Free Software Solutions: MS Office Doc Viewers and Beyond

As much as we LOVE to have students working in the MVCC Library, students may want or need to work from home.  Not everyone has access to MS Office 2007 on their laptops, netbooks, or desktop computers.  Furthermore, the electronic file formats that instructors use on Blackboard or other teaching and learning technologies may vary, and sometimes, this may create issues for students who do not own the latest version or type of software that supports these files.

Microsoft has released a number of free applications that allow users to view (meaning read-only) or to convert MS Office 2007 files to other compatible file formats for editing in different programs.  Additionally, one can find a bunch of  free, albeit reputable and reliable productivity tools that let users save or export documents as MS Office files, and are available online for quick and easy download.

Access or Edit MS Office 2007 Files

For those who need to read or edit documents generated on Microsoft Office 2007, but do not own the software, Microsoft has a number of document viewer and file converter apps available for Word, Excel, PowerPoint.   See: Office Online File Converters and Viewers

Also quite handy is this new add-on for Microsoft Office 2007 users that allows you to save any document as a pdf.  See: Save a PDF Add-in for Microsoft Office

Docx2Rtf is a freeware file converter for MS Word 2007, as well as OpenOffice. It enables the user to open files and convert them to RTF or PDF format.  Docx2Rtf does not require MS Office 2007 or OpenOffice installed in order to work. Word 2007 docx files and OpenOffice files will be converted with formatting, but without images.

We have not forgotten about our Mac users! The Open XML File Format Converter for Mac can convert MS 2007 Word documents, Excel workbooks, and PowerPoint presentations, making it possible to open, edit, and save such files in earlier versions of Office for Mac.

Also, remember current versions of Apple’s iWork (NOT a free productivity suite), allow users to open and save files in all of the MS Office formats.

Programs Available for Download

Below are some alternatives to some of the commonly used MS Office 2007 applications.

AbiWord is a free word processing program similar to MS Word that works on both Windows and Mac OS.

Gnumeric is a spreadsheet program. It allows the user to import and export data in several file formats, including Microsoft Excel and it offers some customizable features.  This works on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

OpenOffice.org 3 is a full software suite that includes word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more.  This works on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems.

Work in the Cloud

There are a number of free online applications available.  Work online and save your work there for easy access from any location with an internet connection.  Save and/or export to MS Office files.

Google Docs  allows the user to create and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

Zoho offers a suite of online web applications.

ThinkFree.com provides a word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation package.

*Please note: This list was compiled in December 2009.  Due to rapid changes in technology, this list may not reflect the most current program versions if accessed some time after its publication date.

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