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In the beginning was the word processor, and it was WordPerfect. And then there was Lotus 1-2-3 and Quattro Pro, and the accountants did rejoice. And then there were the relational databases, too, like dBase and FoxPro, and presentation software, but they were sold separately and didn't play nicely together.
But it was when Microsoft put the whole lot together and called it an office suite that things really took off.
Back then in the 1990s, Corel, IBM (in the form of Lotus) and others sought to compete, but Microsoft's strategy of selling Office dirt cheap or even bundling for free with new PCs pretty much put paid to them.
Today, there's really only two options in town if you want to run a full-featured office suite on your PC: either Microsoft Office, which is no longer cheap and will cost you £150 to own outright or LibreOffice 5, the open source office suite that will cost you £150 less.
It will open virtually any legacy document with ease, offers great performance and has an interface that users of old Microsoft Office will appreciate. Ipso facto, some may find the proliferation of buttons confusing, but most of them can be safely ignored. It also runs on pretty much any platform, too, so you're not restricted to Microsoft Windows.
However, LibreOffice isn't as shiny or even as tidy as Microsoft Office and it has a number of usability shortcomings in areas like presentation software, which is clunky but serviceable (if you're patient). The bundled database, meanwhile, still requires a Java runtime environment and will automatically shutdown if you don't. It is the antonym of the phrase ‘user friendly'.
But the core word processor works well - especially if you never got to grips with Microsoft's awful ribbon interface - and the spreadsheet suffices for undemanding tasks. It also has a maths formula editor (imaginatively called ‘Math') that will have some niche appeal.
And, as it's free for anyone to download for both personal and commercial use, it's the ultimate ‘try before don't buy' deal.