Free yourself from Microsoft Office serfdom with Zoho

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I've been using Microsoft Office 2003 for five years now, and it works, it's familiar. However, I've begun to see signs that it doesn't quite integrate with Vista well, the subtle suggestion being that I should upgrade to a new version of Office. For a few hundred more bucks.

Fortunately, if I choose to finally break free from MS bondage, I have some good alternatives. One of the best takes advantage of the internet access cloud within which I roam, where I am almost always on-line. Zoho.com is a family of programs very similar to office, except that it runs on the internet, not in my PC. And, oh yes, this is important: it's free.

I've used Zoho's Powerpoint clone to create quizzes for BloggingStocks.com. Its word processor is sophisticated, and its spreadsheet and database programs do everything I would ever need. Unlike the Office bundles, Zoho offers a full range of other products such as project management, web conferencing, chat and mail, still all free.

Another advantage is that, since the program is executed at the other end of the internet, updates are taken care of by Zoho. No more losing control of my computer because MS decides the time is right to upload patches to my Office.

The caveat is that you must be online to take advantage of these features. But I'm guessing that within 3-5 years most of us will live within a wireless access cloud that is seamless. So why would I want to send Microsoft another $500 for updates of software that worked just fine, until they '"improved" the OS?

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