If Microsoft Office seems to expensive to you, don’t pay it! But don’t be tempted to pirate it either. That’s stealing. Instead use Open Office, which is just as good in many ways (and will make PDF files from your documents, which Microsoft office won’t do.) Open Office is a completely free open source office suite that includes a word processor, spread sheet, database, drawing program and presentation program. The files are completely compatable with Microsoft Office files (if you use the filter, which is also free). If you are already used to Microsoft Office, it will feel pretty comfortable.

Open Source software is great stuff, crated by a loose community of volunteer coders. It may not come with a staff of paid tech support people and occasionally you will run into bugs no one has yet gotten around to fixing but you get to keep your money and that’s pretty sweet. Oh, and there is usually a terrific forum full of people who can help you with any technical problems you may have.

You are readung just the first in a series on open source software programs. There are lots more of them. As far as I’m concerned Open Office is a must have, even if you already have Microsoft Office, just for the (free) PDF creator. But there are lots of other programs you might like, too, so stay tuned.