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NeoOffice might be the most exciting Office alternative. It is a free Mac OS X port of the open source OpenOffice suite. Unlike other Office alternatives, NeoOffice is a single application with distinct features for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, drawing, and databases. This gives it a slightly unusual feel at first. It also makes it the broadest Office alternative and the only one to offer the ability to work with Access database files. It is also the only office tool to natively support Microsoft’s Office 2007 XML file formats, making it ideal for Mac users that need to exchange files with users of Office 2007 for Windows.

NeoOffice offers full support for Word and Excel files, complete with all features—including templates, track changes, and advanced spreadsheet functions and Excel features. It also includes wizards for creating presentations and databases that are amazingly similar to those built into the Windows version of Office. Additionally, it provides translators that offer access to a wide variety of file types, including those that Office typically cannot open.

Although an incredible replacement for Office, NeoOffice’s interface does take some getting used to. In particular, the fact that it exists as a single application, and users need to select among its constituent features is a little unusual, although something that is also easy to adapt to. Also, some features are named in ways or placed in locations that are not immediately intuitive to new users, so there may be something of a learning curve for users accustomed to Office’s menus and dialog boxes. It does, however, include excellent help documentation (albeit not in the standard Mac OS X Help utility).

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