Free Alternatives to Microsoft Office
When deciding on productivity software for your computer, there are some free alternatives to Microsoft Office, like Open Office suite and Google Docs. Office might be the standard for businesses large and small, but not everybody is willing and able to shell out the money for it. Luckily, the Open Office suite and Google’s Docs service are perfect for those who want Office functionality without dealing with the price.
Open Office produces free open source software that mimics the functionality of Office fairly closely. It's also compatible with Office formats, so you shouldn't have too much trouble getting it to interact with documents you receive from other locations. If you are used to dealing with Microsoft products, it may take a little while to get adjusted. However, the "free" part should be motivation enough to give it a shot (donations are encouraged, however).
Google's Docs service may not be as full-featured as either Office or Open Office, but you do get the convenience of a word processor or spreadsheet function wherever you have an Internet connection. You'll also get online storage for your documents, so you don't lose important files when something terrible inevitably happens to your computer. You automatically have access to this if you’ve signed up for an account with Gmail. You might also want to look at ThinkFree and ZoHo's offerings as well.