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Author Topic: Office suite for my mom?  (Read 13469 times)
CWuestefeld
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« on: December 31, 2007, 03:12:25 PM »

I know the question of "software that my mom can use" is cliche, but it's actually what I need to find. My mom just got a new computer for Christmas, and was disappointed not to find any software on it (I think she's lucky to have avoided all the crap on a typical new computer  Angry)

Anyway, I need to set her up with an office suite. Here are the options that I see:
  • Microsoft Office - just costs too much for her, not a feasible candidate
  • Corel WordPerfect Office Ver. X3 - I happen to have a couple of NFR copies of this
  • Open Office
  • Star Office - I think largely the same thing as OO but with addons, so probably preferable
  • IBM Lotus Symphony
  • Softmaker/Ashampoo - http://www.softmaker.com/english/ofw_en.htm

She needs this both for her presentation (a minister, meaning she'll be writing sermons and maybe making small presentations to groups), as well as her studies (for a Doctor of Divinity, needing to write grad-student quality papers, do presentations for class, including some light charting). She's not a very sophisticated computer user at all; for anything but the most basic operations, she'll find the answer (usually by calling me*), and write down the sequence of menu options so she can do it again later.

(* calling me won't work on anything since MS Office, which I've already eliminated, so ease of use is probably a pretty important factor)

Would anyone like to offer opinions as to which choices would be better or worse?

Edit: add Softmaker to list
« Last Edit: December 31, 2007, 05:24:54 PM by CWuestefeld » Logged



Veign
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2007, 03:16:35 PM »

Why not go with something like Zoho:
http://www.zoho.com/
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #2 on: December 31, 2007, 03:18:25 PM »

Why not go with something like Zoho:
http://www.zoho.com/
I don't know anything about it. Can you contrast it with the others that I mentioned? (I can't get to their web page from here; our evil proxy server blocks the site)
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cmpm
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« Reply #3 on: December 31, 2007, 03:55:24 PM »

I'd load up OpenOffice and StarOffice since they are free and see if she likes them before investing in ms office.

There is also AbiWord, which is a quick word processor.
Not ms word but enough to write and edit with some flare.

http://filehippo.com/software/office/

I use it cuz it pops up quick like wordpad.
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Grorgy
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« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2007, 04:35:53 PM »

Maybe the one from Ashampoo,  rebadged from softmaker (http://www.softmaker.de)  ( http://www.softmaker.com/english/ , if your german isnt real good lol) textmaker and plan maker and i think there is a new presentation program in the new suite.  Softmaker seem to have academic pricing on the old version (2006) as well.
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CWuestefeld
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« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2007, 05:22:45 PM »

Why not go with something like Zoho:

Ahh, it's an online app. Unfortunately that won't cut it. She'll need to use it in places that she can't be connected.

Maybe the one from Ashampoo,  rebadged from softmaker
That's one to look at. I've used their spreadsheet on my PocketPC, and was impressed with that. I'll go back and add this to the list at the top. Do you have any experience with it, like can you contrast it with OpenOffice?
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Darwin
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« Reply #6 on: December 31, 2007, 06:25:12 PM »

Office 2008 from Textmaker DOES have a presentations app, but academic pricing won't be available on it until mid-January. It's $14 for students and $13 for teachers, or at least that's the current pricing for academic versions of 2006.

StarOffice is free for students and faculty, so that's a route to consider. It offers a database programme and more proprietary fonts than the OpenOffice version. It also ships with some 3rd party libraries that OO.org doesn't, such as those required to make use of ClearType (I believe). You also get more robust dictionaries and a thesaurs in StarOffice. As your mum is a student, she'd qualify for free use of it. There's no licence key - it's a simple matter of registering and downloading the installer.

It compares very favourably with Office 2003 WRT conventions and usage. TextMaker Office 2008 is an excellent alternative and is much less resource hungry. I've found StarOffice/OpenOffice handle office documents better, though and more faithfully follow Office conventions. This is a consideration when sharing files with colleagues and asking one's son to walk one through the menu system!

