Marshall Adult Education



TECH TIP - Microsoft Office Alternatives
Here's a Quick Tip - to view the links in the article below in a new window, right click on the link and click on Open in New Window.  OR, you may be able to hold down the SHIFT key while clicking on the link to do the same (some pop-up blocking software prevents this option).

There are 2 alternatives to Microsoft Office Suite.  One is FREE and one is CHEAP OpenOffice (Version 1.1) is a FREE fully functional suite of office applications that are all compatible with Microsoft Office.  StarOffice (Version 7.0) is a CHEAP fully functional suite of office applications that are also compatible with Microsoft Office.


Among the many features in OpenOffice are:

OpenOffice ( is an offshoot from the formerly free StarOffice by Sun MicroSystems (  The 2 applications are very similar.  Sun Microsystems began charging for their StarOffice so that they could offer support continued upgrades and development.  OpenOffice became the FREE open source application.  An open source application is an application where the source code is “open” and available for any programmers and developers to work with and participate in its development.


The minimum requirements for these 2 applications are Windows 98 or higher, a Pentium processor or higher, 64MB of RAM, and 250MB of hard drive space.


The differences between Open Office and StarOffice are not significant.  StarOffice offers these additional features:


StarOffice sells for 49.95.  OpenOffice is FREE.  Both are available for download.  StarOffice is a whopping 110 MB - about an hour download with a high speed connection - about 35 years with dial-up (just kidding!).  OpenOffice is about a 60 MB download.


StarOffice is FREE ... if you are a school, or a student, researcher, staff, or faculty member.  You can download StarOffice for free from Sun's Software Download Center.

Read about education downloads here:


If you are interested in Microsoft Office, there are several packages.  I have listed the various packages and retail prices for Microsoft Office 2003.  You can frequently find lower prices (“street prices”) at various vendors including ( a strictly Education only software store).


Student and Teacher Edition:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook; Retail Price: $149


Standard Edition:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook; Retail Price: $299


Small Office/Busines Edition:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher; Retail:  $449


Professional Edition:  Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Publisher, Access; Retail:  $499


One final note:  I downloaded OpenOffice and installed it.  It is a very close facsimile of Microsoft Office Suite and is completely compatible with all my Microsoft Office documents.  The interface looks very similar Microsoft Office so the learning curve will be very small if you have used Microsoft Office.  This software is definitely worth a "look at" if you are in need of an MS Office substitute.