Kingsoft Office Suite Free

Reverse your dependence on Microsoft Office with this free alternative suite for Windows

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I’ve been a huge productivity software fan most of my computing career. PFS Write for the IBM PC and Apple II got me into computers, so it’s no surprise to me that productivity suites – word processors, spreadsheets, presentation tools, etc. are a long time favorite. With Microsoft Office cheaper, but still (somewhat) expensive, having free, compatible alternatives is a huge win for everyone on a budget. It’s for this reason that apps like Kingsoft Office Suite Free are among my favorite Windows apps. I’m certain that after a short introduction, the two of you will get along famously as well.

Kingsoft Office Suite Free 2013 goes a long way to simplifying its interface, making it easier than even easier to navigate through all of its applications. Most everything is where you would expect it to be, and the suite includes not only your favorite features, but some new ones as well. The redesigned UI makes working with your more complex documents easier than you thought it would be.

The suite includes three powerful applications – Writer, Spreadsheets and Presentation. The suite has the basic functionality that you’ve come to expect from an MS compatible office suite and has many outstanding features other suites doesn’t include. For example, Writer, includes a professional PDF converter, an advanced paragraph adjustment tool and intuitive table operation by default. MS Word either doesn’t have these, or requires a 3rd party add-in.

What’s new in the latest update?

Having an alternative to Microsoft Office is important in today’s much weaker economy. Microsoft Office may be the bomb, and you may not WANT to accept any substitutes, sometimes you just have to. If you’re a college student, out on your own, and you don’t have access to Microsoft Office, yet need something to write reports or create class presentations with, then apps like Kingsoft Office Suite not only save your bacon (and your money), but they do it while giving you access to everything you need, plus nearly everything you want.

The free version of the suite is a total winner. Hands down… The only thing it’s really missing is a database app or Access clone, an Outlook clone (or something to manage your schedule, contacts and email with) and a Publisher clone (or something to make fliers, stationary and other printed goods with). Aside from that and the lack of any VBA or macro editing support, the free version has all that you’ll likely need. If you do need the ability to write active content into your spreadsheets or other documents, you’ll have to spend about $70 bucks USD in order to get it from Kingsoft.

Download Kingsoft Office Suite Free

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What if – Microsoft Doesn’t Make it..?

I had an interesting conversation with someone at the office today who asked about the MS reorg and some Surface pricing changes – What happens if Microsoft shuts down?

msreorg

Its an interesting question, and one that made me, as well as some people around me and my friend, shudder – What if Microsoft doesn’t fare well after the reorg and everything continues to tank for them?  More than 80% of the world’s enterprises run on Microsoft clients and servers. What would happen if they just evaporated?

Now, I don’t want anyone to panic.  This isn’t very likely to happen, so don’t go getting your undies in a bunch.  However, when you start looking at how many businesses run MS software – servers, clients, middleware – it’s a legitimate question.  Where does the world turn if Microsoft and Windows dies?

Yeah… I’m at a bit of a loss too. I have no idea what viable alternatives are REALLY out there.  Now, assuming Microsoft is TOTALLY out of the picture (again, possible, but not probable…for now), some companies would likely adopt the same strategy with Windows 7 as they did with Windows XP and ride it as long as they could, hiring as many software engineers and developers to patch their enterprise implementation of the OS for all their clients as necessary. They’d have to do their own security patches, as again, MS wouldn’t necessarily be around 5-7 years from the finalization of their demise.

Thankfully, the problems at the OS level aren’t there when it comes to a productivity suite (meaning, Office).  There are many alternatives available, despite the fact that Office is the defacto choice at this time.  Things like LibreOffice, OpenOffice.org, and SoftMaker Office offer free or affordable, robust alternatives to Microsoft’s classic office suite, without imposing online, subscription restrictions or requirements on users. Regardless of what happens in Redmond, I don’t see this area being as big of an issue as the lack of Windows would create.  All three of the products I cited are MS Office compatible, AND have versions available for Windows, OS X, as well as numerous Linux distributions.

So what does this get us at the end of the day? Not much… The level of speculation here is crazy-huge.  But it’s one that a lot of people have had wander through their minds, especially at the large office I work in.  Many of the PC’s that are in use here today are still using Windows XP.  Windows 7 should be fully rolled out over the next 6-12 months – 4 years after its release in October of 2009.

If Windows were to evaporate, there’s no clear heir-apparent for an enterprise client OS out there.  OS X and Linux both have an enterprise presence, but its miniscule in comparison to what Microsoft has.  If I were Tim Cook or Jim Whitehurst (the CEO of RedHat) I’d be watching Microsoft like a hawk and step up the enterprise marketing at each and every opportunity.

