by Jeff Smith
Open Office is the newest and biggest contender to Microsoft Office. It features a full word processor, database, spreadsheet, and presentation software. Oh, and did I mention that it is FREE?
Open Office is open-source. Meaning that anyone can work on it and modify it and adjust it to their liking, so long as they have the skills needed to do so. It supports all the common document formats and is available on Windows, Linux, and Macintosh, so they've got all the bases covered. Chances are, if you're using a computer, you could use Open Office. In fact, your kids may already be using it.
I read recently that a lot of schools may be moving to Open Office for teaching word processing and other such things. Moving to free software in the classroom means more money to go toward important things like more teachers, better books, better food, etc. etc. It also means that the school system won't be pushing software skills on children that engender digital reliance on one corporation's products. Right now, the whole world runs on Microsoft software. But should it?
So you're too frightened by the unknown to try Linux. You're comfortable paying for Norton Antivirus when you could be getting better protection for free. Are you really too scared to try a new word processor? Next time you go to upgrade to the next version of MS Office, take a tip from me and don't. Opt for Open Office instead. They're not paying me to say this. In fact they can't, because no one is paying them. Open source software relies on word of mouth to propagate. You can find Open Office at www.OpenOffice.org
Just keep in mind the next time you're about to shell out $50-$60 for some software that you could probably find something for free that will do the same job, sometimes better, for free. And if you need help finding free software, drop me a line and I'll point you in the right direction.