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OpenOffice

I’ve installed this a few times recently for people who didn’t know about it. If that dodgy MSOffice CD no longer works, or the hacked keycode you were using to install it now causes Word to shut down every time someone on your network opens their copy up – what you need to do is go to OpenOffice.org and download their nice, free Office-a-like product.

The full Windows download (also available for various UNIXs and Apple) is 118Mb – a fraction of the size of Microsoft’s beast. It installs in next to no time and there is no need to even register it. All is purely optional.

It’s not 100% compatible with the MS suite, but it’s damn close to it. Anything most normal people want to to in Word, Excel and Powerpoint is available. Files from those programs can be loaded, and files saved back into those formats from within OpenOffice. In addition, there’s a maths formulae editor and a database product.

Give it a try. Even the shortcut keys and interface is much the same!

While you’re at it, consider ditching the bloated IE7 for Firefox and Outlook for Thunderbird. Now there’s a decent calendar plugin it’s a very satisfactory replacement if you don’t want to rely wholly on an online email solution.

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