A cheap alternative to Microsoft Office
Ashampoo Office 2008 comprises word processor TextMaker, spreadsheet app PlanMaker and a brand new program — Presentations, which is designed to give Microsoft's PowerPoint a run for its money.
- Lightweight, cheap
- Doesn't have all the bells and whistles, faces competition from cheaper alternatives
For light users with even a passing knowledge of Microsoft Office, Ashampoo Office 2008 will be a decent buy that's familiar and easy to use (just as well, given the lack of documentation). In our tests we encountered no compatibility issues. But although $103 is a lot less than MS Office 2007's retail price of $690, similar products such as Star Office 8.0 ($69.95) are much less still. And if you're in the market for an inexpensive, stripped down productivity suite, OpenOffice.org and Google Docs, Spreadsheets and Presentations are so cheap they're, well, free.
Price$ 59.99 (AUD)
As well as that new program, upgrades to this most recent iteration of Ashampoo's Office productivity suite include export to PDF, and the ability to carry about your office software on a USB memory stick.
Indeed, lightness of touch is Ashampoo Office 2008's greatest calling card — full installation requires only 50MB. In the ultraportable era where users eschew bloatware, this can be no bad thing.
For home use, Ashampoo TextMaker 2008 will be a more than adequate replacement for Microsoft Word. Indeed, its user interface closely resembles that of Microsoft's word processor — albeit Word prior to Office 2007 and its ribbon interface. There are a variety of useful templates for such projects as business cards, faxes and letters, and TextMaker is compatible with a plethora of file formats: most importantly .DOC and .RTF.
Ashampoo TextMaker 2008 enjoys a decent number of formatting options, and useful tools such as a synonym button, as well as the usual suspects: tabs and spellcheck included. Import from and export to Microsoft Word and OpenDocument files is pain free.
For basic spreadsheets Ashampoo PlanMaker 2008 is a perfectly respectable alternative to Microsoft Excel. We were able to import and expert MS spreadsheets with no problems, and continue using what Ashampoo describes as 'countless formulae' (there certainly is a lot). Producing attractive-looking 2D and 3D diagrams is a cinch, too.
Ashampoo Presentations isn't going to give Microsoft PowerPoint any sleepless nights, but if sophisticated presentations aren't central to your working life, it might represent a useful addition to your software arsenal. Simple to use, and with all the basics covered, Presentations suffers greatly by comparison to Microsoft PowerPoint. It can't compete in terms of bells and whistles, but then it costs a lot less.
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