Microsoft Office is not cheap. I know, I own multiple cuts of the software for both PC and Mac. But there are alternatives. Available for free.
I’ve just spent the last hour playing with two capable Word competitors (with one offering Excel and PowerPoint functionality). AbiWord is available for any platform and I’ve loaded it onto the kids’ Mac computer (which didn’t have Office X on it.) I’m also playing with the on-line software ThinkFree Office On-Line. It provides you with on-line archiving of your .doc files (up to 30MB for free) and as it is Java based, runs on any platform. I found it very easy to open a document from my computer, print it out and then save it in the on-line storage. ThinkFree Office can be purchased and downloaded for $50USD if you’d rather “own” the software or don’t have a fast enough broadband connection to use it on-line.
AbiWord is Open Source and is a very functional Word replacement. I mentioned it in an earlier post but had yet to play with it. I’ve set it up for Kaili as a French Word Processor (as she does all her schooling en français). The OS X version has issues with font spacing and I may have to move Kai to a PC (yikes!) or run the Linux version within X11.
Neither one is a perfect MS Word replacement, but they are both very functional and will do 99.9% of what most students and just about everybody else wants to do with a WP program.