SoftMaker FreeOffice is a free office suite containing three top-quality apps:
- TextMaker (text documents)
- PlanMaker (spreadsheets)
- Presentations (slideshows)
All of these programs support Microsoft Office file formats (from 1997 to the present day) and all the popular open formats, so you'll have no trouble sharing and collaborating on documents. The 2016 edition of FreeOffice uses new file filters for near-seamless compatibility with Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and is fully compatible with the OpenDocument format used by LibreOffice and Apache OpenOffice.
It's worth bearing in mind that some features (including a thesaurus, tabbed browsing and bibliographies) are only found in the paid-for SoftMaker Office, but FreeOffice contains much more than just the bare essentials and could easily become your main productivity software.
Why you need it
SoftMaker FreeOffice's apps are very well designed, with a similar appearance to Microsoft Office before the introduction of the controversial ribbon interface. As a result, you'll barely need to glance at the superb user manuals unless you need some of the more advanced functions.
TextMaker doesn't just handle simple word processing – it can also open and create PDFs, complete with tags and bookmarks. There's a handy autocomplete function, automatic page numbering, tracked changes and comments (essential for collaborative working), and spell-checking in 58 languages. It's all rounded off with optional touchscreen controls and support for 4K monitors to make the most of new hardware.
PlanMaker also lets you create PDFs, and includes an import engine for text and database documents. It has hundreds of calculation functions and comprehensive formatting options, with support for pivot tables and over 80 Excel-compatible chart options.
The Presentations app comes with a set of editable templates, or you can create your own designs using a master slide that updates all others automatically. Your presentations can include images, videos and sound files, which can play automatically or when triggered by a certain event. A library of animations and transitions lets you bring your slides to life, and a virtual pen and highlighter lets you illustrate points while presenting.
- Three feature-packed office applications
- Fully compatible with Microsoft Office formats
- Huge selection of templates
- Can be used as portable apps from a USB drive
- Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, 10
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