Most home users could pick and choose between the applications they choose to write letters and calculate basic finances. You're not limited to Microsoft Office, even, for compatibility reasons. There are commercial alternatives such as WordPerfect Office, Sun StarOffice, Ability Office or Ashampoo Office, as well as free suites such as OpenOffice or even standalone apps such as AbiWord. Now there is a new alternative from the developers who brought you Lotus Notes.
IBM Lotus Symphony is a beta preview of the free Microsoft Office compatible office suite. It ships with a document writer, a spreadsheets tool and an application that will enable you to create presentations. This module is primarily aimed at the business user. The user interface is a step up from those found in OpenOffice, although it's not quite at the same level as the new ribbon interface found in Office 2007.
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