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Lotus Symphony 3: A Free (and Fabulous) Alternative to Microsoft Office

Let's face it: Microsoft Office is overkill for a lot of users. And if you don't need Outlook, you can easily get by with a suite that costs less -- a lot less. My Office alternative of choice: Lotus Symphony 3.

Symphony is like a more user-friendly, less feature-packed version of OpenOffice (which, incidentally, is the foundation upon which Symphony was built).

It has just three modules: Documents, Presentations, and Spreadsheets, all of which are file-compatible with Word, PowerPoint, and Excel, respectively. (If you're looking for drawing tools and databases, you'll need to go with OpenOffice.)

The just-released Beta 4 offers faster startup, better stability, support for additional language dictionaries, and more enhancements and bug fixes than I can list here.
Interestingly, this promises to be the final beta before Symphony 3 goes gold, so if you're not keen on using beta software for mission-critical documents, it shouldn't be too long a wait. Symphony is now out of beta.
The program is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7. I use it on my laptop, and while I do occasionally miss a few of Office's amenities, for the most part it handles all my document needs. For free.

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