In the last month I have had several enquiries about purchasing Office software,  so I thought it would be worth reminding you of your options when it comes to typing a letter, doing your household budget or making your computer suitable for your child to do their homework on.

To go into a shop and buy Microsoft Office can set you back anywhere from £80 up to £350 depending on the version you buy. There are of course free alternatives! There is always a healthy debate over which software package is the best. There is no denying that Microsoft Office is the market leader and has a plethora of bells and whistles and is easy to use. However there are other programs that offer similar features and are FREE!

If you have a Google or Gmail account you can access Google Docs ( This is an online word processor, spread sheet and presentation creator. Your files are stored online so you should take into consideration the potential security risk (which is very small if your password is strong). Google Docs is quite simple to use and can be accessed from your iPad, or any computer that has an internet connection. This is useful if you travel about or need access to your documents on the move.

LibreOffice ( rivals Microsoft Office when it comes to the variety of programs the suite offers  (word processor, spread sheet, presentation, draw, database and math).  LibreOffice is based on the popular OpenOffice which I have recommended as an alternative for many years.  LibreOffice will most of the necessary functions for school homework. However you may want to check with your child’s school IT department. Remember children are far more adaptable to using new software than adults.

If you need to make the decision I would still recommend Microsoft Office if your budget allows for it. However it is good to know that there are altruistic computer techie folks out there that produce fantastic software free for anyone to use.