Many small companies buy one version of Microsoft Office and stick it on several machines. This is
and is a form of software piracy, but it is understandable. The software is expensive and piracy is easy. Pirating 10 copies could save you as much as £3,000 and that is a lot of temptation. There is an alternative - don't use Microsoft Office. MS Office is packed full of features that we never use. For most users all that it gets used for is writing memos, letters or small documents. For many of us Excel gets used for the odd spreadsheet but rarely anything mind-bending. The open source alternatives are somewhat simpler than MS Office and provide about 80% of what MS Office provides. For most users that will do just fine.
A free alternative
If you need a fuly featured Office suite and cannot afford MS Office, then do not pirate MS Office. Download OpenOffice 2.0 instead. If you have a broadband connection then you can download and install the software in less than an hour. You can download it now by clicking here
Open Office is free of charge
and it can read and write all Word and Excel spreadsheets up to the current version (Office XP/2003).
What you get for your money!
That title (above) was a joke. OpenOffice is free of charge. Remember that.
Here is a comparison of MS Office and OpenOffice.
MS Word = OpenOffice Writer
MS Excel = OpenOffice Calc
MS PowerPoint = OpenOffice Impress
MS Access = OpenOffice Base
OpenOffice also has Draw
which have no separate Microsoft packages to compare them to.
What is the downside of OpenOffice?
In two words - Access Databases. The OpenOffice database tool is not as good as MS Access and it will not read MS Access databases.
If you depend on MS Access then OpenOffice may not not be practical for you or your business.
OpenOffice provides a powerful and reliable alternative to MS Office. It is easy to download, easy to use and costs you nothing. However if MS Access is important to you then be aware that OpenOffice cannot deal with Access databases.