My dad asked me yesterday if there were any free alternatives to Microsoft Office. The one that came to mind right away was OpenOffice.org. Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw and Base are the OpenOffice.org answers to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Visio and Access. The suite is free, open source, and available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, and Solaris.
If you’re ready to embrace cloud computing, even more options are available to you. Google Docs offers word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation capabilities. It does a nice job of handling Microsoft Word and Excel files. Another alternative to the Microsoft Office suite comes from zoho.com. It offers the same level of compatibility with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint of Google Docs or OpenOffice.org. Zoho.com offers a wider variety of applications than Google Docs. They use plug-ins to integrate with MS Office, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Firefox–even Facebook and smartphones (iPhone and Windows Mobile).