No matter what you use your computer for, one of the most valuable programs on it will be an Office Suite. You can use it to write letters, catalogue your recipe collection, draw up a spreadsheet and even as an electronic diary. An the most popular off office suite is Microsoft Office. But even the least expensive version will cost you just under R1000 (Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student Edition – 1 User R949.95 on and the cheapest business version is R2400.00. Keep in mind, that the software licence will only allow you to load it on one PC, so if you have two PCs, you must buy two copies. Then you have the fact that you will need to upgrade every few years.

Expensive, especially if you only use it every so often. But, there is a solution that is FREE (your favourite new word!)

Libre Office gives you all the features that Microsoft Office provides allowing you to save files in the same formats as you would using Microsoft Office, making it cross compatible. Libre Office was created using the source code from Open Office, a very successful open source office suite. Libre Office is the choice of many Linux distributions and has gained wide acceptance in the Linux community.

Outlook is very popular as an email clients and as planner. It comes bundled with Microsoft Office. Three good and free alternatives are;

Google Mail or Gmail together with Google Calendar allow you to access your mail and calendar online from any computer or mobile device anywhere. But it I also possible to download your mail to your computer.

Yahoo’s Zimbra is described as”

The free Zimbra Desktop client delivers a consistent user experience off-line, so email, voice, social, calendar, contacts, files and documents are synchronized and locally accessible when on the road. Zimbra Desktop aggregates information across accounts (Zimbra, Yahoo! Mail, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) and social networks (Facebook, Digg, Twitter, etc.) to help make communicating and sharing information easier than ever.

Thunderbird together with the Lighting calendar add-on make a very nice replacement to Outlook. Thunderbird is cross operating system, so if you ever migrate to Linux, you can take your email with you.

File Compression.come in handy when you need to email large files. Winzip, has been around just about forever, will set you back 30 dollars –7Zip will do he same job for free. 7Zip also supports different compression extensions and and words across operating systems

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