I love to loathe Microsoft, so any way that I can stick it to ’em, I take…

But, at the same time, you’ve got to admit that they make rather ubiquitous software, and as a freelance designer, I have to keep copies of everything that clients and potential clients might use. Don’t ask me about Publisher – I won’t answer.

Microsoft Office is NOT free – quite far from it – but there are a couple of really nice, really slick and totally compatible office suites out there.

First up is a Mac-only product – NeoOffice. It’s got pretty much anything you could possibly be looking for with the actual Office suite – word processor, spreadsheets, database and presentation software, plus it’s totally compatible with all of Microsoft’s products. You can open and save directly to Word files, PowerPoint files, Excel, etc. It doesn’t contain an email client, but there’s a million of those out there that are better than Entourage. Best of all, it’s free – and it keeps my beautiful brushed aluminum machine free of the scourge of Microsoft.

Secondly is a great free product – an open-source project called OpenOffice. It’s got versions for all the operating systems under the sun, including Sun. The only problem is that some versions require X11 if you’re on a Mac, but it’s free, it’s compatible and it’s slick. Plus, if you have a Mac, you can install X11 free anyway, and OpenOffice even shows you how.

Both of these pieces of software are funded solely by donation, so if you can afford 5 bucks for a latte and a Red Bull, you can afford to support the folks out there who support us with killer software for zilch.

Sometimes, the best things in (the freelance designer’s) life ARE free…

Click here to download NeoOffice (Mac OSX only)
Click here to download OpenOffice (All platforms)