a document, presentation, spreadsheet, form, or drawing and share it with collaborators. Google Drive stores it for you, cloud hosting at its best, so that you can access it from anywhere you may be.
- Google Documents. This allows you to create documents, format them, and collaborate with anyone you wish. You just have to grant those people edit, comment, or view access. Files uploaded to Google Docs are converted to their format, and you can download them to your own machine in many formats: Word, OpenOffice, RTF, HTML, PDF, or zip.
- Google Spreadsheets. Use this to create and format spreadsheets, gadgets, and charts. It supports .csv, .xls, .txt, and .ods formats. Another handy feature: embed a spreadsheet on your website!
- Google Presentations. Create presentations and edit or share them using this feature. Convert presentations you have to .pps and .pptx formats, and enjoy downloading presentations as Microsoft PowerPoint, PDF, or .txt files. You can also insert images and video into slides.
- Google Drawings. this is an image editor within Google Docs. Use it to create images, shapes, drawings, and lines that you can use on any Google Doc.
- Google Forms. Also located within Google Docs, use this to create online forms you can share via link, email, or embedded directly on your website.
The service integrates well with GChat, Google+, Gmail, Google Drive, and Google Calendar (to be expected), and enjoy access to your files from any device, anywhere you may be, as long as you have a browser and internet connection.
Do you feel any differently about free office productivity software? Will you give one of the above options a try?