Daily Archives: July 20, 2012

Whether you’re ready or not, another release of Microsoft Office is in the offing. Tech Republic recently posted a slide-show giving consumers a first look at Office 2013. Yet another new version. Yet another reason to open your wallet. If you’ve just installed Office 2010 on your system then you most likely will be good to go for a while and can wait until Office 16 or 17 arrives. If you’re using Office 2007, it may be time to upgrade and if you’re still using Office 2003, it most definitely is time to upgrade and pony up big bucks for the privilege.

But why should you have to spend so much for the ability to read, edit and create Word documents or Excel spreadsheets?

As it turns out, you don’t. Enter the LibreOffice suite, a set of productivity tools that are 100% compatible with Microsoft Office and are free, Free, FREE.

C|NET offers a highly positive review of Version 3.4 as well as a download of the software and Infoworld calls Version 3.5 “The best Office Killer yet.” If you’re wondering how you’re going to read or create MS Word & Excel documents, the LibreOffice suite is capable of saving files in the various MS Office formats (*.doc, *.docx, *.xlsx, *.xls, etc.) as well as reading them.

The only thing that the LibreOffice suite does not offer is an analogue to Outlook.  If you’re contemplating a move to Linux thus saving scads of cash in operating systems, hardware, etc., there is Evolution – another freebie – that can serve as an excellent replacement of Outlook. There is an experimental Windows port of Evolution available but this project has been an on & off thing for a number of years now. The blog for Win Evolution has not been updated in over 2 years though the latest download is, as of this writing, less than a year old. If you’re committed to Windows, there are other substitutes available such as  Mozilla’s Thunderbird or the Opera e-mail client. There is a review of 11 FREE e-mail clients on About.com.

Returning to the topic at hand, LibreOffice is available on the following platforms:

  • Windows
  • Mac: Intel or PowerPC
  • Linux (deb): x86 or x86_64
  • Linux (rpm): x86 or x86_64

For Windows or Mac users, this is a way to experiment with your business tools before telling Microsoft or Apple to buzz off.

So, whether you’re sticking with Windows, OS X or moving to Linux, there are definitely some good substitutes for Office 10, 13 or whatever. By the way, did I mention that they are FREE?

The 7-inch tablet has been somewhat of a read-headed stepchild in the mobile computing world. Samsung had the 7-inch Galaxy Tab a few years ago and there have been a series of 7-inch also-ran’s from other manufacturers; Well known and less so. Of course, there are the Kindle Fire and the B&N Nook that have gained a fair amount of popularity though both are reading-oriented and focused on their respective corporate eco-systems. The popularity of these devices has been, overall, somewhat limited simply because they are not iPads.

Indeed, the late Steve Jobs looked down his bespectacled nose at the 7-inch form-factor  pronouncing them unworthy and unable to provide the full iPad experience. In the post-Jobs world, there have been a series of rumours that Apple has a 7-inch iPad in the works but, so far, none of these rumours have borne fruit. Perhaps the Nexus 7 will serve to help 7-inch tablets really take hold . . . even though it is not an iPad.

On my recent road trip to Albany, NY I took along my 10-inch HP TouchPad. It was great to have this device with me but it required me to use, for an extended period of time, a gear-bag larger than I’m used to carrying. The bag was great for toting the tablet but it’s bulk made it a bit impractical for anything else. A 7-inch tablet would have fit nicely into my standard gear-bag.

For more on Google’s Nexus 7, read this article on ZDNet. There is also a slide show containing pictures of the Nexus 7 and screen shots of the Android “Jelly Bean” OS.

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