My friend Preston Gralla says that MS has to kill the Windows brand to succeed. Greg Keizer, also from ComputerWorld, doesn’t give Ballmer a good chance of making the recent Microsoft reorg a success.  Part of that is Ballmer.  Part of that is clearly based on industry data of past reorg and culture change success rates.

The odds just aren’t in Ballmer’s favor; and any way you cut it, there’s definitely blood in the water. The only questions left to be answered are when and how badly will the shark attacks be…

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Raspberry Pi gets its own Appstore

The tiny Raspberry Pi computer is the latest device to get its own app store. The Pi Store opened for custom on 17th December contains a range of apps from games to developers’ tools. Currently there are twenty five apps available to download in the Pi Store, but this number is expected to grow significantly in the coming months.

The Pi Store is a collaboration between the Raspberry Pi Foundation, Indie City – operators of an online marketplace for independent game developers – and Velocix. The foundation launched the store with the aim to enable “young people to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to make a little pocket money”. Currently all apps are free to download except Storm in a Teacup. Storm in a Teacup features 50 levels of physics based puzzles and is priced at £1.99.

The range of apps on the Pi Store is already diverse. There are five games on offer including Freeciv which is an open source empire-building strategy game. OpenTTD, the popular open source transport simulation game can also be found in the store. Despotify is a Spotify client for the Raspberry Pi and is free to download, however users need a Spotify Premium account to use the app. LibreOffice brings an extensive suite of office applications to the Raspberry Pi and is compatible with Microsoft Office files. There are also several apps intended to assist Raspberry Pi developers. The Pi Store is also intended to be the hope of “Pi-related” media including the MagPi e-magazine and tutorials produced from the community.

The Raspberry Pi has widely been regarded as a success since its launch earlier in the year. Amateur and professional developers alike have written and ported a wide range of applications to run on the system but until now there has been no obvious place to find or distribute these applications. The Pi Store changes this and will greatly simplify the experience for developers and users.

A blog post on the Raspberry Pi foundation website encourages the community of Raspberry Pi users to embrace the store. The community has been asked to submit their own projects to populate the store and to review and rate the apps already on offer. The store features a clever recommendation engine which will learn about you and your preferences as you rate, review and download apps. These recommendations will improve as you interact more and more with the store.

The Pi store itself is easily browsed and well constructed. Apps can be found through their category or through their tags. There is also useful search and sort functions in the store. All apps on the store have a content rating so users know whether the content is appropriate for the recipient. Given that the Raspberry Pi is based upon an open source platform all apps also detail their associated licences so users are aware if they can modify or redistribute the app.

To download apps from the store, Raspberry Pi users must first download the Raspberry Pi Store application. Users can download the application from Raspberry Pi’s official download page.

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LibreCAD the only major free Computer Aided Design program

If you are looking for a free to download Computer Aided Design (CAD) program then you could have a look at LibreCAD, an application that will allow you to create relatively complex CAD projects free of charge. Available in both Mac and PC versions this lightweight application provides a range of tools to create 2D drawings. Users are likely to be people with an interested in industrial design.

On initial launch the display window shows the main work area with tools like Draw, Dimension, Layer, and Block visible. These tools and others can be opened from the easily accessible menu bar. The application has a flexible interface that will allow you to customize the work area and lay the desktop out in a style which suits the user. All of the main elements can be dragged and dropped where the user sees fit, or hidden and displayed as required.

In terms of operation, creating new projects is relatively straightforward. Basic elements like arcs, circles, and lines can be neatly dropped into place. These elements can be grouped into a single item as the model is constructed. There is a useful zoom operation which allows you to alter the distance and perspective of the project.

The software also comes with a helpful set of tabs that allow you to access the colour and size of the work area. There are built in grids and guides which can be used to assist with drawings and measurements. These do not come with a ‘snap-to’ feature which would be helpful in making precise adjustments.

The software comes equipped with an ‘Explode text into letters’ feature, which allows you to add word effects on your productions. It is also possible to freeze blocks and layers within projects as they are being developed. As with any free open source software there are some positive features to reflect on, and also a few points for improvement.

Any free CAD software is going to be compared with Google Sketchup. Although this is a neat little application it doesn’t have anything like the functionality, ease-of-use, adaptability or export capacity of sketchup. It is quite a practical piece of kit and can be used to manage complicated computer aided design projects.

download LibreCAD

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