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Question about MS Word alternatives

I am contemplating buying a netbook, mainly to access the internet when I'm travelling, but I also have delusions of doing work on it while travelling. Most of the ones I'm looking at don't have CD/DVD drives on them, which means I don't have a mechanism for uploading work-supplied probably not-licensed-for-home-use Word on them, and it's not preloaded on any of the ones I've looked at.

So my question is for people using Open Office/ Google docs/ other free wordprocessing programs that are downloadable: how compatible are they with Word? Because if part of the point of this is to do work-related writing while travelling, I need something that easily transfers Word docs to the freeware and vice-versa without too much annoying loss-of-formatting, etc, since there's no way I can switch to Open Office on my work computer. Anyone have experience with this? Suggestions?

Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
lunarknightz
Dec. 1st, 2009 01:41 am (UTC)
I have an Eee PC that I bought last year with my tax refund. So far, it's been a better investment than my full size laptop I bought this year that has crashed in the same way numerous times. I adore it for travel, and it's been a well functioning machine.

It came preloaded with the Microsoft Works suite and it seems to work well transferring between Word, just basic or simple formatting though- the extremely complicated does seem to get lost.

I'm pretty sure there might be a way to download the Office programs from the net, though? I dunno.

norwich36
Dec. 1st, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
Thanks for the input! And yeah, I'm sure one can download Office directly, but I don't want to pay for it if I don't have to.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 1st, 2009 01:59 am (UTC)
FWIW, you can get a USB connected DVD/CD drive in the sub-$50 range new, and probably less used. Chances are someone you know owns one and wouldn't mind lending you its use for an hour or two. (I'd send you mine but I gave it away a month or two ago).

As for word docs to freeware and vice versa, as long as you don't mind saving in an older format (say, RTF) and don't do too much fancy formatting (at least until the final pass) it shouldn't be a problem. I'm a fan of Page Four, and my netbook came loaded with Works, which is Word compatable (again, if you don't mind saving from Word into Works or RTF).

Also FWIW, I <3<3<3 my Asus EEE PC
norwich36
Dec. 1st, 2009 07:47 am (UTC)
Thanks for the suggestions. Though if I've going to end up just making rtf files, I'm probably likely to just stick to wordpad--it's as good as anything.
isilweth
Dec. 1st, 2009 02:00 am (UTC)
I use google docs and although it doesn't have all the functions word does (such as macros), it can open word docs and edit them and save them again as word docs.

I used to use open office and was not as happy with it. It just wasn't as easy to use and if it was compatible, I couldn't figure it out.

If you want to invest in an excellent word processing program, I can't recommend Word Perfect highly enough. I LOVE IT and wish I had on my current comp. In the meantime, Google docs works for me, though.
norwich36
Dec. 1st, 2009 07:49 am (UTC)
Good to know about open office. And I have used google docs before when people sent them to me, so I might go with that.

I used wordperfect from 1986 to 2001, and still think it's a superior program, but for work I must use Word, and I know from bitter experience that conversion back and forth takes way too much hand editing.
christirose
Dec. 1st, 2009 07:22 am (UTC)
Sadly, I don’t have any Word alternatives, only one Notepad on steroids alternative.

When it comes to netbooks, there is a chance that Word will run too slow. However, you should still try and I could loan you a firewire cd/dvd drive.

Lastly, if you could download an installer it should be fine as long as you still have a serial number and don’t run the app on both machines at the same time.
norwich36
Dec. 1st, 2009 07:51 am (UTC)
Well, Notepad on steroids is probably a good option; I tend to use notepad or wordpad half the time anyway--it's just footnoting capability that I'd really like to have. And I may be doing that anyway, because it turns out all the new free (ish) work software is Word 2007, and I have 2003 on my other two machines, and for a variety of reasons I'm not sure I want to upgrade yet.
norwich36
Dec. 1st, 2009 07:53 am (UTC)
Ooh, just reading the specs, Q10 looks fabulous. Have you used it? Is it as good as it sounds? (For some reason I am especially attracted by the fake typewriter sounds).
christirose
Dec. 1st, 2009 04:12 pm (UTC)
I love it, I am pissy that there is no Mac version. It’s not worth it to me to use half the RAM to load up a virtual machine so that I can run it in Windows but, if I had a Windows laptop it’d be the first thing I’d install.

For footnoting, I just put a small note in brackets — something like, [Yu, pg. 4] — and when I convert to Word or iWork Pages, then convert to proper footnotes.
norwich36
Dec. 9th, 2009 07:58 pm (UTC)
If you've used it in the past, maybe you can tell me: is there a way to shrink the screen? Full-screen is all well and good, but sometimes when I'm writing I want to look something up, and there seems to be no easy way to toggle between Q10 and other programs without saving and quitting, unless I'm missing some vital command.

(I'm completely in love with the typewriter noises, though--I seriously wrote a page more yesterday than I normally do because I just wanted to keep hearing the keys click).
christirose
Dec. 10th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
Does alt+tab to toggle windows app not work? You might also try windows+m to get to the desktop if your keyboard has a windows-logo key.

And yay for typewriter noises. If I used it at the library, I’d invest in earbuds just so I could keep those typewriter noises. :-p
tyffi
Dec. 1st, 2009 10:37 am (UTC)
I use OpenOffice since the 1.0 or so... well, for a pretty long time. I was still on Windows then. Anyway, it's pretty good and works more or less like Word.
Of course, it's slightly different and I needed a little time to get used to it, but all in all I'm more than happy with it. It basically opens everything and you can save your documents to all common formats. The standard format is *odt, so you need to "Save as..." - I'm a huge fan of Cmd+S so sometimes I send an *odt file to someone using Word and of course they can't open it, so I have to save the file again. LOL But the compatibility is great. Since the SVBB '09 I even know that OpenOffice supports change tracking and it works in Word, too.

However, OpenOffice fails at *rtf files - or whatever weird format some MS/Windows programs are using. Don't know, I'm on a Mac.

Anyway, I would give OO a try. It's a really good, free alternative, but you have to take a little time to get used to it. I mean, when you're driving a stick all the time and then switch to automatic it's confusing at first, too. ;)
norwich36
Dec. 1st, 2009 10:42 pm (UTC)
Really, it doesn't do well with rtf files? How bizarre. But thanks for the other info.
(Deleted comment)
norwich36
Dec. 3rd, 2009 08:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you--that's exactly the kind of specific info I was looking for!
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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