Let’s be honest, what do most of us use a computer for these days, I’m guessing like me its mainly, browsing the internet, sending emails (for those of us that still like a email client), and writing letters and spreadsheets. Certainly most business machines I look at mainly have installed, Internet Explorer, Outlook and Office Suite.
Let’s be honest Office Suite isn’t cheap, it certainly isn’t free! If I pop down to PC World today Microsoft Office Home and Business 2013 would cost me £190.00, or you could try Office 365 Small Business for £10.10 per month (exc. VAT).
So what can the world of free and open source software offer me instead? Well there are two main open source options, OpenOffice and LibreOffice. So what’s the difference? Well honestly not a lot, its almost a case of personal preference. However, I personally, prefer LibreOffice, this package has made significant improvements recently and the latest version is full of features.
What does LibreOffice give you?
Writer is the word processor inside LibreOffice. Use it for everything, from dashing off a quick letter to producing an entire book with tables of contents, embedded illustrations, bibliographies and diagrams. The while-you-type auto-completion, auto-formatting and automatic spelling checking make difficult tasks easy (but are easy to disable if you prefer). Writer is powerful enough to tackle desktop publishing tasks such as creating multi-column newsletters and brochures. The only limit is your imagination.
Calc tames your numbers and helps with difficult decisions when you’re weighing the alternatives. Analyze your data with Calc and then use it to present your final output. Charts and analysis tools help bring transparency to your conclusions. A fully-integrated help system makes easier work of entering complex formulas. Add data from external databases such as SQL or Oracle, then sort and filter them to produce statistical analyses. Use the graphing functions to display large number of 2D and 3D graphics from 13 categories, including line, area, bar, pie, X-Y, and net – with the dozens of variations available, you’re sure to find one that suits your project.
Impress is the fastest and easiest way to create effective multimedia presentations. Stunning animation and sensational special effects help you convince your audience. Create presentations that look even more professional than the standard presentations you commonly see at work. Get your collegues’ and bosses’ attention by creating something a little bit different.
Draw lets you build diagrams and sketches from scratch. A picture is worth a thousand words, so why not try something simple with box and line diagrams? Or else go further and easily build dynamic 3D illustrations and special effects. It’s as simple or as powerful as you want it to be.
Base is the database front-end of the LibreOffice suite. With Base, you can seamlessly integrate your existing database structures into the other components of LibreOffice, or create an interface to use and administer your data as a stand-alone application. You can use imported and linked tables and queries from MySQL, PostgreSQL or Microsoft Access and many other data sources, or design your own with Base, to build powerful front-ends with sophisticated forms, reports and views. Support is built-in or easily addable for a very wide range of database products, notably the standardly-provided HSQL, MySQL, Adabas D, Microsoft Access and PostgreSQL.
Math is a simple equation editor that lets you lay-out and display your mathematical, chemical, electrical or scientific equations quickly in standard written notation. Even the most-complex calculations can be understandable when displayed correctly. E=mc2.
LibreOffice also comes configured with a PDF file creator, meaning you can distribute documents that you’re sure can be opened and read by users of almost any computing device or operating system.
As you can see it offers the lot! It offers a lot more than MS Office, and best of all it is free and open source. You can download it from http://www.libreoffice.org
You may also have come across another office suite called Kingsoft. Kingsoft are Chinese software company who have around since the late 80s. Their office suite is very similar in appearance to Microsoft’s Office Suite. It isn’t free or open source, however at £49 for the professional suite, it is a lot cheaper than Microsoft.