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FREE.....Move to a New Office,Ready to ditch Microsoft Office and Outlook? OpenOffice and Thunderbird have plenty to offer.

Move to a New Office
Ready to ditch Microsoft Office and Outlook? OpenOffice and Thunderbird have plenty to offer.

If you need an office suite mainly to edit text documents and to crunch numbers in spreadsheets, is a great alternative to Microsoft. It seamlessly handles Word and Excel files, so colleagues will know you're using it only if you buy a new suit with the money you save. Version 2.0 is still in beta, with the final edition due by the time you read this.

You're better off with Microsoft Office ($350) and PowerPoint, though, if you frequently create or view complex presentations. In my tests, OpenOffice had difficulties displaying PowerPoint files that contained complex animations.

Click to view full-size image. OpenOffice mirrors the structure--and in many instances, the look--of today's Office. (The changes Microsoft has in store for the next Office, due in the second half of 2006, will make it look radically different.) In addition to the word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation apps you expect, OpenOffice also includes a database app, a basic Visio-like drawing and diagramming program, and a tool that puts together mathematical formulas.

OpenOffice provides a seemingly infinite array of tweaks, too. For instance, Calc, the spreadsheet application, supplies 33 different toolbars to add to your document window, each with at least a handful of buttons. That many choices can be either wonderful or overwhelming, depending on your perspective.

Click to view full-size image. Sometimes the suite's eagerness to give you plenty of information gets in the way. If your document has many revisions from colleagues, for instance, processing those changes can be a chore. In Microsoft Word, you can right-click a specific revision and choose to accept or reject it. In Writer, the OpenOffice equivalent, you get a pop-up box that lists every change in your document, along with who made it and when. To accept a change, you have to squint and locate it in that long list.

But you'll find some refreshing benefits to escaping Microsoft hegemony. OpenOffice seldom tries to guess what you want it to do, a sometimes annoying habit of Microsoft programs. And you gain security through obscurity: While Office needs regular patching to prevent hacker attacks, OpenOffice--at least for now--seems to be off the bad guys' radar. If more people decide they'd rather spend $350 on something other than Microsoft Office, however, that may change.

No-Nonsense E-Mail


The Thunderbird e-mail program comes from the same open-source developers who brought you Firefox, and the common lineage shows. Like that popular Web browser, Thunderbird is a simple, no-nonsense application that does its job without getting in your way.

Thunderbird has a three-pane layout that will look familiar to users of Outlook ($109) and other major e-mail programs. We do have a minor nit to pick: Thunderbird crams all the information about a message--title, sender, date, and the like--on one line, making that text a little harder to read than in Outlook, which presents the information on two lines.

Searches in Thunderbird really fly. And you can choose to search just about any part of your message in virtually any way you like. The program imports messages from Communicator 4.x, Eudora, Outlook, and Outlook Express.

Our latest testing found that Thunderbird does a top-notch job filtering spam. Without any training, it caught 72 percent of spam messages. The figure rose to 95 percent after we took some time and trained the application by weeding out the spam among 100 messages.

What's missing compared with market champ Outlook? Thunderbird isn't a collaboration tool. The program offers you neither a calendar nor a task manager. But if you're in the market for a solid, speedy e-mail application, Thunderbird shows that there's no need to pull out your wallet to get one.

Move to a New Office 2.0 (public beta), Free

Bottom line: This software package is a money-saver if you work mostly with text documents and spreadsheets.

Thunderbird, Free

Bottom line: Fast searching through your inbox and folders, plus thorough spam protection, make this a great e-mail program.,aid,122929,pg,2,00.asp 2.0 2.0 is the productivity suite that individuals, governments, and corporations around the world have been expecting for the last two years. Easy to use and fluidly interoperable with every major office suite, 2.0 realises the potential of open source.

With new features, advanced XML capabilities and native support for the OASIS Standard OpenDocument format, 2.0 gives users around the globe the tools to be engaged and productive members of their society.

Download it now. If it is not ready today in your language, it will be shortly. 2.0 is yours.

* 2.0 Download
* Features 2.0 - word processor, spreadsheet application, presentation tool and more 2.0 is an open, feature-rich multi-platform office productivity suite. The user interface and the functionality is very similar to other products in the market like Microsoft Office or Lotus SmartSuite, but in contrast to these commercial products is absolutely free.

A full description of the application can be found on the product pages at:


A list of the features introduced in past versions of can be found at:


* Press Release
* Press Information

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