LibreOffice WriterSo you think you're stuck with Microsoft Office. You're paying more than $100 for Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, and maybe PowerPoint if you're lucky enough to find the right edition. It's that or pay an annual subscription fee for this new thing called Microsoft Office 365. But why, though? You can basically get the same thing for free if you either go to Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) or install LibreOffice. This article was written using LibreOffice Writer, an excellent piece of software that can handle letters, memos and just about anything you normally do with Microsoft Word.

How Do I Get Started?

And Is There A Risk?

If you download from a trusted source like the official LibreOffice website, you won't have to worry about downloading a Trojan virus. Anyway, LibreOffice will pass muster with your anti-virus software, or should if it's paying attention to exactly what you're downloading. They're just free and almost as good as Microsoft Office. You get to brag to all your friends about how much money you saved on software. It's even better if you happen to own a business or need a way to impress senior management the next time they put computer technology upgrades in the budget. You just want to know if you can still do most of the things you do with Microsoft Office.

Well, once you download and install LibreOffice, I won't be surprised if you want to explore it a little bit. So go ahead and open up LibreOffice Writer. Looks similar to the old version of Microsoft Word, doesn't it? If you're still scratching your head over the changes, you aren't alone. LibreOffice fans like that the interface hasn't really changed all that much since before it was LibreOffice. (It used to be called OpenOffice.) There's templates for common documents like proposals, resumes, and letters. I'll focus on LibreOffice because, I'll admit, I haven't done much with Google Drive.

  • Step One: Download and Install. The link should direct you to the official LibreOffice download page. You really don't want to be downloading any software from anything other than its official site, because that's how Trojan Horses get loaded onto your computer. Open the installer and follow the instructions. If you have Linux, it's even easier. Just go to your Software Manager, find OpenOffice or LibreOffice, and install it. It'll automatically download and install it for you.

  • Step Two: Check out what you've got. Your Start Menu should now have the LibreOffice suite. Base is the equivalent of Microsoft Access for making databases. Calc is a spreadsheet software for making charts and graphs just like you would in Excel. If you have an artistic bent, Draw is your software for making images, flow charts and logos. Impress makes it easy to make slideshow presentations just like PowerPoint. Writer isn't very different from Word if you need to create letters, proposals and forms for your business.

  • Step Three: Create as many documents as you want or need. It's free forever. No worries about copyright or software piracy issues. It can also open Microsoft Office documents, and unless Microsoft gets all puckered up about it and makes changes, you should be able to open LibreOffice documents in Microsoft Office.

Sure beats paying for Microsoft Office, doesn't it? While you click around on your cool new software, I'll sign off for now and come back with some more articles on how to get the most out of LibreOffice.

Get Started With LibreOffice

Of course, you want to jump right into it. So here's the Kindle E-book that helped me get started when I first discovered OpenOffice.