Office suites in general, inlcuding Microsoft, have really changed over the last year or so. Take a look at what the most popular office suites have to offer and how you can make use of them.
Microsoft Office: The "ole reliable" office suite has seen several upgrades over the last few years; MS Office 2007, 2010 and the latest release of 2013 have been the main stay for both business and home use. Purchasing the more traditional version of Office 2013 allows you to use the software on one machine. However, Microsoft has a new offering and it may just fit your needs...
Microsoft Office 365: Using Office 365 you can now stream your office suite right over the Internet. What's better, by subscribing to Office 365, you can have up to five machines and 20gb of online cloud storage, for only $99. Granted, this is a yearly subsciption model, but includes upgrades to newer versions, storage and ease of access, all in one bundle.
Check out this FAQ to learn about Office 365 options:
Libre Office: LibreOffice is a free and open source office suite, developed by The Document Foundation. You may recognize the former name under which the project lived, Open Office. There have been significant modificaitons to the project and it is considered the second most widely used office suite today. It is designed to be compatible with other major office suites, including Microsoft Office, though some Microsoft Office layout features and formatting attributes are handled differently or are unsupported. LibreOffice is available for a variety of computing platforms, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger or newer, and Linux-based operating systems.
Kingsoft Office Suite: Kingsoft Office Suite Free is ideal for those familiar with Microsoft Office 2003 prior to release 2007. It will let you feel perfectly at home. To say that it is similar to Microsoft Office would be the understatement; they are practically identical.
SSuite Office - Excalibur Release: Offers a huge collection of products designed to make any office task easier. Initially the selection of tools can be overwhelming and include everything from word processors, spreadsheets, email clients, IM clients, even a CD ripper.
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Bob Johnson is the Manager of Information and Technology Services at the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library.