If you are a Linux user and need an office suite, there is always OpenOffice.org, but SoftMaker Office could prove a more satisfactory option, especially if you need to exchange files with others using Microsoft Office.
SoftMaker is probably not well known to many readers, but the firm has been developing office applications for many years, covering multiple platforms including Windows, Linux, Windows Mobile and portable devices with Windows CE.
As mentioned in the V3.co.uk news, the latest release is SoftMaker Office 2010 for Linux, which consists of the TextMaker word processor, PlanMaker spreadsheet and SoftMaker Presentations.
All of these are compatible with Microsoft Office and OpenOffice.org file formats, as well as SoftMaker's native formats. In fact, SoftMaker claims that its compatibility with Microsoft Office formats is unmatched by any other suite.
I put this to the test with a late beta version of SoftMaker Office and a variety of documents created using Microsoft's applications, and it seemed to live up to the claims, importing documents faultlessly in both the older formats (such as .doc for Word) and the newer Office 2007 files (.docx).
The screenshots accompanying this post show the SoftMaker Office 2010 applications running on a test PC with Ubuntu 9.10, including several Word documents and a PowerPoint presentation, which displayed exactly as you would expect.
As a bonus, all the SoftMaker Office applications can additionally publish any open document as an Acrobat .PDF file.
Overall, the SoftMaker Office applications appear to have similar functionality to their Microsoft counterparts in Office versions prior to 2007, and many of the functions are found in the same place and have similar options, so users should have no difficulty getting to grips with TextMaker, PlanMaker and SoftMaker Presentations.
Although I only had time for a brief evaluation of SoftMaker Office 2010, it looks impressive and is definitely worth trying out if you are a Linux user looking for a decent equivalent to Microsoft Office.
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