Friday, July 20, 2007

Friday Freebie - Ditch The Ribbon Toolbar Forever

Let's face it - we all need one of those "office suite" programs every now and then. Maybe you need to write a letter to the collection agency, explaining why you're 11 months behind on those credit card payments. Or maybe you need to put together a spreadsheet so you can figure out how much crack you need to sell every month before you can afford those new rims. In any event, an office suite will be your ticket to success.

For the past hundred years or so, Microsoft Office has been the standard. It's gotten bulky and bloated over the years, and can be a real PITA sometimes, but it's fairly powerful and usually has the right tool for the job. But, it's from Microsoft - strike one. It also will cost you the price of a kidney on the black market for the all singing, all dancing version - strike two. And now, in the latest version, they did away with the familiar toolbars that everyone loves, in favor of a hip new interface called Ribbon. Yeah, nothing says hip, cool, and productive all at the same time quite like ribbons do.

But what's a boy to do? If you head down to your local Best Buy, you'll find that Office is the only game in town. Bill Gates, the 800 lb. gorilla that he is, has successfully muscled almost every other player out of the mainstream office suite market (Corel doesn't count since they're Canadian). Well, you're just looking in the wrong place. As usual, the internets delivers:

OpenOffice is a fully featured suite of programs, and it has the ability to do just about anything you can do with Microsoft's Office package. Featuring a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation creator, drawing tools, and an equation editor, OpenOffice can effectively cover all the needs of even the most die hard consumer, and even some smaller businesses. These aren't some cheap knock off programs either - these are fully featured, developed, and tested programs.

And, the best part of this whole package is that it's free (I'm sure most of you figured that out by virtue of it being featured as this week's Freebie, but I just wanted to be clear for the glue sniffers among you). That's right, you get an entire Office replacement at no cost. And this isn't just shareware or adware - the programs are completely free and open.

Of course, Microsoft Office does offer more than you get here. For instance, there's no email client or HTML editor, but you can easily find great free versions of those types of programs on the web if you bother to look. And at least one of those has been covered in a past Freebie.

Honestly, there's no reason not to check this program out, even if you have a newer version of Office. The two programs will happily coexist, and you may find that you prefer the sleeker, simpler offerings of OpenOffice. And if you're still rocking Office 2000 or earlier, you owe it to yourself to upgrade to something more powerful. Uncle kilroy thinks you deserve it.

You can check out the OpenOffice homepage here, and the download page can be found here (another one for the FreeBSD guys out there). So go check it out, and then write me a thank you letter using your new found set of programs. Be sure to put a nice border on the letter too - maybe something with kittens.