No matter what your freelancing specialty is, odds are that you can benefit from the use of an office productivity suite. In fact, you may already be using one.
What is an office productivity software suite? Simply put, it is a group of business-oriented software packages that are bundled together for distribution. The most common bundles include word processing and spreadsheet software, but other bundle configurations exist as well.
Office productivity suites used to cost businesses hundreds of dollars, but freelancers should be aware that many low cost and even free options are now available. In this list, I’ve included 13 of the most popular office productivity software suites.
13 Office Productivity Suites
In no particular order here are thirteen choices for office productivity software:
- Google Apps for Business. Google’s office suite includes a selection of office productivity tools including enhanced-for-business versions of Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Video. Several pricing options are available, based on the size of your business, and limited-time free trial is also available.
- LibreOffice Productivity Suite. This free office productivity suite comes from the not-for-profit organization, The Document Foundation. Applications include Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math. Because it’s free, support comes primarily from the community of users and the developers. The license for this suite is LGPL, meaning it can be customized as needed.
- OpenOffice. Another free office productivity suite. The following are included in this suite: Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math. Oracle is the primary contributor of code to OpenOffice, but other major companies also contribute. For technical support, they offer a forum and a FAQ site as well as a user guide.
- Microsoft Office. The Microsoft Office Suite has a variety of configurations from home use to student use to use by various size businesses. Depending on the configuration, the applications included in the suite can change, but it usually includes at least Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and OneNote. The suite is not free (although some versions may have a free trial), but there are a huge number of free templates available on the Microsoft site.
- WordPerfect Office X5. Another office productivity suite that offers multiple configurations based on the customer need. The home and student version includes software for word processing, spreadsheets, slideshows and presentations, and a digital notebook. Free trials are available although the productivity suite is not free. Some templates are also available. Support plans are available and there is also knowledgebase of frequently asked questions.
- Zoho. Zoho offers a large number of productivity software tools, but as far as I could tell they are not packaged together in a suite. As of the time of publication, Zoho products were free for personal use, although the site stated that business and corporate users may be charged. Some Zoho tools that may be of particular interest include: Writer, Sheet, Show, and Calendar. Support is available.
- Quickoffice & OfficeSuite Pro5. While these are technically not office suites themselves, these apps give the capability to access your Microsoft Office files from your mobile device. For the freelancer on the go this means mobility. OfficeSuite Pro5 is specifically for the Android Market. Quickoffice can work with a variety of mobile devices.
- PlusOffice Free 3.0. A freeware package is based on OpenOffice. Use this on Windows 7/Vista (I did not see a Mac version). The suite includes a text editor, spreadsheet, presentation package, and more. Compare with commercial packages.
- IBM (r) Lotus (r) SmartSuite (r). This suite will cost money, but the product also has the support of IBM. It includes Word Pro (r), Freelance Graphics (r), and Approach (r). Additional software options are available for an added cost.
- ThinkFree. This office productivity prides itself on being compatible with MS Office. Use it for word processing, creating spreadsheets, and presentations. There are many versions of this suite available, including one for the Windows, the Mac, Linux, and even Android operating systems. Even though this suite costs money, you can download a trial version.
- KOffice. This is another free office productivity suite alternative. It includes KWord (a word processor), KCells (a spreadsheet) and Showcase (presentation software). Because it’s free, it largely depends on volunteers and users to maintain and update it. There is a Userbase and forum.
- NEOOffice. This is an office suite specifically for MAC OS X. They’ve even included a mobile version that can be accessed remotely. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It is funded entirely by user donations.
- Softmaker. This office productivity suite includes TextMaker (word processing), PlanMaker (spreadsheet), and Presentations. There are multiple versions available including a mobile version. This package does cost money.
Whichever package you choose, always make sure that you understand the licensing agreement (and any limitations) that comes with your software.
Do you have a favorite office productivity software suite? What is it?
Share your favorites in the comments below. If you know of any packages we’ve left off the list, share that too.
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