Monday Money Saver #4:

Chance are if you are reading this post, you own a computer. That same computer also probably has a suite of programs used for editing text, spreadsheets, presentations, and things like that. Given that somewhere between 80 and 95% of computers run Microsoft Office, you probably have Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. Most new computers come with these programs already installed, so the price has been worked into the purchase price. But according to their website, this suite of programs runs approximately between $150 (student version) and $680 (business version), depending on which programs you include in your purchase. The typical home package (includes Microsoft Outlook) runs about $300.

$300??? That seems like an exorbitant amount of money that could be better spent upgrading the physical capabilities of the computer, or just saved.

Never fear - you can save that $300 by downloading Open Office. Open Office is an "open source" software, which means that any computer geek can edit and improve the software package. Microsoft Office is proprietary, so only Microsoft can change it legally.

The programs included in the Open Office suite include your basic word, spreadsheet, and presentation editing software. But it also includes a graphics editing program and a database program, which aren't even included in the cheapest Microsoft download.

Even better, the Open Office suite of programs allows you to select the file type as you save a file. That means when you save the word file you just created, you can save it as *.doc, and then it can be opened in Microsoft Word. The files are almost completely interchangeable with Microsoft Office files, with the sole exception being some of the newer features of Microsoft Office 2007. If you know anything about Office versions, saving a document in Open Office is like saving it in Microsoft Office 2003.

If you don't want to spend hundreds of dollars for software, or you lost your Microsoft installation disk and don't want to buy it again, try Open Office. I've used it in the past, and it is very user friendly. Their website even has a support forum in case you really have trouble.


Katie @ said...

agreed! All the little bits add up to so much if you just go with what people have as standard programs. It took me a little while to adapt to something other than Word or Excel, but it's been so worth it.

Kate said...

We're looking to buying a new laptop and this is so helpful. I've been debating with myself whether or not MS Office is worth it and this seems like a great alternative.

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