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Wordprocessor…

A useful Suite of programs – Wordprocessor, Presentation software and, errm, Spreadsheet – that may be just what your students need, particularly if money’s tight…

This free Office Suite consists of 3 programs for precisely no money.

Which is nice if you want, but can’t afford, a Microsoft Word-compatible Wordproceser (Textmaker) and / or PowerPoint-compatible Presentation software (the imaginatively-titled Presentations). There’s also an Excel-compatible Spreadsheet (PlanMaker), but that’s not something anyone really wants to either think or talk about.

Textmaker is a fully-featured Wordprocesser that will do pretty-much whatever teachers or students need to do by way of everyday formatting, checking and saving text, either in its native format or as a Word document. It doesn’t support the latest version of Word so some esoteric features that you rarely, if ever, use (probably stuff like shaded tables) aren’t supported. You can, however, export documents as pdf files. Which is probably more useful than it sounds.

Presentation software…

Presentations: As long as you’re not looking to do anything too sophisticated with this PowerPoint clone it will serve you well. Anything that simply involves putting text and graphics on a screen to create a slideshow is just fine-and-dandy and you can export your finished presentation in a PowerPoint-compatible format – although, again, it doesn’t support the latest features of the latter (good luck trying to import mp4 video…).

Overall, the Suite clearly has some limitations:

  • In terms of functionality it’s around 5 or 6 years behind the (Microsoft) times. In relation to Wordprocessing this isn’t too much of a problem – when you think about it, how many of the latest bells’n’whistles do you ever really use? – but you’ll probably find Presentations a bit more limited and limiting if you want to do anything too sophisticated or cutting-edge (i.e. anything more than combine text with graphics).
  • In terms of look and feel, the Suite is a little more problematic – it has the look and to some extent the feel of Windows software that’s a good 10-years behind the times. Whether or not that’s important to you, I don’t know.
  • On the plus side, it’s free, will probably do just about everything you want a wordprocessor / presentation program to do and without all of the Microsoft bloatware “features” it’s pretty lean: you can put the whole Suite on a USB stick and run it from there if you need portability.

    While it’s not going to win any prizes for either looks or cutting-edge features, Ashampoo Office Suite is something you might like to consider if you’re on a limited – or indeed no – budget.

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