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11/04/2005 Archived Entry: ""Slay the Word""

I've now had time to read Chapter 4 of Tony Bove's new book, Just Say No to Microsoft. This is the chapter where he describes alternatives to Microsoft Word.

My first impression: his advice is dead on, but perhaps he could have given it more succinctly. Long-time readers of this blog will know most of the reasons Bove describes to avoid MS Word. Below (click "more") I'll briefly list a selection of alternatives.

One strong reason to read Chapter 4 is if you still intend to use Word for a while. Bove describes a number of tips for increased security and reliability. And I applaud his advice "Stop sending Word docs!" If you must email a document, use RTF instead.

Free alternatives to Word:

Koffice: for Linux. A complete office suite (word processing, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing). I haven't tried it (yet) but I've been impressed with the other "K" (KDE) software packages.

AbiWord: for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Unix, BeOS. Intended to look and act like Word, without the rest of the Office suite. Better than OpenOffice for low-speed or low-memory systems.

OpenOffice: for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, FreeBSD Unix, Solaris. A complete office suite. I use 1.1 every day and it works great; 2.0 has just been released.

Scribus: for Linux, and soon Mac OS X and Windows. This is actually a desktop publishing package (like PageMaker) and not a mere word processor. Overkill if you're writing memos; worth a look if you're publishing magazines.

For those who require vendor support:

StarOffice: for Windows, Linux, Solaris. The "commercial" version (and genesis) of OpenOffice, with added features.

WordPerfect: for Windows. This classic is still available, now known as WordPerfect Office 12. (Offered for Linux long ago; perhaps it will be again.)

TextMaker: for Windows, Linux, FreeBSD Unix. A long-established product that I've never used. (I learned about it from Wikipedia.)

Need I add that all of these alternatives have announced they support, or soon will support, the OpenDocument format?

All that said, I'm curious to see the rest of Bove's book. And for those who aren't long-time readers of this blog, it looks like it will pack a lot of useful advice into one volume.


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