Alternatives to MS Office

Microsoft Office is considered the industry standard for documents.  With MS Office you can utilize word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, email and even desktop publishing.  While it is a great platform, it can be costly and not everyone likes the interface or the included costs.  In the latest version of Windows, you can actually connect to even more items around the kitchen, like the fridge, toaster, and food processor. It’s important that college students and small business owners know about their options.  There are several types of office applications that are available for free that can do everything MS Office can do.

By choosing open source office software, you can say goodbye to the huge purchase prices and licensing fees.  Best of all, most of these platforms support all of the common document file types, including MS Office file formats.  They also offer all of the basics such as word processing and spreadsheets, and some of the alternatives offer even more applications such as drawing applications, database tools and even storage options.

There are many options out there for anyone who is ready to retire their MS office.  Below, I give an overview of two of the more popular alternatives.

Google Docs

Google Docs allows you to create, save, collaborate and share right online.  Anyone with a Google account can use Google Docs.  Google offers documents, spreadsheets and presentations which are all stored on the cloud-based storage service Google Drive.  Google’s online word processor allows you to create and edit text documents.  You can collaborate or share your documents with people that you’ve given access to; they can edit, comment or view depending on the permissions you allow them.  The best part is that Google Docs can be downloaded as Word, Open Office, RTF, PDF, HTML or zip files.  Google also offers spread sheets, presentations, drawings, and forms and integrates with many other Google services such as Gmail, Google Calendar, and G+.

Open Office

Apache Open Office provides tools for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics and databases.   It will allow you to save documents in the Open Document format, read Microsoft Word documents, and save your work in Microsoft Word format.

The full version of Apache Open Office suite includes six tools for managing office tasks:
·         Writer- The Open Office word processor
·         Calc- The Open Office spreadsheet application
·         Draw- Image application
·         Base-  Used to create and modify tables and forms
·         Math- An application for creating mathematical equations

These are just two of the more popular alternatives for MS Office.  There are many other free options out there including Libre Office, Kingsoft Office, and Zoho Docs.

Do a little bit of research online and find the perfect open source office application to fit your needs.  Whether you’re a business owner or a student, there are free options out there for you.

Video Editing Software Options

Whether you’re an up and coming video blogger on YouTube or you just want to make your family’s home videos snazzy, you’re going to need software that allows you to edit your videos.  There a lot of things to consider when choosing which software to use.  How much do you want to spend?

Are you looking for a simple program or do you want all the bells and whistles?  Are you planning on making movie quality videos with credits and music, or do you just need simple features to delete and splice?  And finally, what’s your video editing skill level?  Most programs are user friendly even for beginners, and others are complicated and geared towards experts.

Windows Movie Maker 2012 is a user friendly program that is super easy to use.  With drag and drop capability, special effects with a simple click, and the ability to upload your videos straight to YouTube of Facebook, this is a great video editor for beginners.

Video Pad Video Editor offers a free version of their software, but it is limited to non-commercial use.  If you’re a vlogger and your YouTube channel is monetized, I would suggest paying for the Video Pad’s software or using another product.  However, if you’re making videos just for fun, this is a great platform.  There are many effects and audio options.  Additionally, your videos can be uploaded to DVD format, shared online, and uploaded to smart phones and other devices.

Movie Edit Pro is an expensive program, but for the more professional and experienced video makers, this is a fantastic editor.  I would suggest this for those who vlog for a living and need their videos to look professional.  Movie Edit Pro has three options available which range in price from $69.99 to $129.99 Movie Edit Pro offers many features for editing and in some cases, has a beginner mode for those who are just learning.

Don’t want to spend a lot of money to edit your movies?  There are many free options available for video editing.  Many of these software programs have features that are user friendly for beginners and range from special effects to audio.  On the downside, many of the free software programs are limited in their capabilities.

There are also online editors that allow you to edit your videos without downloading software onto your computer.  We Video is a great editor that allows you to add effects to your videos and edit them right on the internet.  When you’re done, you can share your videos online with one simple click.

YouTube also offers an editing service which makes the entire process a snap.  Upload edit, and then simply publish your video.

There many options available; I couldn’t begin to touch upon all of them here.  There are many reviews online you can research that will compare different software side by side to allow you to choose which software you need based on your needs and what the software will enable you to do.

Whether you decide to go with online software, or a program that you download to computer; whether you’re looking for a free program or a more extensive one you pay for, be sure to do your research and keep in mind what features you’re looking for before you make any decisions.