So, you’re about to start work on your big 15-page end-of-the-semester paper for English 111 and you realize … “I don’t have Microsoft Word on my computer, now I gotta walk all the way to the computer lab and sit next to that weird guy who’s always in there on Facebook.”
Well, those days are over. Just point your browser to www.openoffice.org and grab their 100-percent free, open-source program suite: Open Office.
Open Office has an alternative to each of Microsoft Office’s core programs. Need to type a paper? Try Writer. Need a Power Point for your persuasive speech? Just use Impress. Need a spreadsheet? Calc heads up that department. Open Office has everything that Microsoft’s Office has, and more. Open Office has Draw, a program that allows you to make anything from simple sketches to complex flow charts. Also, there’s Math, an equation editor, which allows you to create and edit equations to insert as objects into your Word or Impress documents (great for scientific papers or even potentially math homework).
“What about all of the Microsoft Office files I already have on my hard drive?” you may ask. Never fear, Open office allows you to open and edit most native Microsoft files. You can even save your work in Microsoft’s format (i.e. saving your paper in Writer as a .doc extension). That way, you will be able to e-mail the file to your professor and he will be able to open it.
Open Office is a great program in its own right. Like many of its open source brethren, it seeks an efficient, novel solution to a problem: office productivity software. While Microsoft Office is not terrible software, it is not inherently better. It is also not cheap. Open Office, however, solves the same problems that Microsoft does (and then some): it just does it for free. Check it out; it may end up saving you quite a bit of money.