Last Updated Dec 14, 2010 11:31 AM EST
From now until December 31, you can download SoftMaker Office 2008 absolutely free. Even better, for each download, SoftMaker will donate 0.10 Euros to charity projects at betterplace.org. So even if you don't plan to use the software, you should at least download a copy (and provide a legitimate e-mail address).
What is SoftMaker Office? InfoWorld called it "The better Office alternative," citing its superiority over the more famous OpenOffice.org. SoftMaker Office 2008 includes not only word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation modules (all of them format-compatible with Microsoft Office), but also a BASIC scripting language and, if you want, 80 extra fonts.
Surely there must be a catch, right? Nope: this is unrestricted, full-featured software, yours to keep in perpetuity. You're even entitled to tech support from SoftMaker.
However, Office 2008 is not the latest version of the suite. The idea here is that if you like it, you'll consider upgrading to the newer Office 2010 (for $49.95). I think that's some brilliant marketing on SoftMaker's part, and something I wish other software vendors would emulate. (After all, older versions aren't generating any revenue for them, so why not give them away?)
I think this is too good to pass up. Instead of spending a small fortune on Microsoft's suite (which continues to be stuffed with features most users don't need), grab this excellent freebie -- and help a worthy cause at the same time.