Just my two bits...
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Grorgy
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« Reply #7 on: December 31, 2007, 06:33:30 PM »

No I'm sorry, I use the word processor part only sometimes as a RTF editor as I find it's quick to load and easy to use and has a spell checker and if i decide i want to convert to a word doc it easy to do.  But i got it for $4 from Ashampoo when i got the burning studio, couldn't see how i could go too far wrong there.  I tried open/star office for a semester and went out and bought MS Office 2003  embarassed  I just couldn't get used to them, they seemed so similar which may have led me to expect everything to be the same, which of course it isn't.
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Darwin
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« Reply #8 on: December 31, 2007, 06:42:58 PM »

Yeah, well...  I have Office 2003 Pro as well and only have StarOffice 8 installed because I can  ohmy The thing that really stops me from giving it much processor time is that I get irked by it's footprint and how DOG slow it is loading. I mean, c'mon, anything that can make Office 2003 look quick by comparison is laughable! Agree wholeheartedly about the speed with which Office 2006/2008 from TextMaker/Ashampoo loads - makes Office 2003 look, for want of a better phrase, DOG slow...
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Grorgy
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« Reply #9 on: December 31, 2007, 06:58:36 PM »

ohhh since she is a student, she may be able to get MS office 2007 quite cheaply.  That promotion they had last year here in Australia, and a bit later in most other countries, is back on again here, so it may be worth looking at.  $75 AUS for the licence i think.
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Grorgy
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« Reply #10 on: December 31, 2007, 07:07:44 PM »

here's the link $59.95 US http://www.theultimatesteal.com/home.asp  with a quick look I couldn't see when it ends.
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mwb1100
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« Reply #11 on: December 31, 2007, 09:16:12 PM »

There's a free download for the older Ashampoo Office 2006 at Computer Active magazine's website:

http://www.computeractive.co.uk/asoffice/index

It says it was supposed to expire June 2007, but it still seems to work.  It requires registration at the AShampoo website to get the reg key.

On a somewhat related note, AShampoo is giving free downloads to some of their applications here: http://r.ashampoo.com/mailings/1/071207_en.htm

I think that these are mostly older versions, and I'm not sure how useful they are, but I believe that Burning Studio 6 is pretty well regarded.  Also, when I clicked on the link to one of them, in addition to the download I was sent to a page that allow me to buy software by making an "offer of what the products are worth to you".  I could make an offer, which they would accept or refuse (if too low) by email - kind of like Priceline's "name your own price" for airfare.  I didn't try it because there was nothing I was interested in, but I thought it was a novel marketing pitch
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lanux128
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« Reply #12 on: December 31, 2007, 10:12:22 PM »

due to its ubiquitousness, i'd go for Microsoft Office (student or small business edition) for non-tech-savvy users because if the user is having problems, just about anyone can chip and try their hand at the solutions.

just adding to your options, googling within DC returned this suite: Kingsoft Office 2007. also do read zaine's review on word-processors.

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tomos
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« Reply #13 on: January 01, 2008, 06:25:02 AM »

the Softmaker/Ashampoo - if it's free that's a great deal (I favour it anyway of the lot)

I've found StarOffice/OpenOffice handle office documents better, though and more faithfully follow Office conventions.
do you mean better than Textmaker?

funny I've found the opposite - I mean Open Office (2) files' formatting getting screwed up when opened in Word... but cant remember what exactly the problem was anymore (lets see: colour highlighting being lost, stuff going from one page to two, loosing correct indentation - but cant remember the exact details)...havent had any problems with Textmaker but then I dont need to use it a lot so you could say I dont actually test it that much smiley
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Tom
Curt
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« Reply #14 on: January 01, 2008, 07:12:01 AM »

, so ease of use is probably a pretty important factor)

- then it really is hard to exclude MS Office 2007, isn't it... see CyberNet's award:

Quote
I couldn’t help but give Microsoft first place in this category. Their new Office 2007 has made me a hundred times more productive thanks to the intuitive Ribbons that have replaced the old-fashioned toolbars. I find myself using features I never knew existed, and it looks so darn good. Yeah, I’m a sucker for eye candy.

I first started using Microsoft Office 2007 over a year ago when it was still in the pre-release stage. It took a few weeks to get accustomed to where some of the options had moved to, but in the end I find myself saving loads of time. A big thanks goes out to the developers who came up with the idea for “live previews,” because that alone deserves a gold medal. And the Mini Toolbar is sheer genius.

Copyright © 31-12-2007 CyberNet |

Is her church really that small that they cannot afford this? Not yet being graduated she should be able to have it death-cheap from Microsoft themselves:

Microsoft is offering Office 2007 Ultimate to students for $59.95 through April 30, 2008. ...
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 07:16:52 AM by Curt » Logged
cmpm
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« Reply #15 on: January 01, 2008, 08:08:26 AM »

funny I've found the opposite - I mean Open Office (2) files' formatting getting screwed up when opened in Word... but cant remember what exactly the problem was anymore (lets see: colour highlighting being lost, stuff going from one page to two, loosing correct indentation - but cant remember the exact details)...havent had any problems with Textmaker but then I dont need to use it a lot so you could say I dont actually test it that much smiley

You can save an OO document as a MS Word Doc or any of the formats offered in the save as file type drop-down menu. If that helps with all that you have there tomos.

