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Office Software, the Freeware Alternative part 2

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OOo

If you are in the market for a word processor or a suite of office programs then the obvious choice is Microsoft Word, or Office but there are alternatives. OpenOffice.org ('OO.o' to its many friends) is a free Open Source office suite that includes a spreadsheet, multimedia presentation and database software and an excellent word processor, called Writer, which is the focus of this week's Boot Camp. But first, as promised, we'll run through downloading and installation.

The whole suite is contained in a single 100Mb file, which you can download from www.openoffice.org. A download of that size is not something you should attempt on a dial-up connection and it takes a while on a broadband setup but it's not a problem because you can order a copy on CD for less than £5.00; there's a list of suppliers on the OpenOffice website.

At first glance Writer looks remarkably similar to Word. The layout of the menus and toolbars are almost identical, in fact the only obvious difference is a visible text boundary in Print and Web layout views, which Word suppresses by default. If you don't like it you can switch it off from the View menu.

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