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Old 01-28-2012, 06:10 PM   #1

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SoftMaker Office Free Editions
Recently I've tried the free editions of SoftMaker Office, and they generally produce a good impression. SoftMaker Office is a commercial office suite by a German company, which has released the 2006 and 2008 editions of their product for unlimited free personal use. You can download and register SoftMaker Office 2008 here, and SoftMaker Office 2006 download link is available from this page. The personal registration code you get for the 2008 edition also works with SoftMaker Office 2006 (you don't necessarily need the code in the 2006 edition, but the programmes will otherwise ask you to register every time you start them, although no other functionality limitations are present).

SoftMaker Office 2006 consists of TextMaker, which a word processor, and PlanMaker, a spreadsheet programme. SoftMaker Office 2008 also includes SoftMaker Presentations (a PowerPoint counterpart) and BasicMaker, a programming utility. The suite fully supports Microsoft Office and OpenDocument file formats, and also uses its own file formats by default. Both editions include interface translations into major European languages, spelling and grammar check modules, a translation dictionary, an equation editor, and additional fonts.

The major advantage of SoftMaker Office that makes it stand out lies in its speed. It doesn't consume lots of system resources, being able to run without noticeable slowdowns even on low-end machines. SoftMaker Office is also rather small in size (the 2006 edition installer is about 24 Mb in size, while the 2008 edition installer is below 60 Mb), retaining functional versatility without succumbing to feature bloat. An additional option is the ability to install the suite on a USB drive as a portable application. Perhaps the free editions lack some of the features from the newer office suites (both commercial and free/open source), but they are fast, functional and user-friendly.

Additional dictionaries for SoftMaker Office are available as separate downloads:
Download additional dictionaries for SoftMaker Office 2006 (Windows)
Download additional dictionaries for SoftMaker Office 2008 (Windows)

There's also a "licensed edition" of SoftMaker office called Ashampoo Office, and like SoftMaker Office 2008, Ashampoo Office 2008 is available for unlimited personal use after free registration here. I haven't checked this one out yet and can't tell the exact differences between the two products though.
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