I had to e-mail a homework project made in OO to my son and he had me save it as a Word Doc in order for the formatting to be correct. (He had forgotten to take it with him)

But I'd certainly go for that student discount deal on ms office.
It would be worth it just to have it.
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Darwin
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« Reply #16 on: January 01, 2008, 10:53:09 AM »

There are niggles with SoftMaker components - particularly opening Excel 2003 files (I also recall an issue or two with Word documents but can't remember specifics, so could just be a trick of the memory!). The far bigger issue in Chris' case is layout and menus - that's where Star/OpenOffice are more "like" MS Office and would, I think, be easier to provide assistance with from afar. Having said that, I'll stress again that for light footprint and general usage where the level of computer knowledge (on the part of the user) is good, my vote would go for Ashampoo/Softmaker as well. Their stuff is really well thought out and presented, the support forum is active and frequented by support staff, and the product is actively developed, which means that bug fixes are released quite frequently.

Of course, for a PhD candidate whose needs extend beyond simple word processing, I would HIGHLY recommend MS Office Student and Teacher edition, simply because that will result in the least amount of compatibility issues when sharing files with fellow students, supervisors, submitting presentations for conferences, etc, etc.
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Curt
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« Reply #17 on: January 01, 2008, 11:02:50 AM »

..., my vote would go for Ashampoo/Softmaker as well.

I should mention that I have not been able to update my Ashampoo version via SoftMaker (SoftMaker updates more often), and the price on the Softmaker is $80 compared to Ashampo's $60 ($24 in my case), so they are not all identical. If price doesn't matter too much I would recommend SoftMaker (Edit: - for non-US resident non-students/teachers, that is - otherwise MS Office 2007 is the logical choice).
« Last Edit: January 01, 2008, 11:12:20 AM by Curt » Logged
Darwin
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« Reply #18 on: January 01, 2008, 12:10:48 PM »

Hmm... I just took advantage of the giveaway through VUNet posted above, to see if it works still and it does. I was also able to update the Ashampoo version using the Help - Update feature which took me to the SoftMaker website. I downloaded and updated without any trouble.
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tomos
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« Reply #19 on: January 01, 2008, 12:23:21 PM »

Hmm... I just took advantage of the giveaway through VUNet posted above, to see if it works still and it does. I was also able to update the Ashampoo version using the Help - Update feature which took me to the SoftMaker website. I downloaded and updated without any trouble.

Mike - do you need to install it fully before getting the key?
When you say update - do you mean updates for the 2006 version (which is the download)
I wonder can you update to 2008 version, probably wouldnt bother myself anyways (cause I have it already and only wanted to put this on an old laptop...)
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Tom
Darwin
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« Reply #20 on: January 01, 2008, 12:30:57 PM »

Hi Tom - you have to request a free key during install and then register to be sent the licence key. It's ever so slightly confusing and not quite as described in the VUNet instructions. The updates you receive are simply later builds of 2006 (and presumably there will not be many, if any, more of these). I already own SoftMaker Office 2006 and went the Ashampoo route in hopes of getting a cheap update to 2008 in the future. You are offered the chance to upgrade during install - in my case it was $39 or $62 Cdn. despite the Canadian dollar being at par).
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tomos
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« Reply #21 on: January 01, 2008, 12:39:16 PM »

I'm asking cause I want to install it on old laptop which I think can no longer be connected to internet (or not without effort I dont want to invest)
I've started it now & have sent off request for key, awaiting email  thumbs up
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Tom
Darwin
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« Reply #22 on: January 01, 2008, 01:36:39 PM »

You download the updaters (they call them service packs) here: http://www.softmaker.com/english/servpack_en.htm

So... you can download them on your main computer and save them to a thumbdrive (or whatever) and run them from that - easy peasy!
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Darwin
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« Reply #23 on: January 01, 2008, 02:12:05 PM »

Just to underline a point already made a number of times in this thread: the Ashampoo/SoftMaker suite is remarkable for the speed with which the apps open up. Absolutely breathtaking (ie pretty much instant).
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rob wood
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« Reply #24 on: June 20, 2008, 01:19:35 AM »

Try Kingsoft Office.. English version.. just released and downloadable from http://www.kingsoftresearch.com Its small enough to fit onto an old laptop and should provide the functionality and compatibility both with doc formats and familiarity your looking for.
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