I remember when software was a lot less expensive, and if you bought it you owned it… forever. It seems like that model is being pushed aside, in favor of subscription-based software licensing. Most of the software I use on a daily basis, I do not technically “own”. I am renting it via a subscription which is paid monthly or annually.

It used to be that you would get a CD (or several floppy disks) that you would use to install software. The software came in a box that had an install code you used to prove that you “owned” it. You could install it on several computers, and life was good. Now, most software comes via a downloaded installer and each time you use the software, it checks online to see if you have a current license.

One specific example is Microsoft Office. Many of my clients seldom use Office products like Word or Excel. Even so, when they need it, well…. they need it! But is it worth $69 per year? Hard to say…

Occasionally clients ask what alternatives might there be, how hard would it be to learn how to use the alternative, and how much will it cost? Luckily there are several highly respected, FREE alternatives. Some will open old Word documents, and some will even save documents in a format that Word users can open. This is important if you are sharing documents with others that only use Word.

Three alternatives are; Libreoffice, OpenOffice, and FreeOffice. All are free to use “forever”. As with all software, each has its own set of capabilities and limitations. Recently I tested FreeOffice and found it to be easy to use. It will open Microsoft Word docs, as well as save docs so that I can open them in Word.

If you decide that you would like to try one of these free alternatives, please be certain that you get the “official” product. This can be done by going to any of the following sites: LibreOffice.org, OpenOffice.org, or FreeOffice.com. All three of these Office alternatives run on Windows, Mac and Linux.