Does that mean that suddenly, next spring, the programs that are part of Office 2003 will become crummy, unusable clunkers that will no longer work? No, what it means is that Microsoft is tired of supporting them, because Microsoft is in the business of making money, not the business of making sure people’s programs last forever.
Microsoft makes money by selling new stuff, not by supporting old stuff at no charge. They could keep supporting Office 2003 and making it safe for many years to come, if they wanted to; they just don’t want to.
Lest you think your only choice is to cough up more of your hard-earned bucks on new versions of Microsoft Office, behold, yet show I unto you a more excellent way: free office productivity software that is downloadable from the Internet and compatible with Microsoft Office file formats (.doc, .docx, .xlsx, etc.).
LibreOffice, found at www.libreoffice.org, is my favorite free set of productivity programs, and there are versions for Windows PCs, Apple Macs and Linux computers. Included are programs for word processing, spreadsheets, PowerPoint-style presentations and much more.
LibreOffice is compatible with all the Microsoft files you’ve been making and saving over the years and is easy to figure out and use. Download and install the main LibreOffice installer and help files and you should be good to go.
What LibreOffice lacks is a replacement for Microsoft Outlook. If you depend on Outlook for email, calendaring and contacts management, and no other program will do, then you still need Outlook.
Fortunately, a stand-alone version of Outlook can be purchased for less than the cost of the full Microsoft Office suite, leaving you free to use LibreOffice for everything else.
Dave Moore has been performing computer consulting, repairs, security and networking in Oklahoma since 1984. He also teaches computer safety workshops for public and private organizations. He can be reached at 405-919-9901 or at davemoorecomputers.
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